Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pedestal Fabrication

I did some fabrication work for artist Lily Cox-Richards on some sculpture pedestals. Here's a summary of these (and earlier) pieces:

The Stand consists of carved plasters depicting tree stumps, wheat sheaves, and massive quartz crystals, all props that were once used structurally and allegorically in American Neo-Classical figure sculpture. The works in The Stand are all based on marble sculptures by Hiram Powers (1805-1873), once known as The Father of American Sculpture, whose works depicted idealized female figures that symbolized allegorical themes. By shifting the focus to the supporting elements and the contact points, Cox-Richard hopes to show a different allegory: I aim to create a new whole, not a fragment or ruin. In condensing these sculptures down to their supports, figure and ground conflate into new forms, revealing latent content.

Greek Slave by Hiram Powers

Here's a link to a video where Lily discusses a bit of her work.

These were modeled on the computer,  CNC cut from high density Styrofoam, then covered in a thin layer of plaster.

Here are a few of the CAD renderings, modeled in Rhino. They are all surface of revolution or one rail sweeps:

In order to get the plaster onto the pedestals we needed some templates that were 1/4" offset from the foam surface. Each template has two parts that ride against the foam. In between is the gap for the plaster.
They are cut on a old but functional laser cutter in the Taubman College woodshop. The kerf on this tool is 0.004".

The templates are made of 0.18" thick acrylic.

The foam used is 3#, C bead. That's the densest we could get. We ordered it from Arvron in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The foam is held in place using vacuum pressure from the table below.

Let the cutting begin. All the roughing is done from above. The bit is 1" diameter spherical tip that's about 10" long.

Two finish passes are done. Each at 45 degrees, one from each side.

Um, ah, errr... lots-o-stuff to clean up. That blizzard is after 3 pieces have been cut.

Here are three pieces, still covered in dust. All the templates are visible on the table.

Here's a YouTube video of the Cutting Process:

Here's a close-up of a template. A "key" slips in to a notch in the template. This lets the template slide over the molding and lock into place in a groove routed into the top and bottom of each pedestal.

These have been exhibited at the Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia. The exhibition is called The Stand (Possessing Powers)

More photos of the finished pieces: