Sunday, November 11, 2018

"Viva la 40" - 2018 - A Gift from a Wife to a Husband

This piece was a special gift from a wife to her husband on his 40th birthday. She wasn't exactly sure how to portray him - but she told me he'd really love a piece created by me, as he had been a "fan" of my work for some time. After several emails back and forth, we decided to portray him in his wood shop, building a birdhouse - one of his many interests. Some of his other attributes/hobbies/interests we discussed wouldn't exactly translate into a kinetic piece of art. During our discussions, I learned that he is a loving husband and father, a hard-working provider, and a man devoted to his family. But just how to put that into a piece of art? We did, however, decide to incorporate some of his more tangible attributes into the scene. Besides his family, he also loves music - playing his bass, and listening to Kiss albums. My client (his wife) provided me with many pictures which helped me to create his likeness - his face (of course), his dress, and even his propensity for wearing headbands. 

Here are the final images. 
The piece measures 10" x 17" x 9.5", and as you turn the handle, he hammers, pauses, looks left and right, and continues to hammer. 

A side view. The background piece was based on the interior of their home. Again, her pictures were very helpful - providing me with many details.

Another view.

I really liked making the bench, the birdhouse, and all the other props.

Here you can see the rod that lifts up and drops his arm; which pivots at the elbow.

An overhead shot. 

The background piece - held in place with 3 metal rods. I worked on this piece separately, and only glued it into the base as one of the very last steps. The upper wall is decorated with Kiss posters and family portraits.

His bass was made from scratch, (with the help of great pics), and the logo for his mortuary business - which he designed.

A detail shot of the items underneath his workbench. Some of these are found objects, and some are made from scratch. The envelope (under the toolbox) carries a secret significance to the family. 

In-progress shots......

I didn't make the hammer first, but I did have to make it early on. The head is "carved" from a small piece of lead, and I "turned" the front part of it. In this image, you can see I have yet to cut off the excess on the face.

The base in-progress. Here I'm adding the baseboard, while making sure the background piece is straight up and down.

All finished with the construction of the background and the base. To the background, I added appropriate trim, and even added "stucco" to the lower part - which will add a bit of texture. The background piece is still just fitted in the base, and not permanently attached at this point.

More progress on the background piece - and getting close to being finished. Here I'm figuring out where to place the pictures on the wall.

After figuring out the height of the workbench, I needed to find a good place for the birdhouse, the placement of his left hand on the birdhouse, and how to configure his arm. You can see it is yet to be carved. And you can see the finished hammer. 

The left arm is carved now, and I'm figure out where to place the figure and the workbench on the base.

The figure - all carved basswood, except for his head, which is sculpted from polymer clay.
You can see how the rod for his head runs up through one leg, (see the brass tube?). I think I originally was going to have an internal mechanism move his hammering arm, but I changed my mind when I realized that just his forearm needed to move - not his whole arm. That's why you see a cutout on his torso. I filled the hollow cavity with a piece of wood.

His body: all painted and ready to be dressed.
I didn't glue his arms on until I made his shirt - and was ready to do the final assembly. For that, I put one arm through the shirt sleeve and glued that arm on. Next, I put the other arm through the other sleeve, while making sure the head was going to fit on properly. Then I glued the second arm on very carefully. After his head was situated, I stitched up the back of his shirt, by hand.

The levers for his head (middle) and hammering arm (top). The two gears, and pawl (bottom, with spring) are part of the ratchet - which prevents the crank from being turned the wrong way.

The two cams - the one for hammering on the left, and the one that turns his head on the right.

The mechanism.
You can see the two cams on the left, and the ratchet to the right. You can also see that I used salvaged wood (as I often do) for the base of this piece. The 1/2" plywood was used by a fellow artist as a painting surface - hence all the color.

Another view. You can't see it, but right under the main axle is the cam follower - it's on the lever that controls his head. The rod that goes to his head is seen at the bottom, (it has blue paint on it).

I got this nice email from my client when she received it --- 
"I received him this afternoon and he's amazing!!! I am just blown away. We have those Kiss albums hanging on the walls. I can not wait for him to see it and you to be able to share it. It looks like you shrunk a scene from our house or his office. Thank you so very much. I wanted to give him something special and just for him for his 40th birthday and you have given me the ability to do that. Thank you again and I'll email you his reaction on his birthday."

Here's the video - wait until the end to see the husband's reaction. Watch fullscreen. 

Thanks for looking!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Girls Girls Girls" - 2017

It's been a while since I posted anything here..... so now it's time for me to catch up! 
(And I'll be adding more here soon - stay tuned.)

This piece was born out of the idea of the spinning sign. This is partly based of what I've learned making other pieces where the figures spin a wheel -similar to a carnival wheel. The hand motion, the mechanism for the motion - and the challenges of each piece - were very similar. The question was - how to get a static object moving with just one swift movement of a figure's arm? Part of the solution was adding more weight to the lever - which would deliver more thrust to the arm. I also had to make the arm strong enough to withstand the extra force. I will explain more as I show you the in-progress pictures below......

The final shot. He measures 10.5" x 19.5" x 5". And is sold.
He stands on an old metal lunchbox, but everything else was made by me. 

Another view. Not only does his arm move to spin the sign - his head turns from side to side, and his expression is "perpetually bored".

A closer look. 

The sign, which is a thin piece of lightweight pine, is held by his other hand. 

Here's a look at his right arm from behind. You can see the rod that first lifts his arm, and then - with great force - drops it down, rapidly, to spin the sign. The joint at his elbow had to be designed to allow his arm to move slightly backwards, to ensure there was clearance between the sign and his fingers when his arm lifted up. As his arm drops, it moves forward about 1/8" so his fingers land on the top of the sign - putting it into motion. And you can see the small bearing I used for the sign, which is held by his left hand.

His head - sculpted out of polymer clay - with his sad, bored expression.

In-progress pics.....

His basswood hand. I always "strengthen" my figure's hands by saturating them with thin CA glue. It makes the soft basswood much "harder".  This pic shows the hand before I put the glue on it.

This is the left hand - with the CA glue on it, (it does change the color of the wood a bit.)

The next 3 images show my process of building the right (spinning) arm, and of getting the body position, and placement, correct. I made a "stand" that will hold the sign in it's proper place while I tested out how the whole thing operated. 

Here I'm figuring out the position of the upper arm. And as you can see, I started off with a basswood lower arm, (or maybe it was just a stand-in, a "test piece" for the final arm? I don't remember.)

Here I'm finalizing the arm and hand. I switched over to poplar wood for the forearm - mostly because of the elbow joint, which had to be super strong.  At the elbow joint, what is usually just a hole, had to be a slot, so the arm could move backwards. (Sorry, I don't have pics of the arm and slot.) You can see the stand I made that supports the left arm - and holds it in position.

His head; sculpted from polymer clay.

His basswood shoes. 

His body, just before I dressed him. As you can see, the rod for his head goes directly through his left leg - that's why he's standing a bit strangely - off to one side.

The mechanism; nearing completion. The 5 pointed cam was to lift the lever, and let it drop. The other round cam moves his head from side to side. At this point, I've only carved out one drop, or valley. And you can see the lever (and bearing) that moves his head.

Here the 2 cams are finished and glued together. You can see how much the cam for the head has changed - more valleys! - and that I changed from 5 "drops" per cycle to only 3. It's all figured out with 'trial and error' - lot's of time, and lots of head scratching.  CA glue also 'strengthens' the cams. 

Here's the lever - notice where the cam follower is in relation to the rod, (which goes up to his arm), and where the weight is. The pivot point is all the way to the right. The location of these points were worked out on paper. Figuring out just how much weight to add to the lever was a guess - more trial and error.

Here are the levers and cams in place. I added the black piece of foam to cushion the lever after it dropped.

Here's a shot of the final mechanism, just before I lower it all into the metal lunchbox. I worked on it, and figured out the mechanism in this upright position.

I'll try to post a movie of it soon.

Thanks for looking!!!