Friday, January 14, 2022

"Phrenology Head" - 2018 - A Commission from a Psychiatrist

This special piece was commissioned from one of my best collectors - he has quite a collection of my pieces, especially my smaller figures. This piece was his idea - I just had to figure out how to do it - and them make it. Turns out it involved quite a lot of challenges - carving the head, having the head open as it does, having an operating hamster wheel in side the head, and making a mechanism (from scratch) to make it all happen. Lots of images to follow... 68 in all, I think......

Final images...... 

This piece is 14" x 22" x 8", and is operated by the crank out front.  

The head open.

A closer view of the head.

His eyes.

My client came up with all the labels.

A closer view of the head open.....

...and the hamster wheel and man/mouse.

A view showing how the cable from down below opens and closes the door.

The cable on the other side.

Making the head....... 
I won't annotate each image - most of them are self-explanatory. 


I glued these 4 pieces together with pieces of paper in the joints - so I could split them apart after carving the outside. The center was already cut out of the center piece. 

Once hollowed out, this piece will become the two doors.

The hole will hold the axle for the spinning hamster wheel.

Here I'm burying the cable sleeve for the two cables that operate the doors. The cables come straight out, perpendicular to the surface of the wood - the wooden insert you see will help form the curve.

Gluing the insert in.

This cover will cover where the belt runs.

The small bent piece of rod will hold the man/mouse suspended.

Gluing the head back together.

The red arrows indicate where the cables will go down into the base, to the two levers below.

On to the mechanisms..... A real mind-boggler. 

I needed to gear down the crank - I estimated a good crank speed was about 120 (here 111) - and I designed all the pulleys and motions off of that. I knew I wanted the door motion to be very slow. Here are my garbled calculations.....

Here are my working drawings.

Building the mechanisms.....

Starting with the main axle, where the large double-sided cam will be. 

The beefy cam and one of the beefy levers. 

Two bearings will run inside this cam. The double levers act to open the doors.

Building up all of the pulleys. And you can see the ratchet on the table, yet to go in.

Figuring out the cam and lever to move the man/mouse's legs.

This is typically how I work on my mechanisms - upside down. 

The base, with all the supports in place.

Once the mechanism is figured out, it's time to build up the base; basically a box that hides and protects everything.

After staining the base. 

Here's how I made the man/mouse....

The blank for the body.

The tiny legs, uncarved.

This is the pulling on the line (polyester cord) - release it, and the legs go back up.

A spring pulls the legs outstretched after the line is released.

Ready for paint.

Over 200 hours in this one, (I always keep track of my hours), but I think it was worth it. I love this piece, and my client was very happy with it. 

The movie.... showing how it works. (Watch full screen.)

And more of a 'making of' movie....

Thanks again for looking!


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