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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Saturday morning I got up early to beat the heat and welded the D-Ring to the last bar, ground/polished the entire bar, and painted it. I put a hook up under the back porch and painted it out there so it wouldn’t stink up the studio. Shawn came by and we brainstormed out how the frame should work- the lights need to drop in behind the stones and be accessible for changing, plus I need to be able to fly them into place from hanging hooks- yet the entire piece needs to be seamless and will be faced entirely with delicate salts- so no lifting it/putting pressure on an edge.
We got it all figured out, then hoped we could remember all the little finesses we came up with.
E headed out with me to Costco around 5pm to help me pick out an air conditioner for the studio. Even though the walls are 7 inches thick (drywall, R-19 fibergalss btwn studs, masonry drywall, foam board, exterior panel) the heat still crushes through by late afternoon. Alex had cut a hole and framed it for an air unit, but never put one in. All I needed to do was pull out the rectangle of insulation and sawz-all through the outside panel (then get a few more tools to really make it clean). I made a little platform that bolts from inside the studio and anchors against the outside wall, set the unit in place, packed dense foam around it then shot the edges with expanding foam inside and out. It is nice and solid- I just need to make a little roof for it and it will be cherry.
Sunday/Today I measured, cut, welded, and chased out all of the frames. I also laid down some stones on the floor inside a line of blue tape- actually, just over the line so the steel frame fits perfectly within the
dimensions of the stone pattern.
It had seemed I had bought too many “brick” sized salt stones, but it turns out I was about 1/3 short- so first thing tomorrow I order what I hope to be my final shipment of salt stone. Then I switch the metal cutting blade to a stone cutting blade on my big saw, and cut salt block tiles to match the dimension of the salt stones (8″ squares) before the heat chases me in to the luxury of an air-conditioned studio.

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All the stones are sandblasted and look pretty sharp. The stencil layer shows just how much the stone glows- that is just ambient light from overhead skylights on a cloudy afternoon. Then when the stencil is removed, the whole stone glows with the letters- making for great variations in different light.
The morning was spent tweaking the mobile rods. First I welded all of the little hoops for the wiring across the tops of the poles, but not the highest arm as I still I have to receive and weld on its D-Ring. Then it was engineering time, as I created “brakes” at the hanging hook/D-ring points as stops for swinging/smashing the boxes into center pole, (boxes and center pole are imaginary in this image). I had a few false starts, but it all came together well enough. Tomorrow I will grind it all out and seal it.
I headed over to the steel yard and picked up square tubing for the wall hanging pieces, and my buddy Shawn is planning to come by on the weekend and help me figure out a “French Cleat” for hanging it. That and figure some of the WTF of the layout.

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The afternoons are heating up out in the shop, so I’m glad I already figured out the nuts and bolts of mobile flying for the other side, and have knocked this out in the a.m. & early afternoon in three days. The later afternoon of Mon was spent transferring all the machine-made mask-letters to salt stone for sandblasting, and yesterday afternoon was geeked on the computer tweaking my info for an architectural firm that asked me to be their arts consultant for a local RFQ (that will be a new thing for me if we get the bid).
Not working on the mobile allowed me just enough time to realize a way to keep the big 20′ arm that this side will fly on from getting smacked by the fragile salt boxes. This wasn’t a concern for the other side, as the bar drops down to it and it hangs below the bar. The problem of the bar rising into the boxes is mitigated by welding the D-Rings to the steel bars at a 90 degree angle to the bar for the final two Rings- this creates a T-Bar for the top bar as in the final picture, though I will likely let it fly the box up a bit more. All my other options were silly in comparison. I double checked the size of the D-Ring to the big 20′ bar in the other garage, and it was too small to fit the huge hook- I’d used all the big D-Rings on the other side of the mobile because I’d liked how beefy they looked and had forgotten that I needed to keep one over for this side- leaving me with a few dinky D-Rings. The last image with the hoisting webbing is where the big ring will go; I made an online order today and hopefully will have it by Fri or Sat. 
I also figured how to make hanging weights that will be fairly unobtrusive, and that I can easily change in and out to alter the angles for the final hang. In the first two images the buckets hang from long round-steel with an eyelet on each end that can be open and shut. I’ll weld a tiny D-ring to fat round-steel, cut to weights of 5 & 10 lbs. The fat weight round-steel will hang from the eyelet, and dangle next to the skinny round-steel that flies the salt box. It should go unnoticed. Another gidget to form out…

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Big Yellow is too heavy to rest on the fragile bottom plates, so I threw together a little hanging structure for it. I can move it around with a little wheely-cart under one side and me on the other end. The tall blue-boy flew nicely and I zipped all the edges and sanded all the fingerprints off, and made sure every connection had a nice layer of epoxy syringed into it. “Fiberglass is not glue”: an insight that led to the ‘box full of safety’ and the pins epoxied into the big Y box,  and led to a big 2 bottle package of two-part epoxy that I put into the syringe epoxy mix applicator (figuring this out- that I could buy the big refills and re-use the mix syringe seemed like a stroke of genius at the time- which shows just how amazing it is that any of this ever works out at all) and had another day’s worth of unplanned tweaking of all the boxes. While I was hefting them about, I also weighed each form, so that I can create the hanging structure with sandbag weights without having to risk breaking the boxes. All these forms are now stowed in the studio, and I spent way too long cleaning up the shop: salt dust sticks to every metal surface and etches and rusts it, and there was rust compacted under the walls and between the drywall boards and absolutely everywhere else. I threw out a lot of sub-par salt plates (I still have about five hundred pounds of them around- just in case I have a catastrophe) and moved the rest out to the tool shed.
My next step is getting back to metal work for the hanging structure, simultaneous to getting the salt stone letters sandblasted, making box-tops to keep the light from shining out of the top of the boxes, and prepping everything for creating the 3 wall hanging pieces (which will involve re-salination of the shop).
Hopefully I can get a lot of this worked out over the coming week and be ready to start on the Wall Pieces by the weekend, and get that handled by the time the LCD lighting arrives. Time is compressing!

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I re-posted the white box image, just for comparison. It certainly is easier to make the white one.
The super long and skinny Blue Box is now in the works. I hope to have that flying by Wed, then move on to creating a dozen or less tiny 1×1 cubes. Meanwhile, all the text for the wall pieces is being typeset for cutting into sandblast resist stencil- that should be ready to go later in the week, and hopefully by the end of next week all the sandblasting of the lettering into the stones will be completed. We’ll see if I can get the blue box done up, as well as the little boxes, and have the steel hanging rods and hooks and balance points figured out by then. And not drop any of the boxes. please.

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The “box full of golden safety” was overbuilt and graceless compared to the simplicity of the previous boxes. The finished box is pictured directly above. It will work, but I really don’t like it. So I came up with another system.
The new safety feature maintains the spring clamps for the bottom unit, but replaces the crisscross mayhem of the walls. All the little fingers of wire pinning the edges (you can see them at the corners of the box above) made difficulties in joining the sides, and the added fiberglass blocks light while shadows from the wires are nearly a problem.
The new plan involves drilling a single hole at an upward angle into (and trying not to go all the way through…) each plate, making a wire hoop/pin to insert in the hole, and epoxying the wire in place. Once that sets, I will use a smaller wire to tie the pins in a daisy chain to the top and tie off at the eventual steel hanging structure. Although minimal in approach, this will likely be safer than the prior box, as the drilled pin is directly anchored. This new box is made of yellow sulfur block and formed with 28 plates. The prior boxes were made of white plain salt block and formed with 14 plates.

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