Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The hands that build...

So what happens when you work on a project every day for four months? You stop blogging! I have been holding on tight, as the ride of a build is a varied experience, with speed bumps, smooth sailing, tremendous joy and utter anguish.
We are almost off to the Playa, and I'm sure this will be my last blog post pre-Burning Man. I promise to take many many pictures!
This post is mainly dedicated to all the hard working people that have lent a hand from the beginning. Thank you.

One little Lady Welder Good time Haver can only build a Flybrary with the help of many hands. 
Your sweat, tears, laughter and blood made it come together, in this tight deadline. Thank you from the depths of my blackened heart (it's still there)
Really, thank you!

Here they are, in no particular order, my peeps, my shop team, my crew. 
My best man, hands down.

Claire. Came from afar to help a ton.

Definitely a talented LWGH!

Travis Webb, talented Blacksmith who saved my arm from completely falling off.

Indy, showing her amazing dedication.

Doug, a seasoned crew member, friend and good time haver.

My love, for whom I dedicate this work.

Cedar. Always got my back.

Adam, my talented lighting creator.

Fergie aka Big Chicken, helping getting it to the finish line.

Peter, the busiest guy I know, who still shows up and saves the day in the 11th hour.

Laurita, such a bad ass in the shop. A fellow LWGH.

The two remaining Lady Welders Good-time Havers.

Love you all!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Crowd Funding!

The term "crowd funding" has a complicated set of emotional reactions for me. I guess most of my reactions are more negative than positive.. 

I think this is related to the fact that I believe art is absolutely necessary for a healthy culture to exist and I believe that artists should be supported as such.  When artist have to reach out to the greater community to help them get their projects funded, it feels to me like there are some serious cracks in what we value in society. I mean look at the value we place on sports. Not that sports are not valuable, but the disproportionate amount of money that goes to athletes, in comparison to a teacher, a pediatrician or and artist. What does that say about what we value? 

Not to mention the popular crowdfunding platforms for people who need financial help through tough medical situations, what does that say about our healthcare system? It makes me angry, and the fact that crowd funding even exists points to the broken socio-political systems we live within.

And yes, sure the crowd funding platforms can ignite more interest as they are personal advertisements for their causes. And yes, I feel very grateful to have partial funding for a project of this size. And it's simply not quite enough to get it done. And so, I like many, resort to crowd funding to ask for support and get my art into the world. 

Now that we are clear on how I feel about it...jeez.

This project is HUGE, and I do need a little help to get it through the finish line. (get that sports reference). Every little bit helps, there is no way I could build this without your support, and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to make thought provoking sculptures!

The making of the video below was a fun project in itself, and I am lucky to have a brother in law, Cles, whose talent is abounding in film and editing. Thank you Cles!

Enjoy a glimpse into the build of the Flybrary! If you can contribute please go to:

and here's the video:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Gotta love the angles...33.5˚

Work on the Flybrary has ramped up to full speed, which really means working every day, early to late, and then for me dreaming about what needs to be tackled the following day. Pacing is a crucial aspect that I have been forced to learn over the many large project builds and so far so good. 
Because we live in rural Northern New Mexico, obtaining materials for a project of this magnitude is a feat of its own. I finally received my weekly steel order at 8pm last night, pretty much a day and a half after it should have been delivered. The driver got lost in this beautiful landscape. The steel really is only freighted up from Albuquerque, but I guess it looks quite different up North.
My Mcmaster Carr orders that should take three days max, take on average four days, sometimes five. Welding supplies and gases need a dedicated trip to Santa Fe, which is almost a day trip from here. And parts for things that break, well the broken thing remains broken a little longer. It can get complicated, especially in keeping crew busy, when the foraging of materials has gone haywire. Really most of this is out of my control, so I'm flexing with the turns. Again, pacing..

In the shop it's a daily whirlwind of measuring, re-measuring, dividing the angles and cutting angles. I have to muse at the fact that I did not much like geometry and I find that I am completely immersed in it with this build. The truth is that it can even be fun, as I love what I'm working on, so the math is challenging but rewarding too. 

The many different planes add a twist that can bend any brain not fueled by enough coffee, but it is the process. The real life version of the piece is looking good.

All projects this size require helping hands and help from my friend Claire,  has been invaluable on this build. She has tackled everything from child care and cooking as well as grinding, cutting, drilling, plasma and layout in the shop. She is also working on assembling the book-birds.  
Her literary interest and knowledge of books has been the foundation for the Flybrary book collection. She has gone through and catalogued all books we have so far. To my great demise she is heading back to Barcelona soon, where she lives, to jump into other fun projects. She has touched all aspects of this build and lives within the Flybrary project, which she sadly wont see this year on the Playa, but hopefully another time.

I have had a mutinous elbow for the past few months, known as lateral epicondyles, basically a tear of the tendon around the elbow joint, and I am trying to steer clear of all forging. There is some small stuff, but hammering really adds to the inflammation, and it's very painful. 

My blacksmithing friend Travis has come to the rescue and is helping forge some of the parts for the neuron circuit inspired chandelier. He is a very skilled knife maker, so this stuff is easy for such a talented blacksmith.

I am expecting a few more people to join the team in the next few weeks, welders, filmmakers(for my crowdfunding video) and more enthusiastic helping hands in the shop. Definitely always looking for more skilled help in the shop!

Christian, my wing man, has been in NYC with our son, for almost 10 days to afford me solid work time. Though I miss my boys daily, I appreciate the space to be able to just do what is needed at any time.

A few more pictures below of the connection flanges, and the larger view of the shop, with the back three head panels under construction The Flybrary will soon outgrow the shop and the build will need to continue outside. That will be interesting and will require all kinds of heavy equipment. Sometimes I wonder why I dreamt this so large...

Next up, I am working on designing the ears for the head. That will be fun, as I can build them with slightly smaller pipe, which is simply easier to work with. The large pipes for the super structure are here(those are the ones that came last night). That will be fun to make the interior structure to hold the 8x head panels. Here is the latest drawing from my incredibly busy and talented engineers.

Onwards! Coffee and dirty shop clothes ahoy! If anyone can recommend some decent work pants that fit women please speak up. I am tearing through a pair I just bought and as most of us metalworkers know...staying protected is the key to shop happiness.(and of course looking your sparkly best)
More soon!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ex Libris The Flybrary

With the build in full swing in the shop, the little time between fabricating is dedicated to collecting the books for the Flybrary. 
The Flybrary book collection is already looking fantastic in content but needs more books! One joy has been to receive published works in the mail from my close friends to add to the Flybrary collection.

I recently discovered the idea of an "ex libris" bookplate to label ones book library, and have since made one for stamping inside all the books for the Flybrary. It was not uncommon for people who had large collections of books to attach an elaborate bookplate wood cut print within their books. 
The bookplate design would include things that the person valued, from nudes, various animals to weather vanes making for some really spectacular designs. 

The Flybrary does need more books! What kind of books? Any and all classics, politically relevant books, books about the environment, the future, books with birds in the title, relating to flight, relating to inspiring inventions, inspiring theories, relevant novels, poetry, and of course a childrens' section(curated by my 8 year old son) For the kids books, we are looking for classics that survive all time. 

If you are local to me(that is in Taos, NM, you can drop them at SOMOS in town, or drop them by the shop)

If you want to add your favorite book of all time(please do!)to this impressive collection, please send to:
POB 658, El Prado, NM 87529
The Flybrary will be better for it!

And below are some recent build pictures of the face, starting with what I do most all day...welding!

The skeleton of the face upright position. This thing is so large it wont fit within the shop. Once the neck was welded to the bottom it can only lay flat until we forklift it outside.

Here we started sheathing the face and it's starting to come together. You can see the enormity of the scale with Kodiak in the backround. 
and more grinding...

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Nose

The last few weeks have been intense, with several major detours off the main course of the Flybrary build. 
There was travel to various festivals in support of The Hand of Man in North West Alabama, a speedy weekend trip to a wedding in NYC, as well as attending and participating in a very inspiring local festival called Monolith on the Mesa that showcased some of Christian and my sculptures. 
Turns out commitments keep piling up, whether you have a HUGE Burning Man project or not.
I have been doing everything I can to get ready for the next few months, including a rigorous dietary cleanse, which has helped me manage stress, made me feel great and given me a much needed energy boost as well.  
Other than my computer not being able to run most of the programs needed to actually view the fancy 3D cad drawings, things are progressing. The computer thing is actually quite a problem but I am navigating those murky technological waters as well. I am retiring my 8 year old computer and starting a new.

 A dear friend helped design the Flybrary Logo and bookmark (thanks Vlad). Schwag is near! These seem like small things, but they take time and vision and are a necessary step for a project like this. 

As we live far from pretty much everything, (albeit one of the reasons we live here) after I received the final specs for the face structure I ordered materials and a week later started the build!

 I have been using the well crafted cardboard model as my go to for angles and measurements and so far I have built the nose and forehead. See the green outline.

Next week I will have good help in the shop and things should really get up to speed. 

I am looking for more help though, so if you have skills in the shop please let me know! 

Once all the face panels are built, they get sheathed in plate steel and hung off the internal super structure.
From there it's interior builds and the book-birds and their trusses.

The Flybrary needs your books! I will write a dedicated post soon regarding books, but I will start by challenging you, my friends to give or send me your favorite book! Media mail is cheap and your book will be in the amazing FLYBRARY collection. Please send your book to: POB 658, El Prado, NM 87529, or drop them at SOMOS in Taos. 

In the meantime I was invited to participate at Burning Man's Desert Arts Preview event in San Francisco, and since I can't be there in person my friend Filastine made a quick video for the presentation. I will post it on this blog after the Event, which is on June 2nd.

We have a saying in the shop and I have been abiding to it(somewhat reluctantly) for the past weeks, which is SLOW is FAST. It's true, one little calculation,angle, measurement wrong and it's a catastrophic domino effect. So it's going slow, but it's going well.

Thank you for your support, in whichever way it comes, I am very grateful!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ready Set Go!

With a project this size and complexity it sure helps to have some talented hands sharing their expertise. I like having the support around me, especially in the beginning of a project like this. I have reached out for help on a few things, mainly the engineering and have just received my first set of preliminary specs. That means I now know what sizes of materials I can use for the build. 
Christian and I had speculated on a few materials sizes and were pretty much on the money. It does feel good though, to have calculations run on a structure and know that if you build it this way it should withstand winds of 105mph, for example.
And I get a detailed technical computer drawing of the piece:

This past month I also had my friend Mike Barbee help with some calculations, thanks to his wizardry with Fusion 360 and Autocad. I am always impressed with people who can work in these programs, because I have no skill nor much patience when it comes to trying to understand them. Yes I have tried, but I am just better in the shop.

I have started on the chandelier, which I thought clearly should be in the shape of synapses. It is fun to work with these intriguing shapes, they are pretty wild. Here's one of my favorite renderings of these magical electric pods in our brain.
And if that isn't trippy enough here's what they really look like..


I have started making these pod like structures, by using steel balls, cutting organic holes in them and welding on arms. 

I imagine light illuminating from within each of my stylized neurons as well as through the arms (dendrites) and have something extra bright happen right at the synapse. 

They would all connect in a circular pattern via the dendrites within the top of the Flybrary head. I think by adding undulating LED lighting they will light the space beautifully.
This last month has been busy with several out of town trips, including North Western Arkansas with the Hand of Man, and NYC, and a spring cleanse (which has me off coffee, sugar and grains), nursing a very sore elbow injury and waiting patiently for the specs so I can get going. I am preparing in all the ways I know how for the inevitable gargantuan build ahead.
Where to start on this huge head? Christian suggested I start on the nose, and that sounds like an excellent idea. The nose it is!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Planar (adj.) in the form of geometric planes

To take something three dimensional, asymmetrical and very rounded, like a face and transfer it into a planar structure is complicated. To make it look like something other than a transformer mask is even more challenging. Especially for my brain. I have been trying to get the planes defined and still keep the movement and the feel of the face intact. After several ambitious attempts working through the clay model to generate a 3D model on the computer, I may have a planar head, but with many more planes than I need for this build. 

Then there is cardboard, which is a great medium to work with, as you can really see the immediate planes, and thanks to Christian's incredible ability to translate the organic into the geometric (one of his amazing skills) I now have a much closer approximation of the head in simple planar shapes(and I can touch them)
So this is where I am now- making significant decisions around size based on what will fit into a shipping container, and the various material choices to build it. After weight calculations, the engineers will spec out the raw materials and I can start the build. All this in the next two weeks. It's in this current phase of the build that all important aesthetic decisions get made. It does keep me up at night, as I go over the design for the millionth time, but it's also the core foundation for a successful build...
...lots more soon!