January 23, 2015

For the love of building

We are all builders.  We build our lives, our dreams, our relationships, our homes etc. Building is a fantastic metaphor for what we do in life. Building happens with every passing day. I have been building every day I am alive which is for 13, 281 days according to my daily morning pages where I keep track with every entry. Between work and play I combine the two and get to play by building some more, but this time with toys :D
Here is my latest Lego star Wars time lapse assembly video.

I set up my Canon T3i facing straight down to the floor on a tripod. I captured each frame using Dragonframe software on a green screen. I imported the footage in to After Effects where I keyed out the green and added the generated star field background. The left and right audio channels are two different pieces of Imperial Starship audio at two different speeds.  Now that my fun is over, it is time to get back to the build.

I spent an enormous amount of time with this view of a spindle sander.

In this particular case, we had to pull an all night session without the assistance of anything but Monster sports drinks and an extreme motivation to beat the clock and make the deadline.  By the end we were all a bit delirious and definitely slipping past the fogginess of being sleep deprived. The last time I remember doing this, I regret it. This is the very skill I trained for 4 years during art school and repeated hundreds upon hundreds of times making videos and working on film festivals for the past decade plus. I thought I had grown out of it. lol.

A beautiful stack of wooden bones to sand and piece together.

I got up early to get a quick start not he day. Alas he took two hours before I could get my friend out of bed and get to working. The previous day I lost 5 hrs waiting so today I gave myself an additional hour before wasting the two. Not only is time money, but we really had no extra time to spare in this case. Came in and a bunch of the work was nicely stacked and waiting for us to get down to business.

Getting the base and a working plan together.

The most important thing to get right when building is the foundation. From there you can begin to build up with confidence. Take time to ensure you have a plan and that it is going to work.  "Measure twice cut once."  We had to assemble and epoxy the base as it doesn't sit flat on the floors and we need a stable foundation to assemble the remaining pieces of the sculpture.

 I like to keep organized, here is the next section laid out in numeric order.

Each piece is individual, and so well designed, I can't believe how well the assembly went. I kept track of every piece and marked the master list. Amazingly doing this allowed me to find which pieces were missing or mislabelled. One point for Virgo power and organization. When making something one of a kind, usually there is some give, some mistakes to repair, some finessing that is necessary. This monster was so well planned out for the previous 6 months that we didn't run into the normally expected issues.

See the handy home made mallet.

This is more like ship building than carpentry of construction. the base foundation curls up and kind of looks like a beautiful leaf shape.  Blocks are used to hold up the curves at a precise height so that the final sculpture does not sage and will fit tightly together in the end. Pegs are used to hold it all in place then we take them out, open each joint and glue up each piece with quick set epoxy. Though it wasn't that quick and it did not set up so the heat was cranks dint eh studio to the point of it almost being unbearable and we continued with the work.

Planning the next step, yet another challenging part.

We had to imagine how the final sculpture would appear in space and plan out how to assemble and mount the pieces based on flat drawings. The Epoxy base was setting up so we had to carefully work around the parts we glued together. Each individual piece had to be measured, marked and mounted individually.

It is so hot, but Brendan keeps working in full garb.

 Each end piece has a different corresponding scribe mark to use the Festool to cut a hole for a domino. this festal cutter is awesome, and dustless so we can work in a much tidier shop for the remainder of the assembly. Some were mounted tight with a glued in domino while others were left open and loose for fitting into place. That is a lot of cutting and scribing on 90 pieces that interlock with each other.

Here is one of the many corner joints being drilled for dowel pegs to hold it into place before glue application.

The pieces fit together so well, kudos the the time put into planning and crafting the parts. We go around and piece it together, scribe the lines, cut the holes, mount the dominos then assemble the pieces followed by doing it again and again until all 90 pieces are fit perfectly together. At the halfway point it is about 2 am. I usually get to sleep before midnight, we are all starting to get silly. This stage of delirium is followed by a second wind, a feeling that on can conquer the world and keep going, then there is an abrupt a dip, quietness and soreness, pain and tired that is when you need a small break and pound back an energy drink. Then the whole cycle begins again.

After midnight is when Jim starts to shine. 

We have to pull up our pants and keep focused because there were only a few more hours left and much more work to complete before the truck was going to pick up the piece to deliver to the gallery in Edmonton.Amazingly it got assembled and glued up, just in time. I was beyond tired, but my loyalty shows as I worked my ass off to get it done and did not back down from the challenge. It was insane, especially because there were power tools involved, but we all came out with every finger intact. Although I bashed mine pretty hard with the mallet at one poitn an kept working thru the swelling and pain.

The artist inside his nearly finished sculpture.

What a tremendous project and learning experience. It was well worth it! To see the beautiful lines of this Ash constructed piece, you will have to go to Edmonton and see the Alberta Biennial show, the work is by Brendan McGillicuddy, check out his website and other creations here. 


Now onto the next project, what to build…….

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