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My Sculpture Blog: The DoT Pocket Sculpture

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Introducing The DoT Pocket Sculpture.


After my last post, which was admittedly a bit dense, I thought maybe a piece with a more off the cuff concept was in order.

The catalyst for this piece is a simple one, and it came just a few short weeks ago while at the opening for my exhibit at the National Museum of Industrial History. I found myself talking to a group of fellow machinists when one of them mentioned offhandedly that they thought that I primarily used only metal lathes in my work. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RYXr7L2DTc?feature=player_embedded

Presumably they said this because of the predominance of turned features one can see throughout the show, but a further inspection would reveal that this comment couldn’t be true. Indeed milled and drilled features are to be found everywhere in my work and I use milling machines and metal lathes equally. I kindly corrected the gentleman and continued our pleasant conversation.

As I was driving home that evening, the comment about “only doing lathe work” popped back in my head and stuck with me in the days and weeks that followed. The idea of constraining myself to just one machine, one type of process (turning) reminded me of my early days discovering the ins and outs of machine work.

Early in my career as a machinist sculptor, I would build entire concepts around some of the most basic of machining principles. Out of sheer necessity, I was operating in an environment of constrained rudimentary techniques, but it proved to be a wellspring of inspiration for my work.

Despite my inexperience, I was able to make interesting works with quite a limited pallet of tools and processes at my disposal. The gentleman’s comment gave me nostalgia for that somewhat simpler time in my evolution.

So I decided to use my encounter as an excuse to celebrate my beginnings and challenge myself to a highly constrained design. The rules were simple, I could only use turning operations to create the parts for the piece, and I would perform all of the work on one machine.

Somehow, I thought it would take me awhile to come up with a design, but history has a way of repeating itself. My mind seems to crave constraint. The ideas flooded in and I had a mature workable design within a week. The process was fast and loose and it all felt very much like a sketch. I was cutting metal only a day after conceiving the initial concept, which is a sharp contrast to some of my works, which can take years to flesh out and build.

I am calling this work The DoT. It is a double-offset turned piece, meaning that the work is turned along two distinct axis in order to create its form. And while this work manages to squeeze a lot of complexity and nuance out of a relatively simple premise, what I think is even more interesting is the contrast this draws with current trends within the machining community. 

Nowadays on social media, I find myself surrounded by examples of 5 and even 6 axis machining centers (incredible state of the art machines) being used to create what are often comparably simpler parts. I think it is fascinating that this work, as a piece of sculpture, can stand as an example of how detailed understanding of process can be coupled with creative design choices to make something quite complex, using merely 2 axis of machine motion. (compare 2 axis machining with 5 or 6 axis of motion that is). That is fascinating regardless of whether you think it is good art.

This work fits perfectly into my series of small pocket sized sculptures and feels rather wonderful in the hand. While it is a little larger than a typical worry-stone, it makes great sense as a tactile pocket sized piece of art. There are no mechanics in this work however, I want this piece to be exactly what it is, a great excuse to carry around a little piece of sculpture. It is a piece with gobs of implied functionality and purpose, so it need not actually have any.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tqKVm-XZCw?feature=player_embedded

Since this piece is relatively straight forward in terms of its process steps, I took the time to fully document the machining process and also give some commentary and machining notes along the way. I think pulling back the curtain on my process is the only way to help you appreciate my process in the same way I do, so this is likely going to become more common going forward. 

After showing around some advanced images of this piece, the consensus seems to be that if I didn’t do a release of these small pieces, there might be a small revolt among my more ambitious collectors. Luckily there is no reason for concern, because I feel the same way, that a small edition of DoT’s is more than appropriate.

So to the details of the impending pre-order. 

I will open a signup on Thursday February 13th. It will be an open sign up with first come first serve rules in play. While I have not set a maximum quantity for the release, I will close the sign up if I feel that demand is outstripping my ability to make these in a reasonable time frame (I try to keep most projects within a three month window to leave room for new work and ideas). Otherwise, I will leave the sign up open through the weekend and close pre-order on Monday morning (Feb 17th) at 8AM.

I will send out a newsletter (for those on my email list) as well as put up a new post here at the beginning of the pre-order. Both will contain the link to the sign up form. 

Additional details and pricing will be contained within the sign up form (I do not post prices on publicly facing media).

Thank you all again for following along and, as always, comments and questions are welcome.



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