Building tools to build Art

IMG_3441One of the common problems when you are building uncommon art is that the tools you need do not come off the shelf. We end up building or modifying tools to make them fit our needs as often as we buy them from the store.

In this picture you see the special gear stands David built over the weekend to hold the gears as we work on them. Once you start polishing, the last thing you want is for the materials to get scratched again… but we do not have enough flat surface that we could dedicate and cushion to prevent scratches if they were laying around.

You can also start to see the progress of all the sanding on the medium gear shown here. One of our favorites, but also painful to finish- the surfaces are nearly complete but there is still some filing and sanding to finish on those gorgeous spokes.

IMG_3443 You can more clearly see the difference of hours of sanding by comparing this surface of the same sanded gear on the right withIMG_3444 the surface of the large base gear on the left, which has been partially descaled, but not filed or sanded.

You can see the difference not only in reflectivity, but in overall surface texture.

The large pinwheel gear, which will get the blue KOG glass in the crescents is currently on the table being sanded. You can look carefully and see different swatches of sanded or not. There are still several rounds of increasing grit fineness to go to get this gear polished and ready for acid treatment.


The Path to Shiny

Almost everyone has a mental image of Stainless Steel as smooth and almost reflectively shiny. However, it does not start life that way. There are many potential paths to shiny, and this week was dedicated to mapping it out for When The Earth Moves. To get the finishes we want, (they will be different for the gears and the fixtures ), and there will be a variety of steps from acid treatments, disc grinding, die grinding and orbital sanders. The sanding will range from 80 grit to 120.

Why so much work? Besides the fact that the steel comes in fairly “crusty”, the water jet leaves marks as it cuts as well.   This is a gear tooth as it comes from the cutter.  Note all of the horizontal gauging and scratches in the steel from the cuts. This is not at all the look and feel of the gear that we want, so the surface has to be finished to get the right effect.

You can see the difference when you look at another tooth on the same gear, after acid, disc grinding and lots of sanding at various grits- this is the shiny smooth finish that is the goal. At about 20 minutes ( for the edges, not the faces) per tooth, and 94 teeth in the statue, plus faces, spokes and cutouts, you can understand why we often say that Art is a Labor of Love.