The Joan Euler Order of The Creative Minds Award
This is a collaborative sculpture I created with two other artists, Bernie Rohde and Meg Leslie. It was commissioned by THEMUSEUM in honor of the Joan Euler Order of The Creative Minds Award. Here is a little explanation of the project pulled right from our proposal:
M. It's alive. Electric!
Our idea: It's got a pulse...and veins of twisted wires, contorted and encompassing the core, LEDs enhanced with mosaic decoration as a tribute to creative collaboration.
Our team (3 artists seamlessly melding 3 components):
- a finely crafted wooden container
- mosaic mirror and bejeweling
- an inner symphony of circuit sculpture
Our process: One artist begins by crafting the container. Once complete, the container will be passed (like a hot potato) to the second artist to adorn it's inner anatomy with shiny bits and organic mosaic detailing...and then it is passed a final time to the third artist who brings it to life with an electronic circulatory system with a pulse of its own. It's the pulse of creativity. The heartbeat of a community!
The sculpture can still be seen on display at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, ON.
As the project progressed I took the time to document each step. Here is a behind the scenes look at the "Making of The M".
Here is a model of the M container I created using SolidWorks. I used this rendering as part of the proposal for the project, and to generate a laser cut file to cut the shape from hardboard.
To get the shape just right, I decided to cut multiple layers of the M shape and laminate them together to build up the depth of the box. I am using 1/4" hardboard here, cut with a laser.
Side view of the laminated box. There was a little bit of sanding done after the glue dried since all the layers did not align exactly during the glue up phase.
Here I am preparing the box to be covered in a nice oak veneer. I used contact cement as the adhesive. It was my first time using this stuff, and I found it quite straightforward and very satisfying.
All of the veneer panels were cut slightly larger than needed and trimmed back with a sharp knife once they were adhered to the box.
Here is the back of the box, though I was so in love with this wood grain, I thought it ought to be the front instead.
All of the outside faces are done except for the 1/4" front facings. The veneer did such a great job of covering up the burnt hardboard, I am a big fan of this method!
Now that the box is built, it's time for Bernie to start figuring out how to get the electornics inside.
We needed a place to hide the batteries, and the client wanted a place to put an engraved plaque on the font. So I designed this box using makercase.com and laser cut it from hardboard. You can see the metal tray insert Bernie will be using to house the battery pack and controls.
Here is the M box and platform base assembled using bolts. The base will get the same veneer treatment soon.
Detail view of the removable tray that will house the battery pack, brightness control knob, and a power jack which gives to option to run the sculpture's electronics through A/C power.
The metal tray attaches to the box with a set of rare earth magnets that will be installed onto wooden blocks inside the base. They are not yet attached in this photo. I ended up using some awesome counter sunk magnets that allow for a screw to pass through the middle. This is a much more robust method than using an adhesive to hold the magnets.
The mosaic decorations finally start to get installed inside the box. Here Meg used an assortment of broken ceramics, marbles, beads, mirror, and there is even a little toy car in there too.
Bernie tests out his beating heart circuit at home. The string of red LEDs pulse the lights in a rhythm, just like a real heartbeat. The lights also vary in brightness as the "heart" ticks away.
Here is the platform base with the veneer treatment. It is coloured using a home made "stain" mixed from watered down acrylic craft paint. I couldn't find any commercial stains that would give me the deep brown colour I wanted.
Here is the base with a coat of clear waterbased varnish. The M portion of the sculpture was also treated with a few layers of clear varnish.
The grout is in! I love the fleshy human feeling this mosaic has. Meg was going for some kind of blood and vessels, peering inside the body kind of vibe. It was all about the heartbeat after all.
Bernie did some final battery life testing before we packaged it all up, and delivered it to THEMUSEUM.
The final step was to add a clear acrylic panel that mounts flush to the face of the box. I used four small bolts in each corner to secure it to the box. This face had to be removable in the case that we needed access to the circuit.