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An Unexpected Edition, the W3

For those of you who follow this blog regularly, I know in my last post I said I would be settling in for the winter to work on a large sculpture project. And I promise that I have started it, but something rather unexpected has come up. A compelling little sculpture I have designated "W3"

Over the last three or four months, this little bug of a sculpture has been forming in my head. Given its small size, and relative simplicity (which is deceptive actually), I just couldn't resist taking a few days to try and make a few. 

This was supposed to be a quick sketch, just to get the idea out of my head and proof a concept, maybe for a later work. But what a great little piece it turned out to be. So as with many things that take on a life of their own, I now I find myself readjusting my schedule slightly to make a small edition of these beauties.

Rather than one large sculpture this winter, it now looks like I may be doing two things at once for a little while. 

Part of the reason I could not resist this experiment is that I have been wanting to investigate further a type of offset turning I use with some frequency. Offset turning, as a process, basically entails turning a profile in a lathe where the workpiece is revolving eccentric rather than concentric to the center line of the machine.

Doing this allows one to cut arc segments into the surface of your material rather than full circular profiles (I apologize if this is hard to follow for some). Indexing the work between cycles and repeating this process can yield some very interesting geometry. 

The wood turning community has a long history of using this kind of process Click this link to see a video about wood sculptor Mark Sfiri on multi axis turning (which is another way of describing what I am talking about). I have had the pleasure of sharing quite a few conversations with Mark about his work and visited his studio a few years ago. You would all do well to get to know his art if you are unfamiliar. (Hi Mark!)

This type of metal turning is something I have used off and on over the years. In past works, I have used only two index locations (or axis) with various profiles. This time I wanted to try using three different index locations to see what new opportunities for interesting geometry this would create. 

Since I was expanding on an existing concept, I thought I’d keep the design inspiration in the same family as some of my other small offset turned works so that the similarities and differences would be apparent.

While this sculpture may share visual similarities to some of my past "Slider" works, this piece is not intended to be a kinetic object, it does not move at all, and I will explain why. 

The purpose of the kinetic pieces I have been making has been to bridge my sculpture practice with some of the utilitarian trends I have been observing in the machinist community. So while those editions have been successful (and very popular) the plan for those projects has always been to bring that exploration back to what I feel is fundamental about machining as a sculpture medium. 

With this work, I want to take what I have been doing lately with Ratchets and Sliders, and return to something purely sculptural and non-functional. I like designing kinetic works and I plan to keep following that thread in the future, but I want to be clear that my heart is primarily with pure, unadulterated, sculpture. 

So I know full well that this work "could be" a lot of things, a clicker, a pen, a flashlight, but that is rather the point, it alludes to potential uses, while just being sculpture. The simplicity of this is what works for me. While the novelty of mechanics is a lot of fun, I want people to appreciate this form for its own sake. So no mechanics this time, I am insisting the work remain a non-functional sculpture, albeit one that conveniently fits in your pocket.

I realize there is an opportunity for confusion so I hope you will all appreciate what I am going for here.

That being said, given this works petite size (just 2" long), I could not resist the urge to play around with a magnetic stand to display the work. My impulse control is not great these days it seems.

To achieve this, I had to use a different alloy of stainless steel. The 303 stainless I typically use is non magnetic, so I had to switch to 410, an alloy which retains magnetic properties. This metal swap lets the little pills in the center of each of these works delicately dangle from the magnet in the prototype stand you see in the video above.  

So here is the part where people might get just a little annoyed with me.

While I think the stand is interesting, it is something I consider extraneous to the artwork. So although I do plan to make a small edition of the W3, I have neither the time, nor the resources to properly make the stands in any quantity for those of you who might want one. 

The two stands you see above were printed on my home-made 3D printer. They take an excruciatingly long time to print and are not exactly the quality I am comfortable sending out into the world. Machining them would make them prohibitively expensive compared to the work itself, so I am left with a bit of a dilemma.

I feel the best way forward, since I know there may be some interest in displaying the work this way,  is to make the solid files for the stand publicly available. I have uploaded the STL model for the stand to the Thingiverse website where you can download it for free. From there you can print one yourself in any material available to you. If you would like to modify the file further and make the design your own, I say go nuts.

If you lack access to a 3D printer, there are also links to 3rd party printers right on the Thingiverse website. There you can order a print from someone better equipped to do so. 

The only other thing that you will require to complete the stand is a 8mmx3mm Neodymium magnet. They are cheap enough that I can probably source them in advance for those who are interested and include one when I ship the work.

So now to the business of how does one go about getting one of these? For those of you interested in adding one of these little works to your collection, I am going to make a small run of the "W3". I will do the usual pre-order style sign up sale. 

The only caveat is that the build time and shipping schedule for this project may take slightly longer than usual, as I will be making these in parallel with my current long term project. I have the equipment capacity in my shop to make two projects at once, the only limiting factor is the human (me!) that runs that equipment. I will give everyone my best guess on shipping once I know how many sign ups I have received. 

So, that all said, I will post the link for this sign up sale on Wednesday January 31st at 11AM EST. I will post it here on this blog, as well as on my Instagram account.

The W3 is going to be one of the more affordable offerings I do this year as they are relatively small, but as always, you will have to wait for the sign up link to go live to learn the exact $$$ as I do not post pricing on publicly facing media. 

I will leave the sign up open for as long as I can, but I will shut it down as soon as I feel I have too many orders to handle. 

Fair warning, this could be just a few minutes, it will likely be a few hours, it WILL NOT be days. 

It is hard to judge these things in advance. Either way, this will very likely be your only opportunity to get one.

So check this space on Wednesday for the sign up link, and I will have the rest of the details sorted out and included on the order page. 

As always, comments and questions are welcome.