This past week, I finally got around to building a sculpture that I originally conceived of almost a year ago. It features a gently curved piece of maple that is carefully balanced atop a steel spike. The design is a loose interpretation of Brancusi’s Bird in Space, executed in my usual style. If you’re interested in the process behind its creation, read on!
When I first drew up the sculpture, I knew the design would be tricky to realize. It called for all 54 copper crimps to be hidden from view. The crimps are the small, oval shaped pieces of metal that I use to secure the tensioned steel cables. Sometimes I leave them exposed, but just a frequently I want to conceal them. Solving the puzzle of how to hide the crimps can be the trickiest part of the design process and when I originally tackled the building phase for this sculpture, I got stuck.
The main challenge here was that the design called for many of the cables to terminate inside the top sculptural curve. Since the curve was supposed to be one solid, uninterrupted piece, this posed a problem. Additionally, the balance of the piece relied on cables exiting both sides (front and back) of the top curve, which added an extra complication.
Here’s how I tackled it:
The birch curve is made up of three layers of wood glued together. To leave room for the internal crimps, I knew that part of the curve would have to separate. So, I glued the top two layers together and then attached the third with pegs. This way, the third layer was held firmly in place while I shaped the piece, but it could be removed later on when I placed the crimps.
Once the curve and base were complete, I separated the two halves of the curve so I could start the cabling process.