Tuesday, September 29, 2020

CNY Concrete Desk Panel

After entering into an agreement to further develop Siteline with one of Out of the Box's clients, they discovered my portfolio of artwork online, specifically the Conference Room Logo and expressed an interest in my designing something in concrete for them.

The idea came to me in an instant - the company logo overlaid on a map of midtown Manhattan, but the development from concept to final design took several months.

The first idea I had was to simply press a technical drawing - a detail of a foundation section, something like this image with a prominent company logo, but this didn't really feel like a design at all.

I looked at an Apple map (not the best source I admit) of the area where their office was and saw cropped building dotting a landscape. And that gave me the thought - what if it was a map of Manhattan - cropped down to a low height?



With that as an idea I used a piece of polurethane rubber that I cut through with an X-Acto before pouring concrete over it. This showed me that it was possible, and that the buildings would be sturdy at roughly .5" tall.

The image below is how I imagined it may appear - the logo pressed into streets, but appearing to allow the buildings to run uninterrupted on top of it.





The buildings appeared to be too big and hid too much of the logo - so I had to resize it, so that that instead of stretching across one neighborhood, it appeared to span from The East to The Hudson Rivers.

At this time it also became apparent that Apple Maps had less than accurate representations of the buildings that I was looking to model so I determined that I would have to draw my own map using satellite photos as a guide. I had to use a high resolution composite image to achieve the scale I was looking for.


I used the photo and then set about "erasing" the buildings that would appear on the finished piece. The offices of CNY are on the 4th floor of their building - about 55 Feet off the street. I used a 3D model of the city as a guide and erased any buildings that appeared to be above that height. Because CNY is a construction company, only buildings were taken into account, roadways and roadway structures were ignored, along with all buildings below 55 feet.



I created a layer underneath the map as a guide. This would let me know when I had erased enough buildings and give me a sense of scale. In the end it turned out to be too big - I didn't want to press too far into the rivers - and I scaled it back some.
The contrast on this image was then manipulated and cropped until I had a black and white image of the buildings, a slice of New York at 55 feet.
This image file was then traced in AutoCAD, and laid over a vector file of the logo. Because the finished dimensions of this cast were outside my comfortable working limits these files were then handed off to Trueform Concrete to mold and cast.

There was some concern that the logo pressed into the street would not be visible if the "rooftops" of all the buildings was the same, so we asked Trueform to cast a square foot sample of the most complex portion of the piece (the upper right of the "C"). The concern was justified because while the logo is visible, it just gets lost in the noise of the building pattern.
To overcome this problem without paying for a lot more sample casts we built a 3D model of the previously draw CAD file. This allowed us to experiment with the logo and buildings within it depressed at different heights. It was ultimately decided that all buildings would be one half inch tall, and that the logo would be depressed one inch below the street level. This allowed the line of the logo to appear to cut across buildings and maintain its integrity so as to remain visible even at a distance. Or so we hoped. Digital models while accurate in proportion don't always model lighting and shadows correctly - and this piece is all about light and shadow.

This also required we re-examine every intersection of the logo and the buildings to prevent any parts of the future cast from being susceptible to breakage for being too small. Some liberties were taken with narrow buildings or buildings compromised by the logo that cut into them as seen on the right.
It took months but eventually Trueform sent an image of the block of foam that had been routed with the design. They declared it the most detailed piece they had ever worked on. The logo was clearly visible so I was satisfied.
This foam mold then gets painted with a white sealer and release agent before being covered in a mixture of silicone rubber. Apparently 18 gallons were used to make the mold for this cast.
The finished mold is visible to the left.

The completed desk is on the right.
Detail view of the Y

View of the desk from the elevator lobby.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Taliesin West Candlesticks

I was fortunate enough to spend two months in early 2017 living and studying architecture at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in Scottsdale Arizona.

The  students of the school are required to perform tasks such as washing dishes, making lunch, cleaning the studio, etc.

One of these duties included not just setting the dining tables, but also redecorating the room. At my first lunch I sat down to a table set with several tea lights in glass containers - my first lunch by candlelight. And this gave me an idea.

The simple glass tealight holders struck me as somewhat out of place and it made me wonder what a candlestick designed according to Wright's principles would look like. Because of my interest in concrete I figured I could make some interesting casts to serve my purpose.

The more I worked on the design the more I realized that I had to come up with something completely new to me - something appropriate to the tables at Taliesin West.

All that it takes to hold a tea light is a concrete block with a recess to receive the candle. But to make it appropriate to Taliesin, I cut all four sides by 15 degrees and added a horizontal groove matching Wright's original proportions.


The first step involved creating an object that had the right overall shape, and then pouring polyurethane rubber over it.

I used existing candle sticks to create the positives that would form the cut outs in a future cast.

This mold was then used to create a perfect positive. And from the perfect positive, a new perfect negative was created. The perfect negative was used to cast the finished pieces.

The earliest cast was vibrated too much, which resulted in the surface stones sliding back into the mix and smooth surfaces. It took about four or five tries before I got the concrete mixture and vibration procedure correct.







In May of 2019 Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine profiled the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's effort to have them manufactured by developmentally disabled adults. The article can be found here: https://www.phgmag.com/tag/desert-masonry/

A month later the state of Arizona also published a write-up on the collaboration. https://des.az.gov/featured-story/dirt-d%C3%A9cor



 

'Morning

I like the look of just waking up after a night of fun and regret. I think this piece based on a selfie taken by River Viiperi, and used with his permission, captures that pretty well.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Shane


Although I've been trying to focus on images taken by my friends and me, occasionally I come across one that stands out.

I've been a fan of the photographer Pat Lee since I was in college. His photographs are iconic, distinctive, and just flat out beautiful. I was intimidated to ask for permission to use any photo of his in work of mine because I didn't want to be turned down by someone whose work I'd admired for so long.

When I did work up the courage to ask Pat was gracious enough to offer not just permission, but encouragement. I'm honored to say he's become a fan of my own.

In looking through his work I decided to go back in time a bit and chose to work with an older image of the young bodybuilder Shane Giese playing with a dumbbell backstage at a competition.

My work generally focuses on masculine intimacy and I think this is a nod to every teenage boy who lusted after a body available only through a relationship with weights.

A time lapse video of the cutting process is below.

The Second Offering

In 2004 I cast a disappearing fountain out of concrete. It continues to work just fine, but I gave it away to a friend who admired it when I got an idea for a new one.

This is its replacement. Water is pumped from a basin underneath into a central well that causes it to spill over into a square trough and is then channeled into grooves cut into each side.

There are drains cut into the four corners of the trough that allow water to fall through the piece into eight openings at the corners. I like the idea of it seeming to do so invisibly.

The photo above illustrates how the cast looks after six months with algae growth, water marks, and a slowly darkening patina on the concrete. Below is it's appearance after one month of operation.



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kenworthy

A month ago the Olympic free skier Gus Kenworthy made national news when he came out as gay. Even though I'm a die hard fan of the Olympics it was the first time I'd heard of him so I started following him on social media.

He recently posted a selfie taken on the edge of a half pipe with mountains behind the camera. The bright blue eyes in the ski mask as well as the reflection on his goggles was interesting so I figured I'd give it a try. I think the result is great - and it's gotten me interested in using other images that involve mirrors or reflections.

I cut this full size (32"x32") in order to capture the details in the first go.

A detail shot is below.




Sundown

This is Sundown, the 40"x32" version of Daibes Sunset. I've cut this image multiple times (A view from my bedroom) - I like the subtle colors of the yellows. And while I think this will be the last time I cut this image, I am tempted to do it in multiple colors more representative of a true sunset.

The off axis view is below.