I have had a project in the queue since around September 2011 so I figured it was time to start the progress process and see if I could achieve some success. However before the details of build get outlined there needs to be some background information first.

Back in September of 2011 a member from a local church got in touch with me. Through a series of connections they found out I tinkered in my garage and so I was approached with a request. This particular church is planning a celebration for their 50th anniversary which is scheduled to take place in late June of 2012. As part of the celebration they wanted to have a significant piece of “art” built and hung in the courtyard of the church. I had agreed to meet with the church member to see what exactly they were looking for. I had no idea what the expectations were nor was I sure I could even help them out.

So I trekked my way down to the church to take a look at the space they were trying to fill as well as listen to their ideas. It turns out that the courtyard had an empty, south facing, wall approximately 12 feet wide and 2 stories high. They wanted to fill the space with some type of metal work art that had some significants. As I talked more with this church member I was able to gain an understanding of what kind of “feel” and imagery she was after. It so happens that the lady I was working with was a veteran potter and would also be considered an artist. She had a vision however she did not have the means to bring it to life.

Previously she had made a pottery plate that had significant Christian symbolism. It was a round plate with, what I call, a series of rays made of different colored glazes. 3 of the “rays” were all of similar color and the rest varied in shape and tone. Her theme was “God among us” and it was represented by the 3 similar rays as “God” and the remaining different rays representing different people, culture, and walks of life. The idea was that no matter what differences separate people, and the world, God is always present and among all. I have included a picture of a picture of her pottery plate. Please forgive the picture quality, I could make excuses but I won’t.

What she was looking for from me was a larger scale sculpture made from metal. She wanted the sculpture to incorporate different textures and designs to symbolize differences among people in the world. She then wanted 3 of the rays to stand out among the rest and tie everything together in the center. Hmmmmmm…sounds like art to me. I am not sure I do art. The project would involve more abstract thinking and vision and not so much calculating and planning. I am sure that if my left brain was put into an octagon with my right brain my left brain would have my right side tapping out within the first round. I suspect the east side of my grey matter is excessively underdeveloped and taking on such a task may cause whatever neuron activity that may be present to cease all together. Or just maybe it was time for the little guy to grow up and take on the challenges presented to him with adult life, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger right? Plus if the runt fails I can always rely on lefty to bail him out.

Anyway…I rarely say no to a project. Although I didn’t commit to the task I said I would think it over. Me telling someone I will think it over is another way of me saying I’ll do it. I know this is true about me however I still enjoy denying it hoping one day I’ll do myself proud and turn a project down. I had explained to the lady that I would try and put some ideas and thoughts down on paper and see if I could come up with something that would couple her wants with my capabilities.

So a month went past and I dedicated a lot of brain power to the project. And I mean a lot. I was struggling, I had no vision, no idea how to accomplish what was being asked. I tried to AutoCAD some ideas plus I tried to even sketch some images. Nothing was working. I could accept that it wasn’t working if it was a simple matter that I had an image in may head with no way to put it on paper but this was not the case. I didn’t even have a vision.

Eventually the day came when a proposal had to be made to the church committee and I was forced to either decline or come up with something. Well we already covered the “I’m not doing it” part a couple of paragraphs up. Instead I put in a 2 page proposal that sounded just good enough that made it look like I knew what I was doing yet it lacked detail and was just vague enough that it would ensure me some freedom to come up with the actual plan once the building commenced. I submitted the proposal for review fully expecting the committee to come back to me declining the work. I was just fine with that, I wasn’t sure I had the creativity to spare to the project. Instead the committee was actually somewhat excited about the project and was more then happy to authorize the work to be done.

So I made the commitment to the church and I intend to stick with it. I have until the end of June to get the project built and installed. It looks like I get to be the designer, engineer, project manager, fabricator, finisher, and installer for the entire project. In the end I know I will enjoy the challenges that it will bring. Hopefully whatever metal sculpture I turn out I will find some sense of satisfaction with it.

So on with the details of the build. The overall diameter of the sun is going to be between 8 – 9 feet. It’s going to be a challenge building this in the garage due to the size. As there are lots of unknown details at this point I will start with what I do know. I need to build a base to support the rays and to have something to bolt onto the wall. My initial plan is to build the structure in such a way that I can disassemble the entire unit thereby making it easier to paint and install. Each ray will get supported and bolted to the base structure.

I had decided on building a total or 12 rays, 9 of them to be uniquely finished, the other 3 are pending ideas. The base is going to built 7 feet in diameter. I decided on 7 feet hoping that I will be able to fit it diagonally through a door way once complete. Since the structure is getting hung in a courtyard located in the center of the church my only options for getting the finished product in place is to ensure it fits through a door way or it will end up getting heaved onto the 2 story roof and then lowered into place.

So the base is nothing more then a hexagon built from 1” square .065” wall mild steel tubing. I used my hexagon building skills that I acquired from the construction on my gazebo a couple years back. I had built a triangle jig to ensure my hexagon arms would be spaced accurately. Once they were welded in place a measurement verified that they were only out by 1/32 of an inch. Pretty good! Too bad accuracy doesn’t much matter with this project, why can I never pull that off when it’s crucial? The rest of the hex got finished off with 2 sets of cross bracing and then was wrapped with 1” flat bar.

So the posting this time is not that exciting to look at. I apologize for the lengthy reading content however it helps set up what I will be blogging about for the next little while. With the base built I will move onto achieving some kind of structure that will hopefully have some resemblance to my non-vision.

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