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"Your pieces are very beautiful and full of life. I especially liked the yellow cheese sculpture."
--Elaine Goldman, Vice-President, Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Forum

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How to Create a Sculpture, Part 2

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you measuring?

Kevin Caron: I'm measuring the dimensions of a new contemporary art sculpture I'm creating here in the studio. Today's how-to video is the second part of the series on how to create a metal sculpture. In this series, were chronicling all the different steps involved in making one of my sculptures.

Currently I'm working on a large-scale version of Torrent, an umbilic torus about 4 feet tall. This version is going to be 8 feet tall. Basically, a torus is a ring, and an umbilic torus is one that is shaped like that. It's got three sides. It's not a triangle with a straight side, but rather has a little curve in it on all three sides.

There's another challenging characteristic of the umbilic torus: instead of all of these being just this way all the way around the shape to make the whole ring; starting here at zero, each side must rotate as it goes around the ring until you finally get back to 120 degrees. Remember, this was our starting point, so you'll finally get back to 120 degrees as you turn all these rings all the way around this structure, then weld them all in.

The next thing I have to do with this is come in here and notch this out a quarter inch on all three sides; all three points to take some quarter-by-quarter solid steel stock that I will roll and twist to make it go around this sculpture. Remember, these things rotate as they move, so you have to rotate and twist all at the same time.

This will give me my outside edge so that when I make the skin that goes from this triangle to the next triangle, I've got a place to end it here and end it on this side.

Then Ill make all these little skins, or sections, all the way around, weld them all in, weld them in on the bottom, weld them in on the back side, and grind everybody smooth. It should turn out nice and smooth and flowing all the way around.

Now that I've got my pattern, I need to cut out 60 of these. I've already done one, so I need to lay out 59 more and cut out each one with the plasma cutter. That's what I'm doing here.

This is the center hole in the triangle that my half-inch round solid stock will go through when I make the inner ring of the torus. Eventually, all of these will get bored out to half-inch, but for now, I'll just leave it an eighth-inch so I can throw it on the bench, line up my edges, and punch a hole.

It just so happens that the shaft on my scratch awl is a little bit bigger in diameter than an eighth an inch, so I can just line it up and pin it in place.

Here's the center hole that I drilled in the middle of the triangle. It's an eighth-inch right now. Eventually it will go out to a half an inch. That's the thickness of the rod that I'll be using to make the inner ring on which all of these triangles will be welded.

By leaving it at an eighth of an inch, I'll be able to throw it on a piece of plate, drill the hole through the plate that I'm going to cut, then I can put my awl in there and since it's a little bigger in diameter, it won't fall all the way through. That helps pin it in place and I can go ahead and draw my marks.

As I lay out the pieces, I try to use this sheet as best I can to get as many pieces out of it as possible. After that I'll use the plasma cutter to cut them out and then clean them up. With 59 more to go, I'll be a couple of days making these. Then we'll go on to the next step.

The Voice: What is it about this shape that compels you to make it?

Kevin Caron: I love this shape. It's a very alluring shape to me. I love to look at it. I find it calming and exciting all at the same time, if that makes any sense. It's beautiful to look at. When you set it out in the sun and you watch it all day, you'll see the shadows change on it; what's bright in the sunlight now will fade and disappear in just a few minutes as the sun moves along.

The fact that it's a three-sided mobius strip is something that has always fascinated me: it's a three-sided, single-plane object. There's only one surface; when you start here and go all the way around, you wind up on a different side. You have to go all the way around again; you're on a different side. You've got to go all the way around three times to get back to where you started. I love that! It's just fun to do. It's fun to look at.

Recently, I had Torrent at a contemporary art show and people would just stand there and you could see them going around with their head and go, "Huh? Wait a minute." And then they'd go around with their finger. Most people would actually go over, look to make sure nobody was watching and then they'd put their finger on it and trace it with their finger all the way around. And they'd have to go all the way around and around and around and then finally they would get what was going on.

It's just fun. I just love it. That's part of my job, you know. Have fun. Make cool things. Make people wonder. That's what makes me excited.

So, I'll lay these all out, cut them all out, clean them all up, and make some more. And when I get done with that part, I'll be back and we'll talk about the next step in this five part YouTube video series on creating a metal sculpture.

See you next time.

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