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How to Create a Sculpture, Part 4

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

Kevin Caron: Safety gear. Youíve gotta love it. This is Part 4 of the beginning-to-end YouTube video series ďHow to Create a Metal Sculpture". Today in the studio I'm working on these big triangles that are part of the interior structure of a large piece of public art.

This is what will support the metal skin when I weld the skin on. It's got to be strong enough to be nine foot in diameter as well as hold up all that weight, so that's why I'm using this eighth-inch plate.

If you saw the last video, I cut these out of that eighth-inch steel plate with the plasma cutter, got the shape that I wanted out of them with this arc in them, then bored out my holes to a half inch in diameter; that's the size of rod I'll use to make the ring that goes around the inside of the sculpture, and to which these triangles will be welded.

Iíll take half-inch bolts; stack them up; bolt them all together; grind them and shape them - get them pretty close. They're not exactly perfect; they don't look like they came off of a machine. I don't want them that way; I want them to have some flaws in them; I want it to have a little life, a little variation.

If I wanted it to look like a machine did it, I'd go have the machine do it - it's me, instead. Iím using my big Makita 7-inch grinder with a cutoff wheel instead of a grinding wheel so it's really thin, just like they use on a chop saw; they just make them smaller so you can put them on grinders for metal work like this. This power tool has lots of power, lots of torque. You've got to hang on to it. Sometimes when you start making a cut with it, it'll want to jump on you.

At the end of my triangle, I just want to cut that notch in there so that quarter-by-quarter stock will fit down in there that way. I can tack it on the inside; this gives me something in between each of the triangles for welding on the skin. I can clamp it, weld it, finish it and grind it. This just helps to tie everything together.

With only the half-inch rod and triangles on it, it's kind of wobbly. It's still not supported very well, but once I get the quarter-by-quarter in there and tack them all together to help stiffen everything up, then it supports itself. You can leave it up on just one corner and it will sit there.

I've got two more ends to go, so let me just spin this guy around. I've got wedges under it to help make up for the thickness of the bolt head. Now I'm trying to get it flat and level, then I'll clamp it to the bench so the thing stays still so, when I'm cutting, I'm not chasing it across the bench.

Iíll finish those two and then I can start rolling out my half-inch rod. I've got to lay out an eight-foot circle on the ground, roll that out and make that rod fit. Then I can start putting these on the rod and begin welding it together. More steps, more steps, more steps.

A quick word on safety: as I said before, this big grinder has lots of horsepower and torque - especially if you're trying to do delicate work with it.

Just like with a chainsaw, when you're cutting with the very end of it - the tip of the bar - it'll jump back at you. The same goes here; when you start cutting in there, you've got to really hang on to it. Don't get your face over it. Leave it out there in front of you. If it wants to jump, let that puppy go, get out of the way!

Also, whenever you're cutting or grinding, thereís all that fine dust; always use a dust mask, glasses, hearing protection, and gloves to protect you from the sparks. You don't need to get burned.

OK. Put your glasses on. Turn your speakers down. This gets a little noisy.

After a while, you get a pretty good eye; your eye gets calibrated to what you're doing - that's just about exactly where I want it.

Now I'll finish this last one, go lay out my circle so I know how big to roll it; roll my half-inch, and then Iíll start putting this contemporary art sculpture together. Oh, boy.

Let me get this done. I'll see you next time.

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