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How to Lay Out a Sculpture for Metal Fabrication



Kevin is using his hydraulic pipe bender to create the body of a recent commission. Lady Bugme has a cage-like toso into which Kevin will put a functioning bug zapper. He's bending 1" steel pipes with his pipe bender to create the shape, which he has sketched out on his hydraulic lift table.

The table is one of his favorite tools in his studio, which used to be an automotive garage. He took one of the old lifts and replaced the four arms that you'd drive a car up onto with a 1-1/2", 5' x 10' steel plate. He uses the table to raise or lower sculptures - or himself - as he is working. In this case, he has sketched the entire sculpture out on the table to get his proportions right, then sketched the ribs of Lady Bugme around the bug zapper to get everything to fit properly.

He's bending the pipe very slowly to get the shape he wants, bending about 2" at a time, then checking and adjusting it. Once he gets one rib done, he'll resketch around it, then match all the other ribs to the first one. He determined how big the diameter of the pipe should be by comparing all of the components to each other, then comparing various sizes of pipe to see what looks best. This is why it sometimes takes months to make a sculpture.

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