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How to Scale Up a Sculpture

In the beginning of this how-to video, Kevin is looking at a maquette, or model, of a sculpture he created with a 3-D printer. He had designed the sculpture in his CAD (computer-aided design) computer program, then printed it using a 3-D printer. That's great if you only want the sculpture about a foot tall, but he'd like to make it bigger.

So how do you scale up a design to create a full-size sculpture? How do you translate the curves, the humps, the twists to a piece of steel so you'll have the right amount of metal? Kevin says, "I'll cheat!"

He takes some blue painter's tape, which sticks but will pull up and not leave residue, and fills in each side of the sculpture, following the seams, or edges, marking them with a marker. He shows how he folds the tape over the sides and stretches it as needed to get it to follow the sculpture's contours, making it fit the curves as closely as possible.

Next, he takes some newsprint he bought from a newspaper that discards its end rolls. He lays down his tape pattern on the paper and cuts them out on the lines to get his pattern. Kevin then shows us that he's already done that for each side of this sculpture, and shows us the particular piece he'd been working on as an example. Now he has his shapes for the pieces of metal and therefore for a sculpture the size of his model.

But how do you scale it up?

Kevin shows how he uses a compass that can hold a carpenter pencil or soapstone (the latter for metal) to follow the edge of the small pieces. You go out as far as the compass will accommodate, then lay it out on a larger sheet of paper and scale it up to the next size. On your final pass with the compass, you can create your larger size right onto the steel.

Kevin notes that there are other tools for doing this, but he doesn't have them. You can also scale up forms in the computer if you have the right software, printing out on paper sections that you can piece together.

He then shows a 4-foot-tall version of the sculpture that he is working on that started from the small pattern pieces.

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