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How to Use a Slip Roll to Shape a 3-D Metal Sculpture

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

Kevin Caron: I'm trying something different. This is a contemporary art sculpture inspired by a Dutch graphic artist by the name of Escher, from the late 1800s, early 1900s. I'm creating a mobius strip, which is a strip that basically doubles back on itself, so the inside becomes the outside and just continues on.

I'm using some of this quarter-inch solid steel stock that I've cut up into strips to make my crossbars. Then I've got smaller pieces to make the runners to go in between.

When I weld them all together, they'll come out flat, in a section like this. Then I lay down each section on this big piece of metal plate, so it's nice and smooth, flat and straight, then weld them all together in a big strip, like a big ladder.

After that I run them through my slip roller, and you can see how they've started taking on a little curve.

This is the piece that I want to continue to bend and twist, where I can get it to turn 180 degrees around. This next piece is going to be the other side of my strip, so this one has to roll up a little more, this one has to roll down a little more, and this one is going to have the twist all the way through it, creating my mobius strip.

Come on over to the slip roll and I'll show you how I do it.

This is the slip roll. It's got these two rollers in the back, one on top of the other, that I can adjust closer and farther apart, so it can grip the metal. This roller is adjusted by these two screws, and I can raise and lower this part. It'll get the curve that I want.

I can also tip it to one side and the other. I can get a piece to start with a heavy bend and just a slight bend on the end as it walks down to the other end.

Let me show you.

This is the other grid that I made earlier and am now starting to bend on the slip roll. You can see how it's got this nice, hard bend at the top and smoothes out at the bottom.

Now, if we just turn that up just a little more, raise this up so the gap is smaller, get my arm out of the way. (using slip roll)

That was a bad noise. I don't know if you heard that little "snap." That was one of the welds breaking. Because this is just quarter-inch stock, I probably only got about an eighth of an inch worth of a tack weld on there, so they're not as strong as they're going to be once I'm done bending and go back to re-weld everything.

So, we can do that side. Bite your tongue accordingly. Stick it out in your cheek just the right way. That ought to do it. Let me loosen this up. I'm loosening up my grip on this side, so I can turn it just a bit, and tighten the grip back up again. That way I don't have to take it all the way out; I don't have to change my curl that I'm after.

Now I can get a little different shape right in the middle. You can see the bend starting to show more. So all I have to do is just keep forcing it around, bending it around, close this gap up; then bring this one around the other way.

On that piece you saw me making over there, I'm going to do the opposite side to give it a twist around, then put the two of them together. It takes a little bit of nerve, when you hear them start to snap.

Oh, well, back to the welder.

You'll see it when it's done. Bye!

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