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"Kevin's devotion to good craftsmanship combined with his amazing imagination has added immeasurably to the sensory experience of our students and other visitors."
--Eileen Szychowski, Founder, Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship, Inc. Scottsdale, Arizona

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How to Create Metal Art: Shaping a Sculpture

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

Kevin Caron: I'm about to teach you guys my secrets for creating a metal sculpture.

This piece of metal is for a new sound feature. When completed, it will actually be three bells joined together on a single stand 8 feet high in the middle, 7 feet high on one side and 6 feet high on the other side.

I'm trying to lay out the correct arc that I need for all three of the arms.
I'm working with different heights and different radii. Using my big table here in the studio, I've measured out 8 feet from the end of the table; that's ground. Now I'll measure out 7 feet, then 6 feet.

I've got one of the bells for the sculpture right here. Before I can attach it, I have to put a ring on it. As you can see, I've already cut the bottom out of it. This will be the big bell that goes on the 8-foot-tall arm. I can just slide it right on to where it needs to be, and I've come up with a way to do it - a cheater way.

I put a clamp down on that end, then placed a piece of stainless steel rod in it. I also clamped a pair of vice grips on the end, just so it doesn't squirt out and go flying across the shop. This is my starting point. I've used a couple of welding magnets to hold the other end.

Now I can come in here and get whatever kind of curve I want, and stick a magnet in there to hold the curve. Next I come along, trace it out and get my line. Once I bend one piece, then I know I just have to come in a set amount - four inches; bend another piece on the same angle and I've got my arm; do it two more times then weld it all together.

It's like having a big piece of sketch pad. You can draw on this whole big table. When you're all done, you just wipe it off and make a new one.

Sometimes people ask me, "How do you figure out the arc? How do you get that whole thing so it looks right?" A lot of it happens in here. If you stand right behind the bell you can look and see where the bell is going to hang. You can see the way the arc is set up in there. And what I was looking for is that nice, smooth transition.

Remember, this outdoor sculpture has three different arcs. I'm aiming for a nice, smooth flow from where it goes into the ground at the base, then opens up a little bit and becomes a little shallower at this spot. Then it continues to curve in and it gets a little tighter, a little straighter. It goes almost horizontal, so the bell can hang straight down from it rather than the bell hanging back against or above the arc where it doesn't have room to move. This way, it can hang out in the open and swing back and forth, making music in the garden.

A lot of it is just feeling and artist's instinct. You look at it and you think, "Too tight," or, "Just right," or, "Oh, that'll never stand up."

I'm going to make these three curved stands, then weld them in the middle, or down towards the base a little bit. The three of them on the bottom will be going in three different directions. They'll intersect one another in the bottom third, and then the three of them will go upward in different directions and the bells will hang up there all by themselves. That whole junction will be pretty neat looking when I get it all put together.

Hope that helps. See you next time!

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