Almost a kilometre of welded steel

To build our features there are many steps. After the design is done the first consideration is how will it be assembled, moved about the shop, lifted onto the truck and then onside. Those factors determine the structural framework inside, and the mounting and lift points. These of course all have to be tucked within the dimensions of the finished piece. The heaviest pieces of structural steel come first, then the bracing, followed by a lighter structural frame as we work our way outwards. Place steel is cut, fitted, and welded into place for the joining surfaces. Then it is on to the 'pencil rod' armature. This is 1/4" steel rod that is hand formed and welded into a grid to form the shape of the final piece. We like to block in the big areas first and then fill in the smaller spaces to form about a six inch grid to provide a sturdy framework backing for the sculpture. As we weld we constantly do the shake test by grabbing it with both hands and swinging on it. If there is any movement we add more welded steel bracing until it doesn't. Any movement will make applying the sculpted concrete very difficult. The feature also has to withstand the stress of lifting, transport and placement - even if it is moved multiple times over it's lifetime.

The first level of the PNE feature we started this week is now down to the pencil rod stage. We are about two thirds of the way around and should finish tomorrow. There will be almost a kilometre of steel in this structure when we are done - all securely welded into place. Photographs never properly show this stage but the in person the piece looks great. It is all about proportion at this point. Lots of fun detail is coming soon. Stay tuned...

Dan SawatzkyComment