Wind Sculptures by Sawtooth Art
Wind sculpture by Sawtooth Art

Building Kinetic Sculpture

Building Kinetic Sculpture
Start with large sheets of copper
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My kinetic sculpture designs are inspired by nature; cattails in a wetland, ivy growing on the walls of a building, a willow tree or a grove of aspen. The key to kinetic sculpture is to start with that design and create a sculpture that will move with the slightest breeze. I make sure the sculpture is perfectly balanced about the axis of rotation so the ball bearing will provide an almost friction free support, and that the air resistance of the sculpture is unbalanced about the axis of rotation so the wind provides an unbalanced force, causing the sculpture to rotate.

I start with large sheets of copper, scribe shapes for leaves, cattails and the flat portions of the sculpture. I cut out the shapes with a tin snips or band saw, and sand all the edges to remove the burrs.

I like the "beaten copper" look, so I hammer the shapes to give them texture. Years ago I found that hammering all day can cause carpal tunnel problems so I created my own automatic hammering machine to make this step quicker and easier. It's awfully loud, but it saves my arms.

I cut the stems from large solid copper wire and bend them so they can attach leaves to the trunk of the sculpture. I also cut the trunks from copper tubing.

Now I can assemble my sculpture, by soldering the leaves to the stems, and the stems to the trunk. I also insert the "lubricated for life" ball bearing into a cap that I solder to the top of the trunk. Everything has to be perfectly balanced when the wind sculpture is done so I may have to adjust a few leaves or stems as I assemble the wind sculpture.

I like the shiny look of fresh copper, so I apply a clear finish to one side of the leaves. After the clear finish dries I scrub a patina oxidizer into the other side of the leaves and the stems and the trunks. This causes the unprotected copper surfaces to oxidize to a beautiful blue green patina over time.

My last step is to drill a hole in the rock base, insert a vertical pole into the rock base, and mount the sculpture on the pole.

Now the sculpture is complete and ready to be delivered to a customer, or displayed in my sculpture garden outside the studio until someone purchases it. You are welcome to visit my studio and look at my kinetic art in the sculpture garden, but please call before you visit so I can make sure to be available when you arrive.

Wind sculptures by Sawtooth Art
Wind sculpture by Sawtooth Art
Wind sculpture by Sawtooth Art
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