The first assignment for Introduction to Fabrication was to fabricate a flashlight, and I decided to use this opportunity to put in practice a design idea I had for a while: to sculpt a tree shaped interactive modernist sculpture. Simple enough! What can possibly go wrong?
I started the project by making several sketches of the general idea I was looking for. I used as reference some older sketches as well as some of the works of contemporary designers like Konstantin Grcic. I really like the mixture of straight modern lines with abrupt organic curves. So let’s put this to practice.
Before adventuring into wood carving, I used a block of bassa foam. It is porous, light, very easy to carve, but hard enough to hold shape. I never carved anything in my life, so I was curious to see who this would go. For tools I used mainly an amazing Japanese wood saw I’ve found at the show, as well as a simple carving kit I bought, drills, pencils and sanding paper.
For lighting I dismantled an led keychain flashlight for batteries and lamp, and bought some nice cable. I’m still not sure about the switch though. The idea is to insert the cable inside the organic shape of the tree.
Using my sketches as reference, I draw the general shape around the block to guide the carving process. When I compared the size and width of the electrical cable with the first drawing, I decided it would be to small, so I’ve made another one, this time using the whole bassa foam block.
I started carving with a carving knife to get a better idea on how the bassa foam behaved.
Then I started going for broader, bolder cuts with the Japanese wood saw. I tried to remember the few videos about carving that I saw that tells you to not be afraid to go bold in order to shape you sculpture. This is the same advise I give my drawing students.
Final Shape – sort of