Echo Lake reflections

Here’s Lady Macbeth being made, the project and process my wife, Tina Fruchter, and I went through during the Echo Lake conference. This was our first collaborative workshop woodworking event, and also our first workshop collaboration together. We learned a lot on several fronts, and I’ll step out from behind the camera to share with you in this post.

On the design front I really enjoyed turning and sawing crude joints for pelvis, elbow and shoulder using pin-and-pivot mechanism from my current work on four-bar linkages in furniture. The Echo Lake experience advanced my work too: first day back in the UArts workshop, I made several improved versions of shoulder and elbow joints, adding to my gizmo-and-mechanism vocabulary.

On the tooling front, I lusted for an inflatable drum sander like Norm Sartorius has, and confirmed anew my own preference for the band saw for nearly every sawing operation. I also gained new appreciation for high-speed power carving tools, even as I decided not to acquire a set-up of my own.

On the collaborative partnership front it went really well, with good discussions that advanced the project without arguments. At the same time, Tina rediscovered why she does not do shop work: she’s very sensitive to wood dust in the air. She’d need a respirator helmet like Ben Carpenter wears to carve and sand.

On the art and auction front, we noted that large sculptural pieces including ours did not attract anywhere near the interest that budders showed in small, nicely finished objets d’art. People said they couldn’t give it floor space, it wasn’t useful enough to have a vestigial cabinet inside the figure’s body.

That begs the question of whether the piece was any good, you’ll have to decide for yourself. For me, it was enough to enjoy the Echo Lake experience, make new friends, try new things, and come away with new ideas.

Piano pedal mechanism, staved vessel halves, turned table leg, newel post, carved head and hand by Keith Holt. We found all this on the resource table.

Piano pedal mechanism, staved vessel halves, turned table leg, newel post, carved head and hand by Keith Holt. We found all this on the resource table.

ITE fellow Ben Carpenter, also enjoying his first collaborative workshop, jokes about that pink block of plywood.

ITE fellow Ben Carpenter, also enjoying his first collaborative workshop, jokes with me about that pink block of plywood.

The piano pedals need feet for stability, sawn from salvaged cabinet doors.

This will be a full-size figure, and the piano-pedal legs need feet for stability, band-sawn from salvaged cabinet doors.

Tina disk-sands the corners off the chain-sawn block of ash we chose for shoulders. She did not like the dust.

Tina disk-sands the corners off the chain-sawn block of ash we chose for our figure’s shoulders. She did not like the sanding dust.

We made wooden bolts to construct a found-object pelvis, and joined the vessel halves rim to rim to make the chest. Now I'm pondering the shoulder joint.

We made wooden bolts to construct a found-object pelvis, and joined the vessel halves rim to rim to make the chest. Now I’m pondering the shoulder joint.

The bridgeless violin defines the figure's back and butt, while throwing in an art reference.

Tina positions the hollow head. The bridgeless violin defines the figure’s back, waist and butt, while throwing in a Man Ray art reference.

Malcolm Zander suggested that paint might unify the assemblage, and after debate we agreed. We also tried draping the figure, but no.

Malcolm Zander suggested that paint might unify the assemblage, and after debate we agreed. We also tried draping the figure, but no.

The figure's back hinges open. The pink plywood became her heart, above a wee offering cup on red snakeskin leatherette.

The figure’s back hinges open. The pink plywood became her heart, above a wee offering cup on an altar of red snakeskin leatherette.

The goddess has interchangeable tools hanging from her piano pedals, including an eternal flame, and the primal domestic soup ladle.

This goddess has interchangeable tools hanging from her piano pedals, including an eternal flame, and the primal domestic soup ladle. Plus  sandals more fashionable than her creator’s. 

The goddess was nameless until we reviewed the photos and found this image of Lady Macbeth, dagger in hand.

The goddess was nameless until we reviewed the photos and found this image of Lady Macbeth, dagger in hand.

We pitched hard at the Saturday evening auction, but to not much avail: she went to a college dorm for a mere $75.

We pitched hard at the Saturday evening auction, but to not much avail: she went to a college dorm for a mere $75. Thank you  Overton family!

New two-axis shoulder joint I made the next day. It rotates and swings, just like you do. Compare to the crude joints in the previous photo, more on this in a later post.

New two-axis shoulder joint I made the next day. It rotates and swings, just like you do. Compare to the crude joints in the previous photo, more on this in a later post.

 

2 thoughts on “Echo Lake reflections

  1. Good example of outdoor sculpture potential. A number of pieces struck me the same way this year at Echo. Consider outdoor durability and the “space” issues go away ! Maybe this will catch on in 2014 ? I would have Loved Lady McBeth in my garden but how to get her there?..

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