Art School: Semester 5, Week 10

Week Ten.

I need to let that settle in. Week ten … is over and done.

Can’t be. Not possible. There isn’t enough time left to get anything done!


As you might guess, the stress levels are rising for everyone at school right now. We’re hitting the point of no return, and also the point of compromise. That is, we still have to finish things, but doing so may well require changes and simplifications. As a result life is… complex.


As I expected, I was the first to use the CNC router to cut out the parts of my stool. It was an “interesting” experience.

Being the guinea pig let me find a number of issues the hard way. I hope my fellow students benefit from my unwitting assistance. In order I found the following:

  • A design issue with my stool parts that caused the router to misbehave. We don’t understand it, but I redrew it and the parts began cutting correctly. The upshot seems to be to avoid curves that have a radius of curvature less than the radius of the router bit you are cutting with. In some ways that seems intuitive, and yet in other ways it isn’t, and the results output by the router made no sense in any case.
  • A single part that simply would not cut correctly. Something about it generated bad code to drive the router. Thankfully I have eight parts that are identical except for their orientation, and the other seven all cut fine. I simply deleted the bad one from the file and took another one (that worked) and rotated it 45 degrees to create the part again. In one of the photos below you can see it if you look closely. There is something odd near the right edges of the two left and top middle sheets. The make up parts are in the lower right sheet.
  • And, finally, the cuts were — frankly — lousy. There was all kinds of jitter and things that should have been exactly the same size were not. I brought this up with the instructor and the makerspace technician, as well as the shop technician. They did some research and testing and the single biggest issue seems to be that the CNC router was placed on a cart (to make it mobile). That cart, sadly, was not particularly rigid, so it would sway as the router moved around. That sway would cause the router to overshoot, and the software would attempt to correct it. The result was a bit of a mess. They’ve moved the setup to a table that is securely mounted to a wall, and nothing moves. They assure me that the next person who cuts will get much cleaner results. That doesn’t do anything for me, alas.

Photos from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Me sucking sawdust out of a cut sheet of stool fins.
  • The final sheets of cut parts.
  • The actual parts removed from the sheets.
  • The hugely sanded and pieced together tops. (I was just checking fit. The radial gaps will be even (and filled with plywood) in the final assembly.

I have done a bunch of sanding already, but there is much more to do. Part of that is normal prep work for finishing, but a big chunk of it is recovering from the cart mounted CNC setup.

Aboriginal Carving

I promised a photo of the spork:

This is not a Runcible Spoon

So there. It’s perfectly usable, honestly, and doesn’t feel bad in your hand. It’s much (much!) simpler than the first spoon. There are three reasons for that:

  1. I had no real plan for the handle decoration, and was drawing a blank.
  2. I found the sharp edges on the wood I left behind where cutting into my hands while I was working on the rest of it, so I cut them off. That lead (naturally) to rounding, and so it went.
  3. The instructor had indicated he wants us to keep the next project (the bowl) simple. I decided to do that here as well.

And speaking of the bowl, I have no pics but I am working on it too. I roughed it out on the bandsaw in the shop and have much of the bowl itself excavated. I was hoping to finish it for class on Wednesday (allowing me to finish very early) but other things (ahem… sculpture… ahem) have been interfering.

I am pondering ways to make the bowl less simple (which is, yes, against the rules) but I haven’t picked anything yet. I should have a photo of it next week.


The final sculpture project continues to take shape. And morph into something different from the original idea.

Here it is as of Saturday, March 2:

And more pics from Sunday, March 3:

Most interestingly, it has come to my attention that many people don’t understand how big this thing is, so I had a friend take my picture as I sat next to the beast:

Photo by Max. And his shadow. :)

Perhaps that helps to explain the size of the task I have taken on.

My design instructor — who used to teach sculpture here — told me on Monday: “You’re far enough into that. I can tell it’s a bowl.” I don’t think he fully understands the level of perfectionism present within me.

I tried to work on the bowl some more on Friday, but all my diamond saw blades gave out. I had nothing left, so instead of carving I went to a local place that sells them cheap and bought three. It’s back to the mine on Saturday morning. And Sunday too.

As for the work morphing, it is clearly becoming something about the insides being on the outside, if you will. I am saving all the chips you see in the images above — I have three, seven gallon buckets full so far — for use in the final work. The ideas continue to swirl, but things are slowly emerging.

And speaking of emerging, on Thursday we did the second pour of aluminum, and I got a good cast of my image without repacking the greensand mould:

There is a bunch of metal chasing to do now (which the instructor suggests is just background work) but it is clear to me that I need to do a lot to make this as pretty as I want it to be. I have no clue how this moves forward, though, given the level of commitment to other things.

Other School(ish) Stuff

The plastic recycling project continues. I have fully welded and ground the welds on the frame for the shredder now. I still need to mount the wheels and attach a metal sheet to secure the power switch to. After that we’re waiting for the arrival of the motor and the water jet cut parts for the shredder itself to work on the rest of the creation.


The idea that I might have anything else this week is laughable. Sorry. As usual all you get is the Art School Post Index.


I do have a couple of pictures, at least.

The first is the Langara college campus in the snow this past Wednesday evening, on the way home after carving class. (Yes, it snowed again, and even accumulated a bit.)

And this is Tinkerbelle out in mutant killer snow on Thursday night:

The snowflakes were huge, kind of like lake effect now in Chicago. If they hit you, you felt it. The flash captures them as streaks, but they give you a hint as to the size we’re talking about. Really big hunks of snow!

And In Conclusion…

Given the wood carving project, this is entirely too relevant:

And this as well, following the previous one:

In both cases you need to read the mouse-over text. Particularly in the second one.

And if you don’t follow xkcd, why not?

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.