Let me tell you right away that this futuristic wind turbine was not my idea. The author of this kinetic sculpture (that is, not static, as everyone is accustomed to, but moving) is the German artist Michael Hisscher. “The moving elements are centrally attached to the axes of the work and are so precisely balanced that even the slightest breeze will set them in motion. The gently balanced wings of each sculpture. find their center in weightlessness.
Kinetic sculpture is four-dimensional – as its wings glide randomly and unpredictably through the air, they deal with the passage of time. Lightness and balance are their theme, time is their essence. That’s what the plaque next to the structure I first saw in Moscow’s Zaryadye Park says. There is something mysterious about these blades, now turning, now freezing, as if “thinking” about something. Hisscher’s creation impressed me even more than the famous floating bridge over the Moskva River, and I decided to build something similar at my garden plot. People will be amazed!
The whole point of this construction is in the very easy rotation of the blades in the vertical planes and their hubs in the horizontal. This is where you need good bearings. Of course, you could buy them, then turn the hub for them – it would be high quality and technically flawless. But I’m not a turner, no one I know, to whom such work could be ordered, so I decided to look for a workaround.
At first I puzzled over finding the right bearings. My friend, with whom I shared my crazy idea, advised to take them out of spinners.
Remember, such toys were popular at one time – they were twirled between the fingers of children and adults. Indeed, they spin very lightly – just what is needed for the intended design. But it turned out that the mass craze (or rather, some kind of mass psychosis) has passed, and spinners have completely disappeared from sales. In online stores they can still be found, of course, but to bother with ordering and delivery simply did not want. By some miracle I found one spinner in a run-down newspaper stand, the simplest one for 20 rubles. It seems that it had been lying on the counter (or under it) for so long that the bearing had already managed to get a little rusty.
However, it retained its lightest rotation. Too bad there was only one such bauble available. Examination showed that it used a 608 bearing. A shaft diameter of 8 mm seemed to me quite suitable for the future design. A couple of other bearings of the same size were successfully found in the garage. And I decided to make the blades themselves, or wings as they are called in the original, from a rectangular duralumin pipe with cross section of 20×40 mm, bought at the construction market.
The most difficult thing was to make a hub for the blades, also a cage for the bearings. As a result of quite a long rambling through the dumps of various scrap metal there picked up a piece of steel pipe with an inner diameter of exactly 22 mm, which was required. But the pipe had a seam that protruded slightly inside and interfered with the bearing seating. I had to arm myself with a round file to eliminate this roughness.
Kinetic Wood Sculptures, or How to Build a Dream Career
David Roy’s kinetic sculptures are a veritable symphony of movement. All the models “wind up” with a light breeze. The details are skillfully carved from ordinary birch plywood. Once the sculpture is brought out of the equilibrium position, you can watch the changing patterns for 8 to 16 hours. There is no motor or batteries in the device.
David Roy is a sculptor, physicist and artist in one. He used to be a full-time programmer, but one day he decided to give up his profession and devote himself to creativity. Today, Roy values his work at $4,000 each. In just a few years, he not only achieved financial prosperity, but also found recognition in a field he had never even considered before.
The Wooden Hacker
As a child, David loved to watch his father fiddling around in the garage. It was his parents who instilled in the child a love of manual labor. By the early 1970s, Roy had majored in engineering at Boston University, after which he studied chemistry and physics twice more.
During his studies, David often visited his high school friend Margie, who was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design. During one trip, Margie showed him her creations – several static wooden sculptures that resembled machines. It was these works that got David thinking, “What if you put all the pieces in motion?”
In 1974, David and Margie were married. While Margie continued to study art, David got a job as a computer programmer. The monotonous work quickly bored him, and the idea of creating wooden sculptures never left his mind… So David began to create.
It all started with models of small children’s toys. Roy was quick with sketches and calculations, but his carpentry skills were not immediate. Margie helped here – in her line of work she had to work with many materials, including wood.
It didn’t take long before David realized that by devoting more time to his hobby he could provide for his family. He left his job as a programmer to devote himself completely to the hobby he loved.
How do you make sculptures move?
After acquiring carpentry skills, David wondered how to make things move for a long time? In doing so, he was fundamentally reluctant to use motors, batteries, and wires, because his sculptures had to be completely “natural.”
After several unsuccessful attempts, he developed a mechanism that begins to work from a small effort or just a flow of air. The parts then set other parts in motion, and so on up the chain.
Not far from David and Margie’s home was the Rhinebeck Craft Market. The largest handmade fair in America was held there twice a year. For two years David tried to get permission to participate, but the organizers refused him for unknown reasons.
It wasn’t until 1977 that Roy managed to put the wooden kinetic sculptures on public display. David and Margie’s work caused a furor among the visitors to the show. Within a couple of days they received several hundred orders.
As time passed, word of the exclusive sculptures spread throughout the surrounding states and the flow of orders became steady. This allowed Roy to buy a plot of land, build a house on it and his own studio studio studio.
Each year David’s work became more unusual, the design became more complex, and, thanks to his own designs, the travel time increased. Here are a few of Roy’s popular works:
Most of David’s sculptures are capable of running for 8 to 16 hours nonstop. He has been working for months on a model whose parts will rotate for 2 days!
The role of technology in an artist’s work
As an artist with an engineering background, Roy has always stayed abreast of the latest advances and used them in his work. When the Apple Macintosh came out in 1984, David immediately purchased one.
Whereas previously he drew out details on paper, traced templates on plywood, and then cut out shapes with a hand saw, today, with a Mac in tandem with Adobe Illustrator and LaserWriter, he can draw and scale his designs with perfect precision, then, passing the information to the laser machine, cut out smooth details.
Adobe After Effects and Strata Design 3D allow him to render sculptures in motion before creating them.
To sell his work, David has always needed a visual demonstration of sculptures in motion. After all, it’s hard enough to appreciate such beauty from a photo, much less a textual description. A couple of decades ago, Roy shot short videos on camera and then sent them to potential clients by regular mail.
With the advent of the Internet, the process became much easier. And when YouTube was launched in 2005, Roy had another effective and virtually free channel for advertising. Throughout its existence, videos of David’s sculptures have been viewed more than 5,000,000 times.
By staying open to new ideas and following his creative impulses, David has been able to build what he says is a “dream career.”
Roy works in tandem with his wife and does not employ additional staff, although the demand for his sculptures exceeds the capacity of the studio. He is an artist, designer, and engineer all in one. Margie does most of the promoting of their website online. “We switched roles,” David says. “She became a computer nerd and I became an artist.”