Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sculpture: Barney & Smith Train Car Factory

Here are the steps of how I created a sculpture of the Barney & Smith Train Car Factory as part of my commission to create six sculptures for the ReImagining Works project of the Dayton Metro Library

Barney & Smith Train Car Factory - Darren Kall, Property of Dayton Metro Library

First a review of the commission: The sculpture is cutout sheet aluminum approximately 33in H, 45in W, .25in D. The sculptures are integrated into the fence of the new reading terrace of the Electra C. Doren Branch Library. Each panel depicts a different Old North Dayton landmark. 

The Barney & Smith Car Factory was an industrial cornerstone of Old North Dayton that was destroyed in the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. Many immigrant families of Old North Dayton worked at the factory. The factory was much larger than the section I depicted. I used historic photos of the factory as my source for details and subject inspiration.

As part of the ReImagining Works project the community chose Charles Sheeler's Stacks in Celebration painting from the permanent collection of the Dayton Art Institute as the inspiration for this project. In my sculpture train parts and partial assemblies sit in the open “street” between factory buildings and smoke stacks jut into the sky much like Charles Sheeler’s subjects in Stacks in Celebration. And I interpreted Sheeler's fractured cubist sky with my sky sections of lines of different thicknesses. 

This is my chalk sketch of Barney & Smith on black art paper.

I started with pencil sketches where I decided the layout of objects, then the fracture lines of the sky, and finally what of four bar thicknesses I'll use for the"shades" of sky in each segment.

I worked out all the cutouts at this stage. Since all parts of the black had to be attached in the final piece I had to think through each line before I did any cutting.
 A close up of the chalk drawing showing how I marked the bars in the sky to show which bars would remain and become metal in the final sculpture. Being messy with the chalk doesn't really matter at this point as long as I can see my cut lines clearly.

Of the six sculptures this was the most complicated visually since there were so many small parts and separate objects that had to be distinguished from each other.
This is a photo of the partially cut lines for the fractured sky. The open spaces and the solid bars are free-standing continuous pieces of paper. But I cut them one segment at a time trimming each point where they touch the imaginary boundary between sky sections. This ensured that I cut the imaginary boundary lines sharply. Later, in the CAD drawing real support lines were added where at this stage they are an illusion.
In this photo the sky is fully cut. I started with the sky because mistakes are more likely in the sky and if I made a mistake I wanted to save having to cut the buildings out a second time.
Here cutting the buildings is shown in progress. I worked from right to left in this artwork so that my right hand did not smudge the chalk drawing to the left before I could cut it. It is very easy to smudge the chalk, and I did this more than once. When I did smudge the sketch I had to redo that portion of the chalk drawing.
The fully cut, but not yet clean, final artwork. From here I repeatedly cleaned every cut section of the black art paper with a kneadable eraser. Only faint shadows of the chalk were allowed to remain because when I scan it I didn't want any chalk areas appearing as false cutout areas by mistake. 
The cleaned and scanned version of the final artwork. 
I used Ultra Aluminum as my fabricator for cutting the sheet metal. This is a copy of the instructional guideline that I gave Ultra Aluminum for the placement of the support lines, and the placement of my signature. This was accompanied with a written description of how I wanted the sculpture cut.
The CAD expert at Ultra Aluminum took the scan of my original and fed it through a transformation program that converted it to a CAD drawing. Then they manually adjusted where the program didn't interpret my original correctly. The CAD expert then added the support lines. The CAD expert and I traded the CAD drawings back and forth until I was ready to sign off on the final version.
The CAD expert then programed the cutting path that directed the automated water jet cutter as it moved across the sheet aluminum cutting out each hole in the sculpture.

After this came a lot of hand grinding to remove burrs on the cut edges, more grinding to create the surface effect, and clear powder coating to surface the piece before it was ready for assembly and installation. But more about that part of theprocess in other posts. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Press about my sculptures at the Electra C. Doren Library

Kiser Middle School - Darren Kall. Property of Dayton Metro Library
My sculptures are finished, installed, and the Electra C. Doren library has reopened. On January 3rd Dayton Metro Library held an open house and re-dedication of the library. It was cold and wet that day but a surprisingly large number of people attended the re-dedication ceremony. 

There was some really great press about the sculptures, the library, and the re-dedication open house that you can read about in these links:

Dayton Daily News article by Meredith Moss and video interview clip by Lisa Powell

Darren Kall with sculpture panel the day of installation - Photo Brian Barr
Oakwood Register article and photos by Brian Barr. 
Select the folder icon on the page header to open the archived versions of this newspaper. Choose the December 23rd, 2014 issue.

WDTN news interview of the Electra C. Doren Library Branch Manager Jonathan and staff member Elaine.
This brief interview is mostly about Electra C. Doren the person and the library with a brief mention about the sculptures.

You can go see the sculptures in person at 701 Troy Street, Dayton, OH any day the Electra C. Doren library is open