This stair-step aluminum wall sculpture was recently shipped to Creative Metal Products in San Jose, CA. The owner was a great pleasure to work with. Here’s what he wrote: “We received the sculpture safely and it looks perfect! Attached is a picture file of the sculpture in our office. It’s been a fun experience in that the piece is just right in all respects, and you’ve been good to work with. Hope we have more opportunities like this in the future. Thank you for now and please say thanks to John too!!”
This wall sculpture is another of the layered puzzle designs I’ve been doing since 2000. It has a few unique characteristics. Using Weldwood contact cement, I laminated .030 aluminum to a nautical grade of marine plywood, a dense, 6-layer plywood that is very resistant to water and warping. The wall sculpture had an original size of 24″ x 28″ flat, before cutting. Because the aluminum was thin enough and the wood soft enough, this wall sculpture was actually cut by hand on a DeWalt 20″ scroll saw. Yes, that is what I did before I learned how to do CAD drawings and get designs water jet cut. Believe me, I went through a lot of blades, then had to do a lot of sanding to get the edges perfect. There are nine rectangles, each cut from inside the larger rectangle, and one center straight piece.
Wall Sculpture – Another Orientation
Here’s another photo of the same wall sculpture design. I call this one “Nine Rectangles On Side” but actually there are 10 pieces, the tenth being the center straight piece.
Because this wall sculpture design was made on a wood armature, I was able to assemble it with dry wall screws and gorilla glue. I like dry wall screws because they are wide threaded and don’t strip out like the thin threaded screws often do. The screws were a tad long, so I had to snip off the tips. It was assembled to be displayed as either a stair step design (49″ x 55″ x 3″) or as the 9-on-side design (36″ x 72″ x 4″).
Wall Sculpture – Design Discussion
This wall sculpture design has always made sense to me – mount the aluminum on a wood armature. You get the beauty of the metal with the lightness of wood. The 1/2″ thickness is a luxurious look – it looks massively thick for a wall sculpture. It is easy for the installer who may be high up on a ladder – 1/2 the weight of the same design made with all 1/4″ aluminum – only 12 pounds. Plus it is easy to change hangers with only a screwdriver – the installer doesn’t have to weld on or epoxy on a nut in a different place, just because you want to hang it in a new orientation. This wall sculpture design works great outdoors – totally resistant to sun, rain and snow, with no warping or delamination. (Secure well to the wall when outside to guard against the two major problems – thieves and wind.)
However, the buying public has had a hard time understanding the concept of metal laminated to wood. A person would come up to it admiringly, then touch the back, turn to me with a look of ‘are you trying to trick me’ and say, “it’s wood!”. Or they would tap on the surface and feel the acrylic coating and say, “is this plastic?”. This design actually was shipped out earlier to a designer in Florida for installation in the home of a wealthy person. Before I shipped, I carefully explained that this wall sculpture design was thin metal laminated to wood. Three months later she called me up and says she wanted to return it. Why? I asked. “Because it’s wood”, she said. “We ordered metal.” Personally, I think the wealthy people weren’t so wealthy but were trying to create that impression, had a party and needed a wall sculpture to fill an empty space, then returned it when the party was over. My wife once worked in couture retail and rich women would return dresses that they had clearly worn, with stains and smelling of cigarette smoke. But when you are rich, you can get away with bad behavior. That’s always been the rule of the land.
Shipping & crating
By angling the wall sculpture in the wood crate on the diagonal and having just 1″ foam all around, I was able stay under the Fed Ex Ground requirement of less than or equal to 165″ for girth + length. The 95 lb. box (total weight with wall sculpture) was built with 1/2″ OSB and 2×4’s, and cost $150 to ship to California. Building the crate and carefully securing the wall sculpture in the crate usually takes me 4-5 hours, with paperwork. It’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it to make sure the wall sculpture gets their safely.
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