Saturday, April 12, 2014

(don't) Give me the Gears

I had been approached in early winter by a designer in Toronto about some pieces for a custom home under completion outside Barrie. Part of the initial work was consulting on, and then building, a large frame that supported a series of lamps and hand blown shades. Part of the design used bicycle chains and various hardware fittings for an 'industrial' look. (The clients were avid cyclists.)
 There was a lot of back and forth on the next part of the overall project. This was a set of air vent covers, to be installed into the large stone fireplace that was a main feature in the same large open plan kitchen / dinning / living space.
I had been given a large box of assorted gears and chains to employ in all of this. The designer's concept was to use randomly placed sprockets and gears to make the 'fill' for the air vents. The actual placement and patterning of these elements was my choice. Originally, the individual frames were to be roughly 6 x 16 inches.

I had spent two afternoons up to my elbows in solvent, first cleaning all the parts of the grease and dirt, then dis-assembling portions of the gear clusters (then cleaning them again). The pieces were sorted into four piles based on composition : alloy / chromed / plain steel / plastics; then further by size.

Creating the frames proved more of a challenge that I first expected. The designer wanted a thin line showing around the edges, but this needed to be balanced around providing structure and enough surface to join the gear pieces too. Initially we had settled on using 3/4 angle as the frame material. Later the composition of the fireplace stone was changed, so it was determined the depth of the frame needed to be 1 1/2 inches. The size was also changed down to 6 x 11 inches OD.
Now, you can not get 'off the shelf' 1 1/2 x 3/4 angle. At first I considered cutting down 1 1/2 web material to the needed 3/4 width. Even with the smaller dimension, that would still be several feet (several hours) at the band saw. In the end I contacted my steel supplier (Krueger Steel in Owen Sound) and asked about having the dimension stock I needed just fabricated. The balance of time saved against cost was good - and they had the material to me in about a week.

The frames were desired to be a flat black. I decided to use as many chromed parts as possible in the gear elements. The designer felt (correctly) that it would be possible to spray the whole thing over with flat black if she did not like the resulting look.
Part of the concept with the gears is that they would overlap the frame, so some of the larger pieces were cut and offset. I also used a number of gear clusters, to give a three dimensional effect to the finished grills.

And here they are:

A note on the images: I decided to use the hand held shots, with natural lighting. This does mean the individual images are a not 'crisp'. I did take shots with the flash, but they lack the warmth and depth of these (slightly blurry) natural light images.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

BTW, Client is thrilled with the frames and are showing them off to all their cycling buddies!

Thanks Darrell for your attention to detail.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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