Monday, August 31, 2009

Intimate Conversation - It Works!

Getting back to Intimate Conversation, here we are drilling the water channels for the “mouth” on the left. Because of the narrow working space I’m using a right angle converter attachment on the drill. So, the drill is connected to the right angle converter is connected to the water collar is connected to the core drill bit. To hit the mark, I line up the edge of the drill bit with the ruler and stop often to check that I am holding the whole thing level. You can see the small level I use on the drill bit just above the end of the drill handle.

After drilling the mouth passages, I drilled the mounting holes which will support the sculpture in the bottom and the other water channels inside the mounting holes. As you can see, it actually worked - the water channels met correctly and we have an aqueous conversation!

The next step is to finish roughing out the heads and remove the stone between them ... stay tuned.

Why I don’t Recommend Salt Water Pools and Better Alternatives

From time to time a question about salt water pools comes up. As you can tell from the title, I am not a fan and I will not put a fountain, sculpture, or spillway into one. Here is why:

Salt systems make chlorine to treat water by ionizing salt, sodium chloride, so that the sodium and chloride ions separate and the chloride is then available to cleanse the water. That is, the end result is exactly the same as adding chlorine the traditional way. For this process to work, a small amount of salt is dissolved in the pool water. Good for your skin, but terrible for everything else.

We all know that salt is corrosive. In the snow-belt, salt on roads eats cars and destroys road surfaces. If you live near the ocean, you will have seen the salt air corrode pipes, eat heating ducts, damage cars, and generally attack anything that stands still.

It turns out that even the small amount of salt dissolved in swimming pool water also attacks the environment around it. I have seen natural stone deeply etched in a matter of months just by having the pool water run over it. After talking with professionals in the stone business and with pool builders and doing some research, I discovered that the small amount of salt in the water attacks natural stone, concrete, steel, stainless steel, pool cover mechanisms, grout, pool and pond liners, and even the decking where there is splash out.

So the main reason I don’t like salt systems is that they attack sculptural materials destroying the works of art. But there are a number of other issues.

The salt generators also attract calcium from pool plaster to their titanium plates which they then put back into the pool water causing a calcium buildup on the pool surface and scaling where it is deposited on the pool walls and any other surface. You can also get a residue of salt around the edge of the pool and in areas where swimmers drop water, such as in front of pool ladders.

The backwash from salt pools can kill plants and enough of it can poison the ground. It is thought to be a bad enough environmental problem that salt systems have been banned in a number of municipalities across the US. For all these reasons, salt systems are not a great choice.

What are better alternatives? There is always the traditional chlorine additive. But, two new solutions have come on the market in past several years that seem to better for people, the water and the environment - Ultraviolet light systems and Ozone generators. Both types of systems are being used across the country in residential, commercial and public pools.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Intimate Conversation

This is a piece that I started some time ago, but never got around to finishing. The idea is two people talking, heads bent close together, with a stream of water flowing from each “mouth” combining into one stream representing the convergence of thought or emotion. Here is a 3D sketch.

It’s being carved out of a block of Texas limestone that is 48”h x 50”w x 7”d. The first step, after sketching the design on the stone was to cut out the center so that I can drill the water channels for the mouths. These channels have to intersect with the water channels that I will drill later from the bottom on each side. Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome to my studio!

Here is a quick pictorial tour of my workspace, starting with the view from road.  The building sits on an arroyo that can run like a river when the monsoons hit.  It was sighted near an ancient Ironwood tree so that no major plants had to be removed and the builders hollered like hell when I wouldn’t let them take out or drastically trim back the thorny bushes from the site.  But it was worth it to preserve the trees and bushes.

On the far left is a 2-element fountain displayed in one of the reflecting ponds around the property.  The front of the building is curved and the doors are hammered copper and curve around the building and are notched to close around the beam.  The studio was designed to utilize the natural elements.  There are skylights that flood the interior with soft light and open to let heat out.  The doors are on a North-South axis so sunlight floods the outside work area in the back.  During the winter, the rear copper door acts like a solar heater reflecting warmth into the workspace.  With all of the doors open in summer there is always a breeze and although the temperature can reach 110 or more, I can almost work there.

The turquoise beam supports a 1-1/2 ton hoist and passes through the building to the work area in back.  I don’t actually work in the building since working makes too much dust and mud – drilling and polishing are done with water.  So, I store my tools and equipment there and also finished pieces waiting to be shipped out – you can see the pieces of a 5-element fountain that’s ready to be picked up.

Inside you can see my workbench on the left and part of the rear copper accordion door.  The white tabletop piece in the black basin is my lucky fountain.

A number of lifting straps are hanging on the wall. In front of them is my drill rig and the long “pipes” next to the straps are drill bits - the longest is 100” – and more tools.  The wood box in the upper right is a stereo speaker – you got to have tunes!

The covered back area is where the work is really done.  You can see the overhead beam cranes, worktables, and some works-in-progress.

The back beam is 50’ long and extends over the stockpile of stone that followed my home from various quarries.  You can  see a radial crane towards the center of the picture and a manual and an electric hoist hanging from the beam.  Believe it or not, I like the electric one better than raising a 2000 lb stone by hand!

More later ....