Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sculpture: Metal Cyborg Arm-Pencil

Yesterday, as my brother was working on cleaning out the extra room on the upper floor of our house that has served as a storage area for a lot of miscellaneae, he pulled out this!

 It's a piece that I created for a sculpture class about two to three years ago. We had to create various assignments using plaster, wood and metal in turns, and the prompt for the metalwork section was to create something that was an extension of our body, both literally and metaphorically. We had to actually be able to wear it for the class critique.

Since I've loved to draw since I was little, and my most oft-used instrument being the common pencil, it really does feel like an extension of my body when I use it. It was also easy enough for me to figure out how to portray that using sculpture - just make a big metal pencil arm!

While I had no trouble deciding on a concept to pursue, but it was quite a technical challenge figuring out how to actually make it, and make it right. I had to do a lot of measuring and planning, since it would've been the worst feeling to work hard making the piece and then not be able to wear it because I goofed up on a measurement!

So I decided to make a very pencil-like hexagonal structure with long sheet metal strips attached to a frame of metal rods, made in a size that an arm could fit in one end, with a bar welded on the inside for the holder to grip. At the other end I attached a piece of sheet metal wrapped around and shaped into a cone, like the tip of the pencil, as you can see below.

I had to leave one of the sides of the pencil open and uncovered by sheet metal so that I would be able to get inside the frame and weld things together in there, which was a tricky (and sometimes hazardous) thing to do, but my eyes and my hands all survived it. You can see in the open section in the photos below.

I not only wanted it to look like a pencil, but I wanted it to be able to function as a pencil as well, so the wielder can use it to draw and write. If you look in the picture immediately above, you can see a bit of a large graphite stick poking out of a hole at the tip of the cone on the front of the pencil.

I don't know where I was able to find such a large piece of graphite, but it was exactly what I needed. I would have used a piece of chalk instead in case I couldn't find anything else to put in there, but I'm glad I got to make it really authentically pencil-like. The graphite is stuck in there with masking tape, so it's rather inelegant, but it works fantastically! When I had to present the finished piece to the class, I explained my concept and then did a demonstration of using it to draw on a piece of paper I had taped to the wall. It went just as well as I could have hoped.

It's gotten a little bit rusty in the few years that its been stored away, but it still seems quite sturdy, and I actually kind of like the look of it. As you can see below, the discoloring of the metal has formed these neat little circles around the points where I welded it together.

 Below, I have some pictures of it being held and used, so you can see how it measures compared to a human arm, how it's gripped, and how long of a reach it has.

If anyone I know in real life wants to visit and try on and try out the arm-pencil, I would be more than happy to show it off! It can also be useful if you're making a costume of a robot or a cyborg warrior, and you'd like a big scary-looking gun-hand for it. It's a bit heavy, but it's very cool looking! If nothing else, it'll give you a good arm workout.

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