In August I traveled to Penland for the first time to attend a two-week workshop titled "Mechanical Playthings" taught by artist Gary Schott. Since I have started to make 3D and kinetic versions of my work, I wanted to learn more about moving mechanisms (pulleys, levers) so that I can make them myself.
The campus at Penland is breathtaking and I was fortunate to work in such a beautiful, peaceful location for two weeks. It was a vacation where you also worked very long days, giving me flashbacks of architecture school.
Gary gave us several small projects in the first week, giving us the opportunity to play, fail, and practice. Working in the metals studio, we worked in wood and metal rod, which was a learning curve for me. I learned how to use a jeweler's saw to (tediously) cut gears and learned how NOT to punch out a washer.
In the second week, we were given the freedom to pursue individual projects and finish lingering ones from the first week. Since I had an upcoming show at Greenhill, I started thinking about my two sculptures for the show. Inspired by the movement of construction elevators in downtown Raleigh, I wanted to make an object that moved up and down, possibly passing a second object. After trying to figure it out on my own, I discussed with Gary and we arrived at a rack and pinion system...with more gears! A rack and pinion system would provide a stop in the line of travel that I needed. During the rest of the week I built a prototype of the rack and pinion on a wood frame. At the end of the week, my rack ended up looking like a pop-up periscope. I came back to Raleigh and re-used my gears in a new tower structure, to create Peeper for the Following Threads show.