Our latest project involved getting a freshly cut two x four piece of pine and were instructed to find a way to express a system of scale within that wood. We were free to find a system of scale to replicate or create. Simple or complex, systems of scale are everywhere. After orientation in the wood shop we were set free to figure out how to do our project. I looked for inspiration online and looked first at architectural systems of scale in ceilings made of wood and thought originally that I would make a model of the ceiling in our studio. I took photos and thought it would be pretty simple, if I made the cuts correctly. It would have been very safe, but like I said, systems of scale are everywhere and once you are looking for them it is hard to choose what you want to show. Looking online I found other systems of scale that led me back to Japanese architecture in bridges, ceilings and then I saw the Hokusai paintings of waves. The energy in the paintings fascinated me and I decided that I had to attempt to pull out the concepts of the waves as a system of scale. The looming waves about to crash down onto the men in the boat will be devestating. Death is certain. The boat would float to the top, the men will sink to their deaths. Instead of showing men in the boat I decided to add an Albatross, floating on a swell approaching the crashing waves. The bird will survive the crashing, tumbling energy and will pop back to the surface.
My piece was first cut on the re-saw into five 1/4″ pieces. I took it back to the studio and just thought of how to possibly cut just this one piece and get all of the parts I needed to construct the wave. I cut the entire piece layer by layer out of paper to decide how to layer the pieces for greatest effect. They were arranged many times in many ways and then I transferred the drawings onto each piece of wood. Cutting out the rough shapes went fairly well and looked rough, but it was a start and the boards did not break! I sanded and sanded….and sanded. Getting the right smooth waves was important. To hold the piece together I thought to cut pegs from the wood and considered punching holes with the miter. It looked risky to me and to possibly ruin the wood and have to start over, so I decided to drill and use small dowels that would hold the pieces together and allow them to slide smoothly. After cutting all the pieces and using a small amount of linseed oil it was just the length of the dowels that had to be decided. They are cut in a wave pattern with angled ends, indicating the continuation of the wave from the highest point. I discovered that the piece could be placed in two positions and it is very interesting to consider the forms in each orientation. Photos of my process are included below.