Art / Design

Work in Progress: The Alchemist

I started off the term in my Collage & Assemblage class by telling my professor straight out that I don’t like my 3D pieces so I wanted to make something functional, specifically a bookcase to go into a particular corner of my room. He laughed but let me do it. Of course, I still had to work a metaphor into it as the focus of the class is metaphorical thinking.

The Corner

The Corner

First my mind went, “Bookshelf…what if some of the shelves were books?” But then I decided that was a pun, not a metaphor. Eventually I came up with the idea of a bookshelf whose shelves were stairs. I’ve never built furniture in my life, so in the sketching phase I wasn’t worrying about this as an engineer. I figured I’d draw it and my prof would tell me how to make it happen. But drawing’s one thing, building is another. I didn’t know where to start, as I had a really hard time visualizing this thing in the real world.

Putting the wood in the corner didn't help me visualize it much, but...

Putting the wood in the corner didn’t help me visualize it much, but…

Making a maquette out of cardboard made everything click! (Or so I thought.)

Making a maquette out of cardboard made everything click! (Or so I thought.)

If I remember correctly, barely getting to this point took over 10 hours in the wood shop, with lots of help from my prof & the wood shop safety monitor.

If I remember correctly, barely getting to this point took over 15 hours in the wood shop, with lots of help from my prof & the wood shop safety monitor. And that’s not even including hours spent sketching, measuring, and calculating. (That last one really had me going insane.)

At this point, the biggest technical challenge was cutting the large triangles. The miter gauges in both the Art Education wood shop and the Fine Arts wood shop weren’t big enough, I think. The base and uppermost triangles were cut by the Safety Monitor by clamping the wood down to a table and cutting with a saber saw. The shelf triangle I did myself using the same technique, though my hand was not as steady as his.

An amusing but maybe ultimately sad side note: as I was talking with the Safety Monitor about my concept, he asked me if I had learned about alchemy “From this,” he said as he put his hands together but not exactly as if in prayer. I immediately knew what he was referring to, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the title. I was like “Arrrggh! That…! You mean………鋼の錬金術師!” After I said it aloud I finally remembered the English title: Fullmetal Alchemist. After explaining that I actually first learned about alchemy from my brother when he got some fractal software from a company named Alchemy Mindworks, I added, without thinking, “I couldn’t remember the title in English, but I only said it in Japanese because I lived over there and I kept hearing it in Japanese. I’m not a weeaboo who thinks English isn’t good or anything like that.” He answered in Italian that he can speak in Italian without being in Italy. I answered in Spanish that I can only understand a little bit of Italian from knowing Spanish. We laughed, and everything seemed cool. He finished cutting my triangles, I thanked him, and went back to fighting with my piece.

I’ve seen this guy again several times around the Art Building and as I truly appreciate his help, I always greet him. But he always ignores me, sometimes looking straight through me. And it hit me that maybe he actually is a weeaboo, or has lots of weeaboo friends, and I perhaps offended him. Either that or he has face blindness and doesn’t recognize me and thinks I’m some random person who greets him happily for no reason. Ahaha…

Anyway, back to the bookshelf. I ended up going into the wood shop one extra day a week, and eventually two extra days a week, on top of class time. At this point I have no idea how many hours I’ve put into this thing, but I’m quite happy with it, at least structurally. There’s only one step that isn’t perfectly level. Not bad for my first attempt at building furniture.

That center step had me confused for a good hour. Then I said "Screw it! I'll trust the miter saw over my own calculations!" and it worked out.

That center step had me confused for a good hour. Then I said “Screw it! I’ll trust the miter saw over my own calculations!” and it worked out.

Most construction was done at this point, all that needed to be done was attach the doors. But first...

Most construction was done at this point, all that needed to be done was attach the doors. But first…

First I had to stain the doors, and put some polyurethane on them. In the background sits the primed bookshelf.

First I had to stain the doors, and put some polyurethane on them. In the background sits the primed bookshelf.

The hole in the left side of the bookcase is for access to the power outlet in the corner. Ahaha…

As of now, I’ve actually done more work on this, going beyond the primer phase into actual painting. But I forgot to upload the photos to my computer, and didn’t feel like doing so now. So that will just have to wait until the next post.

4 thoughts on “Work in Progress: The Alchemist

  1. That’s looks pretty cool! Congrats on making it, especially being your first try at this kind of thing! Good job! =D

  2. Pingback: 2016 WSU Art Education & Therapy Show | Warped Frost

  3. Pingback: The Alchemist In Situ | Warped Frost

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