November 10th, 2013

The Press and The Crane

Last spring I had an amazing opportunity, which destined me to months of hard but rewarding work.  After being awarded a commission to create a sculpture for the city of Bellingham, I invested in a one of a kind machine; a 50 ton hydraulic press made by artist Tony Buchen.  A hydraulic press has a single powerful squishing force that can be carefully controlled with different top and bottom dies and depth controls.  From a metal forming point of view, the press allows one to form practically any shape with the right set-up.  In pursuing designs to fabricate my own I stumbled upon Tony’s for sale in Alabama.  The press is incredibly well engineered, crafted, and uniquely designed for a free-forming creative approach.

After making arrangements to have it shipped out via train, I began building the Jib Crane, which would enable me to handle larger material and projects.  The crane has a deep and massive foundation, a tall central post, a large bracket with roller bearings and a horizontal I beam with a trolly and hoist.  The beam can spin in a large radius around the shop while the hoist can roll along the length of the beam, picking several tons of weight anywhere within its circular reach.

By the time the press arrived, the crane parts were fabricated and both tools were installed.  After everything was up and running, it was due time to build the commissioned sculpture and the tools have been in high demand ever since.  There is a beautiful relationship between the two, where I can salvage large material like steel plate, lift it off a trailer, float it into the press, form it into practically any shape I can imagine, drop it back onto the trailer and out into the world.  It’s an efficient and limitless system that has me very inspired by its creative potential.

6ft deep hole for crane foundation.

Jib crane parts being fabricated.

Press forming plate steel.

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