Sunday, February 3, 2008

Building frames, investing in tools

Carpentry is the bane of my artistic existence. I did it for years in the theater, both in college and NYC. And I worked for a special effects shop in NY, where I wired endless light boxes and such for TV show sets and Toy Fair (we made Barbie dance), and helped to build and install the Ann Hamilton show Whitecloth at the Aldrich Museum in Conn. So I know all about tools and materials, and how to use most of them, and I'm good enough at it. But I'm just not a perfectionist when it comes to carpentry. In fact, I'm kind of impatient - instead of waiting until I have all the right tools, I'll just do without and (for instance) cut wood using only my body weight to hold the piece down on the kitchen table, crossing my fingers that all my cuts end up basically matching.

This is part of why my Christmas Vice was a great gift - I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that, even though I've left grad school and the fully appointed wood/metal shop I had access to there - along with the skills and guidance of both my thesis adviser (a darn excellent machinist) and the shop tech - my sculptures still often need expert looking woodwork, in order to be complete. With this in mind, and 4-6 wooden frames to build for wax and pith squares, I went to Home Depot last week, in search of better tools for the job. With the right motivation (hope of selling more work), and the right tools, I can at least act like a perfectionist.

So I bought this thing (second picture), which allows me to hold two pieces of wood together at an angle, for joining (third picture). And I bought a bunch of spring clips (bottom of first picture), for helping to hold stuff down when I'm cutting and drilling. And I bought new cutting bits for my Dremmel, which are what I used to cut these channels (fourth picture) along the inside of this frame. I'm hoping that the channels will help secure the wax sheets to the inner edges of the frames, because so far I've found the wax detaches from the frames after a few days. I also drilled holes through the frame (also fourth picture), in the hopes of creating a grid of invisible thread, which will help with the wax's stability.

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