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Tetrahelix: the making of

the making of

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    Carving: Scale to Full Size 

    1. 12th-scale bronze and stone maquette is measured to create a wood space-frame.

    2. 1/4 scale space-frame model is built as a guide to blow up to full size.

    3. Foam is glued to the triangulated wood structure, which acts as a scaffold for the sculpting process.

    4. Artist David Naisuler reviews the still unrefined carving on a plywood base which sets the piece at its final 22′ height.

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    5. After the foam is painted, designer and lead fabricator Jeff Wittman draws cut-lines in preparation for further carving.

    6. Stoller makes final refinements, working around the whole piece.

    7. For ease of carving, the foam sculpture has been split at the equator and mounted on rolling platforms.

    8. The halves are put together for one last check of the form before starting the lost wax process.

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    Lost Wax Process of Bronze Casting

    9. Warm wax sheets are applied to the original carving; the wax is then sculpted with the final details and textures.

    10. After being cut into 32 wax pieces for casting, the parts are welded back together as the final bronze.

    11. As part of the finsihing and patina process, the edges are burnished back and eight coats of wax are buffed onto the surface as a protective coating.

    12. A crane lowers the 2,500 lb.Tetrahelix onto it’s 10 ton granite base.

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    Tetrahelix: Granite Base

    13. India: the Quarry

    The 15 ton block was quarried outside of Chennai, India by drilling holes and inserting dynamite in the cliff. [the dynamite is in the tray carried on the woman’s head]

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    Granite Base

    14. Chennai: the Factory

    Under Stoller’s direction, the highly skilled craftsmen carved the huge block with sledgehammers, chisels, and diamond blades.

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    Granite Base

    15. Install  California

    The finished stone sculpture was trucked to the docks in Chennai and loaded onto a ship bound for the USA. Once at the the site in Mountain View, CA, a crane lifted the 10 ton stone and lowered it over the structural steel onto the foundation.

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    16. The internal steel structure is engineered to secure the piece to the foundation in earthquakes and heavy winds.

    17. The “weaving” of the steel inside the bronze was accomplished by building the original wax sculpture around a foam model of the engineered steel structure.

    18. The lower section of the bronze was cut off and dissected, thus allowing the steel [painted white] to be interlaced and welded inside the bronze.

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    19. Ma Chi Chen, Ph.D, project engineer, examines the welds, the structural ribs, and the bolting system. The removed sections of the cast skin were then welded over the steel and blended into the surface, hiding the steel inside forever.

    20. Jeff Wittman fits the lower portion tight against the upper to weld them back into one piece.

    21. David Naisuler hoists the assembled sculpture into its vertical position for Jeff to level the steel “pin”.

    22. Next, the mating plate will be welded to the pin, which will finally be bolted to the foundation.

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    23. While the crane holds Tetrahelix in place, Jeff bolts the steel plates together.

    24. Removable panel allows ease of access.

    25. Through excellence in design, engineering and fabrication techniques, the sculpture will be standing for generations to come.