Project: Create a Sculptural Representation Capturing the Spirit of Invention
Client Objective: An automotive museum interested in inspiring young people toward invention and innovation in the field of transportation, wanted a sculpture that would represent their mission. The requirements called for a piece that was mounted high in a confined round space, surrounded by images of early Victorian vehicles, and to include the plaster cast figure of a child character that appears in other exhibits throughout the museum.
Involvement: Inspired by early wind-up cars, I created a large toy-like vehicle that seems to fly overhead as you a crank a wheel. I wanted the mechanism to be completely child driven and not a motorized display. Given the distance overhead and the number of moving parts, great care in the engineering was required to ensure a smooth, easy action so even the youngest child can make it go.
Aesthetically, I wanted the natural colors of the metals to highlight the precision mechanical movement of the device and its material presence. By using clear lacquers, all the brass, copper, and steel elements still shimmer after many years on display. Even the central post that contains part of the mechanism and supports the piece was patinated to create a smooth, oxidized finish natural to its steel surface.
Within the constraints given, I designed all aesthetic and mechanical elements and fabricated the entire piece within my workshop along with some part-time help. After 10 years, The Aeropede (“The Driving Spirit”) continues to be cranked daily and has only recently required its first maintenance. It can be seen today at The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan. (www.automotivehalloffame.org)