September 14th, 2012
When I wear my Project Management Administrative Assistant hat, I get to order a lot of material and hardware. Most of the time it’s bolts, electronics, steel, and plywood. However, there are times our clients want to make the visitor go, “Wow!”. This Wow idea shows up early in the Design process and everyone here hopes we actually get to make it. Then the idea survives Design budgeting intact and becomes part of the Pre-Production packet. It’s gonna happen! Design hands the idea over to the Production department and our fabricators grin and shake their heads. “What will they think of next?” But they enjoy a challenge. Well, here’s the challenge:
This exhibit will be installed in a nature center in Pennsylvania. The ghost-like figures are visitors provided for scale. The backpacker will be a sculpted figure with steel running through his back to help support this mountain of outdoor recreation equipment. And guess who gets to order all of it? The majority of it is arriving via FedEx and UPS. Some of the more generic and chunkier items we are sourcing locally with the help of our amazing man-about-town, George.
So there is a tidal wave of camping supplies slowly spilling out of the Receiving area over at T-mart. I get to open it all up, and I have a blast. But there’s another part of this exhibit that describes the logging and CCC history of the park, and these require props. Historical props. The client will be providing a lot of vintage clothing, but I needed to track down a two-person logging saw, an axe, a wooden suit hanger, and a stoneware jug. Ebay to the rescue! Since I really enjoy old stuff, I consider Ebay a no-fly zone just to save my bank account. But this time I could indulge myself for work. How sweet is that? I get to stroll through the biggest antique store on the planet!
To top it off, I never know when my Ebay finds will show up. I head downstairs when the delivery truck shows up, wondering what strangely shaped package will be at the front desk. So far, the sellers have been surprisingly fast. The axe is awesome. It’s like Christmas in September. And that doesn’t even include the items for the animal models. Glass eyes? Unpainted fish? Black bear taxidermy blank? Porcupine scat? I’ve got you covered.
As I watched my Daughter draw and color on the driveway, I thought about how much fun she was having.
Both my children love to draw and I am very excited about that. I remember how I was growing up; I was always drawing. I also remember how I decided that no matter what I did for a career it would involve drawing or being creative.
The other day, we had a couple of brainstorming sessions for a project we are currently working on. We were presented with a challenge and we knocked it out of the park with one creative idea after another. I had a blast!
It made me feel like I was in that driveway drawing with chalk again. I absolutely love what we do at Taylor Studios and can’t imagine doing anything else! The extremely talented people that I am surrounded with daily make Taylor Studios a truly wonderful place.
Are you in the same situation? Do you truly love what you do?
Last week I visited The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. This visit took me down memory lane back to our install in 2000. We fabricated several exhibits for the museum, including a full scale, walk-in German bunker on the coast of Normandy, an American training barracks, a hedgerow scene and my favorite the crashed CG4A WACO combat glider scene.
Toward the end of the installation process I showed up on-site and immediately started walking through to look at progress. As I wandered through the galleries looking at our work and others, my installation team was subtly following me. I was taking my time, learning along the way. I started to get annoyed thinking, why aren’t they working?! Then I came around the corner to the crash glider scene. Wow! What a story it tells. As I wandered into the gallery I finally glanced up and noted that my team named the glider after me – Betty Lou. They were all there to see the expression on my face. I was quite surprised and probably a bit teary eyed.
For the scene, we were able to locate an actual frame of a glider near Kansas City, which we had to dig out of a pasture. We were proud to offer our client a true artifact. It was tricky getting a jeep and glider in an elevator in order to install it in its proper gallery. But we’ve gotten lots of large objects to fit in small spaces, including a Wright whale through double doors.
On my trip through New Orleans last week, I was very happy to hear many people say the crashed glider scene was their favorite. I’d love to hear what some of your favorite exhibits are. Please share in the comments section!
March 20th, 2012
Does the natural world move you more or the man made world? What makes you stop and pause more?
Would you rather be on a horse’s back on a beach or gazing upon a horse statue?
Riding Senegal Catalonia, Spain. Horse Sculpture in front of Musee de Orsay, Paris
Would you rather gaze upon a building or a mountain?
Notre Dame, Paris. Segrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
Gaudi used nature to inspire his architecture. What inspires you when you create in your made world?
CA, Coastline and Yellowstone
Would you rather gaze upon the African Serengeti or a painting?
South Africa and Feast of Cana, Louvre, Paris
The brilliance of nature is most often where I want to be. It moves me. It calms me. It is soothing, yet awe-inspiring. Yet, I love man-made’s beauty too. However, I can only handle a concrete world for brief intervals.
Natural History Museum or Art Museum?
Nature Center or Cultural Center?
Gothic Church or Glacier
Famous Paintings or Aurora Borealis?
Jeep or Horse?
Video game or falling star?
These are photos from my travels. Are they hard choices? I love them all. What would you prefer nature or man made? What inspires you?
The series continues as Michael describes more of his time at the Exploratorium. Be sure to catch up on his other posts.
The problem for this week is a set of buzzers that the kids activate by pushing buttons as part of a storytelling exhibit. The buzzers keep going bad. After a little testing I found that the low quality transformer is providing way too high a voltage. I reduce that with a lower voltage switching power supply. With some further poking around I conclude that there is still a lot of arcing at the contacts of the buzzers so I added a crossover Zener and a blowback diode to dissipate inductive current from the coils. This has solved the arcing problems but there is still the matter of failure due to fatigue. What to do…what to do…what to do…? When you need inspiration at the Exploratorium you wander around with a cup of coffee and look at other peoples projects and fish for suggestions and this time I landed a good one.
After a few phone calls to arrange a meeting, I am off to Alameda to meet with Michael Schiess, the Executive Director of the Pacific Pinball Museum, because if there is one place that will have buzzers and bells that can take a beating its going to be pinball machines. What a great place. It ranges from the very old purely mechanical type machines and slowly works its way up to the most modern machines with monitors in the back and very complex interaction with the player. Michael is a fountain of knowledge on the subject and very enthusiastic, the kind of enthusiasm that is easy to get caught up in. Since these machines reflect the popular culture of the time in which they were made, walking through the museum is like a trip through the popular culture of the U.S. for the last 80 years. While I ultimately got a lot of good information to help me replace the low quality frames, solenoids, and clappers of the old system with high quality industrial ones, what I really got was an education on how we as Americans see ourselves through our entertainment.