Saturday, April 25, 2009

Making Progress on the Weather Vane

Kona Coast, Hawaii

I'm making pretty good progress on the Weather Vane project. I've changed my plane ticket to May 12 - the day after the Higashihara County Park reopens.
I've found a source for the copper sheeting to make my ocean and whales out of:
Gordon Sheet Metal Inc, 73-5600 Kauhola Street; Kailua Kona, HI 96740-2686 Phone: (808) 329-7225
The guys there were helpful and even gave me some samples of two different thickness to experiment with so I could figure out what will work best for me. I also did research on the web (not the easiest thing to do when you are camping and even out of cell phone range). I've found places where I can order parts for the bottom part of the weather vane including the N E S W directional letters and the small and large copper balls that go above and below the letters and seem to be standard part of weather vanes. Down at the harbor I found a machine shop where I can get a five foot long 3/4" stainless steel rod and a small piece of 3/4" stainless steel pipe to go inside the copper vane and act as the rotating bearing.

Yesterday afternoon I road my mountain bike down the trail from Hookena to the Pu'Uhonaunau National Park (Also known as the Place of Refuge since back in the days when the Hawaiians ruled this place you could escape being clubbed to death for sins like seeing the shadow of the King by getting to there before they caught you). Right up the coast is "Two Step" a well known diving and snorkeling spot where, back in 2002, I put my Petroglyph Turtle down 28' below the ocean surface on the sand next to the big "ALOHA" spelled out in cement blocks.

If you want to see more about the Turtle click here and it will take you to what I wrote back then.

Anyway, on the ride back over the lava it occurred to me that a bike petal would be a great way to make the swivelling connection between the fixed 3/4" rod and the rotating weather vane: bike petals have long lasting sealed bearings, are very strong, and rotate freely even with an unbalanced load. This would mean that I wouldn't have to worry about having the sculpture be balanced at the pivot point. I also like the idea putting something to do with biking in the sculpture since mountain biking has been a large part of this Hawaii Adventure. Mounting the petal (and the vane attached to it) would be easy: all you have to do is tap the top end of the 3/4" rod to fit the threads on on the bike petal (which normally screws into the end of the cranks).

With the tools I got yesterday I started cutting and banging the copper sheet. That seems to be going pretty well, but so far I'm having trouble soldering pieces together, so after breakfast I got a different type of solder (acid core with a lot of lead in it - definitely not to be used for potable water plumbing) and we'll try that this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kona Coast, Hawaii
April 22, 2009

I am nearing the end of this Hawaii Adventure 2009. My plane ticket has me arriving in Boston a week from today. It looks like I've got to change it. A few days ago I stopped by the Higashihara County Park Playgroundto take a look at the Whale Sculpture there. It turns out that the park is closed for renovations. I got to talking to Clifford Kopp who has taken it upon his shoulders to get the job done. When he found out I was a sculptor he told me he really wanted to have a copper whale weather vane on the top of the kids castle.

Clifford had talked to several local artists, but no one had come through. Part of the problem is the classic: "Show me the money." There simply isn't money available to pay the artist, just the supplies. The Park is scheduled to reopen on May 11, so time is fast running out.

Having make the Swordfish Harpooner I have come to realize what a wonderful thing it can be have your artwork out where the public can see and appreciate it. The Higashihara Park and Playground is right beside the only road heading South from Kailua Kona here on the Big Island. I am at the stage in my life where getting paid some money to make my art isn't what it is all about. Especially when it is something that is primarily for children. As a grandfather (especially one married to Marianne, Ms. Super G herself) I have come to realize that great satisfaction comes from giving to the younger generations.

I told Clifford that I would think about whether I could come up with something. I have never made a weather vane, of course, but I've never let minor details like that stop me before. When I said that I would build the Swordfish Harpooner I had never done anything on that scale, but I was confident that if I worked at it I could figure out how to succeed. In this case, even though I haven't done much work in copper in the last 30 years, I did take a course from Travis Tuck about metalworking back in 1976 and then when he went to Europe for a month he let me use his fully equipped Studio at the Artworkers Guild in Vineyard Haven. That was around the time Travis made a Great White Shark weathervane for Quints's Shack in the blockbuster movie "JAWS". Even though the Shark Weather vane didn't make it beyond the cutting room floor Steven Spielberg kept that weather vane after the filming and Travis Tuck went on the have a wonderfully successful career making Weather vanes. So I should be able to make a weather vane. Why not?

That night at Hookena Beach, where I am camping I was thinking a lot about it. The idea a just making a copper whale (that actually looks like the Humpback Whales that spend the winter months off the Hawaiian coast) seemed both quite pedestrian and difficult; especially since I am camping and don't have a studio here. {Thinking about my studio here is a link to an article in the Martha's Vineyard Times about mine back on Martha's Vineyard} So what should it be? The whale theme is good, but how do kids here relate to whales? The certainly don't see whole whales since no one is killing them and dragging them up onto the shore. What kids do see is whales off the coast - sometimes less than 100 yards away- coming up out of the depths to "blow", sometimes sounding so that their huge powerful tail flukes rise up out of the sea, and most exciting of all when they breach: surging up out of the sea into the air and come crashing down with a huge splash. It seems to me that I have a chance with this weather vane to validate the kids experiences by making something that is a representation of what they see.

Here's s sketch I made. I like the idea. I called home and talked to Marianne. One of my hoped for goals on this Hawaii trip was to get back into making sculpture, what more could I ask for? She agreed. I talked to Clifford yesterday and told him about my idea. He liked the idea. So now I've got a commission to make the damn thing.
How I actualize the weather vane I don't really know yet; but as Allen Whiting claims Picasso said: "If you don't have red, use blue." In other word, just do it. One possibility for the water is to use copper pipe. I could even have Marianne send out a piece of the 3" diameter copper pipe that Todd and I took out of our old family house before I left on this trip. Getting just three or four feet of a large diameter copper pipe is not easy here in Kona. I checked out building supply stores yesterday and the best I could do was to get a twenty foot long piece of 2" copper pipe for $240. The more I think about it, it seems like I should make the blue "Ocean" out of sheet copper (which is available) by pounding it into a long tubular shape. The hammer marks should add to the feeling of it being the ocean since they hopefully will give it a wavelike look.


Friday, April 10, 2009

A Rainy Day in Paridise

Good Friday

I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof of my van mixing with the sound of the surf crashing against the lave shore. It started out slowly but reached the point where I had to get out of my sleeping bag, find the car keys, turn on the ignition, and roll up the windows before going back to sleep.

Late yesterday afternoon I decided to ride my mountain bike from Hookena down the "king's Highway" to the Pu'uhonau o Honaunau Place of Refuge National Park. A couple of hundred yards from the Campground there is a locked gate and several dogs chained up close to the road so they bark and lunge at anyone going by. So for that part went along the beach. That brought me to Juni's tent. So I stopped by to say hello and and share a few puffs of Hawaii Aloha, before getting back on the dirt road. After going by a few more houses the road strikes off across the lava. Except for few places where gullys have to be crossed the "road" is just a train on the lava kept clear of brush and trees. You would need four wheel drive and high clearance to be able to drive it. Parts of it are pretty smooth, but others are quite narley. It is a form of meditation to ride it because you have to be totally focused on the path you are make over and through the loose rocks and twisted lava. As I rode I was trying to concentrate on focusing my attention further down the path I was trying to ride and letting my unconscious physical parts of my brain take care of riding the bike down the path I had picked. It is hard not to look down at a big bunch of rough rocks that your bike is just about to hit and ride over, but with practice and working on easier stuff first I was getting the hang of it. Being a little high helped me forget my worries and get into the zen of the riding. When there were some rocky streatches I had to get over I found I was getting up off of the saddle and my body was floating in a nice smooth line over the obstacles while the bike was bouncing all over the place as it stayed in contact with the rocky trail. My legs and arms were acting like a secondary suspension on top of the bike's front and rear shocks. The low tire pressure (something I've learned from riding with Grant Miller of Bike Works Bike Works Kona - Bicycle sales and bike rentals in Kona, Hawaii , and Dr. Jeff) also helps absorb a lot of shock as well as give the tires a much better grip on the rocks.

After a while I realized I was riding over technical stuff that I might not have even attempted before without even that thinking about it. It was the whole floating thing: since my upper body wasn't bouncing around it felt peaceful. Because my legs were reacting smoothly to the rough ride of the bike I was supplying a steady source of power to the bike to take it over and through all the obstablcles. It was a wonderful feeling, a real breakthrough in my riding.

Of course I still have a long way to go - the journey is the reward after all. There was some stuff that I walked, especially the steep, rocky downhills where it it too easy to catch the front tire and go flying over the handlebars. Landing on rough lava rock is not my idea of fun. The other thing is that I need to continue getting stronger and building up my stamina. Riding like a wild animal takes a lot of energy.


The first focus of my trip to Hawaii has been to care for my body and get strong and fit. The swimming in the ocean and biking on the land have been doing a pretty good job. I look and feel a lot better. I've been growing muscle and burning fat. I stand taller and straighter.

When I first came out here my body had very little muscle tone. When I massaged my legs after a ride it was difficult to feel the muscle. It was buried under fat and was soft and mushy. Now after a ride I feel pretty solid and hard. There was also what I would describe as a "hole" around where my prostate lived before the surgery last April 23. My crotch area felt sort of dead and unpleasant to touch. The lymph nodes along the insides of my legs felt swolen and slightly sore. Fortunately the excercise and self massage has been working at making the "hole" shrink and my groin area feel better.

I do wonder sometimes when a day will go by without my prostate cancer entering my conscious mind. Who knows, it might not happen until I start to go senile. It is hard not to think of it when you take a leak.

I've been eating less but certainly not going hungry. A lot of papayas get eaten.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MotionBased Digest

Grant Miller, Kristi and I had a fun Sunday ride at Kona State Park, just north of the airport. The beach was beautiful though we didn't go swimming, not having towels or bathing suits, though the bathing suits seemed to optional at the furthest beach we got to.
Hopefully the link below will give you more info.

MotionBased Digest