Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh, Brother

When I came up with the idea of incorporating an actual farm windmill as part of this artwork, I initially didn't give a lot of thought to exactly how that was going to become a reality. When it comes to building or fixing things, I am not very gifted. Fortunately, I have other family members who are willing to come to my aid when there is a need. As you saw in an earlier post, my Dad built the canvases. My brother Mike is a real fix-it guy. My other brother Bruce was the brains behind conceiving the apparatus we needed to mount this windmill.

The windmill itself weighs 60-70 pounds, and it needed to hang at the end of a shaft projecting out of the wall, beyond the surface of the canvases. That requires a hefty device.

Bruce came up with a blueprint of what was needed, and even built in a system of set-screw adjustments that would allow for slight adjustments to be made to the tilt of the wheel after mounting if necessary.

He then worked directly with the guys at Randy's Ironworks of Orange City to fabricate this heavy-duty item. I do mean heavy-duty–I think it probably weighed at least 30 pounds. I'm not usually into this kinda thing, but it was a thing of beauty, and I think I thought so because it looked like it was going to work so perfectly.

The contractors building the event center had built into the wall extra support to allow for mounting at the appropriate area of the wall. You can see from the photos that the base plate is embedded just beneath the sheetrock. After Bruce finished installing the apparatus, the drywall crew came back and patched in the sheetrock, textured and painted. All that extends from the wall is the shaft for mounting he mill.

That's my brother in the pictures above. I couldn't have done it without you, Bruce.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Windmill

When I proposed the concept of incorporating a vintage windmill as part of the artwork, my thought was that it would be ideal to find a windmill locally, within Sioux County. Little did I realize what a challenge it would be to find one.

The wheel needed to be 6 feet in diameter in order to fit the scale of the overall piece. I put the word out to friends and family to be on the lookout for a windmill, but I had little success. We began searching online and found numerous sources that are manufacturing new mills, but I really felt it was important that this be a vintage mill, with the aged patina and wear that could only be found in an antique wheel.

We got a lead on a 6-footer that was near Lincoln, Nebraska but after exchanging e-mails, photos and phone calls I didn't like the looks of it.

I talked to windmill restoration folks who informed me that the 6-foot wheels are harder to find than the larger 8 and 10-foot variety. There were fewer of the 6-foot versions made to start with, and then those 6-footers did not hold up to the "Prairie Winds" as well as bigger wheels. As a result I was told "For every 6-footer out there, there are may be 100 of the 8-footers".

"Oh, that's just great",  I thought to myself.

Enter Ellen Sattler, of American Windmills. I found her website and gave her a call. Ellen was easy to talk to and very helpful each step of the way. She sent me the photo above and I thought it looked just perfect. It turns out Ellen is about as far from Sioux County as you can get–California. She dismantled the wheel completely and shipped it to Iowa in a box that looked way too small to contain a wheel of this size.

Mark Pottebaum and Marty Guthmiller took on the task of assembling the puzzle and did a great job. The wheel had just the right look and feel to it. Below are a couple photos of the assembly process.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blue Skies

It's always exciting to put the first color on a canvas–especially when you can use a big ole brush filled with buttery bright oils.

This shows the first pass on the clouds.

And a shot with my eldest son, Joe, striking a dramatic pose.