What lies behind ball number 3? I could write a novella about this client, but here is the short version. She has kept me on the edge of my design seat for better than 10 years. By this I mean she encourages me to be the best I can be. Her point of view takes unique and original to an entirely different level. She collects contemporary art, and has a fierce love for great architecture of any description. Her landscape is unlike any other that I know of, and is mostly of her own doing.
8 years ago I made this plastic grass sculpture for her. To be installed in this very fine and rare example of 19th century French iron cutwork urn lined in tin. She bought the urn from the shop-her ideas about how to plant it startled me. Would it have been my idea to plant this urn with spheres of plastic grass-no. I followed suit-this is mostly what I do with her. Had I ever made anything like this before-assuredly not. Did I like it-yes. Even on a gloomy day in January, there is a garden party going on. I am skipping over a lot of discussion between the two of us, but in the end, I believed these grass planets hovering did her particular style of justice to the urn, and the space.
Many years this sculpture endured the sun-I had a call from her a month ago asking that I redo it. The fire had gone out of those spheres. I find even the most UV light resistant material will eventually show signs of fading. The materials available now are somewhat different than what I had to work with 8 years ago, but the interior structure and urethane spheres were intact. These spheres bob all around on a windy day; I was pleased to see that the only part of the sculpture that needed attention were the grass mats.
The grass mats are comprised of a plastic grid; each intersection of that grid has a tuft of grass. Given that the lime green plastic grass had the best resistance to fading, I decided to do more spheres in that color, with a variety of textures. The mats come 12 inches square, so fitting them to the curved surfaces takes a little ingenuity, and a lot of time.
We removed the grass tufts, and fitted the grids in much the same pattern as the original. Even on the largest sphere, no 12″ by 12″ grid would lay flat. We had to cut the grids just small enough to enable a smooth surface. Once the grid pieces had their tufts reattached, we filled in any areas that seemed thin with grid pieces 12″ long, and one tuft wide. Each piece of grid is secured to the surface of the sphere with greening pins. A lot of this work had to be done on a ladder; the overall height of the piece is about 7 feet.
A new life for this sculpture-we finished it today. I like a working life that has lots of variety, and in this case, a little off beat. Does it bother me-the plastic part? Not at all. No matter the material, the sculpture is the result of the work of a group of real people.
We loaded up the sculpture this morning. A large diameter steel ring fastened to the interior of the urn keeps the sculpture upright. This was an important part of the construction, as the finished piece is extremely heavy. This also meant we were able to move the entire piece with relative ease.
The sculpture is back in place, doing its provocative best to tell another kind of story.