About Wizard of Eutopia

I am a 'eutopian' visionary philosopher who has temporarily abandoned his search for the precise meaning of 'Life, the Universe and Everything' and its ideal formulation, to spend the last 12 years writing a sprawling epic fantasy pentalogy called The Apples of Aeden; also building the domed ferrocement carved 'Dreamspace' of Cafe Eutopia, Kaiwaka, New Zealand; and writing Fantastic Ferrocement, A Passport to Eutopia, Passport to Creativity, The Nautilus Project and Icon of Ainenia; and building a carved 'Tree of Life' idea-creation game called Eutopia: the Game.

Making gourd shapes – or water tanks?

We have an order for public sculptures of 6 gourds brought by the first Maori to Gisborne.. Two are done and placed in the Captain cook memorial park, and now we are doing the last 4. The shape is suitable for water containers too…

The way I built the frames for these two was pretty quick- I drew the profile on recycled particle board, screwed screws along the profile for bending the vertical ribs to, measured the length, cut nine d10 (10mm deformed ie indented) rebars for the large gourd, 6 for the 900mm one, then bent them to the line of screws. I pre-bent the right angle bends at the base using a bender tool.

Then D10 horizontal ribs, circles (bent around a barrel and a concrete cone cast from a road cone) were tied to the vertical ribs on the inside. Then I wound fencing wire (medium tensile, heavier gauge ‘no.8’ wire) around the outside of the ribs. The ribs of the big gourd were supported by a drum shape bent from 150mm square mesh.

Hayley after stitching the chickenwire all day…
Right angles bent, now bending curve…

How-to ferrocement videos on my YouTube channel Renaissance Workshops

https://youtu.be/GtDQIaWQA-U

Hayley my expert hue helper tying some rebar on our third hue/gourd…

This is the first – just 6 minutes, hopefully a few gems for all…more quick videos hopefully as we make things… currently making more ferrocement ‘hue’ – Maori for gourds. From one metre high to 1.8…

C2 and the Spiral

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T

he spiral I’ve been chipping away at between other exciting works here at Dreamspace gallery and workshops www.dreamspace.nz is now pretty much like shiny aged bronze…a product I’ve tested from Peter Fell Ltd in Auckland, called C2 hardener and sealer for concrete, seems great…not a paint but a penetrating lithium silicate product which apparently replaces the calcium silicate in the concrete or plaster, making it denser harder and more polishable. ..

Carving the spiral

Just spent most of today doing this, in between visitors… overnight setting but still nice and soft to carve… in a twist of the unfolding it’s now not for the bronze ‘sunwheel’ – clients want a smaller one for that… will buy this one as well for a different site… with whatever feature I come up with… including carving…so I went for a celtic knot plus some branch hints and on one side a medallion probably to have a celtic knot in it too…

Note the tungsten scraper and also the steel ruler which scraped at an angle around the spiral helped true up the curve.. on a boat hull this is I believe called ‘fairing’ the lines. Also for carving the knotwork I found it helpful to paint primer on first so it is easier to draw and see to cut to the lines… More work needed but at least main carving done while plaster is softer. Tomorrow it will be harder. ..but still ok to scrape with tungsten blades.

Moon/sun gate vision concrescing

This is two trial drawings I’ve just done for the moon (/sun) gate (about 8foot…2.4 metres- diameter) I plan to do as soon as humanly possible 🙂 probably will do plaster model/s about a foot high to see how they look in 3d. The bottom one would have the sun opening set back from the knot circle with a short ‘tunnel’ joining them…

Facing out over the Eastern sea perhaps… Comments welcomed!

Spiral first coat of plaster

Always a mental obstacle to starting the next stage… transition to a different mode feels like a big job. But plastering is actually quite quick… the thing is to begin!

Note the ropes steadying and supporting the sculpture while it sets. Also the screwed wood pieces holding the twisted 10 mm rebar main armature pieces bent at right angles at the floor.

New tools and techniques

I’ve been working on a new ideal rebar bender for the 6mm rebar…will work for the 10 mm or 12mm too I’m sure. Requires welding but worth it I think. The bending grooves I cut using standard angle grinder. One model I made by welding a square of hard steel onto the flattened end of a piece of old electrical conduit pipe, the other is the cut off end of an old wrench. Handles formed by winding soft polypropylene cord around the pipe with plenty of pva glue. Frayed ends soaked in glue can be tucked under the windings.

Also see this cool way to crosscut chicken mesh to make nice stretchy strips for winding around curved railings or spirals such as this sculpture I’m building to house a spinning bronze ‘sun-wheel’ for a customer. I use strips a lot now. It’s quick to cut them if you just fold a length of chicken mesh lengthwise twice so it’s a quarter as wide, then tinsnip this long strip crosswise…strips about 150mm to 25mm wide. They stack well until use when you just grab the ends and pull. Strips cut like this are very stretchable. There are cut ends of mesh of course, but I’ve found if I wear leather rigger’s gloves (soft pigskin – quite cheap) they don’t hurt… also on the first plaster coat I now wear either rigger’s gloves or thick nitrile gloves safety equipment shops have these..or the local bigger hardware shop (Bunnings here in nz). The sharp ends of the mesh are buried in plaster at the first coat with a little care, or at least by the second coat. For longer rails or tubes of ferro – e.g. branches or garden arches – it is the only way to go I think. And being wound on in overlapping windings it doesn’t need much – or any – lacing wire to hold it in place, just at the final end of the winding. See one of the folded cut strips in the first picture. Note the tins nips screwed down for quick snipping.

Harvest and Hugelkultur

Late summer and lots of tomatoes in the raised beds and some grapes on the pergola, and beans and pumpkins… And the arch and extra high raised bed idea seems to be working well – it doubles as a boundary divider and ‘hugelkultur’ raised bed. In hugelkultur you mound up soil over old logs and branches. I thought, why not make extra high beds and mostly fill them with old wood (untreated of course)… The plants seem to be thriving…

Raised beds with anti-snail lips

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Raewyn’s Appletree cottage food gardens now have two raised beds with a new turned-down lip which I’m hoping will turn back snails – or trick the into hibernating when they reach the dry overhang. Then Raewyn can catch them there before they get into her gardens…slugs too with any luck!

The lips are made by bending over the square mesh ends then tying 6mm rod to the ends. A single length of chickenwire folded lengthwise over the framework and tucked into the underside of the turned over part was just wide enough. Plastering was a bit longer but first coat took 2 hours per bed, second coat about the same counting sponge finishing and cleanup. See photos…

Dandelion cappuccino break during filling with 1.7 cubic metres of compost each bed (3.8 metres long by 1.25, 36cm deep). The thrushes and blackbirds loved the worms from the homemade compost Raewyn added to the bought stuff…