All that Glitters

All that Glitters

There's never any mistaking when July hits in the Burning Man art community. A new fervor takes over everyone and the energy is absolutely electric (if not insane). I've sat down to write this a dozen times, never to start before being pulled into another task. So here goes... 

We leave for the debut install of The Space Whale in under five weeks, and there is still so much work ahead of us. But this is our final hour, and we absolutely love it.

We have an entire humpback whale stretched across our build space now, and it's getting a bit crowded in here! Only a few pieces remain on our list for the internal structure.

As the steel structure nears completion, the crew switches mainly to glass panel production. A new wave of volunteers, and much needed energy, have joined in to help cut glass and manufacture the 1800 triangular panels that will cover mother and baby whale. 

Since the glass work is less specific of a skill set than the welding, we are able to broaden the invitation to help to a much larger part of our community. This is not only vital to the completion of the project, but really fun for us as a teaching and outreach opportunity! Dozens of new friends have appeared at The Generator and the glass working station is buzzing like a hive throughout each week.

And how does it look?

We are absolutely stunned. Even in their temporary cardboard outlines the stained glass panels are breathtakingly beautiful. The combination of Android Jones' signature style with the classic beauty of stained glass is SO. COOL. 

Each piece of glass was hand selected by Matt and other crew mates from Uroboros Glass in Portland Oregon. The many glass artists and enthusiasts who have been stopping by consistently praise Uroboros as the makers of the finest stained glass in the country. I wish I could do it justice in photos.

The first piece to cover was the mother's fluke, which houses a spiral galaxy of shining stars and deep sea colors. Once we had the test panels complete we turned off the warehouse lights and marveled at the finished image that arose from the tiny pieces of glass we had painstakingly placed by hand.

Each of these projects has a handful of striking moments when we realize that what we are making is magical... this was definitely one of those.

So for the next four weeks we will continue making magic, while trying to keep our heads on straight. The clock is ticking and we are forever feeling behind on our work. But every project hits us with this summertime stress, and we probably wouldn't know what to do without it.

And amidst the madness there are many reasons to celebrate. A big one is the successful completion of our fundraising campaign on Hatchfund. We SURPASSED our stretch goal for a final amount of $27,260!! If you are a donor and you are reading this now, THANK YOU! This project is possible because of all of you.

Our Hatchfund donations will directly fund our final glass order as well as the lighting and sound equipment for inside the whales. We will continue our fundraising efforts in order to feed our amazing crew during the installation on playa!

 

Stay tuned for a few more sneak peaks of the stained glass art, and for updates as we pack up and head for the playa!

 

Until then, all our love from The Space Whale Crew!

Onward and Upward

Onward and Upward

So I just pulled a tape measure across our build site, and we have officially built over 34 feet of humpback whale! 

This project has gone from being magical, to exciting, to insane and overwhelming and terrifying, to... still completely magical. Check it out, I can barely fit this thing in a photo anymore!

As we work down the body of the mother whale we increase the width of the structural steel several times.

Now, for the chest of mama whale, we need to manufacture three inch spheres on the CNC lathe and use one and a half inch bar stock for each triangle.

So many steps lead to the final product. Each time we change the size of our ball connections new parts must be made for the lathe. Andy custom makes each set of soft jaws and has fabricated a special alignment ring to better secure the metal as the spheres increase in weight. 

We are well on our way to completing the steel structure of the whales, and more and more interest is circling around the next big step: GLASS.

The CNC plasma cutter has been wired up and our practice cuts are looking brilliant. The plasma cutter will be used to create the metal outlines of the glass patterns in each triangle. From there each glass piece will be hand cut and placed by our volunteers.

This week we received the first images of Android Jones' designs and as always, his work is absolutely mind blowing.

The entire crew was crowded around a single computer as we unveiled the images. I am so excited to share photos of these glass panels in the future posts! 

Until then we press forward with our point plotting and welding, working on both the mother whale's body and head until we reach where the two parts meet. We will also begin building the baby whale, which will be constructed of our thickest steel. (4 inch balls and 2 inch bar stock) While baby is much smaller, it supports much of the load of the sculpture as it nuzzles against the mother, and therefore needs to be a stout little thing!

We aim to have all structural work complete at the end of June, and then will be full time on glass design and programming for the special effects of The Space Whale.

Special effects? Oh yeah.

While the physical structure grows the lighting and sound team are gearing up for their part of this adventure. They have the brilliant challenge of figuring out how to wire the whales from the inside, along each line of steel.

LED lighting will illuminate the glass at night, making the whales glow and pulse from within. And an ever changing soundtrack of whale song, deep space sound and mind expanding lectures will entrance all who enter the whale's realm.

Things are getting pretty wild around here and I'll be sharing more as plans unfold!

 

If you'd like to contribute to our work, The Space Whale crew currently has a fundraising page live on Hatchfund.com!

Donations large or small are all helpful, and come with some pretty sweet thank you gifts as well! It is our friends and followers who make this all happen, and we love you for it.

Thank you all for following along with our progress, and supporting our mission. For now, I leave you with a giant whale head, and a conveniently sized googly eye.

Skrillex and The Space Whale

Skrillex and The Space Whale

In lieu of a regular blog post, we'd like to share with you the amazing video put together this past week by our friend Ethan Lindhout of EvrGlow Media. We had so much fun sharing our story with him as we prepared for our massive fundraiser last Friday, and then we all danced the night away in celebration of our work!

The event was a wild success thanks to our partner Android Jones... DJs Skrillex, Vindata, Psy Fi, Richard Xavier... performers from Skydance Studio and Reno Tahoe Unified Flow... promoters and producers from Fresh Bakin', World Famous Productions and Mindful Massive... an epic team of volunteers... and our event lead Lindsay Schaefer! So much gratitude for so much talent towards our cause.

We still have money to raise and so much to do, but we can't help but bask in the glow of this party over and over...

Thanks for sharing in the magic with us. We're back to work on making this dream come true!

Heavy Metal!

Heavy Metal!

44,000 pounds of steel arrived at The Generator this week, enough to bring the mother and calf's inner structures to completion. Now just add labor, and love!

With the structural welding now finished on both whale flukes, we are moving down the body of the mother whale and constructing the left flipper. As we build down the body towards the ground each layer must carry more load, and therefore be made of a thicker steel. We all are a bit in awe of the 4 inch bar stock that will be used for the strongest parts of the sculpture... Each individual bar weighs 900 pounds! After a full day of unloading the steel from the delivery truck, the mass of this sculpture is really starting to sink in. 

With bigger bar stock comes the demand for bigger balls. Ahem, spheres! Andy writes a new program for the CNC lathe each time we need to manufacture a larger metal connection point for the structure.  Making each ball from scratch is a bit time consuming and tedious, but watching the lathe carve each one out of solid steel is just beautiful! Handling this process ourselves is the only way we can afford to work, since purchasing complete spheres from a manufacturer would seriously inflate our budget.

After a month of solid work each crew member's strengths have come to light and we are consistently improving our work flow. Our night owls place coordinates until almost dawn, and then the few that rise with the sun come in to weld everything into place. Working with a crew full of artists, builders and volunteers who love and respect each other is a brilliant thing. The Pier Group is on a roll!

 

For our local friends and fans: Remember to get your tickets to The Space Whale fundraiser on May 27!  We are so stoked to party with everyone!

Tickets are still available on freshbakin.com

A Tail of A Whale

A Tail of A Whale

The Build has begun!

This past week has seen massive strides for The Space Whale crew. After several delays in shipping we finally acquired all necessary parts for our CNC lathe and were able to start production of the steel spheres for the whale's super structure. 

The lathe is able to fabricate a single steel ball every five minutes, and in only a few hours was able to produce enough material for the whale's fluke. Each sphere corresponds with a single point in the CAD model of The Space Whale, and is positioned using a system of lasers and a giant grid painted on the floor of the warehouse.

Between each sphere, steel rods are welded to form the triangles that make up the whale's form. Once the structure of the whale is completed, each outer triangle will hold one of the beautiful stained glass panels that skin the sculpture.

With over 3,000 triangles to weld for The Space Whale's structure by summer, the initial process seemed fairly slow and tedious. But after a few days of experimenting and honing in our method, the fluke is taking shape and we are falling in love with our sculpture!

Amidst the metal working there's been been a constant flurry of planning and purchasing that's kept us ever on our toes and in need of continued fundraising. Many of you, our friends and followers, have donated to the project this month and all this progress is in thanks to our amazing community!

Thanks for reading and supporting our dream!

-The Pier Group

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Want a closer look?

Now that the build is underway we are welcoming volunteers to join in at The Generator in Sparks, NV. Whether you are a welder, photographer, cook or any other kind of creator- email us at info@thespacewhale.com to learn more about volunteering with The Pier Group!

Ground Control to Major Tom...

Ground Control to Major Tom...

Greetings from The Pier Crew!

Check check.... Hello world! Our build space here in Sparks, Nevada is electric with excitement right now as we set up shop for The Space Whale.

In the past few weeks we have gathered our project leads to discuss the construction timeline and fundraising goals, rewired entire parts of The Generator Inc. to fit our power needs, installed some of our main fabrication equipment and begun test welding for the internal super structure of the whales. Long nights, large pizzas and loud music have taken over the warehouse once more and we couldn't be more thrilled to be riding this first big wave of motivation.

BIG NEWS: Our fundraising lead Lindsay  and local production company Fresh Bakin' were at long last able to announce our massive Spring event with Skrillex, and positive press has been swirling all around the web about this show. Sonny Moore has given his time so graciously to our efforts and we could not be more excited about bringing this collaboration to Reno on May 27th! Tickets are flying fast for this one but can still be scooped up at freshbakin.com.

Back at the build space things have been heating up as well. Our CNC lathe has proven to be a bit of a challenge, requiring several new specialized parts and a lot of love from our fabrication lead Andy.  In addition to prepping machinery, an enormous grid had to be stenciled on the floor of our construction space to help measure the length and angle of each and every metal bar comprising the whales' structure.

Lead artist Matt and our core group of builders are now working around the clock as physical construction begins. The Space Whale's debut install at Burning Man 2016 is only four months away!