Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mary the Mannequin Part 1

This project started innocently enough. My wife cut out a magazine picture a few months ago of an intriguing nineteenth century artists mannequin. At first glance it looks crude and lacking in detail. But after you look at the picture more closely the uniqueness starts to come out and grow on you. Whoever the long dead craftsman was they were able to capture the essence of the human form with some very crude shapes. The more we looked at the picture the more we knew we had to build something. The antique dealer Hawker Antiques thought it was interesting enough to ask a pretty special price.
First a little back story. As the shop started coming together I managed to score an old Doall vertical band saw. A neat lumber recyclers in Petaluma Heritage Salvage wanted to sell it to make room for a shop expansion. You guessed it found it on Craigslist.
 This piece of equipment was the beginning of our mannequin project. These are great folks doing a noble thing and managing to make a decent living in collecting and re purposing wood that a few years ago might have been burned to get rid of. I got an awesome more than fair price.
The saw is an older Doall V-26. It weighs over 2000 lbs and is about eight feet tall. As the name says it has a twenty six inch throat.
It needed a couple of new variable speed belts and some general cleaning to put into service. They don't build them this heavily anymore. This has a massive welded frame and base and a huge webbed cast table. Heck the guards are made out of one eighth in thick sheet metal. Doall wasn't messing around when they built these. I'm thinking about how I'm going to get it off the pallet jack without killing myself.
This is how it starts. A few study sketches to get a general direction going and off you go. I decided to prototype one of the joints using simple cuts with the new band saw.Normally were not what you would consider wood people. All our training and careers have been spent with metal fabrication. Part of the reason for using wood is we felt it was part of the feeling of the original. That patina of old wood is wonderful. Wood also allowed us to make the project more three dimensional without increasing the work much. We were trying for a quick simple execution to try to capture the simplicity without any super fussiness about anatomical accuracy or life likeness.
A few cuts later and we really start to get excited by the possibilities. The scale was determined by carefully measuring my wife unit.

Stay tuned for part 2  Goodnight for now.

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