Saturday, 17 July 2010

DIY Rotating Sculpture Base

You know, sometimes it's kinda funny how things work out. As I was starting to work on more sculpture, I thought to myself that it would really be nice to have a Lazy-Susan style rotating sculpture base, if not an actual banding wheel, to do my sculpting on. I started surfing the net and researching different types and what they cost. A really nice banding wheel costs somewhere between $50 to $120 (and up, depending on where you shop). The very simple Lazy-Susan style rotating bases were certainly the better deal. You can find decent cheap-o style acrylic ones for under 10 bucks. I didn't buy anything right away, and as luck would have it, I wouldn't need to buy one because I was soon to learn that I was going to make it myself instead.

Here's where the luck comes into play. My wife, Adrienne, and I were out on a walk, and while we were out walking we passed a house that had put out a few items on the sidewalk that had a sign next to them that said, "Free." It wasn't a lot of stuff, but we took a look and that's when I found two nice wooden (pine) round discs. They were each an inch thick and had a diameter of 18 inches. I thought, "Wow! Here's my rotating sculpture base. And for free, no less!"

So, I started my new project. First I gave them both a clean-up and a good sanding on both sides. This was all prep work before I could stain them. Here's their color before the staining.
I checked my work shed and I found some stain that I had left over from an older project, and instead of buying anything new, I thought that I would use what I had. I stained both sides, let them dry, and then I gave them another light sanding and some touch up.

After the staining, I gave them both a total of three finish coats. I used a clear polyurethane as the finish coat and gave them both ample time to dry between each application. I also sanded them between each coat so that the end product would look smooth.

After the finish coat, I had one last step left, and it's what really made the bases shine. I gave each base a few coats of paste wax. Wax is great for wood. First, it's an excellent barrier coat against any clay that I will be using on it, and second, after you buff out the wax, you really get a nice glossy look that helps the stain show off the grain of the wood. Also, if it ever starts looking dull, just give it another coat of wax and buff it out to a new shine!
My last step was adding the hardware to the bottom that would allow it to rotate. After a little research on the interwebs, I chose a round ball-bearing style disc that's rated to hold (according the them) 1,000 pounds. I got it for pretty cheap. It was around $12 bucks with shipping from Amazon. It looks like this:
And, after I attached the hardware, my homemade rotating sculpture base was ready to use! Just click play on the video below to see it in action.

It was really great working with wood again. I've really missed it. Maybe that's why I made two bases instead of just making one.

I gave the second sculpting base to my dear friend and sculpture guru Mike Murnane. Mike and I have been friends for a long time. We've worked on a lot of projects together in the past, and I also thought that, of all my friends, Mike, aside from being able to appreciate the homemade quality of this base, would be the one who would get the most use out of it.

While I'm on the subject of Mike, from time to time, Mike teaches a sculpture class. I recently took his class and it was a lot of fun, and I'm happy to say that it boosted my sculpture skills. More on that in my next post.

Here's to finding free stuff on the sidewalk!

~Tony Preciado

I recently saw these at IKEA. They're a good size, look nice, and they're pretty darn cheap too.