I had my first day in the metal workshop to start building my metal donkey unicorn for the Riu d'Art project in Riba Roja d'Ebre, Catalonia today. Lots of cutting and shaping…after realising I had calculated the circumference of the frame rings completely wrong. It was only when I started to bend the first one I started to think this ring is going to be massive! Yes, children: when calculating the circumference of an ellipse, always remember to use the RADIUS and NOT THE DIAMETER in a Google calculator that requires the RADIUS. What? Did you think I would be calculating it myself?? Get tae…. Circles? nae bother but have you seen the possible algebraic equations when dealing with ellipses?
Those mathematical geniuses amongst you may scoff but maths and I are not good bedfellows. I can count and add…just…but much more and my brain just gets tired and says NO! Anyway, got there in the end and so today the *rings for the trunk (that makes it sound like a tree. Not going to be a tree) have been shaped and cut. Albert, the owner of the workshop, has given me a corner and has been brilliant and incredibly helpful. His English is fairly good, fluent compared to my Spanish which is pretty non-existent and so far, everything is cushty.
I had been busy with my 2D AutoCad forming some sort of plans and dimensions, more a guidance really. They took a fair amount of time and my brain power but I’m glad I took the time as the project is more formed in my brain.
It was all theoretical but with a bit of artistic licence, I’m hoping he won’t to be too much of a wonky donkey. Will see how things look as I go along I think. The good thing about welding is, if a bit looks wrong you can always lop it off and stick another bit on. In my welded sculpture, it is anyway.
Getting the frame right is my first challenge; that’s what my plans were all about. I’m using 8 and 10mm steel rod. Easy to cut with trusty angle grinder and very pliable to bend into shape and apart from my slight mis-calculation regarding circumferences, things are looking ok so far. My plans sectioned up the different limbs, head, torso and tail. I’m going to build these sections one at a time so if there are any major gaffs in my calculations, I can see it easy enough and adjust; you always need to be adaptable in art creation. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle but you need to make the pieces too.
After a hard day’s work (today only few of hours’ admittedly but more tomorrow ;-D), I am clinging to my new lovely fan, having a cold Estrella and listening to Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam (they are well cool, love them so, check them out).
The heat is crazy here but I’m slightly acclimatising or at least coping better than I thought. I am a complete woose when it comes to being too hot or too cold and can get a bit whiney (as many of friends can testify). However, in my defence, only in extreme circumstances, like when I get so overheated my feet and ankles swell up so much it feels like the skin is going to split open or when I can’t feel my feet because of the cold and they start to go blue and I can’t fall asleep at night. Essentially, if my feet are happy so is the rest of me. When I return, I may be just as white as I left Scotland; boiler suit and welding helmet are not conducive for sunbathing, as is the fact that I’m in a big airy garage (thank the gods and little fishes, sweated buckets but no over-heating and it was 38°C today!). The local outdoor swimming pool has just opened for the summer so I think I’ll pay it a visit tomorrow after work. Not planning on sun-bathing, the shade is fine for me, quite happy to stay pale and interesting. Parasol and mojito anyone?
Also, tomorrow, two exciting things are happening; one of the other artists Oliver Hall, is arriving, so it will be nice to have some company in the apartment and there is a fire festival in the village celebrating Sant Joan. It’s an excuse for folk to dress up as devils, run about banging drums and setting off millions of fireworks into heavily crowded areas. And why not, I say? Something that would never be allowed in the UK. They like their fire, the Spaniards and Catalonians do. I’ve been advised by my friend and local legend, Josep, to wear closed-toe shoes, trousers and a straw hat. The covering up seems a very sensible thing to do but the straw hat? I’m not sure that wearing very flammable head gear is the way to go. The fact that Josep kept repeating in his email that I shouldn’t be afraid, it’s an amazing night but don’t be scared, it’s spectacular but it really isn’t frightening, it’s so much fun but don’t be worried…etc etc has now given me cause to be wary. However, I shall be intrepid and embrace the night with non-scaredycat aplomb and run with the Devils…well, maybe a delicate saunter and then stand behind the guy lighting the fireworks, wearing my boiler suit and welding mask with a bucket of water handy…just in case.
Ooh, Mariachi El Bronx just come on the tunes. Nice. Anyone for the dancin’?
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She has also occasionally made the odd animation, wooden furniture and walking the family dog in the woods.