Playa Bound!

Greetings! Looking back several weeks, I realize I completely dropped the ball on maintaining this blog! I've been "in it" building this Crystal Heart... turns out, building art got in the way of documenting it. Not to worry, though... it's coming together beautifully. Here are a few visuals along the way. See you in our beautfiully dusty city!

Phase I - Pedestal Base

 I've been working on the base of the sculpture as I find time for several weeks now. Apologies for not posting any updates during that time. But, it's not much to look at yet and is basically just a massive steel & concrete form. Today is a wonderfully rainy (and rare) day so here is the complete build of the base. Step 1 was to build a matrix of steel solidly welded to the wheel's interior. This acts both as general reinforcement of the concrete to be poured and as a set of distributed attachment points to the main body of the wheel. The concrete plug will be upwards of 2000 pounds. Since it's formed in a near-perfect cylinder and will be flipped over, I have this fear that it could rattle loose during transport and then drop out of the wheel during a forklift move. That would be terrible (and likely become a bad accident). This latticework will secure the concrete slab to the steel shell so it's one cohesive mass.   Step 2 was to fill the wheel and lattice wi

Aesthetic Design

 Aesthetics Once the core structure is assembled, that will be built upon using a pile of scrap and new steel.  Balusters from an old steel deck fence Hand-bent rebar And old coal boilerplate with cool breather vents Hammered steel sheets with plasma-cut designs Additionally, steel tubes will be branched off of the main plenums and bent to resemble the ventricular veins of a real heart. These veins will deliver small flame effects on the exterior of the sculpture. In the vertical centerline of the mashed-together steel shell, the heart will be ripped open, revealing a 10-foot tall glass crystal interior. This crystal will be illuminated from the base and open on top, allowing the inner light to spill out into the sky. My intention is to warm burners on cold nights, as this will be a large outdoor heater! It will also "poof" any burner's heartbeat in sync with their own (see other post "Heartbeat Flame Effect"). Not drawn in steel, glass, or flame but this is the

Base & Plenums Concept

  Basic Structure Above is a sketch of the core build, which I already have materials for and the main plenums have already been bent into shape. The poorer hardware has been mocked up for a single plenum and tested, too... much to the surprise of my neighbors :) The components for this part of the Crystal Heart are the same as a standard poofer. Schedule 80 black pipe High pressure, default Closed solenoid (12v) Accumulator tank  Regulator to feed the accumulator (~100 psi expected) Branch & regulator for low-pressure feed (~20 psi expected) Note that I may experiment with a separate set of lines directly from the tank to the plenums for the low-pressure feed to reduce the number of regulators (easier tuning of pressure). The accumulator out would tee into this just before flowing up through the base. Sculpture Base For the base, the plan is to use a massive steel wheel from an old steam roller, filled with concrete. That will be modified to allow a central tube for plumbing the p

Heartbeat Flame Effect

The human heartbeat has 3 main phases, 5 if you get into the finer details. The Crystal Heart has 3 discrete plenums for the distribution of propane gas, mimicking the: Left Ventricle Mitral Valve (between the ventricles) Right Ventricle For interactivity and what should be a really cool effect, the heart will have a low, nominal flow of propane through all 3 plenums so it’s in a modest, burning state. In addition, 3 vapor accumulators (1 for each plenum) will sit behind solenoid valves holding higher pressure gas behind them. At a small podium in front of the sculpture, there will be a simple heart rate finger monitor that burners can slip their finger into. This heart monitor’s signal will feed the input of a small microcontroller (arduino) that will detect the key “zero line” crossings of a normal heartbeat and open/close the 3 solenoid valves in sequence with the heartbeat being read. This will render a burst of pressure (a “poofer effect”) into each of the three parts of the Cryst