Landing Gear in Terminus

From a foot-tall maquette to twelve-foot-tall, monumental sculpture, we have our Landing Gear piece. Landing Gear was installed at Terminus, which is a beautiful residential and business complex in Atlanta; at the top of the parking garage of Terminus sits Landing Gear. In the 1800’s, Atlanta was the end of the Western and Atlantic Railway system, Atlanta’s origin was known as the “Southernmost Terminus”; which is where the name of the complex is derived from. Cherrylion’s sculpture was named based on a book Martin Dawe read in his younger years called Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather. He said the book made him reflect on how we are grounded to the earth in bodies like space suits, thus Landing Gear became a perfect title for this piece.  

Answering the call for art is a nerve-wracking show of professionalism and timeliness, and Martin Dawe wanted his work installed at this beautiful location. Speaking with the art consult on the logistics about how she would be presenting the work gave Marin an idea on how to present his project. She had many portfolios of various sculptures to show the developer, so Martin decided to prove best in show by catering his submission to the time sensitive nature of the developers. He disregarded showing them a lengthy portfolio and instead showed them an image proposal of the site with the maquette of Landing Gear photo shopped in place, the developers loved it!

this is the original proposal image!

To begin sizing up this piece, Martin Dawe made a five-foot-tall version to work out all the textures and how they would be reflected in the final larger sculpture. After realizing the stylization of the clay’s application would be growing twelve times in size, Martin had a special tool made that replicates his hands at a larger scale for continuity as the sculpture’s size grew. The tool was made from a rubber cast taken from Martins hand. The tool was then constructed like a large paddle with a handle to fit Martin’s hand for sculpting the finger-like impressions of his thumb as shown in the maquette. This method worked perfectly to replicate the stylized nature and movement within the sculpture.

To compose something twelve feet tall from clay, you need a hefty armature. For this Martin constructed a steel armature for the main body; and to address majority of the clay that is suspended upside down from the armature, he created a double mesh system to ensure no clay would droop or fall off while they worked. This secured the twelve-foot tall, 3,000 pound clay sculpture that rested on the five-inch contact point. This whole support system would have been futile if they didn’t find a way to keep the clay hydrated while they built up the sculpture. To keep everything in the perfect working state they crafted a large tent that could be rolled overtop the sculpture; it contained two humidifiers and successfully kept the clay workable.

Moving the piece to mold it required eyelets that could be removed after transporting. Once Cherrylion constructed the mold of Landing Gear, Cherrylion sent off the mold to Art Casting of Colorado. This foundry worked with stainless steel; there are very few places that will cast with this metal as it is very difficult to cast. Stainless steel has properties of iron which makes it much more rigid than the softer elements like bronze, meaning the stainless steel must be heated to a higher temperature. 

After the casting process is completed, the installation is ready to start. The site of the install is located at the top of Terminus’ parking deck; due to Landing Gear being so large, to install they decided to use a 40 boom truck. The team utulized the crane to lift the sculpture above the third story roof top to then be meticulously lower it into the support post installed by the engineers. The seated base could enclose around it skillfully hiding the post. The base is made from fiberglass reinforced concrete, making it very light and extremely durable.

The entire process was not only done timely but within budget! not only the hard work that goes into making the sculpture, there is also an equal amount of effort going into the planning and client meetings. At Cherrylion Studios, the artist’s process isn’t just within the art, it’s in the people and conversations ensuring the client gets the best result possible.

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