The Making of Screenplay: Part 8

Jenny Wu, a partner at Oyler Wu Collaborative, documents the process from design through fabrication of their latest installation, Screenplay, to be featured at the upcoming Dwell on Design 2012. Part 8: The Unknown

As the majority of the metal fabrication is nearly complete, we’re looking forward to the next phase of construction with a lot of questions and anxiety. While we have had some experience with rope as a medium, we really haven’t worked with rope in this specific way. We have strategically divided the team into two, with one continuing to fabricate the rest of the steel framework while the other focuses on completing one of the four-unit modules (including final painting and connections between modules). This process is a way to troubleshoot all of the steel issues and also ahead on a single module that can be used for testing of the rope. Completing a single module will allow the team to move forward with the roping of one module while also determining how long the roping process will take.

A four-unit module is now taken off of the wood jig so that it can be completely finished. Photo by Teri Yu.
A four-unit module is now taken off of the wood jig so that it can be completely finished. Photo by Teri Yu.

For the team working on the steel frame, the amount of work from welding to grinding seems endless. Although we have been relatively error free, there is a cycle of checks and balances in place that helps make this process as smooth as possible. While welding, Dwayne is making sure that the pieces are cut and fitted to ensure a clean weld. Those who are grinding the welds are checking for and tagging missing welds so that they can be picked up. At the end of the line is a person who goes back and forth from the digital model to the finished piece to makes sure that all of the pieces are in place before giving the okay to move forward with painting.

The final unit including the bench element continues to be fabricated and welded.
The final unit including the bench element continues to be fabricated and welded. Image courtesy of .
Cutting steel members to the right angle. Photo by Teri Yu.
Cutting steel members to the right angle. Photo by Teri Yu.
Measuring. Photo by Teri Yu.
Measuring. Photo by Teri Yu.

We initially hoped to powder coat the entire steel structure so that it would have a weather and rust-proof surface; however, we realized that if we powder coated the steel at this point in the process, it would make last minute changes to the steel structure impossible. With our tight schedule and all of the uncertainties regarding the roping process, we simply could not give up the option of being able to cut and re-weld certain steel pieces if we needed to adjust the steel frame last minute. So we’ve gone to the much more tedious process of priming, painting, and clear coating in order to get durable finish. Although we are getting a great looking coat, this is a process that is taking a tremendous amount of time that we had not planned for.

Grinding welded connections. Photo by Teri Yu.
Grinding welded connections. Photo by Teri Yu.
Welding precise connections. Photo by Teri Yu.
Welding precise connections. Photo by Teri Yu.
Spraying the first module with primer.
Spraying the first module with primer.

Another incredible unknown is always in getting materials on time. For this project, we worked with a couple of companies that we’ve collaborated with before, and that are always able to work with what must seem like completely unreasonable deadlines. We owe a huge thanks to Ron at M&K Metals and Ken at Norman Supply for getting us steel and rope straghtaway. This could be the difference between a complete disaster and just getting done just in the nick of time…

The tedious process of priming, painting, and clear coating.
The tedious process of priming, painting, and clear coating.

Next week, the roping begins!

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