The production phase finally began. I bought two pine chairs, a large board of pine cut into 32” pieces, and wood stain. I cut the pieces of pine to shapes that fit on the sides of the two chair backs, and screwed them into place so the two pieces functioned as one. I then sanded and stained all the wood so it was a rich dark brown.
Finding material for the dome that was firm but flexible material and that could be screwed into place but still moved up and down proved to be a challenge. I tried pvc pipe, wire, and even basswood, but ultimately went to a metal fabricator and had pieces of 16 gauge aluminum cut to 1” x 5 foot strips. The edges were very sharp so I had to file each side down by hand to make them safe for use. I punched holes in the ends and screwed them in so they were easily pushed up and down.
Sewing the wool was also problematic because I quickly realized that it would all have to be done by hand it I was to be sure that everything fit as tightly as possible. I wrapped each individual aluminum strip first so that I could go back in and have a material to attach the connecting segments of wool to. It was tedious work, and will have to be polished up before showing in a gallery space, but overall the hand-sewn effect worked very well with the overall aesthetic of the furniture.
I am very happy with the end result and how it was received. When I first sat inside the dome, I was very pleased with how the light filtered softly through the wool, and how with the hood pulled all the way down you feel enclosed but not at all smothered. Everyone immediately understood how to interact with the sculpture and I realized that watching the body language of the two participants speaking without seeing each other is also very revealing. Everyone who tried it gave me really positive feedback, confirming that being under the hood with someone else did indeed facilitate a closer kind of interaction, some people even rested their heads against one another as they spoke.
Getting to this point with this project was no simple task. My inspiration and the process it took to get here was the farthest thing from straight forward, but I am very pleased with the results. This atmosphere, reminiscent of being covered by a warm blanket, listening to the voice of someone you cannot see or touch in a conventional way is intimate in a very unique and meaningful way. I believe that what I created will not only instigate a conversation between two people but will make each individual focus in a new and more sensitive way on every word spoken within the dome.
In the weeks before the senior show I would like to adjust the dome so that it is a bit taller to accommodate taller people, and lifts a so that it is possible to enter without bending forward. I would also like to tidy up the wool pieces and stitches just for presentation’s sake.