Sunday, June 13, 2010

fragments from my journal 1

It has been a long time. Clementina encouraged me to enter fragments from my journal - to backtrack a little. The big projects we are completing now, were initiated in 2009. Some aspects of the work proved to be very challenging, but worth it.
In June 2009, South African Airways (SAA) invited us to submit a tender to manufacture a ceramic screen for the First Class Lounge at the new O R Tambo International Airport building; in preparation for the Soccer in 2010. The architect appointed by SAA, designed the screen. The brief: 

  • To make 998 cylindrical ceramic units 

  • Six different sizes - 1½ , 3 , 10 , 20 , 30 and 40 cm long all 7½ cm in diameter

  •  Individually colored in White, Blue, Yellow Ochre, Brown or Khaki 

  • Burnished and Smoke fired 
The cylinders - suspended on stainless steel cables - form a screen between a lounge and dining area.
 I look back, with amusement . . . now. Here are some extracts, related to this project, from my journal:
  •  Monday, 15 June 2009. Completed the15 page tender document - an achievement in itself! Four days (Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon) to get tax clearance, do technical drawings, work out moulds, costs, terms and more. The tender, bound and delivered, by 16h00 to the SAA offices.
  • August 2009. We are awarded the contract!
  • 13 October 2009. We receive order confirmation and start working for delivery 3 Dec 2009. So much work and so little time!
  • Mid October 2009. Designer Stephen Falcke give us “artistic license” to design a wall – within his brief of “Black & White, 60s’, retro” - for a new hotel to be completed in February 2010. The chief buyer for the Conran Shop visits us and is very excited about some of the work in the studio. Anticipating the completion of the SAA screen by 3rd December, we start thinking and working on design proposals. More info on this in another post.
  • October 2009. We make Prototypes in Plaster of Paris and/or Silicone Rubber. The client approves and signs off each model.

  • Make Production moulds.

  • Complete color samples for the clients’ approval.

  • Designs change. Cost to use a stainless steel cable clamp on each unit too high; we make changes to reduce the amount of clamps needed on each cable strand.

  • Mid November. All units are cast, but color samples not signed off.

  • End November. Installation postponed, till early January 2010

  • Mid December. Color samples signed off.

  • Color and burnishing seems never ending, at times. The units are fired to 1100 C° for strength before the smoke firing.

  • Smoke firing over a thousand units (including rejects) - no easy feat. The longer units are particularly difficult to smoke.

  • January 2010. The cable size has been changed! We have to re-drill a larger hole in each unit. Units are fired; some chip or crack. Make replacements . . .

  • 24th March 2010, Finally! I set out to deliver and help install the screen.18 boxes with each strand arranged and packed individually. (Six sizes in six colors – too confusing to sort out on a building site) Fortunately SAA arranged for the company that did the rigging to do the fixing of the ceramic units. It took 7 days to install. I was present for most of the setting up; thank you to Hein and his helpers for doing the final fitting.

Working on site was interesting. Entrance to the location is through the international customs gates; I had to apply, and pay, for security clearance to enter the site (including tools, cell phone, etc needed). Imagine me with 18 boxes full of cylinder shapes at customs! Fortunately I had drawings of the screen with me; it made it slightly easier to explain. It did not occur to me to apply for clearance to take a camera in; the photos of the screen were taken with my cell phone.

1 comment:

Clementina van der Walt said...

Wow!! This is fantastic..very very impressive! I am so glad that you have started up your blog again..please keep going..I really look forward to the next posting.