Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sculpture - Plane & Simple

This is my favorite part of boatbuilding. It goes by so quickly, but it is the action that creates the fair shape of the hull. Fair to a boatbuilder means a continuously curving form with no dips or hollows. The shape must be symmetrical bilaterally (for most boats anyway. Gondolas are an exception.) For an A-cat this means an entirely convex surface with a smooth flow from stem to stern and slack or rounded bilges. Fairing is done by eye for the most part. Occasionally a batten may be bent to check an area. After the hull is planed by hand to blend plank with plank with sheer and keel, the next step will be bunging any holes, knots, or countersinks left. Sanding, again by hand, will follow.

This part of the process also smells delightful. It is a delicious sensory experience, creating a beautiful visual form, functional and utilitarian Bauhaus style: with silky sweep of the plane, the cool metal and warm wood on your hand, the crisp crarackle & swrriish of the shavings, the sweet cedar smell mixing with the musky one of mahogany and the sharp scent of fir.

Rough sawed planks at transom.They need to be trimmed flush with the beautiful mahogany transom.
Smooth transom. Finished with a low angle block plane and a veneer trimmer. One way by hand for an emotionally satisfying finish, the other way makes John happy, since it is faster, and time is of the essence, this boat has to be ready to float in only eight weeks.

Bungs pounded and glued in place. Torture boards tomorrow.

Bauhaus, because I learned about it from the product design end, not architecture. They were more organic in a way, trying to synthesize humanscale and geometry. Forms comes from function, and then there was always this style aspect which changes over time and idiom, the decorative aspect. Sometimes it is eliminated, sometimes embellishes to excess. Happens with boats all the time. When you look at the collision between builders and owners of boats it can be sympathetic, or aggressively diversionary. When an owner and builder have a similar form language the results are elegant, conversely diverging viewpoints lead to stress and complaining compromise, some times the demise of the project.

1 comment:

Professor Fleming said...

so you mention bauhaus in your passage - a bot surprising since teh buahaus celbrated the machine made aestetic celbrating new technologies an dthe expressions that come from them. your boat making is very organic and "connected" to teh maker in a viceral way, while the bauhaus aesthetic is cold and precise...now there is no doubt that they had a high sense of precision and quality, but i wonder if their product could be called sustainable and yet their process was very green, very interdisciplinary...