Sculpture Ideas

Variation Votes • Totals to Date


We started collecting votes just over a week ago on the two variation concepts and the results are surprising in a number of ways.

First, we are surprised by the number of people that did indeed vote, or submit a name or send a comment. Thank you for taking the time to consider and to share. To date we have received 409 votes. It has been great fun collecting them, reading the creative name suggestions and especially reading the comments.

Second surprise: The Variation David thought would garner the highest vote didn't. However, the pattern he likes a little better was the strong favorite of the participants. The results show that 284 like Concept A and 125 prefer Concept B. I am including the video again so you can recall the visual difference.



We were impressed by the ingenious names provided. I am listing them all in attached pdf documents so you can skim through them as well. I had to resort to a Google search and Wikipedia more than once for some of the less common suggestions. Truth be told I had no idea what a Quipu or an Ouroboros was and the answers are fascinating. Additionally there was an inspiring international flavor to many suggestions. Votes came in from 6 continents and many countries.


 It is just another example of how the Internet is making our world smaller and more connected everyday.

I have separated out the suggestions for concept A and concept B and attached them in PDF files for you to scan if interested. 

View Concept A Title Suggestions

View Concept B Title Suggestions

Within each grouping I have noted those that had multiple recommendations with the number of times it was suggested in parenthesis after the name. I have also noted with an asterisk all of the names that have already been used by David for other sculptures. The most popular name was Kaleidoscope getting suggested 24 times for Concept A and 3 times for Concept B. David has already used both Kaleidoscope and Kaleisdoscope II in previous designs. Other popular names were Nova (10) and Starburst (18).

There was definitely both humor (Fiddlesticks, Bucky Ball) and ethereal ideas (Eternity, Spectral, Wonder) represented. And some that had me scratching my head - Chocolate Pudding? 

In the comments it was clear there were "discussions" going on in offices and homes as colleagues and spouses had to submit individual votes and names. 

Most heart warming were the many thoughtful comments sent about David's work. People spent time looking at the designs and giving wonderful information about the whys behind their choices. They also shared stories of the sculptures from earlier years, still in their homes and entertaining new generations. This little survey has brought hundreds of you remotely into the studio for a visit. Welcome! We appreciate your taking the time. Some day visit in person!

And over 200 of you have requested advance notice of when David has a new Variation sculpture set to share. We will send a directed mailing to you sometime in 2013 once David has made this concept a working reality - Ah, the challenge! In the meantime, I will keep you posted on updates here on the blog. 

Kinetic Variations • Help Decide

Between the years of 2003 and 2008 I have designed nine different sculptures in the Variation series. I started with Variation - Wind and ended with Variation - Dream. 



Variation- Wind • 2003 

Every Variation in the series used the same mechanism. At the time of the last one, I decided I would not do another until I had ideas for a better mechanism. Advances in my mechanism designs over the past year have brought new ideas to the foreground and that has me thinking, sketching, planning.

Meanwhile, I have been designing new patterning wheels. I have always enjoyed tinkering with the kaleidoscopic possibilities in new wheel design and have even created some Adobe Illustrator/After Effects connected templates that make it easy for me to design, animate, view, tweak, modify, animate, etc. Once I get going, the possibilities just keep expanding. 

I wondered what type of design my followers liked best and decided to ask. I have narrowed down my favorites to two different styles and have created animations of each viewable on the survey page.


Voing has ended. You can read about the results and suggestions here.

While we were at it, we also thought it might be helpful to inquire about name ideas. I have often mentioned that the naming of a sculpture is difficult. We are not word smiths and would love input from those of you that are. At the above link you can also choose to recommend possible names for the new Variations. If you include your email address (optional) I will send you advance notice of the release of the new Variations scultpure, but also notify you if we use your name.  

Understand that this Variation design is in the concept phase now. There is a lot of work, both in designing and actually creating, before a new sculpture will emerge. It chould easily take at least six months. Because this includes a new mechanism concept it could take longer to refine.

Below is a parade of the nine different Variations. You can link thorough to their individual websites to see animations of the kaleidoscopic patterns created by their rotating wheels.

Variation Wind





Variation-Stars - 2003



Variation-Fractal - 2004

Variation-Surf - 2004


Variation-Water - 2004


Variation-Jazz - 2006


Variation-Zen - 2007


Variation-Dream - 2008

The Beginning....Zylo

Several sculptures and drawings that Marji made during her years as a student at Rhode Island School of Design started me thinking about wooden machines as sculptures. Here's a video showing some of her works and one of my first attempts at a moving piece c.1975.

 For more information on the history of Wood That Works and spring driven kinetic sculpture visit this link.

Evolution of a Kinetic Sculpture - It works!


After many months of delay I finally built the first prototype of "Evolution" a month or so ago. It has made it from the studio, where I tweaked it for a few weeks, to our dining room so I can live with it in a nice environment as I continue the testing.

The sculpture works as I had hoped it would. The patterning is quite dramatic and very different from any of my previous work. The animation above captures the essence of the motion and patterns but not the full length or complexity of a cycle from spring push to spring push, usually around 3 minutes. The wheels move quite slowly toward the end of the cycle creating some of my favorite patterns. The relatively large mass off the wood wheels allows for this slow motion while still storing enough energy to trigger the spring mechanism. The cycle times and patterns are not regular. They vary depending on the speed and direction the wheels are moving relative to each other when the spring push occurs. I'll put up a video soon.

Marji thought of the name "Evolution" for this sculpture because of my series of blog posts describing the process of designing this piece. The series starts at this link. I plan to keep testing the Evolution for a few weeks and hopefully make a test production run next month.