Top Craft Shows in 2010

Craft shows have evolved by leaps and bounds since the 1970s when Wood That Works first entered the market. I haven't shown my kinetic sculptures at a craft fair since 1992 but Marji and I continue to visit many as collectors of fine American crafts. Not only do we love to create but we also like to collect and decorate with hand-crafted objects. Our favorite shows include the ACC show in Baltimore and the Paradise City shows in New England. Occassionally we hit some of the others if our travels coincide with a show. Each year American Style Magazine polls its readers to find out what the Top 10 [Craft] Fairs and Festivals are for the upcoming year. Here is the list for 2010:

1) Kentucky Crafted: The Market: Louisville, KY March 6-7

2) St. James Court Art Show: Louisvile, KY October 1-3

3) Paradise City Arts Festival: Northhamption, MA May 29-31 and October 9-11

4) Scottsdale Arts Festival: Scottsdale, AZ March 12 - 14

5) Francisco's Farm Arts Festival at Midway College: Midway, KY June 26-27

6) Kentuck Festival of the Arts: Northport, AL October 16-17

7) Bayou City Art Festival: Houston, TX March 26-28 and October 9-10

8) American Craft Council Show - Baltimore: Baltimore, MD February 24-27, 2011

9) League of NH Craftsmen's Fair: Newbury, NH August 7-15

10) Des Moines Arts Festival: Des Moines, IA June 25-27

Have you been to a Craft Fair or Festival recently? Which one and what interesting things did you find?

Constant force springs

There is some confusion about the "special springs" I use in my sculpture. The assumption is that they are a kind of spring motor that drives my sculptures at a constant slow rotational speed. What they actually provide is a constant rotational force or torque, not constant rotational speed. If the spring is not constrained in some way it will unwind very rapidly.

A traditional coiled clock spring gets "tighter" and provides greater torque the more you wind it. A constant force spring provides the same torque or turning force through out its cycle. You can find sources for constant force springs and much more information on their uses by doing a Google search on "constant force spring."

A good way to emulate a constant force spring is to attach a string to a freely rotating spool and hang a weight from the string. Wind the string up onto the spool, the torque or turning resistance you feel is pretty much the same as that from a constant force spring. If you release the spool the weight will drop and the spool will spin rapidly. You need to add a mechanism to control this rapid unwinding. My sculptures are essentially mechanisms to control the rapid unwinding of a spool. The general class of mechanism is called an escapement. Spring and weight driven clocks also use escapement mechanisms.

Clock escapements are designed run for long periods of time at a regular pace. I design my escapements/sculptures to produce visually interesting and sometimes random patterns. The important point to understand is that I don't power my sculptures with an escapement mechanism, my entire sculpture is an escapement mechanism.