Introduction: Basketball Leather / Walnut Sculpture for the Golden State Warriors
In collaboration with Sports and the Arts, and the Golden State Warriors, I created a one of a kind wall relief sculpture for the players and coaching staff. This sculpture is permanently displayed in the Chase Center, just outside the team's locker room. The Warriors wanted a sculpture that payed homage to their roots in Oakland while incorporating phrases, words and accomplishments meaningful to the team.
This Warriors sculpture spans over 8 feet long and 5 ft tall. It uses premium basketball leather and English Walnut. The lettering was CNC'ed, then using the smallest cobblers nails secured into the sculpture. This sculpture was over a year in the making. I ended up making 3 sculptures for this because I was dissatisfied with the first two ( I only showed the first one in this video). There were lots of ups, downs and learning along the way but it is these challenges that make it more rewarding in the end. I I am extremely happy with how this sculpture turned out and cannot thank everybody that helped me along the way.
Step 1: Make Design and Enlarge to Full Scale
The first step for any large project like this is to sketch out the design and then enlarge it full scale. This piece will be 8ft long by 5ft tall.
Step 2: Cut Out Design and Glue Up Pieces
The next step is to cut out the design. For this sculpture, I created a 3-D look by making 4 different layers of the tree. Each layer would have different branches cut out, creating height differences between each layer. I used a jig saw and flush trim bit in order to accomplish this. Once all 4 layers were perfectly matching, I glued and used 18 gauge brad nails to fasten them together.
Step 3: Cut Leather and Apply.
I got my basketball leather from Spalding, the official basketball of the NBA. It came to me in huge sheets of leather. I cut everything down to size and then used painters tape to trace each branches design. I then used construction adhesive along with hot glue to attach the leather to the wood. I trimmed off the access with a razor blade.
Step 4: Mill Up Walnut Veneer.
I then took my work over to my friends shop to mill up some English Walnut. We jointed each board, planed, cut to thickness on the bandsaw and then ran everything to the drum sander in order to get 1/32" thickness walnut veneer. I then meticulously cut each veneer to boarder every single side of the exposed plywood.
Step 5: Finishing Work.
I spent around 2 months to do the fine details of the walnut veneer. Each piece had to be perfectly cut to fit each unique branch. I used a hand plane and chisel to cut down the borders. I then did weeks upon weeks of sanding everything down to 220 grit.
Step 6: Walnut Finish.
I used Festool's heavy duty finish to finish all the walnut. I had to tape of every square inch of leather in order to not get any finish on the leather.
Step 7: Lettering
The client wanted hundreds of meaningful words spread throughout every branch of the tree. I CNC'ed every letter to 3/4" tall. I then drilled each letter multiple times in order to secure them to the tree using the tiniest of cobblers nails. This process took a VERY long time!
Step 8: Mock Install and Final Install
A custom mounting bracket was made and we did a mock install in the workshop. Once that was secured we took it down, shipped it to Chase Center and did the final install.