Introduction: Rain - an Abstract Piece

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things i…

This is my latest creation. An abstract version of rain. The blue glass beads on the metal spiral represent the falling rain. The rocks in the bottom of the glass vase represent soil. The blue glass beads mixed with the rocks represent the ground water rain becomes after it soaks in. The blue glass beads on top of the rocks represent rain puddled on the ground. The light illuminating the drops is our attention span. We notice the drops as they fall, pay a little attention to the water on the surface and stop thinking about it once it is out of sight. The sharp edges on the frame work and glass cover of the flash light represent the danger from the pollution present in the rain. OK now that the post-modern justification for my hobby is done here's how I made it.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Here's what I used to make "Rain":

  • Pliers
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Drill
  • Drill press
  • Drill Press Hose Mount (optional)
  • Drill bit sizer
  • Drill bits/ 6" Philips head driver bit (preferably magnetic)
  • Ruler
  • Forceps
  • Clamps
  • Glass cutter
  • Steel wool
  • Wood burner (optional)
  • Awl
  • Torch
  • Metal container (for shaping)
  • Windex
  • Blue glass beads
  • Flat piece of blue glass
  • Smooth pebbles
  • LED flashlight with push button switch on the rear (blue body recommended)
  • Plastic tube (slightly larger diameter than the flashlight, blue or transparent)
  • Washer (same diameter as plastic tube)
  • Philips head screw with round head
  • Metal base (lamp base)
  • Metal grid (from an old rain gutter cover)
  • Heavy gauge wire
  • Glass container with a hole in the bottom (mine is the body of a lamp)
  • Scrap wood
  • E-6000
  • Spray paint (primer, blue, and clear)

Step 2: Preparation, Cleaning, and Painting

First things first we need to clean the glass container that serves as the body of the sculpture. I used Windex, but any glass cleaner should work just fine.

With that done grab the base, scrub it with steel wool to remove any dirt and to prepare the surface to accept paint. Once you've scrubbed it, prime the base and wait for it to dry. Once the primer coat is dry spray paint the base blue. When the blue paint is dry spray the base with clear spary paint to seal things up.

Step 3: Preparing and Shaping the Grid

Now we move on to the grid that supports the rain drops. The first step in preparing the grid is to remove the clips that would have held the grid to the rain gutter...if I hadn't cut it off the original grid. To remove the clips I inserted a flat-head screw driver into the clip and pried it open.

With that done take your heavy gauge wire and thread it in and out of the grid along one edge of the grid. You'll notice the grid already has some beads glued to it in the picture. This is because I began gluing the beads to the grid and when I got done, I found out the hard way the grid wasn't strong enough to support the weight of the beads. So I added the heavy gauge wire. Make your life simple and add the wire before you glue on the beads. Be sure to leave a tail of wire.

WIth the wire in place shape the grid by wrapping it around a long small diameter container, Be sure to wrap the wire tail around the container as well. The tail will be inserted into the glass container to support the grid. To get the spiral wound really tight you can stuff it in the glass container. If the wire still sticks out too far from the grid use a pair of pliers to crimp the wire close to the grid.

Step 4: Beading the Grid

Once the grid has been shaped it is time to add the beads. I accomplished this by smearing some E-6000 on the back of the bead and then used spring clamps to hold the beads in position on the grid until the glue set. When you are clamping the beads you need to place the clamp just right or the bead will get squeezed out and shoot off into your shop. Clamping from the side didn't work very well. I found the best manner was to clamp from the end at a slight angle. I was able to clamp about five at a time before the clamps got in each other's way. Once the glue dried I glued a second bead to the opposite side of the grid. Because of the rounded surface of the beads already glued in place, I was unable to clamp the second bead in place as the clamp would slide off. The beading process will take a while so start early and work on other parts of the piece while the glue dries.

Step 5: Tube Preparation

With the support spiral done and the beading begun we can move on to preparing the tube that will hold the flashlight. If your flashlight has a lanyard remove it so it can slide into the tube with out interference.

Slide the flashlight into the tube and use a marker to mark slightly below the end of the flash light. You want the tube to be slightly shorter than the flashlight so that the light can travel vertically to actuate the switch. Once you've marked the tube slide the flashlight out of the tube and drop the washer in so it lays flat on the bottom of the tube. Then use a marker to mark the hole in the center of the washer.

WIth the marking complete use a pair of scissors to cut the excess plastic from the open end of the tube. Then heat an awl with a torch and use the hot awl to melt a hole in the bottom of the tube. Use your screw to check that diameter is correct. When you've confirmed the hole size use forceps to break excess plastic away from the newly melted hole so the washer will lay flat on the tube bottom.

Step 6: Base Construction

With the tube finished we can work on the base. First we'll need to install a piece of wood in the metal base to aid in the assembly of the sculpture. Clamp your scrap wood down and use your jigsaw to trim it down until it fits in the base.

Once trimmed down put the metal base over the wood. Then center the tube over the hole in the base and use your awl to mark the location of the hole in the bottom of the tube on the wood.

Measure the diameter of the screw you plan to use and install a drill bit of corresponding size in your drill press. Then clamp your wood into the drill press and install the drill press hose mount. Drill the hole.

Then use your wood burner to sign your work, as it will be easier to do now rather than after the sculpture is assembled.

Step 7: Assemble

With the scrap wood cut and drilled we can assemble the body of the piece. First smear the wood with E-6000 and then press the metal base onto the wood. Then smear E-6000 onto the bottom of the glass container and align it with the hole in the base. Drop the washer into the bottom of the tube. Use a 6" philips head bit to pass the screw through the washer, tube, and metal base and drive it into the wood with a hand drill. Make sure the head of the screw is rounded. This will allow the screw to actuate the flashlight switch when you press down on it, The round screw head functions as an artificial finger tip.

Step 8: Modifiy the Flashlight

Now we'll need to modify the flashlight. I want to hide the flashlight as well as I can so it doesn't distract from the piece. I just want the light to be noticed and not the source. So first I switched from a red flashlight to a blue one. To cover the light I trimmed a piece of glass by scoring it with a glasscutter guided by a ruler and then using breaking pliers to snap the score lines. With that accomplished I smeared some E-6000 around the circumfrence of the flashlight and then pressed it to the the glass. Then I had to be patient and let it dry. The dry time gave me to start the next step.

Step 9: Final Assembly

Slide the grid assembly into the glass container. Then pour some rocks into the space between the tube and glass container walls (use your forceps to recover stones that go into the tube). Then add a few glass beads and cover those with more stones. This will create the soil and ground water.

With that done mix the two kinds of glass beads together and pour them into the space between the tube and glass container walls. If the glue on the flashlight is dry slide it into the tube and then pour more glass beads on top.

Rain is now complete. You can turn on the the light by gently pressing down on the glass glued to the flashlight.

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