This is a living/steel sculpture I created during my undergraduate studies in Studio Art at Duluth, Minnesota.
Each piece is 2 1/2' x 15"

-Two 3'X3' 11 GA. sheet of steel
-4'x3' sheet of expanded steel
-4'x1' 20 GA. sheet of steel
-Potting Soil
-Oat Seeds
-Spray Bottle
-Angle Grinder
-Oxy/Acetylene cutting torch
-Oxy/Acetylene #2 torch
-Plasma Cutter
  1. With chalk draw out the desired shape on the 11 GA. steel
  2. Using an oxy/acetylene set up with a cutting torch, cut shape out: instead of holding torch in one place heat a larger area (creates more slag- giving it an uneven drip-like edge) and push the cutting valve only halfway down(when metal begins to pool) which will release a blast of oxygen igniting the molten steel. While still holding the valve down move tip slowly alone chalk outline. To create the organic styled holes on the top I also used the cutting torch by slowly moving the torch over a rather large area till almost molten and while holding the torch in one spot (verses moving it along the outline)pushing the cutting valve all the way down: repeat multiple times in molten area working area.
  3. With the plasma cutter and a jig cut the expanded steel that will be the side support pieces. Slowly bend to the shape of the 20 GA. steel.
  4. Cut strips of the 11 GA. steel and bend to shape so it creates a container on the bottom steel piece. Braze 11 GA. to 20 GA. bottom slabs.
  5. Then I welded the expanded steel (vertical) to the inside edge of the top and bottom (both horizontal) pieces of steel. The expanded steel that will be on the outside edge will not be anchored down as it will need to be removed in order to hang the work on the wall. (refer to pictures)
  6. With the angel grinder polish up the top steel slab. I recommend coating the freshly ground steel with polyurethane to protect it from rusting as the piece will need to be watered.
  7. Grab your potting soil and seed and plant the container. (You are able to reach into the piece only on one side as the expanded steel is supporting the top steel slab on the inside edge) *All welding needs to be done at this point otherwise you will torch the seeds.
  8. Keep in warm dark area for 5-10 days allowing the seeds to germinate(make sure seeds always stay moist, not soaking- moist). Once sprouted they will need a light source to allow photosynthesis to take place (120W compact fluorescent and a couple clamp lights work great).
  9. Over a week or two the oats will start to poke through the holes in the top and pour out of the sides and each blade fights for the light!
Refer to photos to see how I get this piece to hang on the wall!

If you have any questions let me know!

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    8 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! I've got a "It's something I would like to touch but I don't because then it could be disturbed and that would be a shame 'cause it's perfect this way, but also a little sad that nobody will touch it" feeling about it... Something like that anywayz. :-P I'm sure it's even better in real life! :-)

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love the contrast of your sculpture and the flowing nature of it--living plants with metal!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I really like your sculpture. I've been interested in creating forms for plants over some time now in order to represent words and simple images with living matter on a large scale. I'm digging the speed and flexibility that blasting holes in hollow forms with an torch could afford. Thanks for sharing.

    You've obviously got some sculptural skills, next time, I encourage you to take step by step photos and post a full Instructable. With your skills, I think you might be pleased with the traction you could get in one of our contests. Nice work!

    1 reply