Friday, March 4, 2011

Sail Art Project

About a year ago I was approached with an idea for a functional art project that was constructed entirely out of recycled windsurf sails. It sounded interesting and I gladly accepted the assignment.
When I mentioned this project my girlfriend Karen Lang of “North Shore Kite and Sail Repair” she was very excited and eager to help on a consulting basis.  Karen has been involved in the sail industry for nearly three decades. Karen also helped with the acquiring of the recycled sails. She made calls to various windsurf shop owners and windsurf equipment manufacturers based here on Maui. The response was great and we acquired enough recycled sails to do the project.

I can’t take credit for the Idea but I was allowed to design it and it was up to me to figure out how to construct it.

The idea was to create an effect like that of a beach that was haphazardly littered with every brand and style of windsurf sails. We were trying to achieve the same look as Hookipa on a crowded day or when a large wave sailing event is under way.
Not only did this art piece need to be constructed but it had to be simple to install, simple to remove and each of these tasks  had to be done within a matter of minutes. It also had to be stored conveniently and compactly.
My first task was to divide the distance into manageable increments. Once that calculation was made the frames were designed and we went into production.
Fortunately I had the perfect place to lay the entire assembly out in one piece. It was important not to break the continuity of this flowing mosaic.
Layout was the next challenge and I tried several different arrangements before the desired effect was achieved.

Once the layout pattern was agreed on I had to come up with a plan to cut this massive and unstable piece of material into individual panels.

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I designed a simple and mobile scaffold plank system that was only inches above my work so I had no problem accessing the task area.

 After thinking about my options, I decided on a four inch grinder with a cutoff wheel as my cutting tool.  This little machine cleanly cut through the multiple layers of materials with very little resistance.

The panels were temporarily fastened to the frames. I cut them out and I stacked and stored them in a convenient place.

One by one we addressed the bonding of the often many layers of sail material with a selection of adhesives and high tech sail making materials. Each individual panel proved to be a unique challenge on its own.

 Our next hurdle was the actual on site installation of the panels. This was no easy chore.  I used every imaginable fastening device that I could think of and I even developed several stainless steel articulating arms that locked the screen in place.

This is not a permanent fixture and is only set up in the most severe conditions.

I am sure that most of you will never have a chance see it.  In fact it has only been set up a few times. I am told that on the last occasion that it was utilized it worked great and performed the task that it was designed for.

 That’s why I am showing it here.
I feel that it would be hard for anyone to visualize this unique piece of functional yet aesthetic art if I simply tried to explain it.

I feel that the quintessence of this mosaic is that it expresses the unity that’s essential for the sport of windsurfing to flourish!

Through the bonding of our tribes we create a beautiful shield that will protect us and will weather many storms!

I am very proud of this dynamic piece and pleased to share it with you.

I would like to acknowledge these people and companies for their assistance and generous donations towards this project: 
David Schmitt - 
Bill Khol –


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