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"Since 2000 I have been working on the development of sculptures with expressive motion as a starting point."

Car Swing & Looping project

2022-09-30 (V. van der Wijk)

During the last months I have been busy with two so far secret projects (together with the birth of my wonderful daughter Sofia a few weeks ago). Here I'd like to share the first project: a huge installation named the "Car Swing" which I am developing together with Emile Luijben (Mastermilo) for the 'Op de proef gesteld' campaign of the University of the Netherlands.

This computer illustration shows what it is going to look like: A Volkswagen Golf will be swinging as a 6 meter long pendulum hence and forth and eventually make a looping at 12 meter height(!). Every time the car passes the ground it accelerates by the 'driver' giving gas to swing up higher and higher. 

Together with Emile we've made the conceptual design. While I am busy with the dynamic simulations, calculations of the dynamic forces, and making a design that is strong enough, Emile is taking care of the production. The design is very challenging, as the dynamic forces will be significant: with a looping the car will exert 5G acceleration forces on the driver when passing the ground, which is 5 times heavier than gravity, making a 1000 kg weighting car act as if it is weighting 5000 kg, and a person of 80 kg as if weighting 400 kg. This is about the maximal acceleration force that is allowed in rollercoasters, and near the limit a human can handle without special gearing. With a countermass on the other side of the swing (blocks of concrete) the car can be balanced, reducing these enormous G forces and eventually making it possible to slowly drive comfortably in looping circles. However these countermasses introduce other large forces that have to be designed for.

This project was initiated by the University of the Netherlands with the aim to promote science. As Assistant Prof. of the TU Delft I will be explaining in the videos how to design such large moving structures, how to think of the (dynamic) forces that act in the material and how they have to 'flow' through the structure. And of course, how to balance them.

If you'd like to see more of the production in the workshop (the base frame has already been produced and used by Emile to make himself loop), then have a look at Emile's video's below or visit his youtube channel. He makes excellent and very insightful recordings.     


Into a new atelier!

2022-06-12 (V. van der Wijk)

In the past few months I have moved into my new atelier in the old cable factory at the Schieweg 15 in Delft. It's a wonderful space: 150 squared meters with a lot of light from the North and a lot of height such that my large sculptures fit in. The first photo shows the core of the atelier: the metalworks corner. The second photo shows the installation of sculpture Anemone Magnifica.



2022-03-19 (V. van der Wijk)

For my new sculpture 'Hug' I have started with finishing the surfaces of the bronze parts and also with assembling the linkage mechanism as shown below. The holes for the axles were precisely made and such that the moving bars will make the right side on top move synchronously with the left side on top with which they move either inwards or outwards simultanously. 

The motion is shown in this video in which the right part of the mechanism consists of a general four-bar linkage while the left part of the mechanism is a parallelogram. Then next step is to place the pyramid shapes on top.  


'Between Heaven and Earth' finished!

2022-02-18 (V. van der Wijk)

After many hours of experiments and work, the newest version of Between Heaven and Earth has been finished now too. Earlier I wrote about the teardrop profiles I'd casted. I wasn't 100% satisfied and decided to make an improved wooden model. With that model I casted a series of bronze bars with a nicer teardrop profile.

With the milling machine I gave the bars the correct lenght with a straight surface finish.

Also for drilling the holes for the rotational joints I used the milling machine such that the measures are accurate and the holes are well aligned.

Bronze casting of the base was another challenge. The model, also designed with the same teardrop shape, I had 3-D printed. It took two failures to learn how to cast it well by pooring the 4 kg of liquid bronze more rapidly into the sand mold.

After finishing all the bars and bearings with stainless steel axles, the sculpture was assembled. Below you can see the results with the highest pose of the sculpture of 100 cm and lowest pose of 50 cm.

The sculpture shows a person huddled in despair. You, as a friend, are trying to help by lifting the person up where the person begs heaven for help. However when you leave, the person collapses again in utter despair. The next step is to make a small series of this sculpture for sale.


'Plumage in Bronze' finished!

2022-01-09 (V. van der Wijk)

Just before Christmas I finished the Plumage in Bronze balanced kinetic sculpture. Earlier I already made one of the sides, see this blog, and now also the other side has been assembled after weighting the bronze casted profiles carefully, determining their precise location of the center of mass (i.e. center of gravity) and placing the bearings at the precise points such that the obtained mechanism is balanced/stable in each pose to which it is moved. Soon there will be more pictures on the website.


Anemone Magnifica shines!

2021-12-06 (V. van der Wijk)

Since the Delft Highlight Festival was cancelled - due to Covid regulations - I built up the Anemone Magnifica sculpture at my atelier of which I share some images.  

The sculpture is moved by interaction of the spectator. For finding the best way for this interaction, to obtain lovely smooth and slow motions by intuitive handling of the viewers hands, I did some tests of which this video gives a nice impression. Currently I am still improving the mechanical interface of cables and handles for generating these motions. 


Stainless steel puzzle...

2021-11-14 (V. van der Wijk)

Much work has been done on the Floating Pyramids Sculpture this week. The first picture shows the assembly of the main bearing house which is mounted inside the large '7' pillar. The pillar has been constructed, bending sheets of stainless steel in wonderful curves....

Also the balance arms have been constructed and the next step is to cast two 35 kg heavy plates of lead to be placed as counterweights in the triangular part of the balance arms.


Reassembly of Anemone Magnifica

2021-10-25 (V. van der Wijk)

For the Delft Highlight Festival I have completely reassembled the Anemone Magnifica. The bearings have been cleaned and minor improvements have been made for perfecting the sculpture. The sculpture is almost ready for exhibition, and ready to be interactively moved by everyone who visits the festival.


Bronze casts of wax models

2021-10-11 (V. van der Wijk)

This week I received the bronze casts of the wax models of the sculpture I showed on 16 january. At first sight they look well casted, yet they still need significant postprocessing now in order to assemble all parts together and to finish the sculpture with a beautiful bronze appearance.


Maintenance of Taaie Tiller

2021-10-05 (V. van der Wijk)

For the Taaie Tiller at the University of Twente to work daily without problems, regular maintenance is needed. Once a month I clean the algaes, which can grow very quickly and then block the sensors and waterpumps. Also inspection is needed for components that wear out, to replace them in time. Maintenance is an essential part of moving systems, for kinetic art works as well.

The impact of the mass of 300 kg falling from 3 meters high onto the structure that 'catches' the mass underwater is enormous. This week I replaced all the rubber dampers on one side that were completely worn out...not so bad actually after more than 4 years since the opening of the sculpture and more than 3000 (!) splashes or cycles since. I also installed two bracket clamps that have to prevent the catching structure to jump up too much. Because of the large impact, despite its 280 kg of mass it could jump up more than 15 cm, risking to come out of the pantoon.


Model of new large balance sculpture

2021-09-15 (V. van der Wijk)

This is a real size test model of a new 4.2 meter heigh balance sculpture that I am currently developing. It consists of a moving composition of four pyramid shapes that is supported by two elements with triangularly shaped countermasses for balance. The sculpture will be of stainless steel and can be moved into a variety of beautiful poses by hand of the viewer. Hopefully the sculpture will be ready for exposition at the Delft Highlight Festival in November.


Wax models finished

2021-08-31 (V. van der Wijk)

The wax models for the sculpture I showed on 16 january have been finished and they are now at the foundry for casting in bronze. I optimized my technique for making thin flat plates of wax with supersmooth surfaces by using a flat silicon slab. By cutting the parts from these plates of wax, the pyramid shapes and other elements of the sculpture were constructed.

Also the base of the sculpture has been made of wax. The two large circles indicate the locations of the axles about which the pyramid shapes will rotate. 


Teardrop profile

2021-07-13 (V. van der Wijk)

I have started with a new bronze version of Between Heaven and Earth in which the elements have a profile of a teardrop. The top picture shows the casting model made of wood by milling and sanding and below you can see the results of the first sand casting, which turned out very well. Soon I will cast another 10 of these bars which in total should be sufficient for the complete sculpture.


One side finished

2021-06-13 (V. van der Wijk)

The frontside of the new sculpture Plumage in Bronze has been finished: the 4 moving bars are balanced and can be moved smoothly all around and they remain steady in any of its poses. It functions wonderfully! To make the long moving bars at the right length for perfect balance was a challenge since the mass distritution of the bars is not equal along their length. It required extensive calculations.

At the moment I am constructing the other side, which is equal to the front side. 



Bearings and Center of Mass

2021-05-29 (V. van der Wijk)

The development of the new sculpture Plumage in Bronze proceeds well. From the sprues of the bronze casting of the profiles I made bronze bearings, with axles of stainless steel.

The sculpture is now being build up step by step, this is the base with the central rotational joint. Since the moving sculpture has to be perfectly balanced in all different poses, it is important to know of each part precisely the mass and the location of the center of mass. For finding and measuring the center of mass I developed a measurement system, shown in the last photo. Here the profile is clamped in a block with a small axle. By moving the block hence and forth and up and down the point can be found in which the profile is balanced and does not turn around. The axle then is in the center of mass. The results of the measurement influence the exact lenght of the other parts, which then can be calculated.

Bronze casting of profiles

2021-05-05 (V. van der Wijk)

I have been bronze casting the profiles I prepared in wood earlier together with the round base plate for the new Plumage in Bronze sculpture. I made specific flasks for creating the sand molds from Delft clay. After closing the molds the profiles could simply be pulled out, leaving an empty space in the sand which I filled with liquid bronze. Therefore the bronze was heated to about 1050 °C in my oven made of ceramic wool. The results have become very nice, the profiles came out perfectly straight and with a high level of detail. Also the base plate turned out nice. I finished the surfaces by directionless sanding, which showed to fit well with the natural appearance of casted bronze.



Plates of wax

2021-04-15 (V. van der Wijk)

Although I prefer to sandcast my bronze sculptures in my own foundry, not all sculptures are suitable for sandcasting, especially when designs need thin sections and deep hollow cores. For the sculpture I showed on 16 january the pyramid shapes will have to be casted with the lost wax method instead. Therefore I have been making plates of wax, 4.5 mm thick, and used them to construct the pyramid shapes.


Wood profile casting pattern

2021-03-31 (V. van der Wijk)

I am making a 65 cm tall bronze version of Plumage I for which I manufactured these wooden profiles:

The profile consists of a convex face on top, concave faces on the sides and a flat face from below. They will be used as sandcasting patterns for bronze casting to obtain the profiles in bronze. The bronze profiles will then be assembled as elements of the Plumage I balanced movable sculpture.  

Shiny pyramids of stainless steel

2021-02-28 (V. van der Wijk)

The pyramid shapes of the previous blog inspired me to make a balanced sculpture with multiple small pyramid shapes of shiny stainless steel:

The first picture reveals the production steps of assembling the surfaces, welding the edges, and finishing it to flat polished surfaces. The second picture shows the assembly of four pyramid shapes in a movable parallelogram. I am now working on the remaining part of the sculpture which will hold and float this assembly up in the air.

New sculpture in development

2021-01-16 (V. van der Wijk)

Just before Christmas I designed a new sculpture which expresses a person's extreme need for an intimate hug. This is inspired by the current time where due to the Covid-19 pandemic intimacy is very restricted, a rather inhuman situation.

I don't want to reveal too much yet, but here are the first pictures. The two shapes will fall from an open 'distant' position towards each other in the position shown. At the moment I am developing the sculpture in steel and then I will cast it completely in bronze. Ultimately, it will be a fully bronze moving sculpture.

New website online!

2020-10-26 (V. van der Wijk)

Finally, my new website is online! A fresh look and a better layout, enjoy!