Beginners, Intermediate & Experienced skaters

September 4, 2009

The concepts and models were fine so far, but I still felt that there needed to be a more substance behind my designs. Sketches, scale models, and words can only inform my design to a certain degree. I needed to look more closely at the ACT of skateboarding. I made a list of all the different skateboard tricks.


I could then associate the different types of tricks with different obstacles.

I could then categorise the tricks and obstacles into 3 main grading levels:

  1. Beginners ( blue box)
  2. Intermediate (yellow box)
  3. Experienced (red box)

We discussed this in class the other week and agreed that this will help direct the form of the objet. It would give me some limitations to the surfaces and scale of my design.


User Participation #1

September 4, 2009

I gathered my favourite clay models and wire mesh models and took them to the skate park (Riverside). I wanted some skaters to take a look at the models and give me some feedback on the designs. They didn’t seem too interested in what I was saying at first, but when I pulled out the models they all started to gather around and take a look. I didn’t really want to sketch and takes notes of what they were saying and I didn’t want to ask them to sketch out their ideas either. So I cut up some squares of wire mesh, gave it to them and said- “show me your ideas”.  So they all started to model up some ideas… They produced some basic shapes and curves and gave me some advice on what they thought be good to include.

1- Shallow transitions

2- Transfers between some obstacles

3- They wanted to skate obstacles that didn’t look like benches or other familiar obstacles.

So my design needs to be less like a seat and more like a sculptural installation. skaters and the general pubic (tourists etc) would find this more interesting.

Seating concepts

September 3, 2009

I wanted to create a visual language (script) that could be understood by skaters and pedestrians. (Understood in terms of the seats functionality.)

Seating concept 01- Oven bake clay & wire mesh

Seating concept 01- Oven bake clay & wire mesh

Back view of seat.

Back view of seat.

I wanted to design the seat so that the mesh area was seen on the underside and the concrete on the top surface. But I also wanted the mesh to be seen on top of the seating areas. Knowing that skaters cant grind or roll over bumpy textures, this would be the perfect deterrent for skaters. It would be an in built Anti skate product. I think it’s a nice way of suggesting  functionality and possibly keeping some order; by restricting unwanted behavior whilst encouraging acceptable behavior.

Here is another version of the seat created from the same template shape.



(the curved surfaces will lie flush with the ground. The clay dried and curled up in this model 🙂

Seating concept 02- View from front

Seating concept 02- View from front

view from back of seat

view from back of seat

Here are some close ups of the texture created by the wire mesh. If this was  1:1 scale I would imagine the mesh would be the mould for the concrete. Possibly with a flexible/ removable backing like a plywood. When the concrete dried the backing would be removed leaving the wire embedded in the concrete. Another possibility would be to remove the mesh and the ply backing together so that it only left an embedded texture of the wire mesh. Either way, I’ll play around with this ideas some more.

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Clay & Aluminium wire mesh models

September 3, 2009

I found some Aluminium wire mesh made specifically for model making (0.3mm thickness).  It’s great to work with. I was able to achieve some really complex folds with rounded surface areas. It’s great because you can cut it to shape with standards scissors and you can bend it by hand. I was able to get a lot of different ideas out in a short period of time. And the best thing about this medium is that I could make a scale model and then unfold it again! Not only does this save me having to buy more material if I make a mistake, it gave me the option to modify a models shape again and again.

I think some of the models were hard to understand from an onlooker’s perspective. Even with a scaled human figure beside the model it still didn’t read as a piece of furniture. So I added some oven-bake clay to one side of the mesh to give it some body. The clay is called FIMO. It helps people visualise the models functionality the interaction a human might have with the piece of furniture.

I made a series of 1minute clips to show the modelling process.

clip1-  showing how to shape the wire and get the clay ready.

clip2- Cutting the clay and molding it to shape.

clip3- Baking the model in the oven for 30 minutes at 130 degrees Celsius.

Metal models

September 3, 2009

I wanted to make some metal models. I was looking around Bunning’s for some wire mesh but couldn’t find any. Instead I found Aluminium Flashing. (0.3mm thickness. 150mm wide. 20M long) I was able to make some basic shapes with no undercuts. I knew I was going to be limited with my design because the metal was hard to work into more organic shapes. And it was taking me a quarter of the time to make the same shape out of clay. I also bought some chicken wire with the intention of making some 1:5 scale models. I was going to fill the gaps with some rice paper I bought and then pour some plaster of paris over the top. But the chicken wire was too spaced out and the rice paper didn’t sit well. I didn’t even get to the plaster of paris stage of the model.  I’ll hold onto the materials as they might come in handy in the future.

Aluminium flashing sheet & tools

Aluminium flashing sheet & tools

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Next week I’m going to buy some modelling wire mesh with smaller holes in it. Easier to model.

Sand sculpting… amazing!

August 30, 2009

So after my sand models I wasn’t really sure where to take it next. It was suggested that I look into professional sand sculpting. WOW these model makers are amazing! They create such intricate design out of sand (with a limited amount of time).

I really wanted to find out what additives they were using in the sand mixture. This is a lot harder to find then i first thought because it is banned in most professional competitions. Nowadays they just use sand and water. I heard it may be a mixture of Gelatin and salt. Others say its concrete mixed with sand. But it’s my mission to find out exactly what they use. Why? Because if I can get my hand on some I will be building massive sand sculptures and skate obstacles… And making them permanent features! I will mix in way too much hardener and sculpt myself a bench. I could leave it as- is. Or I can take that design and cast myself a mould out of concrete of plaster. Could you imagine building a piece of sand furniture that hardens, and then you pick it up and take it home.

The best sand to use is sand from a river bed because it has larger triangular grains that stick together. (River = No waves!) Beach sand is not the best because the grains are rounded and smooth. This is because the waves and tides have been crashing down causing the grains to wear down over hundreds (millions?) of years.



Believe it or not but they plant explosives in these sculptures as they build them. When the competition is over… BOOM!  And I thought kicking over a sand castle was fun.

Pound- up process. Building the frames up virtically.

Pound- up process. Building the frames up vertically. Usually done the day before a competition.

They use a method called ‘Pound-up’. It basically involves building a framework out of timber. These timber walls are built up vertically until it reaches a desired height. Each section is filled with sand and is then compacted down by whacking it, jumping on it or pouring water on it. (machinery can be used to compact the sand as well.)

This is a very interesting process that I will look into further.

Beach trip #2

August 30, 2009

Went to St Kilda beach again- this time with Hailey. Booked a video camera and got some footage of the model making process. Luckily it was a nice sunny day this time. I was aiming to build 1 larger model, rather than 5 small models. This time I was using the beach as a landscape and designed the model as an extension of the sea shore. It felt a bit like “landscape sculpting” more than anything. I wasn’t trying to include seating areas into this model. It was purely about form, material, and location. We had a few interested people stop and ask a few question. We also had to protect our models from dogs running along the beach. There was no way I was spending 1 hour on a model to have a dog kick it over in 3 seconds.

model about 3m long

model about 3m long

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A passer-by told me that the St Kilda council Finally approved  the plans to build a skate park in St Kilda. It will be located along the esplanade.  Horay to that!

I will be editing the footage and hopefully putting it up on youtube soon.

The quest for Bockingford

August 30, 2009

I bought some water colour paper for some more paintings- Arches water colour 185gsm, 100% cotton. I was looking for Bockingford paper but the art shop ran out of pads. I tried using more water with the paint this time and I also wet the whole piece of paper before painting. It created interesting effects with the texture of the paper but there wasn’t much else I could get from this medium in terms of form design. It was good to experiment and try different tools and mediums but I don’t think I’ll need to paint much more. The 3-d model making seems to be the best option to continue with.

Drying the paper with a hair dryer.

Drying the paper with a hair dryer.

Beach trip

August 30, 2009

I still needed a quick way to make 3D models that would help me generate new ideas.   So I booked a camera and took a trip to  St Kilda beach. Unfortunately it was raining so it wasn’t the most pleasant trip, however it did make the sand moist and easy to handle.  Sand is good for a number of reasons-

  • can produce crude models in short amount of time/ document it and destroy it.
  • only 1 -3 tools needed ( bucket,  small shovel & water)
  • there is an abundance of sand
  • and its free!


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Clay models

August 30, 2009

After painting I think it’s time to start getting a bit more hands on. I bought some children’s clay and started modelling. At first I was finding it hard to work with the clay because it was a fairly hard consistency. I was also taking the wrong approach. I was starting to carve into a solid block of clay. I stumbled across a new way of modelling by accident.  I was rolling the clay out into a flat sheet with a rolling pin. As I turned around to put some music on my computer I just through the clay down on the bench and it landed like this….

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And so it began.

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