2012 FIESTA BOWL PARADE – FT MCDOWELL TREE FLOAT

  • AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Parade Floats

    We are back in action.  That was as crazy of a parade season as we usually have!  So much to do in so little time.  As mentioned in the previous post, my clients asked me to keep things confidential during the build.  So I did as they wished.  Now that the parade is over, and the floats have been revealed, I am able to post the documentation I kept along the way.  I will be posting the process we used over several blog posts, as it was very involved and would make for one long winded post.

    First, I will start with the design that was proposed and accepted.  I think the most appropriate way to introduce this design is by explaining the meaning behind it.  When the Ft McDowell Yavapai Nation came to us with the theme they wanted portrayed, we put our heads together to think of the best way to introduce this idea on a float.  The Yavapai people are known for many talents, one of those being their basket weaving abilities.  They have developed methods over many generations for weaving beautiful baskets from a plant called Devils Claw.  Some of the tribe’s baskets are even on display in the Smithsonian Museum.  This float was to be a tribute to their basket weavers that have since passed on.  A representative from the tribe described to me, memories he had of playing with his friends as a youth, and sitting under a big tree watching one of the elderly basket weavers painstakingly weaving a basket.  He wanted to remember these women for their contribution to the art.   The thought of doing a sculpture of the women’s faces into a tree came to mind.  As I recalled seeing a face in a tree from Disney’s Pocahontas, I thought this would be a wonderful way to display their faces.  I drew roots in as outstretched arms, displaying a beautifully woven basket.  The idea then was to have an actual living basket weaver sitting under the tree, weaving a basket during the parade, while some of the honored tribal youth stood ad the base of the tree. IMG_4009Upon approval of the drawing, we started to work on collecting source materials and began scale model construction.  This entailed building a 1″=1′ model of the tree, and sculpting the faces of the basket weaver women.  Photos were scarce, but the client was able to provide me with 2 photos, that I was able to sculpt into a clay ‘stylized’ version of these women.  I sourced some reference material and started into the sculpture.  The women’s faces came together quite easily.  The tree on the other hand, required forethought on how we were going to make it strong enough using foam and steel to support the 28 foot canopy of leaves!

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    With the sculptures of the faces complete and client approved, we could move on to the 3D Scanning process.  After scanning, the file was easily imported to Vectric Aspire for slicing and toolpath generation for CNC machining.

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    After an afternoon of machining on the Shopbot CNC machine, we were ready to install one of the faces into the tree, which at this point, was starting to be framed from steel.
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    It doesn’t matter how many times I do this… Seeing the small things replicated at large scale, always blows my mind.  This is where things really started to get exciting.
    More to come!

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