Daughter Karen came over today for an art project. She's the artist, I was just the proprietor of the shop ... uh, studio today. Materials: one sheet of 22 gage (.031) steel about 3' x 3', a few ounces of smokeless gunpowder. Tools: plasma cutter, small MIG welder, chalk, misc First she cut about 6" off of one side to make it 2.5' x 3' or so. Used a piece of 1.5" x 1/4" bar as a straightedge, swooped along that with the plasma torch. Man, I have never seen a smoother plasma cut. It dang near looked like it had been sheared. No cleanup with file or air sander necessary, it was good to go. Then she used chalk to draw swooping lines on the thin, rusty steel. They were fairly short and abstractly disconnected but by golly it looked sorta like a tree. When she was happy with that, she made freehand cuts along the chalk lines with the plasma. The result was very, very thin kerfs in the metal. I don't know how wide, but perhaps 0.5mm or so, more or less. Very thin. Then she went round and zipped some holes near the "branches" that would be where leaves or fruit might be. We held this up with the sun behind it. WOW! Looked like impossibly-thin glowing lines that were the merest suggestion of a tree but the eye and brain still saw TREE. I didn't get a photo but perhaps she'll take one when she gets it up in her apartment back in Gotham. It will have LED backlighting. Then she sprinkled gunpowder along the cuts on one side, kinda nudged it into little rows and ignited it. It burned amazingly slowly, about as exciting as charcoal lighter, leaving textured black smudges along the lines that look sort of like bark. It smelled wonderful. I have no idea where she got the ideas for this project. She continues to amaze me. She was worrying about using up my good pristine rawstock. Pristine in shape only, it had some very interesting rust patterns and colors on it. I told her I'd been hoarding it behind the lathe for most of 20 years to use for autobody rust work, don't do that anymore and if I should ever need some 22 gage steel I can get it at the metalmonger's. It was way worth the rawstock just seeing what she did with it. She said she thinks the plasma cutter is her new favorite tool. It does seem to have that effect on people. It's a nothin' special Thermal Dynamics PackMaster 38XL I picked up most of a decade ago. I was teasing her about what fun it might be getting her creation back to Brooklyn, imagining the airport sniffers going bonkers with all that GSR and Karen trying to explain her "art project" colored with a few tablespoons of ignited gunpowder. "Art project colored with gunpowder, uh huh. We'll need you to step over here, Ma'am, keep your hands where we can see them." She said hm, maybe she'd FedEx it to herself. Her employer probably wouldn't blink if she FedEx'd herself a piano. I think they like her.
14 years ago