Wednesday, November 26, 2008

72 Pencils

I've been wanting to make my own copy of the 72 pencil sculpture by George W. Hart since I first saw it online. Have a look at it here, and explore his other works - they're awesome. I've had two boxes of 48 pencils sitting in my closet for a few years now, waiting for the day I was ready to make this thing. Yesterday I finally decided to make it, and went to Michael's to buy some styrofoam. I spent... probably 5 hours yesterday trying to work it out, and didn't get it. I woke up this morning, and stared at it for another 4 hours or so. Finally, I started over, and within about another hour I had it. Turns out, all of my first attempts had been started wrong. Idiot.

After I got it together:
I thought I'd see what happened when I removed the rubber bands. Perhaps I removed them without enough care, but it ends up like this:

So I started over, taking pictures as I went. If you want to make your own, it really isn't that bad. I just wasn't being careful enough for my first... 10 tries or so :) What'll you need? 72 pencils (4 hexagonal cylinders, 18 pencils each) of course. I used a bit of styrofoam, a 1 inch think circular disc with diameter ~6 inches. To hold things together, I also used 4 pieces of string (each about a foot long, I'd guess) and 6 rubber bands. My cats wanted to help too:

I arranged the first 18 pencils in a cylinder poking into the styrofoam. The hexagon was bigger than it needed to be, and the pencils were wobbly, and not equally spaced. You might also notice
that I put one rubber band around the styrofoam, which I did before any pencils were in. Next, start weaving some pencils into the uprights. You may find the original picture helpful. Here's a picture of the early stage of the process, for me:
I have a couple of extra pencils (the black ones) in there for balance. They'll get removed later.

Keep stacking these pencils up, until it looks something like

After that, I tied a loop of string around each end of both horizontal cylinders. This permitted me to then put a rubber band around each end of the horizontal cylinders (and remove the strings)
Now push the rubber band off the styrofoam base, to hold the bottom of the vertical cylinder. Put a rubber band around the top of the vertical cylinder, flip the whole thing over (so the styrofoam is up in the air), and pull the styrofoam off (which I found surprisingly easy). Now you've just got the forth cylinder to get in there. I had to follow the original picture, and carefully put pencils where they should be according to the picture. After the first few, it's pretty easy to see where they should go.

So, I don't know how helpful that was. It's really not too hard, as long as you start things correctly. This was my problem the first several times. But it all worked out in the end

Of course, there's still those rubber bands. I'm not entirely sure how to get rid of them, so they'll probably stay for a while.

Update 20081201: Ok, with a little super glue one some obviously loose penciles, I was able to remove the rubber bands. Hoping it stays together for a while now.


Kate said...

Cats! So helpful!

Maybe some discretely and strategically placed craft glue will let you remove the string?

Well done!

sumidiot said...

@Kate Thanks! And yep, a couple dabs of glue did the trick (for now at least). I didn't concern myself too much with the "discretely" part, but I still think it looks good.

Alejandro Erickson said...

I also made this (I know, I'm 3 years late) out of coloured skewers and have extensive instructions on my site. You should check it out if you want to revisit it!