Functional Sculpture

When I wrote about the wooden computer, I spoke about functional sculpture. Another example of this is the opening mechanism, and the doorstop, at the Celtic Wheelhouse featured in another post.gnome
        Originally, the counterweight for the door opening mechanism was just a piece of maple chord wood. I quickly tired of looking at this, and it was too heavy any way, so I decided to carve it into the form of a gnome hanging on to the door opening rope for dear life. However, due to the large mass of the door, once it started opening it was hard to stop and the door opened too far. This was stressing the door hinges that I had made on the forge out of soft iron. Eventually they would break from the constant overextension. What I needed was some kind of doorstop that would limit how far the door opened and absorb the kinetic energy of the opening door. This doorstop would also have to be clearly visible in a space lit only by oil lamps and firelight otherwise many stubbed toes would result.
        I decided to turn the gnome into part of a tableau that would present itself every time the door opened. I put together a three-foot high sculpture of a dragon to act as a doorstop.Dragon 1 It was large enough so that it was hard to miss, even in the dark.  The tail of the dragon, when struck by the opening door, folded and absorbed the impact. The folding tail of the dragon is also attached, by an internal mechanism, to the dragon’s jaws. When the door opens, the gnome descends towards the dragon; the opening door strikes the dragon’s tail, which folds absorbing the impact of the opening door, and in turn opens the dragon’s jaws just as the gnome reaches a position over the open jaws. This little drama unfolds each time the door opens.

 Dragon 2


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