Fish Sculpture Progress


1/4 scale, schematic model of the Vermillion Rockfish, carved from pine and redwood

Between meetings for new wowhaus projects over the past week, I’ve completed two 1/4 scale models of our mosaic fish sculptures for the Ortega Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission. I’ve borrowed a few techniques from boatbuilding to visualize the forms in 3d and consequently loft the structure to full scale. Traditionally, a marine architect would carve a ‘half hull’ model in wood to test a new shape, from which all sections and measurements would be made for full scale construction. The model would literally be cut into sections, which translate directly into construction plans and building jigs.


Ene made a lovely sample panel of the reflective, tile mosaic for the ‘anchovy’ sculpture (photo: Genevieve Masse)

To make the models, I laminated scraps of pine and redwood and roughed out the shapes with a bandsaw. Using small spokeshaves and rasps, I then shaped the contours of the fishes, knowing I would later add a layer of clay for surface details. Next I will cut the models into sections to make templates for the interior steel armatures, to be cut and welded at full scale, after approval by Artur Tan, our structural engineer. I’ve been enjoying working subtractively with wood in this way, and would love to do more purely sculptural work in wood, which lends itself so forgivingly to precise carving. The entire process has also been great practice for designing and making my radical board boat and shapes my thinking about future sculpture projects in general.

fish sculpture1-final

schematic sketch showing steel armature for the fish sculpture(s)