stainless steel butterflys / Indianapolis Zoo project

Well, this is what has been keeping Tammy and I quite busy for the last month. We are working with Banner art studio on a art installation for the Indianapolis Zoo. It is a sizable project that has to be done on deadline for their upcoming butterfly exhibit. The project is comprised of (6) sixteen foot tall “tree” or branch structures each with (2) eight foot butterfly’s perched atop, and then another eleven butterfly’s perched all over the outside of the building. All of the structures, are made of TIG welded stainless steel and all of the coverings are made of sewn fabrics (not printed) of differing weights and colors to create a translucent illuminating effect in sunlight. For a vision of the project see:

Our part of the project is, of course the stainless fabrication. The work is surprisingly much like bike fabrication:

Lots of coped cuts, both mill cut and hand filled… checkP1010068

Lots of TIG welding in compromised positions…… CheckP1010085_1

These butterfly structures are kinda like doing chain-stays, .049 wall 5/8″ diameter SS tube to…. well, OK it’s schedule 40 pipe, but you get the idea.P1010090

The branch sections of the “trees” had to be welded with full structural integrity. That means full penetration, back purged multi-pass welds.P1010070

This is the back-purged root pass on the schedule 80 304L stainless “tree” sections.P1010120

A pile of “trees” getting ready for freight to Indianapolis. Those are 3/4″ thick base plates with gussets, they will not fall down!

Anyone smell slightly cooked fingers? It is fun sometimes to turn up the amps, but I must admit this much of it has worn on me some. Running 200amps for eight hours straight, day after day…..I’ll take the delicate stuff any day. Fortunately what is left to do at this point is relatively light duty…. kinda like head tube top-tube junctions and chain-stays….I tell myself.

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