It's a week before thesis presentations
. While most students around the world are still getting adjusted to the new school year, SCI-Arc thesis students are busy frantically fighting off their nervousness and delirium to crank out work that is reflective of the past 8 months of research and dedication. The tension in the thesis pit is masked only by the deceptively calm air of an almost empty building during summer semester. Only if you pushed through the double doors of the shop area would you see that quite a number of people are in full production mode. In the unique tradition at SCI-Arc (unique to me anyway), us incoming MArch2 students have been offered like sacrificial lambs to serve as errand boys, slave laborers, and personal therapists to the exiting thesis students with the promise that two years from now, the favor will be returned to us when we are thesis students.
Many of my peers have taken this role casually, but I have decided to take this opportunity to dive head first into the so called ”˜shop culture' here at SCI-Arc. ”˜Shop culture' is the phrase that I heard during last week's orientation that I passed off as mere jargon, but this past weekend changed my whole perception of what that meant. When I say shop culture, I don't just mean that there is a shop (actually 3,000 sf stocked with numerous wood, metal, and CNC fabrication tools). I mean that there exists a do-it-yourself mentality that is alive and very much a part of the spirit and legacy of this institution. (SCI-Arc recruiter hat on) I have never been in an environment where everyone is so enthusiastic about their craft and open to experimenting with different fabrication techniques and methods of production. Even ...gasp... a few professors have been spotted using the shop. As a point of comparison, (forgive me Ma Tech) my undergraduate program had a great woodshop, but I would say the majority of the people in my class never turned on a bandsaw once during their entire time there.
Anyway, my thesis student wanted some metalwork done for her presentation, so she showed me how to use all the tools (vise, grinder, chop saw, and welder) and told me to go to town. I have never worked with metal before so I was a bit apprehensive at fist, but soon into it I was grinding away. Everyone here at the school seemed pretty capable of answering any questions I had, and there is also the advantage of being in the artist district. All it took for me was a knock on the door of my downstairs neighbor (he's an artist) to get a 15 minute lecture on the advantages and disadvantages of using a MIG welder vs. a TIG welder.I bent this with my bare handsmy first pass at welding. it looks like spaghettithe completed installationview from the metal shop. my reward after a hard day's work