Zzyzzy j327

forty-six bike parts, six bicycle ride share station connecting pins, two indexing plates, two gear clusters, two gears, six bevel gears, cylindrical block, copper-bottomed chamber, cover plate, deburring spike, two small gears, twenty nuts, twelve lag bots, twelve flooring nails, eight paper shredder gears, broken bearing race, two screws, eight antique wrenches, flange, washer, copper, bronze.

73 lbs.
45 x 13 x 15″

Believe it or not, 327 has been my lucky number since high school. I try not to get too hung up on special numbers, but this was one I couldn’t pass up to create something special. I had started picking up parts for a smaller, Dionysus class Astrobot, but the more I picked though the parts bins, the more I was drawn toward something larger: then I rediscovered this amazing wizard-head of an auger, buried in the bottom of one of my larger pails. When I found a steel flange that fit perfectly over the cone to rest on the rest of the ‘head’, I couldn’t resist making a body to suit. He started out with his legs half the size they wound up being, but this time I wanted to make a lanky Astrobot.

I used to work in a close-up magic store in Burlington Vermont back in the mid-90s. I learned a bunch of close-up magic basics that I still play around with it sometimes for friends, as well as my friend’s kids. I like to think that my gang SCUL is magic. I like to define magic as nature or technology that is beyond the comprehension of the observer; I suppose under that definition I think the postal system is magic.

His hands articulate: the palms were constructed from this strange pipe clamping set I got from a good friend of mine. The set only comes with one set of jaws for each size of pipe, so naturally one hand is larger than the other. I chose the wizard to be left-handed.

I took apart a differential from an automobile, these make up the elbows and knees. Most automobile parts are too rusty, or oily, or big and awkward for robots of my scale. I won’t go looking for parts like these but I’m happy when someone donates them to me. By the way, nearly 100% of my metal is donated, and almost all of that is delivered to my studio. This is very much appreciated since I have been living car-free since 1999.

This wizard has a bunch of very old open-ended wrenches, which are very beautiful to me. When I had the thought to weld a nut into each open ends, I was surprised how small the nut was for the size of the head. It has to do with the strength of the steel: before wrenches were drop-forged, the steel was softer – so they had to be thicker to withstand the torque required. I’m particularly fond of the s-shaped wrenches I used for his Achilles heels. There are a lot of subtle details on these tools that make for a more interesting form.

One of my mentors, Marjorie Picchi, one said to me “When you think you are done, that’s when you’re halfway done.” Zzyzzy took much longer than most of the Astrobots I’ve made, but he looked done while standing around at my studio. I took breaks from the work for weeks at a time, sometimes distracted by other projects, but also to get to know him. I knew he was done when I came into and stopped in my tracks when I saw him and just smiled.

Long before I learned how to weld, I was planning to make a giant menacing looking robot from steel duct work. I had no good source for materials, but I was convinced I could find what I needed enough to buy some big copper rivets to join the steel together. I’m very glad I never took on this project, as I prefer what I’m doing now – but I kept the rivets for nearly twenty years before Zzyzzy came along. I found them to be the perfect accent for all the fake joints. They look great with the bronze rivets too.

Zzyzzy represents the best of my work and I’m very proud of how he came together. I like to wonder what horizons he’ll be peering at in the future.


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