Curving Steel to Go With the Flow

When it comes to creating large, metal sculptures, artists are also artisans:  they design and then create their sculptures by cutting, welding, and assembling metal including mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum.  Those of us in the metal bending business are periodically visited by these artists who are looking for formed metal shapes to match their designs.  They often arrive with a maquette, a much smaller scale model of their final product.  They discuss with us their vision and consult with us on what can be done.  And because the bending is beyond their “in house” capability, they have us do the work.

This was the case with Mike Golins who came to us with his “Go With the Flow” design.  Mike wanted us to curve some 22 pieces of pipe – some 6in, some 8in and some 10in outside diameter.  These were all large, heavy pieces of pipe.  Some of the 10in was stainless steel.  Most of the pipe was to be rolled level (in one plane) but into a spiral.  One of the 10in pipes was also rolled helically.  Radii varied from a tight 36in inside radius on some of the 6in pipe to a 20ft radius on the 10in pipe.

Mike’s vision was to create a 30ft high spiraling helical arc out of pipe.  He placed his order for curved steel pipe with Chicago Metal Rolled Products, and a little more than one week later, he received all 12,000lbs of it.  Surprised to have received the goods in western Montana so quickly, Mike said, “I felt like an ancient Egyptian or Aztec with all these big pieces lying around.  We loaded them on sawhorses and special jacks and a giant forklift to weld the joints together.”

Welding and Assembling Curved Steel Pipe

The pipes were cut and welded into five assemblies and loaded on a flatbed truck.  “It was 16ft wide on the truck and barely fit on the highway,” Golin said.  Headed for the Park Place parking structure in Missoula, MT, the sculpture is part of the state’s 1 Percent for Art program.

Steel Pipes are Curved into Helical Spirals

A large vertical arch is partly painted sky blue and partly polished stainless steel, a shape suggesting a curling rapid in the downtown riverfront system.

The horizontal half of the sculpture has a surprise inside:  Anyone getting close to the sculpture can discover that its hollow pipes funnel the sounds of the city to fascinated listeners.

The Curved Pipes Transmit the Sounds of the City


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