Slab Benches for Judith Leemann

Sunday, October 8th, 2017 @ 1:48 pm

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This was a very exciting project.  I got to work for Judith Leemann who I had while I was a freshman in college, making two custom benches for her show arvensis in the Distillery Gallery in South Boston.  She had acquired two big pine slabs, bookmatched, from a friends’ relative, and wanted their shapes to mimic each other in the space, creating a central sitting and conversation area.  So I was tasked with creating a fairly minimal leg/base design to basically display the slabs and offer a seat to visitors in the space.

Getting the hang of the process.

This took some troubleshooting for me, not having a space to work with metal, and not having worked with metal for a little while.  But my aunt and uncle graciously allowed me the use of their garage, (with concrete floors instead of wooden), and with it a huge amount of freedom to troubleshoot and figure out the challenges of making these without a shop space.  After a weekend of racking my brain for process ideas I came up with a pretty simple and cost-effective solution for the bends that came out pretty well.  I would definitely tweak a little, but would also repeat this method in the future for something similar.  Using both torches was pretty essential, though the MAP gas was much hotter and definitely did the bulk of the heating work.  My template worked out very well, and with a few minor changes it would be reusable still and produce even more consistent results.

Finding the angles and making the shapes.

Once all the bends were completed, I could lay out the slabs, draw some lines for placement of the legs, and figure out how to make each leg parallel with each other in the opposite bench, and all of them square to a center line running down the space between the two slabs.  Basically all of the legs are in line with each other when the benches are set into their positions in the gallery (see center photo below).  Which meant some wacky angles on the actual leg pieces, which you can see above.  But they came out pretty well, and for the most part my welding and angle work came out a bit better than I expected.

Teamwork for the win!

After I’d sanded and finished the slabs with oil, and painted the legs, we brought all the parts into the gallery and laid them out, installed the legs, and positioned the benches in the space.  Pretty simple project from the outside, but making those bends and getting them consistent and figuring and welding the angles, and doing it all without the use of a dedicated metal shop space, definitely put my makeshift fabricator skills to the test.  But I’m happy with the results, and so was Judith, and so were the guests who I met during the opening.  So that feels pretty good.

Have a seat.


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