|1. Perspex templates were produced from Arup's shop drawings and plastered onto the top of raw blocks.|
|2. The raw block was positioned on the trolley table and the diamond wire was aligned with the edge of the perspex template.|
|3. Angled joint were programmed into the saw according to the angle detail on Arup's drawing using a diamond wire saw.|
|4. Once all angle joints were cut a laser level marked the notional centre line of the stone. The distance along the face of each centre line was recorded and compared with calculated measurements on the shop drawings. The matching of those measurements served as confirmation all angles on all faces were correct.|
|5. Each drill hole was also set out from the centre line where entry and exit points were marked see hole 1 & 2. The drilling machine specially designed for the project was on a fixed frame that could be angled both vertically and laterally allowing infinitely variable angles to be achieved.|
The Traditional Stonemasonry Company took on a project that was deemed impossible by almost every other company in their industry. Impossibility seems to be our specialty, as it is not uncommon for us to take on a project that is extremely difficult. And as the Legos slogan says, Traditional Stone was forced to 'Play on'...
The Royal Botanical Gardens sculpture is constructed from stainless steel rods placed inside of pieces of sandstone, with an averaging weight of two tonnes for each individual stone. Traditional Stone found it challenging working with a team which included an engineer and an artist, traditionally coming from opposite ends of the spectrum; but in harmony, were able to use everyone's strengths to work together.
The site chosen for the sculpture presented several challenges starting with the foundation. The grass area designated for the sculpture was very soft and with the unusual weather pattern experienced at the beginning of the project, was often wet. Adding to the difficulty the block was sloping, where as it was perceived that we would be building on virgin ground we discovered to our surprise that the Botanical Gardens consisted largely of loose fill.
The initial thought of how to go about supporting the structure was to use consolidated sand, but rapidly came to the conclusion that this was not a good option and steel poles were used instead.
It was decided that the sculpture was to be built from back to front. The difficulty of the construction of the structure became apparent at the commencement of the fixing of the stones as we learned to appreciate the fact that the design provided for no tolerance at all. The slightest misalignment of any of the stones would affect the future position and alignment of any stones to follow. The absence of a traditional mortar bed between these stones removed the option for realignment by taking up any discrepancy in the thickness of the mortar bed itself. So, there was initially a lot of guess work and crossed fingers for the placement of each individual stone.
Very quickly it became apparent that to achieve what the artist had envisioned and what the engineers had designed, each of the stones would have to be positioned using exact global positioning coordinates and fixed into place to within a tolerance of 0.5 mm. It sounds impossible: we thought so too until we actually did it.
Each stone was cut and had the required holes drilled by the Gosford Quarries prior to delivery to site. Gosford Quarries achieved a level of accuracy in cutting and preparation of the stones that surpassed our expectations. Occasionally, and as could be expected the accuracy level required was not met and stones had to be resurfaced and reshaped on site. It was particularly important to ensure the alignment of the cored holes, which would have to pass through 2, 3 and sometimes 4 stones before they could be screwed into place.
Apart from all of that, the only other real concern was the fact that the ducks and the birds were causing a bit of a raucous, whilst we were working. Although I guess the artist's whole idea was to attract wildlife in the first place, as you would expect typical Sydney-siders to do, they decided to move in before we finished.
Traditional Stone Metalwork's shop was able to work with the artist's design to interpret the engineer's structural drawings in order to create an organic shape for the monolith that satisfied the artist's requirement for the sculpture. This required the shop to actually bend and lengthen some of the tubes in order to create the artist's vision of the sculpture belonging in nature.