Designing Fiesta kinetic sculpture

I recently introduced my Fiesta kinetic sculpture edition. This is the circuitous story of its design.

I learned a lot while designing my sculpture Journey, mainly about how the relative mass of one wheel influences the motion of the entire sculpture. This started me wondering how I could use this in an optical patterning sculpture. Would it be effective to have the wheels creating an optical pattern while also swinging and orbiting together?

I started with the basic Journey mechanism but modified it to use wheels with many curved spokes. I knew I needed the front wheel to have a mass similar to the entire carrying mechanism so I doubled the wheel by laying one on top of the other. Having this many spokes all dark or all light was too much of a good thing so I tried one dark and one light. When combined with a dark back wheel this created a new pattern that I found quite exciting. I was beginning to think this might work. I worked up a full animation of how I thought it would look when all running together. I liked what I saw.

I took my drawings to the shop and made the sculpture. I've learned to be patient and make the entire sculpture through finishing. In my younger years I'd be be so anxious to see it actually work I'd skip steps just to get it done. I found that this usually took longer. I'd have problems getting the sculpture to work because in my haste I had made some silly mistake.


This time the sculpture worked in that it moved correctly but it did not create the patterning I had seen in the animation. The patterning was there but not with the frequency and strength I was looking for. I lived with the prototype for several months trying different tweaks but it just wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. Back to the drawing board.

I was hooked on the dark/light/dark patterning. This was something new and I wanted to explore it further. The best mechanism for this was the one I originally designed for Meander but have subsequently used in Phoenix and Radiance. It turns the two wheels in opposite directions but independently so that the patterning shifts with time. A limitation of this mechanism is that the front wheel has to be fairly massive to trip the mechanism. Radiance and Phoenix have large wheels so this isn't a problem but wheels the size I had used in Pinwheel would not normally work well. The fact that this wheel was actually two wheels together so had twice the mass, this might be a perfect fit. Why hadn't I thought of it before?

It took several days of drawing to come up with the actual design of Fiesta. You'd think that knowing the mechanism and the pattering wheels would make it easy but in this case it took quite a while to come together.

In the end I'm very pleased with the result but as usual the path getting there was not a straight one!