Last week we had visiting artist, Leo Berk, working in the DCRL for the entire week. The Director of INOVA had asked me several months ago if I would be interested in helping to host an artists who would be installing a solo exhibition in the INOVA gallery space in Summer of 2014. She proposed that he would work with students in the DCRL and that he would create two pieces for the exhibition while he was here. She was applying for funding through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to fund his visit, and we both agreed that this would be a great opportunity to highlight the activity in the DCRL and for our students to have access to a professional artist who makes his living from his work. Since I was to be on sabbatical during Leo's time here, and I would not be teaching any classes, I decided that I would apply for two SURF students through our Office of Undergraduate Research. The SURF students get paid to work in labs or studios with professors while they are going to school. My students usually work 15 hours/week over the course of the semester. I was able to secure funding for Alissa (a senior Metalsmithing major) and Joe (a junior Design and Visual Communication major). Alissa and Joe would work with me to rebuild the CNC router table before Leo arrived and that way they would understand how the router functions and how to operate it.
Once Leo arrived, I worked with him on sanding the sheets of black Corian. These sheets were twelve feet long and we needed to sand both sides of each sheet to their final finish before cutting them on the router. We spent Sunday afternoon and night sanding through various grits to achieve the look that Leo wanted. Getting the sheets up to the DCRL was going to prove difficult as we could only fit nine feet sheets in the elevator. We had planned an elaborate scheme to get them upstairs via a stairwell, but honestly I didn't want to have to go through all of this. One of my graduate students, Jay Fox, suggested "trying" the elevator. After Leo had gone back to his room Sunday night, Jay and I were able to arch the twelve foot sheets enough to fit them in the elevator. We got all of the sheets up to the 3rd floor in the DCRL that night.
On Monday, we dusted off the CNC router table, and then placed some guide strips on the router. I milled one side of the strip that I attached so we would know that it was square and then we slid a sheet of Corian into place against this strip. Joe got to work checking the sizes of the marbles that Leo would eventually glue into the openings in the piece we were making. Alissa helped out with the router set-up and calibration. We started cutting and cut half a sheet that day.