Arthur Ganson is one of my all time favorite kinetic artists, so when I found out he had a YouTube channel, naturally, I watched every one of his videos. Many of the pieces in his portfolio involve gears made of wires, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had a video showing how he makes them.
In the video, Ganson takes you through the whole process of making a wire gear from scratch, starting with what looks like a homemade wire-bending jig. Along the circumference of the jig, there are a series of holes where pins can be inserted to mark what angle the wire should be bent to. The wire is bent back and forth to form each tooth of the gear, with each one forming another arc of the circle.
In Ganson’s own words, from the video description:
The wire-bending tool was designed to simplify and standardize the bending process. Each new gear is catalogued and the tool settings are recorded. Thus, it is easy to duplicate or modify any wire gear. The second tool is a simple device for centering the gear and spot-welding the spokes.
Tool and jig making has always been an integral and joyful part of my sculpture making process.
When the gear teeth are complete, the excess wire is snipped off, and it is clipped into a frame that rotates around a central mandrel. The frame is spun to show if the wire gear is centered around the mandrel, and the gear is adjusted accordingly. Once it’s centered, a shaft is inserted into the mandrel, and spokes can be welded onto the gear and shaft using a spot-welder. After the spokes are welded, they are brazed to reinforce them, and the gear is complete.
It’s great to see such a masterful artist taking the time to share their process, and hopefully it will help some of you to make your own kinetic sculptures! To see more of Arthur Ganson’s kinetic sculptures, be sure to check out his portfolio.