"I build a model of the artwork in my mind." Bob Davis
Computer assisted drawing programs are very powerful now and you can get them to tell you the area and dimensions of curved metal surfaces, how to cut them out most efficiently, what the lengths of the diagonal members are and what the cross sections should be. So cool and useful. Call me the short-cut king if you like, because I don’t use CAD when I design and build.
My design process goes something like this: I think up some cockamamie idea about some object, be it a house or a bench or a spaceship, and think about it a lot, trying to imagine its existence in real space. I don’t much consider what you-all want to see, I think about what I would really like to see for real on the ground and permanent. I’ll go and look at pictures online or in books to see what others have done or imagined. Then I make a couple sketches on graph paper, and start refining the idea into a more or less coherent sketch. Sometimes I will lay down a clean graph paper and trace the sketch to clean it up and perfect it a bit, but at this stage I am usually ready to build the thing. What I am really doing here is building a model of the thing in my mind, and the sketch will be a sort of reminder about size and proportions. I do spend quite a bit of time staring at the sketches to decide what the internal structure will be, and I will often start building with a general idea of the internal structure and a very specific idea of the size, proportions, and finished look. Sometimes there are multiple sketches showing differing views of an object, and mechanical sketches, and drawings where I am trying to solve some geometrical problem. Pictured here is the sketch for Niner Echo Xray. The whole thing happened on one piece of graph paper: I built the rocket from this single page.
See also the Small Sculpture Portfolio for art made from parking meters, farm machinery, and other recycled metal projects.