Steam Bending – Trials Before Errors

I read a story not long ago that reminded me of the importance of trials in life. Stated another way, working toward a desired outcome in light of failures and setbacks until mastery or success is achieved.  This is at the very roots of scientific theory and the road map followed by a majority of people involved in discovery.

The story is that of an art teacher instructing a pottery class who graded his students in two very different ways.  The instructor separated the class into two groups at random.  The instructor announced that Group A would be graded solely on the quantity of pieces they produced, regardless of quality.  Group B was to be graded solely by the quality of the pieces they produced, regardless of how many pieces each student made.  Only one perfect piece was required to get an A.

By the end of the course an interesting pattern was clear: the works of highest quality were all produced by Group A, the group instructed to churn out large quantities of work regardless of quality. While the “quantity” group was busy churning out piece after piece and learning from each experience or trial, the “quality” group had sat theorizing about ceramic perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than formless head knowledge and dead clay.

When tackling a new process or design I find it a wise investment of resources to set up trials to test and work through new processes prior to jumping ahead and setting myself up for failure.  In this case I have started a new design for a set of shelves which can either be hung from a wall or freestanding from the floor.  Each side of the shelving unit will be comprised of two steam bent components. Each will have 4 separate bends with a bending radius of 5 1/2″.  This is an aggressive bend to say the least.  To facilitate the design I will ultimately have to build a pair of bending forms, a significant investment of time and money to complete.

So prior to building the forms, I need to prepare and prove specific elements of the design thru some worst case scenario practice bends.  The following video explains the details of the steam bending trial further as I recorded the work.

Steam Bending – Trials before Errors

Looking forward to this design coming to life it should be a really cool piece.  Once I have the process down and the forms made, it’s a design I hope to be able to reproduce in a very efficient and cost effective manner.  Thanks again for visiting and watching, take care.


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