FABRICATION

Stainless steel samples, seamed and seamless

The structure of LIGHT KEEPER was fabricated by F&D Scene Changes, with stainless steel by Reggin Industries. Like every other element of the artwork, the structure went through a series of designs before landing on an open-faced, mirrored, prism-like form.

We were able to test a low-fi prototype of this design (titled Device for Summoning Rainbows) at Glow Winter Light Festival in early 2019, and the kaleidoscopic qualities of using mirrored cladding surprised us.

The skeleton of LIGHT KEEPER was built at F&D. While we (in our naivety) imagined the process would take only a few weeks, months passed while structural engineers (Entuitive) and fabricators passed around shop drawings and connection details, and then began building.

Skeleton fab at F&D Scene Changes

Any artwork in public space is complicated, as safety and weatherability are paramount. Especially when a structure is being clad in a mirrored facade, details that might seem microscopic are amplified.

After F&D built the skeleton of the structure, it was powder-coated, and transported deep into Calgary’s industrial district to be clad in mirror-finish stainless steel at Reggin.

Working with fabricators is always part magic, part anxiety, and part blind trust. You walk away, and trust they will build your vision with sensitivity and skill, extending your ideas beyond what would be possible if you were just an artist working alone. Because working with a fabricator can be a real treat, wherever possible we try to design + build our own work (to avoid getting lazy).

Caitlind & Wayne worked with F&D before on a public artwork in Edmonton called CARBON COPY, but Reggin Industries was a new collaborator for all of us. We weren’t disappointed. It quickly became clear that Reggin’s decades of experience and expert team were up to the task of LIGHT KEEPER. We were impressed with their ingenuity and craftsmanship – they even built a giant “rotisserie” attachment for the structure so they could spin it as they worked.

When the cladding approached completion, we brought our spotlight, brackets, and lenses to make sure they would fit into the structure. F&D brought lexan “windows” intended to cover and waterproof our electrical components.

Mirror mount, fabricated by our team

The inner faces of the structure are seamless mirror-finish stainless steel. In order to accomplish this, Reggin pulled back protective coatings between sheets of stainless steel, welded the steel together, and polished it back to a mirror shine.

It’s best to leave the protective coating on the stainless as long as possible, right up until installation. Because of this, we never saw the artwork complete in its entirety until it was unloaded and fully installed in Toronto.

Loading the LIGHT KEEPER structure onto the truck
Sneak peak of LIGHT KEEPER (daylight view) in Toronto