Otters in the Mist
Maquette through to finish install
Following the successful installation of Murmuration, the North Carolina Zoo
asked me to design a misting sculpture for them. They have a beauty fashioned
by Loui Bradley called the Watani Mister, and he has another in the works.
I set this page up to serve as visual support for some conversations with
equipment suppliers who will likely have an easier time understanding what I'm
doing with their products if they can see a basic layout of what I have in mind.
The idea was to get water under pressure to an array of
misting nozzles embedded around the perimeter of the stainless steel rings.
Those rings are rotating around this central pivot point, and the misting nozzles aimed in such
a way as to propel the motion of the sculpture. A fundamental bit of engineering was to find the
rotating water joint that allowed the water passage under pressure to the perimeter.
The actual size of the finished sculpture topped out at about 12 feet tall with the widest ring at about a 3' radius,
As the sculpture rotates the suspended shapes swing out with slight centrifugal force to mimic the
movement of four swimming otters.
In the pictures below the base is made and awaits finishing. As you can see the shape was refined from the
model and made a touch more realistic, yet still in that playful realm between literalism and abstraction.
Then the topper has took shape. Here too some changes were made to the hanging arrangement for
the individual components. It was simplified to keep both weight and some of the less desirable chaos of motion
in check while still allowing for enough motion to let the light shimmer.
Finally it all came together on the back deck, the switch got thrown, and magic happened.
With the help of my good friend and plumber extraordinaire, Norman Jackson, we added
another element for the installation, a fanciful shower with an otter theme as well.
Then he and Wayne Vaughn and I all headed west to meet up with John Gann for the install.
And finally several weeks later Clay and I returned to make some final adjustments and see the
completed stonework - very nicely done.