In this special Re_Wind series of blog posts, each member of our team has been asked to pick their favourite project of 2016 and share it with the MAKLab community. Our technical manager Mark Craig has chosen to write about the kinetic sculptures we designed and fabricated in July 2016 for Sustrans Scotland and the Mugstock Festival.

Taking the weird and wonderful in our stride

You may not believe it but our (unwritten) job descriptions at MAKLab often include responding to the weird and wonderful requests which land in our email inbox. When that particular request, however, came from the Mugstock Festival asking us to team up with Sustrans to build a kinetic sculpture on a bicycle theme, we were well up for the challenge.

Mugstock is a festival of music and merriment, taking place just north of Glasgow in Mugdock Country Park and now running for the third year in a row in July 2017. As part of last year's programme of activities, they secured funding from Sustrans Scotland, the national cycle network, to commission a sculpture to showcase at the festival and which Sustrans would then use as a touring exhibition when attending events to talk about the merits of cycling.

Our brief was to design a kinetic sculpture based on recovered bicycle parts. We delivered three proposals for Mugstock and Sustrans to choose from and, low and behold, they decided to commission all three, including a scaled version of a kinetic sculpture designed by our technical manager in the early days of MAKLab still on display in the studio today. 

This was our largest metal work commission to date and a bit of an unusual project as our large fabrication projects are usually more timber based. It was a good opportunity for us to test out some of the metal fabrication equipment we hope to soon make available to our members at our micro-manufacturing facility. That summer, we had an Erasmus + intern, Louise Peuch, working alongside us and she was involved in every step of the fabrication process, a real bonus for her learning experience as she had never had the opportunity to work with metal prior to her time with MAKLab.

Louise making adjustments to sculpture

The first of the two larger sculptures was made of bicycle wheels, mounted in a tower with colourful patterns. The sculpture would be activated either by pedalling an old exercise bicycle or by hand cranking a unicycle pedal, causing the patterns to interact. The scond sculpture was inspired by the cycling road signs you come across on cycling paths and we built it as a sort of a weather vane/wind turbine which would spin on its vertical axis whenever the wind picked up. Sustrans supplied us with the old cycling road signs and they worked alongside Mugstock volunteers to source all the old bicycles and parts we needed.

The third sculpture as mentioned was a scaled version of one of our technical manager's personal project. Mark had taken a geometric form, the small stellated dodecahedron, and used living hinges on each of the triangular faces. Living hinges make a stiff flat sheet flexible by cutting lines across it and can be used to curve relatively thick plywood (i.e. 3mm) around curved corners. We attached fishing line to the tip of the triangles and strung it so you could pull on it using brake levers to make the cone of triangles open up like a blooming flower. Some extra light features were added inside the sculpture so it would draw attention during the festival, especially when it was set up at night. 

Small-Stellated Dodecahedron at Mugstock

Kat Borrowdale, development director, is now working on the next iteration of the Mugstock festival for 2017 and shares her experience of working with us on this project:

We were looking for a chance to collaborate with MAKLab and this project involving Sustrans was the perfect combination - these cycling-friendly, visually exciting, innovative and interactive creations for our Jolly Lovely Garden were immensely popular. We got lots of positive comments about the cycling sculptures from audiences and they fitted really well with MugStock's ethos of being family friendly, getting more people active, and working together. Big thanks to Mark, Delphine and the team for creating and designing such memorable sculptures.
Photography courtesy of Sustrans

Photography courtesy of Sustrans

We've been delighted to hear from Cosmo Blake, project officer at Sustrans, that the sculptures have since taken part in a number of events and are fulfilling their intended purpose in helping raise awareness of the great work that Sustrans does to support cyclists across Scotland:

Working with MAKLab was a delight. We met in their comfortable and exciting workshop in central Glasgow to share ideas and come up with designs for three sculptures which would work for both Mugstock and Sustrans and be possible within the budget and timeframe for MAKLab.
The bicycle structure has proven to be a great hit at every event we have taken it to! There will always be someone on it cycling furiously to get the wheels to all turn together. Hearing the kids figure out what it does and working out that they need one person pedaling and the other cranking the handle to get the best effect was wonderful.The blue and white National Cycle Network signs are ubiquitous to Sustrans and the work we do and so having a tall rotating structure with these on has been a fantastic promotional addition for us!
They have added something unique and eye-catching to our stalls at events and are a great conversation starter with visitors. They have helped increase footfall to our information stands and smiles to those who pass by.

If you'd like to find out more about this project and how it was made, contact us at hello@maklab.co.uk.

To find out more about the services you can commission from MAKLab, visit the Services page of our website.