Designing to Cut

Big Projects, Beginning to End, The Giving Tree

Inspired by my sister, Karen Tharp, I spent the first half of my week designing a paper stencil to use as a guide for my sculpture’s canopy.

The canopy will be cut out of 3/16 inch sheet metal using a plasma cutter. The metal is VERY heavy so one of my designing goals was to remove a large portion of the metal/ weight while maintaining structural integrity.

I took 3 photos of the sculpture against the brown paper background, which maps out the basic canopy shape. I then projected those images to scale onto 3 new large sheets of white newsprint.

I began painting large shapes that would defined areas of the canopy where the branches would support a chandelier of spanish moss or flourish with leafy foliage.

Once the basic shapes were identified I went back in and defined the blobs with more detailed shapes, using some abstraction of a leaf shape and lines to identify the hanging moss.

After the painting was finished I cut out all the black spaces, leaving a lace-work of paper.

The paper was then used as a stencil. I placed the lace atop the metal sheets and spray painted over top.

I now have a guide for my cut lines. The next step is to cut out the metal using a plasma cutter.





















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I create large metal sculptures for public art, smaller items for you and your home, and teach hands on metal workshops in Gainesville, FL. Visit