The First Half of a Westward Adventure

Big Projects, Beginning to End, Exploring New Techniques, Lift, News from the Shop

Last week my family and I flew from Florida to Arizona to de-install Lift, and have ourselves a little family vacation out west.  The first half of our travels were dedicated to boxing up and shipping the installation.

This sculpture was the first time I’d shown work this large, and I did it an awfully long way from Gainesville, FL. To say the very least I learned a lot, and in this particular  chapter of the whole experience I learned to crate and ship a large piece across the country on a budget.

In February I’d driven Lift all the way to Scottsdale, Arizona on my trailer. It was padded and mounted to some rough frames and tied down tight for the ride.

For this go around I’d decided to fly to Phoenix and have Lift freight shipped back to Florida.  After the epic drive in February I looked closely at the costs of transportation and found freight shipping to be in line with, if not cheaper than hauling the piece across the country myself.  Because I had not crated or boxed the piece for delivery the first time I would need to build the boxes for the piece in Arizona before I could ship it back home.

Here’s how it went.

Lift adventure01

Lift Adventure03That’s my Dad- John Tharp. Dad’s  a General Contractor and holds several patents in the hydroelectric energy field, so I was pretty grateful when he said he’d come along and lend a hand building these boxes.

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Camera 360That’s my Mom- Sandy Tharp. She’s always up for an adventure and was a huge help on this trip.

Camera 360This is Daniel Funkhouser. He’s the Collections and Exhibitions Assistant at the Scottsdale Public Art Program and also the painter of the awesome clouds on the giant wall behind Lift.

Camera 360I was really  grateful to have been chosen to exhibit in this space and I’m looking forward to seeing who the Scottsdale Public Art Program will bring in next!

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  DSC_2129Our first step was to remove all the woven benches so we could bring the scissor lift in to remove the balloons with.


Camera 360Once the balloons were on the ground we disconnected all the aluminum hoops from the stainless steel cable and stacked them in the wood shop.

Camera 360Once all our materials were inside we could get out of the 110 degree heat and get to work in the nice cool air conditioning!! Yes- this was a very important part of the process, and worth mentioning.

Camera 360Now for the game plan.

DSC_2185We built a wooden “exoskeleton” for each crate. The balloons were placed on big sheets of cardboard and zip-tied down. The cardboard was then layered and everything was sandwiched together with the wooden exoskeleton.

DSC_2189See, just like a sandwich.

Camera 360The baskets were bolted to wooden bases so they wouldn’t roll around. We were able to acquire a prebuilt 5′ x 5′ pallet to attach the baskets to.

0813141346aWe padded the baskets with more cardboard and plastic wrap and then build a wooden frame around the pallet and sheeted it with cardboard for some level of protection. We had extra space inside the crate and were able to include the hardware from installation, along with all the stainless steel cables and some other scrap materials.

0813141353I checked rates with several freight shipping companies and booked one for pickup the next day. Once the truck arrived we had some help using the fork lift to load the crates.

0813141350Everything went smoothly and the truck should be arriving this week in Gainesville to deliver the pieces. Fingers crossed they look the same as they did when we saw them last!

0809141412aTime for some sight seeing! I’ll tell you where we went in my next post!

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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