The End — Grazer


A Fragment of a Shot-lived Dream by Dan McPharlin

This will be my final blog post here, forever.

The very, last, one. I thought it would be the last one a year ago, but the need to finish something was breathing down my back. That need is still there.

The Grazer project has been troublesome since the get go. I’ve wrestled with a whole lot of learning, pivoting from one idea to the other, and have faced many roadblocks along the way. One year later, I’ve certainly accomplished a lot, from presenting at the TECHEdAdvis conference, to completing a leg, to figuring out a consistent way to produce joints in large quantities (one of the primary issues that I’ve had with this project since its beginning). However, all this progress is no where close to the huge amount of work that still needs to be done. Another leg would need to be finished and a frame must also be built around those legs. The same process would need to be replicated three or four or five times over, put together, and then I would have a Grazer that I would call complete. It’s no where close to that as it stands.

Despite the moonshot until a total completion, I think I could still reach a satisfying stopping point before the end of the year, and the end of the project. It’s possible, maybe not entirely probable, that I could finish out the year with a finished pair of legs and a frame to go with it. One of the cool things about the theoretical Grazer, separate from the Strandbeest, is that it can be completely modular, with fully assembled individual leg pairs that can be strung together to make an able-bodied Grazer. Building one of the modular components would be a logical proof of concept for the entire sculpture, similar to the end of last semester.

Finding ways to differentiate my work, and that of Theo Jansen, was one of the most challenging and creative aspects of the project. Setting my work apart opened up a whole new set of skills to learn and spurred my drive for innovation — even if not all of the ideas were acted on. I remember some of the things I drew out on sheets and sheets of paper, describing a way that the legs could be articulated, or how the Grazer could be a piece of farm equipment. Although these ideas never actually came to fruition, it felt meaningful to write them down, keeping me vested in a project that ultimately wasn’t as creative as I would have hoped. In some ways, it was the tangents of the project that kept me curious.

One of which happened recently, during Westtown’s STEAM Day at the science center. As a demonstration for the CNC mill, I made a wavy shape on Fusion 360 and cut it out in a block of wood. What I got back was exactly what I had seen on the computer screen, except perfectly made in a block of wood. A similar story to almost every other time I had used the mill, except this time it was an interesting shape, not a boring joint. It reminded me of a piece I mentioned here on an earlier blog post, of a warped dresser.


Making this truly unleashed the artistic power of the CNC machine, and what can be created with it.

Once again, time for the boring stuff. I rounded off the week with a completed prep for the male joint pieces. This included a lot of hammering little spring pins to fit all of the pieces into the fixture, which was significantly less precise this time around than last. However, I think that it will still be close enough to have a make well milled pieces.


Well then. Please, wish me luck with the end of this project, I’ll need it. For anyone who’s reading this, thanks for reading, and for sitting through a lot of boring writing — I hope there were some good parts along the way.


Lukas ’16

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