Sunday, August 19, 2012

Automotive sculpture

Take a look at this car. I would guess that your emotions kick in and you take a breathe. Then your eyes starts to move around the car from the rear up to the front head lights. Then you move to the middle and note the convertible top. Quickly again back to the rear and focus on the chrome tips at the end of the fenders. You may crack a small smile and you must conclude… that his car was crafted by a great automotive artist.

Briefly I can tell you that the artist was an italian born man working in France named Giuseppe Figoni. The car is a 1938 Talbot Lago T23. It was built in france influenced by the challenge of cheating the wind gracefully. I have just scratched the surface of the history of this car. I am still learning so I don't want to write to much about the car in case I have miss information. I will dive into research and follow were it leads. For me, this mark, the Talbot Lago is new. I am very excited. You can just imagine how influential this example of automotive history can be. So I will leave the car there for now and I will tell you more about how I found the car.

It was fate that I found the car. I was lead to the car do to a change in my travel plans. Long story short, last week I gave up being a pit crew member of a racing team, to chauffeur my girlfriend to work. I know… that sounds as though I am upset about it. Truth is, I had a great time this past week and it was a good decision.

Here is what happened. This past week, I was scheduled to fly out to Nevada to be a crewman on my buddy Mike’s racing team. To give you some background, in 2009 I helped developed a grassroots quad racing team. I did this with my friend Mike, his brother John, and his wife Margaret. We took on some large races. I drove the first year and then found a more suitable roll as pit crew member in the following years. Last week we had a big race scheduled.

I decided to stay back and care for my girlfriend Jess. She broke her foot and the doctor gave her an air cast. This is the type of cast you can take off for routines like showering or driving. However the driving part was slowing down the healing process. Having to press the brake pedal and carry bags up stairs was undoing the purpose of the cast, which is to isolate and immobilize her foot. I had to step in and drive her to work, so she could continue to heal while continuing to attend work.

Attending work was priority two after her health as she loves her job and taking off of work for an injury is not an option. Jess is a rising star in the interior design field and right now she is working with some great people. You could say she is on a roll.

Since I was not racing and instead, driving Jess to work, I had to find something to do in the middle of the day. Jess recommended that I go draw a car at the classic car dealer 15 miles up the road. I grabbed my pad and headed up there. The name of the dealer is Dragone Classic Cars. Wow this is a special place. I drove up and the first this I saw was an endless garage of rare iconic cars. Big long sweeping fenders with chrome and brass hardware. Wood dashes and leather interiors. I walked in, introduced myself and got to work drawing. This is were I found the Talbot Lago, the car I drew this week.

At first I wasn't sure if they would let me just sit in the showroom and draw. Don at the front desk was very nice and understood what I wanted to do. Being a car enthusiast too, I talked to Don about cars while drawing. It was like the place was made for me. I could draw rare cars and learn about them at the same time.

Occasionally I was interrupted by some very unique customers and characters walking into the showroom. Some would just quietly cruise the showroom admiring the cars while others had lots to talk about. One guy came in looking to sell a one horse slay - yes as in santa clause. Another guy quietly dropped off his very early Porsche for service. The most interesting character that walked in happen to be a fellow artist. We started by talking cars, then he jumped in and drew two cars for me.

The artists name is Pat Dougherty. I learned that he goes to car shows and draws cars on the spot. He can accurately draw any car "freaked out". Imagine the car is doing a wheely with the engine popping out the top. Due to his knowledge of engines and suspensions, the "cartoon" drawings are accurate. Some how by me drawing the Talbot Lago, I had inspired him to draw it as well. In 15 minutes he had a pretty well proportioned sketch of the Talbot. We met again that week to exchange some more art and ideas. From that chance meeting I learned a lot about Pat and Automotive art.

After meeting all the people in the showroom and finishing my drawing, at the end of the week, I had one more place to visit. You see, the Dragone showroom is just part of the business. They also have another location where they have a workshop. This is of particular interest to me as I have aspirations to build cars like the Talbot Lago. As you may know I teach Automotive classes at a high school. I would like to acquirer the skills to build cars and share that with the students.

The skills it takes to shape the sheet metal of a tear drop fender are rare and could take a life time to master. So in the interest of learning, I headed up to the workshop to show my drawing and visit with their craftsman. When I got to the workshop I was well received. I gained a lot from the visit.

Gabe at the front desk gave me a quick tour and I met a sheet metal craftsman named Aaron Sweeney. We bonded over the challenge of learning metal shaping. He gave me some tips and showed me some fender examples. Before leaving, he gave me a quick demo on how to shrink sheet metal. The reason you need to shrink the sheet metal is so that you can make a compound curve.

I will give you a brief example. Lets say you want to make a tear drop fender just like the type on the Talbot Lago. The metal will need to curve in two directions like a ball shape. That is called a compound curve. The metal acts just like paper. You can bend it in one direction very easily. However when you bend the paper in two directions like over a ball or globe, there is extra paper. To take up the extra material there are tools and technics that will "shrink" the sheet. This is not possible with paper but with metal you can force the sheet to be slightly thicker and take up the extra.

Just before I left, Aaron gave me his hand made tool so I could practice. I was amazed and flattered. I did not feel comfortable accepting this. He insisted and suggested that I may copy the tool and send it back if that is more agreeable. I agreed. So now I have a challenge on my hands. I will replicate the tool in september and send his back with a thank you.

To sum this up. My fateful decision to miss the race reinforced how important it is to support Jess and to pursue drawing cars weekly. Jess's is foot is starting to recover and she loves her new job. I have a new appreciation of french coach building and met some great people along the way. Enjoy the drawing and thanks for reading.

FYI or PS: I got word that the racing team placed 4th. They were in the lead till an oil line broke. I guess we need to make a oil line shroud or shield. Each year the team gets stronger and I feel next year they may take first. I will see the team next week and I may do a drawing of the racing quad.

Again thanks for reading and google the Talbot Lago to learn more.

No comments:

Post a Comment