Making "U.F.O." (2017)

This was an enormous project that involved many new elements. It was my first time working with fiberglass and epoxy. I did a few trials and knew that it would be a perfect material to work with.

I started with a sketch that I then transformed into a 3D-program. From the 3D program I made blueprint of the framework that would go inside the sculpture. Functioning as a skeleton to be encapsulated by the Styrofoam it was important to get it right. From the file I got blueprints of every length of wood and every angle needed in each cross-section of the UFO I could also measure the surface area to calibrate how much fiberglass and paint I needed. 

There were many steps along the way to the finished project, and I was happy when each of them were done and went according to plan. After finishing the skeleton of wood it was time to cover the whole thing with blue Styrofoam. I had done some trials and knew it was easy to shape, and would work great with fiberglass. The downside was that it creates this awful blue dust that just covers everything. Not much different from sawdust, but it would fly all over the place and stick to things and especially clothes.

By the time I started with the Styrofoam I knew it would be strong enough, but it didn’t look like a UFO yet. So when I started shaping the Styrofoam piece by piece, it was very satisfying to see my vision coming to life. As it became more and more covered, it also became more difficult to work on since I couldn’t step on the Styrofoam. Luckily I figured out a way to make the dome of the cockpit detachable so that I could shape it without having to climb in an awkward position. Once the dome was attached the shaping stage was over and the fiberglass stage could begin.

I used a thick cloth of fiberglass to make it strong enough and put on two or three layers depending on the area. Working with epoxy was both satisfying and challenging. There were plenty of difficult areas where frustrations ran high. The trickiest was covering it with epoxy and fiberglass on the bottom. It was a sticky mess and I was glad when it was over.

After sanding and cleaning it, there was time for the paintjob. I used a two-part paint usually meant for boats that was strong and durable. To create the illusion that it had crashed I painted in some fake damage along with codes with messages from space. These codes I created myself so that kids at the school who were interested could try to crack them.

When everything was done it came time for the transportation. I was nervous that something would go wrong in the process. Most of all I was a little worried that the foundation at the site was not made according to my plans. If not, either the bolts would not match the holes, or the backend of the UFO would not go down in the ditch. Since it was a 5 hour drive each way I hadn’t checked myself, but was told everything was done according to plan. To my relief, all was as it should be, and my UFO finally reached its final destination.

The whole school gathered for the grand opening with a reveal of the UFO No one had been told what was now in front of their school. They were pleasantly surprised to see that a spacecraft from another planet had arrived. After a few remarks and questions answered they couldn’t wait to climb on it. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing what I make being appreciated.