the Vortex Machine

The Vortex Machine.

Central to this object is the sculpture “Butterfly Vortex”, which is a study of the aerodinamic drag of the wings of a butterfly. I made drawings for this object on paper, to be used as templates for sculpting.


The templates were transferred to the block of wood from which the three dimensional shape was laboriously chisseled. With drills and sanding I achieved a very smooth surface which only needed poising with beeswax.

The small sculpture sat patiently in my studio, waiting for a suitable context. It always takes a while to discover the perfect way to present an object. Sometimes a year goes by before something interesting turns up. I found that a first impulse or design hardly ever works. A project5 like “Vortex” grows in an almost organic way, and passes many design stages. Context, as I’ve stated elsewhere, is everything. It determines the meaning of an object, it can enhance or destroy. It is never arbitrary. It has therefor become a central theme in my work.  

Butterfly Vortex” needed a launching pad. The next sculpted form was derived from both a flower and the model of a wooden ship. This hybrid shape gave me the dynamics from which “Butterfly” could spring.

A stem and a four lobed pedestal presented the next challenge, each shape derived from the function of the other, influencing the following part. To continue the ship analogue, I designed a mast with guiding ropes to balance the object and ‘guide it’ in the right direction.

The final touch is the finishing, which I parctically always do with the help of a collegue who knows exactly what effect I aim for, but which I by myself – being handicapped with clour-blindness – can never achieve (Thanks, Jan Reinhardt)

Thus a painting and dyeing scheme was developed which enhances the context for the small sculpture that engendered the project…

For sketches of the creation process of ‘Vortex Machine’, visite the ‘Vortex Archive

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click on thumbnail image to go to ‘Hybridicon Laboratory’

or click here to go to Martin Helm Chronology Projects

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