is a five-foot diameter outdoor sculpture
in Topeka, Kansas. There are sixty identical flat pieces made
of 3/16 inch thick stainless steel. The parts are joined
together with stainless steel bolts and brackets at twenty
3-fold and twelve 5-fold vertices. Each part connects
from one type of vertex to the other, passing through the
interior en route. It feels like they are linking
arms---swinging their partners while dancing together.
In fact there are two different versions of
the sculpture: one in downtown Topeka, a block from the
Kansas state capital building, and a second in front of the
Bartlett and West company's Topeka office. This is the
other one. Can you see how the two are
This rendering shows the difference.
They are congruent, but they differ in that they are mirror
images of each other. Notice how from the central
5-way vertex, the parts spiral out and clockwise in one
version but counterclockwise in the other. Study the
top two images on this page to see which is which.
In both cases, sixty identical copies of
this part shape are bolted together. But for one of
them, the part is always flipped over. The small tab
in the center is for bolting each piece to the neighbor that
it "links elbows" with. The design keeps the tabs
largely hidden, but the cross-connections add enormous
The sculpture was assembled part-by-part, in place. This
is the one in downtown Topeka. We started by attaching
the lowest pieces to the threaded rod in the foundation.
Slanted spacers tilt the parts so they are positioned at the
correct angle relative to horizontal.
There are two types of connecting bracket,
each with its own dihedral angle. Here, we are
attaching two brackets to each piece before attaching the
pieces to the growing sculpture.
When halfway done, it is a confusing jumble. It is a
constant puzzle to get each piece positioned, but they fit
perfectly. The hardest part is tracking down any
loose nuts and making sure they are all tight.
When done, it looks great. I'm
very happy with the result. The base has lights
installed and there is a button nearby which
night-time passersby can push that causes it to cycle
through a variety of colors.
The next day, we built the second instance in a
similar manner. Note that this is the opposite
handedness. Again we start at the bottom and
work upward, adding one piece at a time, bolting the
bottom pieces to the foundation and then each piece to
Each piece has ten bolt holes, so there are 600 nuts,
600 bolts, and 1200 washers to deal with. There
are also 180 connecting brackets, sixty in each of
Halfway done, it looks pretty
good. And yearns for completion while pointing
in crazy directions.
Then there is a final frenzy to
get all the nuts and bolts tight. We tap on it and
listen for any rattling.
I don't generally recommend
climbing on public sculpture, but as artist I felt
entitled to celebrate its completion (while checking
it for rigidity...)
Watch the video
of its assembly
Thank you to everyone at Bartlett
who worked with me on every aspect of this
project including the many hours of assembly work. Thank
you to Joe Pennington for fabricating the components.
Thank you also to Elisabeth Heathfield and Joe Pennington for