of stainless steel
Anyone taking a stroll at the Downtown Palm Beach Gardens in Florida is in for a treat: they are greeted by giant colourful stainless steel flowers. We spoke with the artist behind the installation: Dan Shaughnessy IV.
By Alexandra Kist, Stainless Steel World
Dan Shaughnessy IV is an artist who designs and creates beautiful and artistic installations which mainly consist of stainless steel. Recently, his Palm Beach Blooms project was finished. We spoke with the artist to learn more about his artistic endeavours and his love for stainless steel.
The Palm Beach Blooms project
Smack dab in the middle of Downtown Palm Beach, Florida, giant colourful dandelions made of stainless steel have appeared for the public to ooh
and aah over. They are the handywork of Dan Shaughnessy IV, who is an artist most often located in Chicago.
The flowers are fabricated from 100% marine grade stainless steel and are outfitted with outdoor rated lighting systems to give them their bright and colourful appearance. Six in total, each flower consists of over 1,000 highly polished petals, which refract the light source. They are designed to be able to withstand all sorts of weather conditions and require little to no maintenance. Not only do the flowers shine brightly in all colours of the rainbow; they are also featured with motion sensors that provide the public with impressive displays of colours and patterns. Anytime someone is near such a flower, they obtain the ability to influence the colour arrays beaming from the sculpture.
The City of Palm Beach Public Art Council has approved the project to become a permanent sculpture, and the flowers will thus grace the city for many more years to come.
Stainless steel as an artist’s tool
When asked what type of stainless steel he normally uses for his sculptures, Shaughnessy states that he currently uses 316L stainless steel, even though his early work consisted of 304L. Above all, he prefers to work with marine grade stainless steel. “At DSIV, we are obsessed with fabricating sculptures that are timeless. Most of our projects have clients that require our work to withstand all the elements, as well as CAT 5 winds,” he explains.
He sources his material from different suppliers, but for a long time, Central Steel in Chicago and Robert James Sales used to provide him with the tools of his trade.
Public work like The Palm Beach Blooms, which requires CAT 5 engineering, is built out of Vector Custom Fabricating in Chicago. They have been supporting him for many years and have built some of the most challenging sculptures in the US.
Before any of his sculptures can be built, Shaughnessy must work on the designs. Sometimes, he designs everything from scratch, but when commissioned, he is given a specific concept to use as a guide. In the case of the Palm Beach Blooms, he first created several different designs, all of which incorporated a flower that relates to the Florida area. In the end, the dandelions were chosen as the star of the project.
When collaborating with another artist on a commission, he and the artist put their heads together and combine their skills and vision in order to achieve the best possible version of the end product. Shaughnessy adds that he enjoys this process because he sees it as an interesting challenge to understand the artist’s vision and see to it that it comes alive. “The artist is familiar enough with my work and style to trust my input,” he elaborates.
All projects start with a digital render. “We use all types of programmes depending on the project, but mostly Rhino and AutoCAD,” Shaughnessy says. He further states that they often collaborate with others on their projects, which means they work with lighting and interactive teams to elevate the work.
Constructing the blooms
In his artistic endeavours, Shaughnessy comes across different kinds of challenges. Those sometimes pertain to integrating technology, like data and sensors, into the artwork, and at other times may come down to ensuring that the piece can withstand extreme winds. With regards to the Palm Beach Blooms, the location for the finished pieces was under construction as the Blooms were being built, which meant Shaughnessy and his team could not come close to the site. “Instead, we used a 100-ton crane to lift over a building and into the corridor where the Blooms would be located. The installing was highly coordinated since we had to do everything blindly with a crane,” explains Shaughnessy. “We had a team of riggers and electricians on site to help anchor the sculptures into place. Before they are set in place, there were two 200-inch (5.8 m) spools of data and power cable that had to be reverse wired through the electrical underlay while each Bloom hung in the air.”
The fabrication process of the Palm Beach Blooms has taken around four to six months. “Each bloom is roughly 700lbs (318 kg) with a 5-inch (12.7 cm) diameter and contains over 1,000 petals. The stem has a .53-inch (1.3 cm) thick pipe wall and can only be sourced in one location in the states. In total, each Bloom weighs roughly 1,200lbs (544 kg).”
The Giraffe Project
During his career, Shaughnessy has produced a variety of other impressive works of art. The largest piece he has ever created is also the one he deems the most challenging to date: The Giraffe Project. This ambitious project entailed the design and creation of an 18-feet (5.5 m) adult giraffe and 7-feet (2.1 m) baby giraffe, fabricated from thousands of stainless steel pieces. The giraffes were created with the stump and hammer technique. “It was a unique project since it was a 40th anniversary present for the client’s wife. It was a secret project, so when the client left for Italy to celebrate their anniversary, we installed the sculptures. I spent over six months personally putting each individual piece in its exact location,” he states.
About the artist
Dan Shaughnessy IV has spent most of his career in Chicago, though he also has a studio in New York. The Norwegian-born artist developed an interest in form, structure, and abstraction from a young age. When he moved to the US, he picked up welding. Since the beginning of his career, Shaughnessy has been responsible for a dozen or so large public pieces of art and over 140 public sculpture installations.
For more information, please visit www.dsivstudio.com
About this Featured Story
This Featured Story appeared in Stainless Steel World December 2022 magazine. To read many more articles like these on an (almost) monthly basis, subscribe to our magazine (available in print and digital format – SUBSCRIPTIONS TO OUR DIGITAL VERSION ARE NOW FREE) .
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