Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Crescent Wrench Factory

--Thanks to Courtney at Artist Daily for spotlighting my post "Visually Similar" in your latest online forum--

In the summer of 1980, I knocked on the door of the Crescent Wrench Factory in Jamestown, New York to see if I could do a sketch of the machines inside.


The shop manager was reluctant to give permission at first, but eventually agreed as long I wore a hardhat, goggles, and earplugs— and stayed out of the way.

I set up near a machine where a huge mechanical hammer repeatedly crashed down on the forged pieces to trim off the excess margin. As the workpieces were trimmed, they fell down a chute to a bin in the lower right.

I met the operator during one of his breaks, and he explained how the cables of his wrist restrainers were timed to pull his hands out of the way of the hammers.


In 2011, production of Crescent wrenches moved to China.
Crescent company on Wikipedia
Video of how a combination wrench is made


The sketch is drawn with gray markers, charcoal, and pen.
At right is a levels histogram to address the comment by Katherine.

12 comments:

Katherine Thomas said...

Which of the tonal organizations does your factory drawing follow? (It's amazing!)
The 4th one? I'm so intrigued by those.

James Gurney said...

Katherine, I think you're right. I put the image in Photoshop and looked at the Levels histogram (which analyzes the image for the relative distribution of tones). If you crop to the edges of the main image, the dark tones predominate (which fits #4), and there are smaller bumps for the light gray and white.

Anonymous said...

We could have Vietnam like memorials in every town with the names and dates of each and every company that's been shipped offshore. Next to that name would be a code number that if Googled would give the current name, home address and phone number of the executive and local politician responsible for the move.

Mike said...

Hi Jim,
What made you knock on the door in the first place?

I don't know if I could do a job like that... though if it was strickly a mechanical operation that pulled his hands out I might feel better... a computer operation, not so sure... one software clitch could make for a bad day.

That factory must have been pretty cool to see, thanks Jim.

Mike P.

Sketching Artist said...

This illustration totally makes me think of Loomis' Tonal Organization scheme.
Isn't is amazing that so little of our every going-ons goes unrecorded. Thanks for having the wherewithal to do this. It gives us insight into an industry few of us would have had the chance to observe.

K_tigress said...

I see you finally had to do this Capcha thing because of robo spam. Sad. Oh well.

I once had an opportunity to clean large industrial machines from the inside out. It was a fascinating and fruitful experience. Plus it was exhausting since I was working in 90 degree heat with a jumpsuit on.

Anyways maybe for another one of your excursions, maybe explore a large machine from the inside? Not in use of course.

Tayete GarcĂ­a Mazariegos said...

That sketch is simply great, Mr. Gurney.
It is fascinating how b&w sometimes says much more than full colour. I guess this subject wouldn't be the same if you had done it with a wider palette, and my only question is if you chose b&w on purpose, or was just instinct.
I simply love it.

James Gurney said...

K Tigress -- how interesting it must have been for you to work on big machines. They definitely fascinate me, since my dad, grandfather, and great grandfather were all mechanical engineers.

Tayete--I think I used black and white back then just to simplify the variables. I wasn't quite ready for color yet.

K_tigress said...

Also if you want, you should check out the Henry Ford museum if you ever come to Detroit. They have lots of gigantic antique machines set up that you can walk though. Very cool.

David J Teter said...

This is a great little sketch. For your book you plan to do of the little field study watercolor sketches you must include this.
The mech. device that pulled back his hands... too cool!

I did something similar years ago, asking permission in a junk yard,... the junk yard guy said "Well I guess it would be OK... just don't photograph the cars."
I think he meant the license plates...hmmmm?

first world war said...

great work

Hangover Cure said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.