Placing a performer, Rhode Island artist and aerialist Thea Ulrich, on a boulder 25′ in the air in an industrial coal bin is something to get right. This single boulder took us as long to make as the other 8 combined. Each component of the internal structure is comically overbuilt. My rule of thumb as a designer without an engineering degree is make it twice as strong as I think it should be. We have never had a performer get hurt and spend a lot of time and energy working to prevent it.
Actually, we’ve never had a crew member get hurt either (at least nothing a bandaid couldn’t fix). We start each fabrication day with the same question to everyone on our crew: how are you going to get hurt today? Although this gets crazy repetitive–it reminds each of us (and Megan and I who also answer the question daily too)–that the more relaxed we get with the tools we use everyday, the closer to forgetting that they can hurt us we get. I must not loose my fear of these tools.
This is the I-beam we made and placed to hold one of the lines for the performer boulder. 2×6 top and bottom with a 2×10 middle: oh my heavy. Installed on the hottest day of summer during a heat storm. Thank you Alex Peacock.