Dragonfly rug Sculpture
Spring 2024 | max stockdale
Senior Capstone Project
Brief: capstone focused on rug tufting, sculpting, and exhibit design
funded by Creative Inquiry @ Cmu; Frff grant 
materials: pvc pipe, wire mesh, zip ties, yarn(wool, nylon, acrylic, cotton), monk's fabric, paint brush hairs, recycled materials, umbrella stand, sheepskin rug, RIt fabric Dye, electrical tape, black bonsai wire, iridescent fabric mesh, hot glue, carpet adhesive
Project  + Process
Reflecting on the last four years and the first year animal project, I chose to build a dragonfly rug sculpture. Talking with professors and friends, I found the Tough Art residency at the Children’s Museum. I decided to apply and focus on sculpting, rug tufting, and textile art to create 3D, fantastical forms and environments. Some of my initial inspirations included Lee Bontecou’s sculptures, Disney animatronics, and the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie set experience.
My concept is inspired by Mark Mentzer’s “drawing from nature” course. Mark taught us the importance of sketching to understand form and structure. Sometimes I struggle with perfectionism and trying to replicate my reference down to every last detail, but he helped me think of drawing more as a form of learning and understanding the world around us, how things wrap, fold, and bend. Mirroring Mark’s practice, I created at least one sketch a day this semester and will continue this routine in the future.
Also in elementary school, I had a dragonfly action figure and took it everywhere (losing pieces of it at the natural history museum on a field trip). So a dragonfly felt like the perfect subject for my final project. Deciding on the size, I made the six foot frame out of pvc pipe, zip ties, wire mesh, and electrical tape. After being confident with the robust structure + drop testing it, I designed and tufted rug pieces to accentuate the bilateral symmetry and golden ratio found in this form. Each week I investigated a different section of a Common Green Darner: thorax, abdomen segments, legs, head, and wings. My hope for this project was to focus on the art + math contained in insect body shapes and help people discover the beauty of nature around them.

Assembling the frame took a lot longer than I initially thought. Figuring out how all the pieces would fit together while also allowing it to break down so it could be easily transported to and from campus. The most challenging part was figuring out how the wings + legs attach to the thorax and the overall pose of the dragonfly. I really wanted this sculpture to be mounted on a flower but the engineering and balancing was something I struggled with.
Getting awarded the FRFF grant really helped me push my project further and made me more excited to work on it. Figuring out the best materials to represent these shapes + textures was a highlight of this project. Using materials like paint brushes, zip ties, and yarn to represent insect hair helped give the sculpture more depth and diversity in feel.
This was by far my favorite project I made at CMU. It was a completely new process to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the making and prototyping aspect. I’m fascinated with intricate details but I tend to procrastinate leaving little time to actually build my project. So instead, I spent about six weeks building and just chose to have fun with it by slowly building up the layers and complexity until it was a project that I was proud of.
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