Guest Artist Ira Sherman Holds Pneumatic Hinge Workshop for Academy Students

Over the weekend of November 12–13, 15 students from Academy of Art University Schools of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) and Fine Art – Sculpture (FASCU) took a break from their coursework to participate in a special techniques workshop hosted by JEM and the Jewelry & Metal Arts Club.

During the exciting two-day demo and hands-on workshop with master jeweler and kinetic sculptor Ira Sherman, students learned to combine molded hinge designs with miniature pneumatic cylinders and air muscles to create kinetic motion for small scale wearable and sculptural artwork. They built and tested miniature air muscles and adapted these devices to their own hinge designs. Sherman demonstrated how he molds and adapts hinge designs from toys into mechanized metal hinge components and he also demonstrated how the movement of these air hinges can be engaged by an electronic solenoid switch activated by a microprocessor or common electrical toy circuits.


Master jeweler and kinetic sculptor Ira Sherman. Photo courtesy of Dale Beevers.

Sherman also spoke about his own work and inspired students to expand upon their ideas of what sculptural and wearable forms can do and interact with the body or viewer. Students who took the workshop rose to the challenge of learning a complex new technique and applying it to their own design work, and through collaborating on projects were able to complete several finished projects ranging from kinetic wearables like a choker necklace that “chokes” its wearer, to sculptural pieces powered by compressed air canisters.

Everyone who attended walked away with new ideas and inspiration for their work. Participant Chingyao Chang (M.F.A., FASCU), who created a steel prototype of a praying mantis arm with realistic muscle movement during the workshop, shared: “Now I know what I’ll be working on over the intersession.”