Lots of us became interested in gears while taking drafting classes in high school. Kirk Rademaker got hooked on orthographic projection as a teenager, but went about pursuing his passion for gears in a unique way.
Rademaker became an interactive environmental artist and makes his living creating gears, transmission, nuts and bolts, turbines and various other industrial machinery out of sand. He’s based in Santa Cruz, CA, and travels the world participating in corporate team-building events and creating customized sand sculptures for parties. Gears are a favorite of the artist’s because of their sharp lines and abstract shapes.
“I just love doing gears because they’re a sign of movement. My abstracts always have a lot of movement. I looked at some of the sculptures and decided they looked mechanical and went mechanical,” he says.
It takes from three to five days for Rademaker to construct a sculpture. He compares the sand’s consistency to working with stale mashed potatoes and, upon completion, sprays the sculpture with glue for adhesion.
Sand gears don’t come cheap and Rademaker says he was recently paid $1,000 per sculpture per day, plus airfare and lodging at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan for a gas turbine he created for a conference.
“This isn’t a job that I’ll ever get rich doing, but I’ve been able to travel to Europe and all over the world making sand sculptures, and I love the creativity and working with people on the beach,” he says.