Friday, April 14, 2006

Ball Bearings as an Art Form

I live in Minneapolis, MN which apart from the cold winters is a pretty good place to live. (I think something like 99.5% of the worlds inhabitants live in places with a higher mean temperature than here. Shows how tough we are.) Anyway, Minneapolis' modern art museum, the Walker, recently moved into a new building and I read that attendance figures are flat despite the change.

I do not enjoy most modern art. I do enjoy looking at the metamechanics of Jean Tinguely (for short periods of time) and I think a lot of "kinetic art" is pretty interesting.

Anyway, I see where you can buy an SKF self aligning ball bearing from New York's MOMA here, for about $180. Now, I've always thought ball bearings are pretty cool, even from a purely esthetic viewpoint, MOMA charges $180 for a 4-inch diameter bearing which exemplifies for me the disconnect between the modern art world and the real world. Before I rant too much, maybe this is some special artistic rendition, but the normal cost of a 4-inch bearing, at say, McMaster Carr is probably around $30.


Anonymous said...

I don't know the exact nature of this bearing, but the closest comparable bearing I can find at McMaster-Carr is bearing 2307 on page 1052 of their current catalog: it's $118.37, and it's closer to 3" across rather than 4". That doesn't seem like too high of a markup to me.

Anonymous said...

Some high-precision bearings used commonly in industry cost well over $1000 each. Not that these museum bearings are likely to be as well machined as those... (I only know because a fellow employee mistakenly sold several dozen $1400 bearings on ebay for $10 each in a "buy it now" auction, because to him they looked like ordinary $30.00 bearings- needless to say, our boss was not pleased!)

Anonymous said...

It isn't necessarily the markup that accounts for the price, high quality bearings can go for thousands.

I always trust the experts when ordering bearings, Martin at is always helpful.

delta wood lathe ball bearing said...

Take a look at an old, ordinary and familiar thing around you, something like a pencil, an eraser, a can, or a cup. Now, let your imagination play. Move the object around. What shape does it have? What color or feel? Do these qualities remind you of anything else? Imagine a whole different use for the thing. What pieces would you have to add to change the old thing into something different? Now you’re thinking like a junque artist!Dennis has turned a drinking cup upside down, welded the “teeth” of a dump rake on it for the legs, and used worn out pieces from a soybean extruder for the eyes. The end product? A bug!

Dennis finds that ball bearings make good eyes. He has used the moldboard of a plow to create the body for a goose and the top part of a stanchion for the goose’s head and neck.