Chloe, Saphire, Emma, and Mary Jane (clockwise from lower left) get Sheldon the Little Turtle ready for his Rose Parade ride on “Never Give Up.”
by Laura Berthold Monteros
You never know who you’ll end up talking to at a float barn. After wandering around the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (SPTOR) decorating site and getting snapshots of the activity, we stopped to have a conversation with Brian, a kinetic sculptor who was welding the frame of Ted Tortoise for the 2017 Rose Parade float “Never Give Up.” Brian discovered SPTOR while riding the Metro Gold Line, which goes right by the float barn. “I saw the yellow brick road, and said, ‘I’ve got to see that.’” he told us. Later, he dropped by to see what was going on and was put to work. Brian was used to working with solder on his sculptures, but had never welded until a few weeks ago. We asked him how welding was different from soldering.
“Welding is exhausting,” he replied. With soldering, the piece is set up at one height. Welding requires that he move up and down to work on the project. “I’m getting more fit,” he smiled.
In addition to making kinetic sculptures out of wire, Brian has begun creating mechanical sculptures for children using microcomputer controllers. Some of his work can be seen on his website, http://www.mechanicalme.org/. He also used his creativity when he taught young teens and later Kindergarten through second grade in Shanghai. He got the kids interested in learning English by teaching them to make movies.
Be sure to click through the photo album below to see Brian and the other volunteers.