I want to create an interactive wall art piece out of gears as my final project. I think that my vision best aligns with the steampunk aesthetic, due to the gear medium. Steampunk is considered a subgenre of the science fiction aesthetic and considers what the world what look like if it was run on steam power with an often Victorian style. This aesthetic is marked by gears, screws, analog clocks, steam-powered machines, rotating propellors, and dials.

[1] Steampunk Aesthetic – Aesthetics Wiki

I think I’d like to stick with this aesthetic because this works best with my medium, which is either to be 3D printed or lasercut. I think that if I wanted to change my aesthetic it would also require me to change my project, since the gears are difficult to fit into different aesthetics. It could be possible to integrate another aesthetic with the gears, but it’s a bit of a stretch and a serious design challenge.

Wooden Gear Clock Plans from Hawaii by Clayton Boyer

[2] Square Gears – Clayton Boyer

The cubist aesthetic could be an interesting route to go down for this but the unusual shape requires much more thought put into gear placement and design. The functionality may also be changed, and gears could become more difficult to manipulate due to their shape. If these gears are not placed perfectly, they will become much more difficult to work with. Also if you look closely you can see that the corners and middle edges have different teeth to allow for these to work together properly. This is and interesting pivot, and adds to the design challenge but I think it would take away from my artistic ability in configuring these into different shapes and designs on the wall. This aesthetic does not have a specific material, but cubism often uses lots of color, so these could be painted differently to keep with the aesthetic.

Weird Gears by Steve Johnson - YouTube

[3] Weird Gears by Steve Johnson

I think that the above image shows more of an organic aesthetic using gears as a medium, and this could be a fun one to emulate. The difficulty rises with this one as well, since we can see that the circular gears working between the oblong ones do not pivot around their centers, but are pinned off to the sides to allow their teeth to stay connected with the other gears while they move due to their shapes. The placement of these would need to be extremely precise due to these mechanics, and the slightest slip in placement could cause failure. To better keep with this aesthetic I think that I should use some kind of natural wood and laser cut it.

Weird Gears | SpringerLink

[4] Weird Gears by SpringerLink

I think that my final design could emulate some of these other methods, making for a very intricate and strange design that could still align with steampunk with notes of other aesthetics. The connections between these different gears would pose a difficulty, but I think that if I layered these and connected some in the third dimension then I could possibly make them work together. A mix of different materials could either make this look hectic but also add to each aesthetic.

Overall, I think that these are interesting pivots but because they can all be achieved using gears as a medium they could possibly be integrated to add to complexity and visual curiosity.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Noah, these are some awesome alternative aesthetics to explore for your project. When I think of gears I also think of steampunk, but it is cool how you showed different shapes of gears representing different aesthetics. I especially like the gears in image four. I’m curious, how big do you plan on making this wall piece? Good luck on the rest of your project.

    • Duncan,
      I am also a fan of the gears in that photo, I think they would be interesting to manipulate and a challenge to integrate. I think I want to make this piece about three feet wide and two feet tall, hopefully that’s a good enough space to show off all the gear interactions.

  • Maddox Mitchell
    March 10, 2024 1:23 pm

    Hey Noah, I love basing the project around gears and I think there are a lot of cool ways to potentially take this as well. I think laser cutting will allow you to expand on a few different aesthetics based on the material. I’m a big fan of the square gears because they go against my intuition of what a gear looks like.

    • Thanks, Maddox, my only concern with laser cutting is that it will dictate the depth of the parts I make unless I decide to glue layers together. The square gears pose a challenge that might over complicate my design, so I think I’ll probably leave that out.


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