With few real leaves still hanging on outside, students can now venture to the Science and Engineering Center to lose themselves in the intricate beauty of the leaf.
At six feet, seven inches tall and five feet, five inches wide, this larger-than-life representation accurately resembles the ridges and rises of a maple leaf.
The leaf is constructed out of birch and oak plywood, which was honed and carved by a water jet.
After months of organization and planning, Nate Singer ’17 finally brought his dream to life with the help of Patrick Healy, Studio Art Technician, and Paul Tompkins, Supervisor of the Engineering Machine Lab, among others.
Singer first had the idea for the leaf when he walked past the Union Collaborative Design Studio located in Wold Center. A sign advertising the lab’s willingness to print a 3D design caught Singer’s eye and started him thinking.
After collaborating with the Computer Science Department, the Engineeering Department and the Visual Arts Department, Singer was able to construct a cardboard prototype of the leaf.
With the prototype in hand, Singer applied for a NY6 Think Tank.
Due to the size of the leaf, Singer and his collaborators decided that the initial plan to cut the leaf out with a laser was unwieldy. As a result, they began exploring high-pressure water jets.
Singer explained, “The whole way through this project I wanted to push the limits of the machines.” Indeed, the first time they loaded Singer’s design on the computer for printing, the complexity of the leaf caused the software to crash.
According to Singer, it took six to seven hours to cut out portions of the leaf. Each of these portions had to be carefully assembled, requiring months of hard work.
When asked why he chose a maple leaf as his subject, Singer replied, “I am obsessed with the structure of the leaf. I love examining the way in which nature organizes itself; I feel that it represents something human.”
In keeping with this vision, Singer chose to name his piece “Primal Fault.” The name comes from Singer’s favorite poem “Stars, I Have Seen Them Fall” by A.E. Housman.
Housman’s poem addresses the “human struggle that never gets solved,” Singer believes. Similarly, Singer feels that the way in which the veins of the leaf diverge in all directions from the central, straight ones resembles this struggle.
Singer himself proposed the location for the leaf. He wanted a large space with lots of natural light. In addition, he feels that the leaf bridges fields such as biology and mathematics, and is therefore appropriately located in the hallway between Bailey Hall and the Science and Engineering Center.