Object #2
Interview Subject: Jack Stratton
Object in Question: Tie Rack

Zac’s photos of this project make it look so gorgeous that when I opened the email with these photos I actually clapped. Here’s his maker’s interview:

In designing Jack’s rack, I was drawn to two comments he made in the interview – about connecting with something mechanical/physical, and about the tools of printing past:

“Maybe just that most of the tools I find useful in life are electronic and/or virtual and it would be nice to connect with something mechanical/physical…

“As well when I was learning design I was fascinated and in love with lead type, rulers, printing presses, etc. I am still drawn to the tools of printing past.”

Inspired by his drawing – and having independently arrived at the same 72 linear inches of tie space that he’d specified there (yes folks, that’s six feet of ties) – I set out to hang four 18″ rods at an angle from the wall.  The rack as drawn was hinged to the wall so ties could be hung and arranged more easily, but as the single curved wire still wouldn’t have made for easy access, I’ve replaced it with a single upright and four horizontal crossbars.  Considering the fact that Jack’s a graphic designer, the crossbars slide in the uprights and lock with a setscrew so he can arrange them in any way he pleases (though, as in all things, some modicum of balance is advisable).  As New York apartments are not known for being spacious, it made sense to allow for the rack to fold down flat to the wall, so the ties could become the “design element” he had in mind while staying physically unobtrusive.  (I’m curious if he’ll do this, actually – it runs the risk of leaving creases in the ties, but it’d be really cool.)  In order for the rack to stand away from the wall, there had to be a prop of some kind, which had to fold or move somehow to let it sit flat.  This led to the development of the neat little mechanism you’ll see below – a nicely ergonomic, decidedly physical detail that harkens back to the era of printing presses and connection with mechanical tools.

Most of the parts laid out, ready to test-fit.  Sadly, I managed to leave my camera at home yesterday, so there aren’t any pictures of the earlier steps – most of it was drilling the bar and shaping the brackets and wall prop:

All the parts assembled, with the crossbars in one possible arrangement:

Here’s most of the shaping that went into the rack – the brackets on the left were ground from scrap angle iron, the upright was hexagonal steel scrap creatively milled, drilled, and filed, and the prop’s a section of salvaged bus bar sawn to shape.

The key linkage that lifts the prop is simple in theory – it just passes through the upright, drops down to lock the rack when it’s pulled away from the wall, and lifts when you press the key on the end.  Getting that to work in steel and copper takes a couple tries with cardboard first.  The real pivot pin is at the bottom, along with the broken Dremel bit I was using for a test pivot.

The key assembled, marked for final shaping:

The hinge, assembled but not yet welded:

All the parts, some of the tools, and a giant box o’ setscrews.  Plus a cheapie Ikea allen wrench I found to send along to Jack to really make this a kit:

The finished key, shaped and polished, with a roll pin pivot.

The finished rack, standing up from the table, with the crossbars in another possible orientation.

Finished & temporarily hung up with pushpins.  Here the prop’s down and the key is raised – to fold the rack to the wall, just press down on the key and lower the rack.

Laying flat against the wall, with the crossbars in one possible arrangement:

Lift the rack up to thirty degrees from the wall, the prop drops down, and the rack locks up.

It can also be lifted through 90° to let ties hang down freely for selecting or rearranging.  You can see the setscrews on the back of the upright.

Closeup of the wall plate/hinge:

Side view of the wall prop (with a little bit of plastic at the end so it doesn’t mark up the wall):

Close-up of the handle and the key/prop lever:

Thanks for interviewing with us, Jack! The tie rack was an opportunity for us to see another potential side of The 500 Hammers project…8 hours (the maximum time that Clockstone Studios will commit to one of our free objects) can make a relatively simple object, but it can also generate things that are very elaborate and unique. A tie rack (easily re-creatable, if you’re interested) will sell for $140 through our typical ordering process.

We’ve had a lot of interest in the project so far, and really appreciate all of the linking and good comments!

And speaking of comments…we’ve got an interview coming tomorrow with two of my favorite people in the world, but after that our 4th interview slot is up for grabs. Do you want it? Email us!