It wasn’t your typical crash landing, but, then again, Building the giant donut (the center of the alien
it wasn’t your typical UFO, either. On a wet May ship) was equal parts high tech and handicraft for
day on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Gail Simpson the two University of Wisconsin-Madison profes-and Aristotle Georgiades forklifted a 500-pound sors, who combined a CAD software design with a
wooden flying saucer 20 feet up into a grove out- lot of fiddly sawing. “The program gives you an idea
side the Abington Art Center. of size and angles but there’s always human opera-
As Georgiades and a helper clambered on top tor error, and the materials were all eccentrically
to cable it to a tree, the rain came pelting down. sized,” explains Simpson.
Photograph by Gail Simpson
“There was a windstorm, a rainstorm, and the tem- They built an armature of ribbed sections and
perature had dropped 20 degrees,” says Simpson. skinned it with the boards. At 16 feet in diameter,
“It was kind of nightmarish.” it easily allowed Simpson to slip inside and spend
The UFO, on the other hand, is anything but. Made a lot of time there threading bolts through.
from a warm and familiar material — weathered “The scale is true to little green men,” says
pine boards left over from a turn-of-the-century Georgiades.
barn — the sculpture isn’t likely to inspire fear. And “It would comfortably house two small aliens,”
eight built-in birdhouses add an inviting touch. chimes in Simpson.
The duo, who go by the name Actual Size Artworks, “Oh,” counters Georgiades, “it would house four
aimed to give the spacecraft “a really handmade, or five.” Not to mention a whole flock of birds.
crazy-carpenter look,” says Simpson, adding that —Eric Smillie
this isn’t a big departure from the Martian ships of
the 1950s: “When you look at them in old posters >> Larger-Than-Life Sculpture:
and movies, they do look a little rickety.”