Stadelmann creates his fleet of robot sculptures entirely by hand in his studio in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, the heart of watchmaking country. Assembling one sculpture resulting in a robot with an average height of 70 centimetres and width of 40 centimetres requires two square metres of sheet metal and about 80 hours of painstaking work.
“My inspiration is guided by the graphics, typography, and textures on the sheets of metal I find. The main point is to find a sheet metal plate that inspires me. As soon as I have that, work can begin,” the Swiss creator born in the groovy 1970s explains.
The metal sheets used to create the robot sculptures are often discovered on Stadelmann’s countless journeys to flea markets or may even be found discarded in the streets.
He often repurposes materials from tea boxes, cookie tins, branded service trays, and traffic signs in metals ranging from copper and stainless steel to tin, aluminium, and zinc. “I almost only use repurposed materials that are of diverse thicknesses,” the studied graphic artist explains.
The selected material sets the stage for the sculpture’s design; the cuts and folds of the metal are perfectly placed to express the robot’s personality with bold patterns. The structure is sturdy to match the powerful design, making you wonder if each robot might just have hidden powers.
“I have a vital need to work with my hands,”
he says. As a trained tinsmith Stadelmann makes use of basic tools such as pliers, shears, and hammers to create the intricate bends and fittings by hand; no electric tools or machines are used in the creation of his completely handmade sculptures.
The most difficult step in completing the robot sculpture is the interior assembly: if the pieces are not precise enough, it does not work. Adding to the difficulty level, all the materials vary in thickness and strength, which then requires each robot sculpture to have its own individual set of blueprints.