Fall has officially arrived in Bozeman, Montana when the local straw bale maze opens to the public. Every year, they amaze the community with very large and complex designs that, like the Nazca Lines of Peru, can truly be appreciated from the sky. Over the years, the Bozeman Straw Bale Maze has given us an immense castle to explore, a pitchfork-holding scarecrow, 3D stage coach and now, an isometric view of a tractor. This years’ monolith was built out of 4,300 purposefully placed straw bales and now confuses even the greatest of navigators.
Asides from being a gigantic maze, beautiful piece of art and an ideal community event, another highlight is how this feat is accomplished. With inspiration for the tractor from the newly added straw bale rides pulled by a classic John Deere, maze founder Dale Mandeville drew up what he wanted to create. “It’s always a challenge because we’re working off just a drawing and then we take what is an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of paper and turn it into a 150 foot drawing on the ground,” says Mandeville.
After scanning the tractor drawing, the file is brought into SolidWorks, 3D CAD software. From there, a precise grid is placed over the picture and the placement of towers, tents, parking and buildings are added. A much larger grid scaled to size (roughly 400:1) is then placed on the ground utilizing miles of string and spray paint markers. This grid drawing method allows one to break a complex image into individual manageable squares (finite elements). Utilizing the original drawing as a reference, it is much easier to create one square at a time, one after another until the entire image comes together which can be quite helpful if a projector is unavailable or won’t suffice.
The Maze is one of those events you must experience in person! But if you simply can’t make it, or want a preview, you can experience the 2012 Scarecrow virtually within a 3D environment created with MicrosoftPhotosynth HERE. Have fun!
David Yakos is VP and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc.