Text Only Peace Pole
A problem with peace poles is that people who know nothing about them often find them uninteresting. I put this one in an art studio during an Art-Walk and some people spent five or ten minutes looking at it, a few spent fifteen. When they learned that the text was translations of “May peace prevail on earth” in different languages they became even more interested. I have been through that with it now for at least two dozen art shows and it appears to be more interesting than normal peace poles, at least to people who are not familiar with them.
Pictured here is a rough draft in 1/4 inch steel with translations just 28 inches long. I created it to flesh out the concept and see if anybody would find it to be interesting. The final version would be made with 1/2 inch stainless steel and translations close to 5 ft long. The pole would be 2 translations high, so about 10 feet high.
The one in the photo is early prototype. I’m trying to find the time to make a larger version for show, possibly out of aluminum so that it is more light weight for moving.
When the text is cut through the metal, a single spotlight inside can illuminate it at night, like with an LED powered by a solar panel.
I used to make such peace poles in either copper or stainless steel, like the one below. Most people chose not to illuminate them.
If J. Peterman Sold Peace Poles
Owner’s Manual No. 183 parody
Your first Peace Pole sighting
After ten days of bicycling through the Japanese Alps you arrived in Kyoto on the 40th anniversary of D-Day and decided to pay your sightseeing dues by visiting Ryoan-ji Temple. No one was there when you arrived. In an inner courtyard of the rambling complex you found a rectangular expanse of white gravel, thirty yards long and meticulously raked. The solitude did not last. Japanese tourists pounced – swarming schoolchildren, powder-faced women, and dark-suited men one of whom asked, “May I join you?”
Kyoto was the only major Japanese city not destroyed by bombs during the Second World War. As a child he had stood on a hill and watched a sky filled with bombers destroying Osaka.
You asked, “What was it like when the Americans came?”
The man told you that he and his countrymen had been afraid. They had been told Americans were very bad people. “But GIs came and gave us food. And medicine. They were not bad pee-pu. They were very kind. We do not forget this.”
It was the strongest unsolicited expression of thanks you’d ever heard a foreigner express toward America. You wanted to hug this man. And you wanted to thank your parents’ generation for their mercy.
He told you that now around Japan there are many Peace “Poes.” You had never heard of one so it took some explaining, but later, as you peddled your bicycle toward Hiroshima, you knew what it was when you saw your first Peace Pole, and you were moved all over again.
This one can move you again everyday. Copper with a patina that gets a little richer with each rain. Text cut all the way through so that the message can glow at night as though lit from inside by a candle. With Japanese as one of the 160 translations from which to choose for the twelve included languages, this pole stands about 9 ft tall and actually is for sale.
$4,900 includes shipping.
Underwater Peace Poles
The request was for a peace pole for the bottom of the ocean that would be rooted in the bottom like a peace pole is on land.
This page was made to enable the customer to share progress with others on his team as he kept telling me that money was no object in order to encourage me to keep working.
He asked for a stainless steel peace pole that could be set in the floor of the ocean 30 to 40 feet underwater. Part of the problem would be getting it there. I designed a stainless steel post to set in a pad of cement that is 3 feet by 3 feet and varying in thickness according to the thickness of the cement bags placed on it. 9 inches of the post would protrude through the bottom of the pad and into the sea floor to anchor it in place.
The diagram below is of an earlier stage in the development when the idea was to create a wooden form around the rebar into which to pour cement. More practical thinking eliminated all the wood and the pouring of cement and replaced it with paper sacks of cement set on a rebar grid.
Delivery to the ocean floor
In calm water, like a marina, the post with the rebar platform and post (all fabricated by me and shipped as a unit ready-to-go) is set on a floating, very large inner tube, or a collection of small ones. Several small inner tubes are attached to the top of the pole.
It is towed to the drop site at sea. Then the large inner tube underneath is deflated. Once the pole is being held upright and just below the surface by the upper inner tubes, unopened paper sacks of cement are laid on the horizontal stainless framework that now is underwater. Standard practice when building bridges is putting unopened sacks of cement underwater where they absorb moisture and set. The framework is covered with as many sacks of cement as necessary.
All but one of the upper inner tubes now are punctured allowing it to sink. The last one makes it land upright on the bottom. A long rope with a slip knot could release it when pulled from the boat, if anyone cared to release it. It might be possible to lower the whole thing slowly with a rope to make sure that it doesn’t hit bottom with enough force to cause cement sacks to dislodge.
The post at first probably will sit on the bottom at an angle. Eventually the motion of the sea will set it in the bottom like an anchor.
Instead of inner tubes under it, it possibly could be towed between between two Zodiacs.
The request had been for a stainless steel peace pole set in the bottom. But wasn’t the actual goal to procure a peace pole that it would make sense to put underwater? The decision to use stainless steel might not have been the best one. Making a peace pole out of stainless steel regards the water as an obstacle. I began wondering if it wouldn’t be possible to create a peace pole designed to make being underwater an advantage. So I created one that is buoyant. The peace pole at left is fiberglass wrapped around Styrofoam. To keep it from floating away, it is chained to an anchor. To make it possible to read the message, a scrub brush could be hung on a cable for anyone swimming by who wants to see what it says under the algae. The problem is that if too many years passed without anyone’s scrubbing off the growth, it could become too heavy to be buoyant and sink.
I made other revisions. Thin copper wrapped around the pole would prevent growth covering it, but there are some environmental concerns with that. So I designed it with only the text made of copper.
The project was in development for a while, with different thoughts about how to accomplish it. Material tests were done underwater and experiments to see if copper letters inhibit biological growth in a radius large enough for the text to remain visible. I explored the idea of treating the ocean as a kiln and developing poles that took advantage of the wabi sabi effects on various materials kept under water over a period of time, in part to see if that might not be an interesting way to develop peace pole that would be brought back to the surface and used on land. Page after page, like this page, were posted online so that the customer could share the progress with others on his team. In the end he put his wife on the phone who scoffed at the price. Now I take deposits.