The artist Anthony Howe is famous for making kinetic metal sculptures that move in the wind. Colossal has a nice roundup of several here — they're mesmerizing, a study in opposites: The strength of shining metal rendered with delicacy enough to be moved by a breeze.
In that video above, he shows how makes a sculpture. It's a short video, but it gives you an immediate sense of just how patient and slow the whole process is. You watch him carefully polish and weld one of the little metal limbs — a flat petal on the end of a slender metal stick …
… and then the screen flashes …
… and you suddenly realize the scale of what he's doing here.
The more I've met artists and watched them work, the more it's clear that a good chunk of their genius is simply their willingness to do things that other people would regard as completely unreasonable; and to do these things with an attention to detail that other people would also regard as unreasonable.
Of course, the sheer patience and repetition is part of what makes his craft so amazing. If you fabricate 1,080 metal petals by hand, you build up an incredible intimacy with the materials at hand — a profound sense of its tolerances — which goes on to inform further art. I love talking to artists about the materials they use, because they often have a chemist's and/or physicist's view of things.
Or a historian's! A while ago I interviewed the artist Josiah McElheny for a Smithsonian piece on the cultural impact of the mirror, because McElheny works with mirrors and glass in his art, and studies not merely the stuff-ness of mirrors but their deep history; he dropped amazing knowledge about the tax policy towards mirrors of early American puritan society, and how it affected the way mirrors got made.
Anyway, Howe's is magnificent. Go check out some of his other pieces via that Colossal post.