Clink – Flights, not Fights
At a brewery in Virginia, Jess and her husband Art order a couple of pints. The tasting room is crowded, but the couple finds two empty seats at an otherwise full table. They carry their drinks over in odd wooden tray-like things passed to them by the bartender. When Jess and Art get to the table, they see that the people already sitting there have linked their Clink segments together to form a chain of pint glasses; seeing the couple, the others open up the chain to invite them to join. 
Being linked to the group makes it awkward to not engage with them. Jess and Art find out that two young men sitting across from them both just graduated from the University of Virginia, which is exciting because that’s where their son goes. The four of them chat about the school and Charlottesville for a solid 30 minutes before the two men finish their beers and announce that it’s time for them to go. The young men unlink their Clinks, say goodbye to Jess and Art, and wander off. Jess and Art watch them go, smiling... until they see one of the men reach over and grab the hand of the other as they are walking. The two young men leave the tasting room, hand in hand. 
“Well, I didn’t know they were like that,” Jess says.
“Good thing we didn’t know that before we talked to them!” Art replies, turning back to his beer.
“They seemed like fine young men,” Jess murmurs, turning to her pint as well. Silently, she thinks about how tough it must be for those two young men driving around rural Virginia, where being homosexual is not always tolerated. Silently, she wishes them the best.
With rustic, elegant stained wood and brass fittings, Clink looks at-home in an Upstate brewery, country tavern, or retro bar. The pieces link in endless chains, symbolizing the beer-drinkers’ commitments to being together with their pints of alcohol.
Clink celebrates the ways we connect with each other over a pint by linking our glasses. This action also creates new opportunities for interaction with friends and strangers, lowering our barriers to further connection. 
Food and alcohol come up frequently as catalyzers/inducers/vehicles for togetherness. This concept is more symbolic than functional, but perhaps its symbolism is its functionality. Of the design concepts for Teambuilding America, Clink comes closest to speculative art.
Clink was a fun prototype to make. I had made some initial sketches, but did not have a clear idea of what Clink needed to look like other than stained wood. I first scanned the available materials in the scrap pile and found plywood squares and brass piping. This inspired the idea for pieces that resembled links of a chain. I spent a meditative couple of hours cutting each piece by hand on the scroll saw, before sanding and gluing. 
This project marked my first time staining wood; despite practicing on a couple of scrap pieces, there was still a learning curve once I started on the actual links. I took some time to put together this stand, made of a threaded rod and some more scrap, which allowed me to both paint and dry the pieces in one go. I was even able to move the contraption to a different location to finish drying.
Ultimately, I was proud of the look and feel of the finished pieces. The shape could use some tweaking, but trust me, it looks pretty good after a couple of pints.
[updated photos and videos coming this Spring... with beer!]
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