In a real-life demonstration of how collaboration, creativity and hard work can produce beautiful results, a team of Okanagan College trades instructors put their skills to work for the community, designing and building the torch for the 2011 International Children’s Winter Games.
“I was approached by ICWG chair Heather Schneider who asked if I might be able to come up with a concept for a unique torch for the Games,” explained Jim Gamble, chair of Okanagan College’s electrical department.
“She told me the torch needed to be portable and appropriate for indoor and outdoor venues.
“So I got to work sketching and came up with what is now known as ‘the napkin blue print.’
“Then all of the chairs of the various trades departments got together to brainstorm how we could bring the torch to life.”
Gamble put in a call to the culinary arts department and ordered the largest stainless steel bowl available.
The team envisioned the bowl as a potential base for the cauldron.
Carpentry chair Alf Leimert and his colleague Marvin Rode were charged with building a base for the torch.
In a little more than six hours, Leimert and Rode constructed a four-and-a-half-foot tall tapered pedestal base out of B.C. lumber.
For the next stage of the project, automotive collision repair instructor Jeff Francis got extremely creative designing a set of flames out of 16-gauge stainless steel.
“With help from Chris Burns, we came up with a drawing for the flames,” said Francis.
“We used a plasma cutter to define the flames and then polished them.
“The next step was bringing them into the painting booth where I coated them with candy apple red and used special effects powder to bring it to life.”
With the flames, cauldron and base coming together, Gamble worked with colleagues in his department to light the flame. Using three LED lights set on timers, the torch imitates a flickering flame but without the negative environmental residue from gas or real flames.
The torch is also extremely safe and can be lit up indoors and outdoors and close to people.
“It was great to be a part of this project and to know that we were able to give back a bit to the community,” said Gamble. “When I saw the finished product I was reminded of the incredible amount of talent we have in our trades department.”
The project is an example of Okanagan College staff at their best. The team estimates they put in approximately 30 hours of volunteer time to build the torch.
“Community projects are just the right thing to do,” said Leimert.
“This project was a great collaborative effort and it was exciting to see each piece come together to create such a nice looking piece.”
Standing over eight feet tall the new ICWG torch will be used throughout the course of the Children’s Games this month.
After the closing ceremonies the torch will be returned to Okanagan College, where it will remain on display.