Belle and Bubba Bergeaux work on the stainless steel feather .
Right : It took the crew more than 40 hours over three days to complete the installation .
Once fabrication was complete , the planter and feather were transported by trailer to the site for installation .
“ The foundations were the hardest part ,” Thomas noted . “ The most work went into the part no one sees .” The soil at the site is sandy and unstable , necessitating deep piers to support the feather and the concrete work , which itself weighed in at 2,000 pounds . Additionally , everything necessary for the installation had to be brought to the site — generators , shade , tools , food and water — due to its remote location . “ It was something out of our wheelhouse , so it was stressful . We tried to think of everything we could possibly need , because we were under such a short deadline ,” Thomas said . “ We only had one chance to get everything right ahead of the launch date .”
“ It was hard , but enjoyable ,” Belle said of the installation . “ We all had to support each other to keep going . We had such an incredible crew of people , and that ’ s what made it possible .” Belle and Thomas used the expertise of Victor Carrasco from Vision Construction and Colin Kelley to complete the installation , the same crew that also worked on the concrete casting in Thomas ’ s Alpine shop . The four put in just over 40 hours in three days out in the desert heat , with temperatures hovering just above the 100- degree mark . Because of the challenges of the
foundation and the size of the project , the engineering had to be specified and inspected by an engineering firm out of Fort Worth .
The piece was completed and installed two days ahead of schedule , in time for the world to watch the historic July 20 launch from West Texas that carried founder Jeff Bezos and three other private astronauts into space . Unfortunately , Thomas and Belle weren ’ t able to brag about their accomplishments .
“ The non-disclosure agreement meant we couldn ’ t talk about the project at all ,” Belle said . “ This is a huge project for a young portfolio . It was heartbreaking that we couldn ’ t say anything about it .” The company recently granted the couple permission to use the installation in promotional materials and talk about its fabrication , however . “ Now I get to claim all the hard work I ’ ve done ,” Belle said .
The couple were so busy catching up on other projects that had been delayed due to the short deadline for Blue Origin that they missed the launch . “ All day , people were contacting us , mentioning us on social media . It was a good feeling , but it was fitting to be back at work , doing what we do . It ’ s great to be so busy with contracts ,” Thomas said .
Belle added , “ Blue Origin was a great company to work with . They sent us handwritten thank-you notes for the timeliness and value of the project . They really went above and beyond what you ’ d expect from such a huge , important company .”
Now that the project is completed , Thomas and Belle are back at work . They recently returned from delivering his-and-hers custom desks to Austin for a married couple who are CEO and CFO of a company there . Belle is exploring more designs in stainless steel , though she has other ambitions as she settles into her new career . “ Stainless is wonderful , but it ’ s very expensive ,” she noted . “ I want to learn about corten next . I love the way it rusts . It ’ s designed to rust on the outside , and it ’ s very beautiful . I ’ m also planning to get cast iron experience , which needs nickel rods . It ’ s nice to get a range of experience with different materials .”
Thomas , meanwhile , is playing with a casting of a dinosaur track from Glenrose , Texas . He ’ s perfecting a rubber casting technique to copy the ancient impression and intends to turn it into a custom sink .
Belle said , “ Steel is forgiving . It ’ s a pliable material , while concrete is very exacting . Concrete requires a trained professional , like Tom .” The couple are expanding their workshop to include the space Belle needs to expand her welding in the business .
With a storefront now open in Marfa , outer space is only the first step for Marfa Cement Works .
Cenizo Fall 2021