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Ikea trash art project: Day 8

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Ok lots of stuff has happened since we last talked, I dove into the project and am off and running. First thing I did was take the black table top which I had decided to use as a base and started prepping that. It had a couple dings and dents but looked almost perfect, which is not what I wanted. Almost perfect looked like I dented it by accident, so to make it look intentional I upped the damage. I knew that the table top was veneer over honeycomb paper, so I stripped a corner down to the interior honeycomb. This project is starting to have a very strong repeating circular motif so that added to it. Then I tried to think about how the sculpture would grow out of the base. I kept getting pushed into things that hinted at organic life, so I thought I would have stiff wires rise out of base with the white plastic rings stacked on to the wire. I imagined this as reminiscent of spinal columns and tentacles. So first challenge was how to embed wires into the base and have it secure enough to support what would later be piled on to it. Was having no luck with the locktite glue, totally useless stuff. Package said for plastic, metal, wood ect., but instructions said didn’t work on two non porous materials! All of this stuff except for the cardboard is non porous! So I carved out holes into the base about the size of a quarter stuck the wires into it and poured concrete in it. I was also having problem with the wire not being stiff enough to stand upright, so I had twisted together strands to help. Still not very rigid but I was hoping with three of them triangulated on base, and a central metal pole they would work together to support the piece. I cut tiny holes into base so the first plastic ring looked like it was gripping/growing out of the wood. I am also feeling a strong theme of piercing and passing through one object to next, and want to build on that. Tried to work on the wires too soon, concrete hadn’t set up enough(I always think it takes one day), so had to pour more into holes and wait three days. So today I worked on getting the next piece attached to the  wire ‘legs’. Whew! That’s pretty tricky too, the wires are floppy and I am having trouble finding a way to attach the piece of cardboard I want to the ‘legs’. Glue is not stable enough, wire works pretty well but I’d like to hide the obvious attachments. The cardboard has round holes in it so I came up with passing one spiny leg up into a hole and another leg up and over to go down into the same hole so they seem to be one continuous loop. Sweet! The central pole and other spiny leg pass through the other end of the cardboard with the wire end of leg wrapped around the pole. Yet another precarious connection, the wire can easily slip down the smooth pole. Crap, this whole thing is so precariously put together, how will I ever even get it into a car and to the show with out it falling apart? Don’t think about it keep working! I was getting a bit stumped about how the top would finish up and what would go there. I wanted to us the shrink wrap but couldn’t figure out how. It was floaty and I wanted a lot of air around it, so attaching it to what I had so far looked terrible. I may not get what I want with that. So I was just sitting there staring at it and thinking when the whole thing slumped over! ARRGGH! Now the concrete has come loose and the central support is totally flopping around uselessly and I have no idea how to reinforce it. And I already have the legs attached to the cardboard so starting over would mean taking everything apart! SHIT! I propped it all up on a chair and left it, I’ll need to think about this for a while….


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Ikea trash art project: Day 1, the gathering

Off to Ikea this morning to start gathering trash for this art project, cardboard shapes, shrink wrap, plastic strapping, and loads of plastic rings were what I found this morning. I have plans to go back this evening to be at the trash compactor when the  As Is department gets its bin dumped, that might have some interesting metal or broken furniture. I am hoping to find some sort of light, I would love to incorporate light into this sculpture. Here’s what I have so far.


I am quite excited about the trays with the star/flower shaped holes, and the pleated cardboard sleeves are something I’ve been eying for months. Seems like I am already gravitating to repeating circular shapes. If there is one thing I’ve learned from Ikea its massive repetition makes things more visually interesting. So how do I start? Hmmmm….aaahh….First thing I have to think about is how is this thing going to stand or hang, and how exactly will I get it from my living room to the gallery? Crap! I don’t know! All the big name artist get to construct their stuff on site in the gallery, they don’t have to deal with this petty stuff. My first thought was have a stiff board base it all grows out of that I can pick up and move, but it has to fit through a door or be in pieces that can be reassembled on site. And if its taller than 3ft, which I imagine it may be, I would have to lay it on its side in a car, and what if it gets messed up? This is not going to easy!

So I spent some time playing with the components and here’s the ideas that are perking in my brain so far. The shrink wrap is floaty and ethereal (bet you never heard that before) and looks lovely with light going through it. I really want to hang it from ceiling somehow, it makes me think of jelly fish and falling water. The black plastic strapping is like swooping lines of calligraphy, I think I will use its wild line to add drama and energy. All ready I feel this wants to be big, bigger than maybe the gallery will want. I am having visions of tenting off the sculpture with swaths of shrink wrap so you have to pass inside to view the piece. Man that sounds awesome! Can I do that?

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A day in the life of Ikea trash:A green art project


Pop Revolution Gallery in West Chester Ohio is looking for art for their upcoming show, How Art Saved the World. One of the things they are asking for is work made from recycled or repurposed materials. This gave me a sudden brainstorm, Ikea trash! I often see bits of cardboard or plastic dohickies at work in the trash and think they could be interesting in a sculpture, so I went to the manager at my Ikea and asked her if I could pick through the trash next tuesday and use the stuff to make something for this show. I was worried she’d think I was crazy and say no, but she loved the idea so I am go for trash collecting!

Some of the items I already know I want are plastic strapping and shrinkwrap, interesting cardboard bits, broken ceramics, and whatever cool metal I can find. I plan in loading up my car, putting down a tarp in my front room, and spending the next month creating something cool. I am going to have my husband help, he has a great eye and it should be fun to do together, and I will be blogging about it and filming a time lapse video. WOOHOO! This is going to be so cool! Tune in next week to see my pile of trash!

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Tips from Ikea show how to add a walk in closet to any room

I find many things admirable about Ikea as a company, I like the fact that they are international, good to be reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around America and our tastes. I like that the newest catalog is focusing on small spaces, because unlike Americans most of the world doesn’t have room to waste. Since I am poor and always trying to save a buck, I am a champion of the small. Our house is 1400 sq ft but I feel like about 200 of that space is wasted or could be used better with different floor plan. There is one idea I saw in the new catalog (yes I get mine earlier than anyone else) that I really would love to try. Here’s the pic, sorry its a bit blurry


At first glance you can’t really see what’s genius about this, but after watching a video on my employee page I saw what was going on in the back of this bed. What looks like a wall is actually Pax wardrobe cabinets, there is one on either side of the bed and then a row of them with their backs butted up to the head of the bed and fabric camouflage . There is about 2 ft of open space on either of the outer side of the cabinets, this means you now have a ‘walk in’ closet behind your bed! By creating this dummy wall about 3 ft away from your real wall you can create a walk in closet in any room as long as you have a couple feet to give up.  Confused? Let me show you what I am talking about with my bedroom as an example. Here’s a floor plan of my room,


The room is 14×17. On the left is a king sized bed with side table, on right a dresser and our weird closet. This closet has two doors into it, and while it is large at 14×3, the ceiling slopes down to about 4 ft. The two doors make it awkward and the ceiling leaves you with not quite a walk in. So that’s why I love the Ikea idea. If I remove the wall to the closet (assuming its not load bearing?) and put a fake wall of Pax wardrobe cabinet here’s what I get.


The dotted line on the right shows where the old wall was, I flipped the bed to that side and now you have not only 19x23x93 inch cabinets on both sides of the bed, you also have 24x97x93 inches of cabinet on the back side that you just walk around the bed to get to! And if you’ve ever seen all the doors, shelves, and organizers that you can customize these cabinets with you would salivate.  You also get the bonus of having a unique new look for your bed with great places to add shelves along the head of it and lighting. I WANT IT! Now I just have to convince my husband to let me knock out a wall, and figure out where to get the money to buy the cabinets. Its cheap for a renovation of this magnitude but still out of my price range. At a glance it looks like at least $1000, more of course depending on styles, finishes and accessories.  Sigh, well a girl can dream…

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How to make a concrete cast of leaf

I’ve been wanting to try this one for months but had to wait till there where large leaves in my garden to use for molds. I saw the instructions on how to do this from George Little and David Lewis, two artist who do amazing things with concrete, here’s the link, hosta leaf sculpture. I was missing a few things from the ingredients, bonding agent and colored pigment. Bonding agent is a latex liquid (I’ve found it in the concrete section of Home Depot, Quickcrete brand) that adds strength to the concrete. I had used all mine on other projects so went on with out it, worked ok anyway but would be nice to have since the casting is thin and more likely to break. Colored pigment, I don’t even know where to get that, and since you are painting the leaf it seemed redundant. Unless you had white concrete, then coloring the mix would work great. There are liquid tints also available from Quickcrete, but only red, green, and black. I figured I’d get more options with the paint at the end.

So I followed the instructions and got a ok leaf, clearly there is much more to this than these guys are letting on though. When you see the incredibly detailed castings they achieve you know they’ve left somethings out of the instructions. I for one can’t see how they get the delicate ins and outs of the edges of a leaf. When you put a layer of concrete on the leaf you can’t see the edges and the sand is not defining them either. So you just get a general shape of the leaf, the only way I see to get the edge details is to painstakingly carve them out by hand. Maybe when the concrete is still green? I really don’t know, I tried to carve it a bit after about 4 hours of curing, it was all guess work since you couldn’t see the leaf until you cut the concrete off, then you have to push it back in place. You know I am suddenly thinking these guys are making rubber molds of the leafs and then using them for there casts, it just seems like to much work to make only one perfect leaf cast.  Well any way we only have these instructions to go by for now, and while they don’t give the delicate precision of Little and Lewis, it still is an interesting casting.

After curing my piece for about 14 hours I carefully(its still green and easy to break!) turned it over and pulled the leaf off, chipped and filed the rough edges and then painted it. I used acrylic craft paint instead of the latex in the instructions, pretty much the same thing. First one coat of pale green, then a watered down coat of blue which I did in sections and quickly wiped of to leave dark color in veins and crannies.I have no idea how this will weather, can always paint again if needed or might try sealing with acrylic coating. I will leave as is for now and see what it does.


Just wanted to give a shout out to Things your grandmother knew, I love the idea of this blog! I often think of the life my grandparents had and now I realize that’s how I want to be. Self sufficient, knowledgeable and living life on my terms! So more grandma wisdom please!

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