Looking for mirrors and I round train tracks…

2014-03-07 14.41.10


I never know what I’ll find when heading to the transfer station.  I can prepare a wish list in my head, and surprisingly enough, it will probably show up at some time…you just never know when exactly.  On my first GLEANing, I was only looking for anything reflective (mirrors, glass, plexiglass), of which I found just a little.  BUT, I did find an armful of train tracks from a model train set.  Who knew that I needed these? I sure didn’t.


April 8, 2014 Train yards, tools and wire skeleton for vessel

4_4My last trip to the Transfer Station was more spring like. I always enjoy passing the train yards on the way to deep northwest. I am gleaning different things now, widening my definition for what useable art materials are. I’m taking home hard plastic planters and crates to alter and encase in papercrete.IMG_4009

Here I’m using some pristine 1/4″ board to make two panels for paintings. I found a full 4×8′ sheet of it and many smaller scraps without a scratch on them. There is soo much wood at the transfer station, I could make panels for painters all day long.IMG_4010I like that the support for this panel has branded information on it. I think I’ll keep it there.



Also working on a large vessel, here’s the skeleton.. I gleaned wire mesh from old window screens, a deconstructed fire place screen, some chicken wire, other wire screen and all sorts of tying wire; galvanized steel, copper, scrap pieces.. The bottom support for this is part of a fan that I found. Perfect!

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

The money in this photo was fake money, but I have found $12.26 in actual cash so far.

The money in this photo is fake. 

“Everything will now come your way.”
-the most terrifying fortune cookie fortune I have ever received

That phrase from a fortune cookie I got after dinner one night has been on my mind a lot over the past month.

The thing about the transfer station is that after I acclimated to the sounds and smells and bizarre combinations of objects that form the initial assault on the senses, I’ve begun to dwell more darkly on the whole process of acquiring and disposing of objects.

The first thing you should probably know is that I’m a bit of a giddy hoarder. As an artist that works with found objects as a primary medium, I see the artistic potential in everything. Even before I came across the GLEAN project, there was the distinct possibility that I would never be able to properly use up all of the items that I’ve collected in my studio over the years.

And now I am swimming in an onslaught of opportunity. In the past month I’ve pulled out vanloads of amazing things for future use. Motorcycles, bicycles, vintage clutches, tools and frames, canvases and paint, enough lumber to put a new deck on my studio, bags full of neatly organized hardware, the big plastic knuckle off a McDonald’s Playplace, you name it… I’ve easily collected over a ton of objects so far and it’s only been one month.

I’m high on trash.

And yet, once I watched about the tenth load of the contents of someone’s life be bulldozed under a stack of cat-clawed couches and waterlogged construction debris, I began to have serious second thoughts about the idea of owning anything at all.

Objects do so much more than take up space in your life, they occupy your time. I’ve had the unsettling realization that every single object that I spend time shopping for (or digging in the trash for) has it’s own needs. Each object that must be cleaned and organized, moved from place to place and considered for artistic potential sucks away a little bit of my life that I’ll never get back. I’m developing an allergy to knickknacks.

Hopefully the art that comes out will be worth it.

And hey, the whole residency is over on August 8 with the big show at Disjecta, so you know I’ll be back at the dump tomorrow.

March 29, Very Rainy Day

3_29 Headed to the Transfer Station on Saturday under a blanket of pouring rain.

3_31 2 This is actually a “slow day” at the transfer station. I did glean some nice sheets of wood laminate, and a bit of wire, but overall it was a slow day, due possibly to the heavy rain. I did learn that I should wear tall rubber boots on days like that – lots of material was just out of reach, just past a small pond, or, large puddle. Sunny days are ahead I’m sure.


OH BABY! photo 2

As I have said before.. I am amazed what one can come across at the dump.  On the left, a doll with sleep eyes.  By the looks of the doll it had been well-loved (or maybe not). Sad nonetheless, to come across a baby doll on top of a ubiquitous black garbage bag.  On the right, a carved soapstone sculpture. Knowing someone toiled away for hours on this, and its next stop could be Arlington Landfill, perhaps be discovered by scavengers of the future, to be used as a totem, sits ok with me. 

March 22, 2014 The process of papercrete

start with paper gleaned from the Transfer StationFirst, tear gleaned paper into manageable pieces to later be shredded into smaller bits to fit into blender/cuisinart (see below). Thanks to the red color of the rosin paper that I found, the paper pulp resembles ground beef. When paper is shredded, mixed with water and pulpy, then it is time to strain it.


Next step, combine paper pulp with concrete mix. I’ve been doing half and half. I scored a huge, full bucket of premixed concrete on my first gleaning trip, so it’s easy to just scoop it out and use, but you could use dry mix also. When the pulp is combined with the concrete mix it’s a fibery, less sticky concrete mixture that feels like clay or a mud pie. It sticks to armatures well and is easy to use.

A few small sculptures..



07I like the uneven-ness of these models. Chickenwire was manipulated, bent and combined to make armatures for the papercrete to hang onto. I’m working with lines in space mostly here, loopy, curving lines and connecting lines. Bloopy, bloby lines and blobs. I’m interested in what I can do with some very basic design vocabulary; curved lines, straight lines, diagonals, shapes. The composition has to be interesting enough in order for me to want to make it and there are pages in sketchbooks exploring these ideas, but only a few designs make it to the papercrete stage.

I am interested in designs that are lopsided, or, look like they are challenging gravity and will almost fall over. I’m interested in giving an element, as simple as a line, a personality or character. And although you won’t see the human body represented realistically in my work, my sculpture is often figurative. Through the use of abstraction and minimalism is how I choose to talk about the figure. I am working up plans to make a large scale papercrete sculpture now.

Sarah I know you need to process but I dont want to hear about the Rat :)

I went to the waste transfer station today to do some gleaning and it was a relatively slow day. The piles weren’t too high, the traffic fairly low and nothing too terribly exciting or shiny was peeking out  from around corners of mattresses or tabletops like so often happens on weekend days. I kinda just stood around and poked at things noncommittally for a while. While I was doing this I reached for the handle of a large, discarded yard rake to shift one of the piles and suddenly a HUGE rat scoots out, dashes straight between my legs and then hightails it out of the open space and into some safety amongst the boxes along the wall.

This was DEFINITELY my first experience with a true city rat. This rat was NOT living in his parent’s basement in the suburbs reading nietzsche and surviving off left over chinese food.

This rat had made a name for himself.

This rat was as big as my foot.

My first instinct was to go home, clean myself four or five times, buy lots of elegantly designed things from ikea and only paint rows and rows of glistening white teeth with white gouache for the rest of my art career. But then I considered that this might be what some people refer to as an “Over Reaction”.

So instead I went and found Michelle and proceeded to tell her in great depth about the rat I had found. After laughing she strongly encouraged me to blog about this incident rather than confide in her the many details of this encounter which were flooding back to me the more I talked about it.

So that’s what I did.