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, OH MAN!

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.

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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..

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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.

Gotta Be Tough Enough

Tough Enough

Tough Enough

I realized a layer of ‘varnish’ to protect myself from what I may encounter at the dump is necessary. It is a dichotomy.  I am intrigued, pulled into the piles, and simultaneously have a visceral response of having to turn my nose, my stomach, my eyes, my entire body away. But alas, here I go. Gloves, boots, hardhat, protective eyewear, and VARNISH on, ready to GLEAN, learn and create.

OH

OH

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SEA OF GLASS

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WIRED 

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BROKEN, BUT READY (for a new life)

I am focusing on gleaning wood parts and pieces from old broken chairs, tables, etc.  This is a selection from the large wood pile on Saturday, March 15.

March 9, 2014

Daylight Savings day. We set the clocks ahead one hour but I got lost at “the dump” anyway and stayed for an extra hour. About 3 hours of gleaning and my legs hurt afterward.

I found some wire, wood, orange paint, rocks and buckets to hold my “excavations”. The material dumped is separated into sections: wood, glass, hard plastic. Yesterday, my favorite was ‘Rubble’. Photo0303What is rubble? First, I think of Barney Rubble – Fred’s best friend on the Flintstones. The pile of rubble at the dump consisted of broken concrete, ceramic tile, brick and smaller and smaller pebbles, sand and dust of said materials.

I gleaned some chunks of concrete and tile and then got a bucket and shovel to collect the rubble dust. Rubble. What a great word. It’s close to Rubbish, but more redeemable. I enjoyed shoveling through the debris. It was like being an archaeologist or at the aftermath of a disaster. I was thinking of what had been destroyed to make this pile of rubble. Barney Rubble, Pebbles, Flintstone.. they worked at the quarry as I recall, during the Stone Age. Stone has been around a long time.. the longest?

Research: Rubble (word origin), Rubble, quarries, Stone Age, The Flintstones

 *Flintstones theme song

Monday March 3, 2014

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My first trip to the Transfer Station to glean was wonderful. I was overwhelmed by the visual stimuli of heaps of stuff, much taller than myself, that I was allowed to paw through and take?! This is an artist’s dream come true. I stood away from the piles at first, my back to the wall, just watching trucks, people unloading, employees working. It was Monday, mid-morning and it was pretty busy. I started gleaning the edges of the piles, then I began moving and tossing things to see what was underneath. At one point I was weighing the danger of grabbing some plywood that was nestled just under a precariously tilting couch about 5 feet above my head. I decided against it, thank you safety orientation!

I met several people who worked at the Transfer Station on my first visit. They were all very friendly and helpful and they asked me what I was looking for so that they could help. The transfer station has it all – I found many of the items that I wanted right away so I will have to update my list! I had a great time and can’t wait to go again. I left feeling dizzy with excitement, hungry and dazed. What a feast for the eyes, and other senses, the transfer station is. I am honored to be a part of GLEAN 2014.

Portland I am pickin’ up on what you’re puttin’ down

It’s a semi-sunny/kinda rainy day here in Portland and I am currently sitting in my favorite tiger-striped pajamas at my computer wrestling with a head-cold. While I doubt this is terribly exciting news for anybody reading I’d like to think I’m maintaining solidarity with the rest of my generation’s internet “over-sharers”. (insert fist pump here)

I am really excited to be making my first blog post and starting this awesome endeavor with GLEAN. I want to thank Amy, James, Recology of San Francisco and all of the people who helped us at our orientation! It’s really inspiring to be in a room full of passionate people who are radically committed to waste reduction and connecting artists with opportunities for creative reuse.

I was also blown away by all of the GLEAN artists. These ladies are thoughtful, innovative art-makers and I am jazzed to see what starts to emerge from these transfer station visits.

Sarah