I hope you enjoy my latest blog. It always takes me so long to get these done. It would be great to get some feedback! Thanks Melissa
I hope you enjoy my latest blog. It always takes me so long to get these done. It would be great to get some feedback! Thanks Melissa
It’s only October but I am getting into the spirit of giving. I’m giving my work to people who will hang them in public spaces. A while back, I heard about an acquaintance who offered her work for free to anyone who wanted it. The following week, she received good fortune including a commission!
Whenever I walked past Monster Mikes Guitars at 869A Mass Ave. up the street from where I live in Central Sq, Cambridge MA., I noticed an empty space in the window. So I just went in, introduced myself and asked if could put my piece there and he said sure. So if you’re in the area check out Tango in Mustard. I also encourage you to patronize this fine establishment.
This Hacker Creation is a 3D collage of recycled paper, wood, and computer parts – a collection of abstract shapes and patterns unified by the “pea soup” color of the old circuit boards on the top. Press the button and the “muffin fans” spin. The composition combines intricate details from a collection of traditional decorative patterns and an image of dancers painted by John Grillo (from a brochure I picked up at a gallery in Welfleet years ago) with disassembled and surplus parts from old technology. The appropriated image is mounted on a metal hard drive cover and framed by a grid from the plastic flexi-sheet (from under the keyboard keys.) Batteries and wiring are sandwiched between two boards, clipped together with improvised metal parts.
My mechanic is a great guy, I’ve known him for years and consider him a friend. Today I had to get new brakes on my car and when I picked it up, I gave Mario, Metal Weave to hang in his newly refurbished office/waiting room. I think he liked it. The piece has a lot of silver metal, black plastic and features an old vacuum tube and fits in amidst the car parts, tools and lifts. I’m not going to plug Mario’s garage because it is always too crowded and I like to think it’s my little secret. I doubt they have a website.
My goal is to increase my audience by getting my work out into the world. When people stumble upon it, I hope they will have time to take in the variety of shapes and materials. Get a sense of the balance, composition and patterns. Its a non-verbal thing, if it brings you pleasure then, you get it!
I take pictures of everyone who buys one of my pieces. My audience may be limited and perhaps a collection of odd ducks, but when they say, ” I love it”, I know they are telling me the truth. It is such a thrill when people “get it”, confirming that we share a way of seeing beauty in unusual places.
The recycle loop has three steps: 1. I keep materials out out of the waste system. 2. They are transformed, given new life as art. 3. When you hang it on your wall at home/office to enjoy. Be a part of the Recycle loop! Visit my Shop at: www.etsy.com/shop/hackercreations
Melissa Glick • Hacker Creations • firstname.lastname@example.org • Working from The Artisan’s Asylum, Somerville, MA since 2013.
Growing up, my Dad worked at Raytheon (1960-90) and brought home outdated equipment that was being thrown out. I never opened a computer until I joined The Artisan’s Asylum, maker space in Somerville MA in 2012. Since that time I have learned a great deal about the abundance of outdated technology and the toll it is taking on the world because manufacturers do not take responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products.
There’s an element of chance in my work since my materials are given to me and because each series of computer I open is different. It’s like a treasure hunt. I know immediately if a piece is visually interesting or not (unless I’m in an indecisive mood). The visual excitement when a particular shape just POPS when in relation to a particular color or pattern is thrilling.
I weave in my background and love of Modernism by appropriating imagery from the past. Originally I built upon a surface made from old letters, post cards and other personal items that romantic people accumulate. Currently I incorporate digital imagery (mine, Modern Art, random print) which I alter with Photoshop. The compositions place shapes of disassembled technology in relationship with abstract imagery with contrast, balance and repetition and suggest a connection or equivalence.
I grew up going to DeCordova summer camp where my creativity was always encouraged. At the age of ten I saw the Acropolis in Athens and knew I would be studying Art History when I went to college. Between visiting galleries and museums in NYC while at SUNY Purchase and a year in Paris, I developed my aesthetic sense and became focused on contemporary art. After 5 years of doing administrative work at the ICA, I enrolled at Mass College of Art and earned a Masters in Art Education. I have run educational programs at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Boston Ballet, Museum of Fine Arts. Once I got out of the office and starting making art, I taught at Watertown Arsenal Center for the Arts, Parts & Crafts. I offer workshops to people of all ages at the Artisan’s Asylum and at various community events.
This is the most common question I am asked at craft shows. Here are some of the more interesting origins.
I once received a box of working clock inserts in the mail. The return address was from Malden but I did not recognize/remember who it was from. They have roman numerals but take an unusual battery. Thank you to my donor!
My childhood friend was clearing out her house to be sold and bequeathed upon me her family’s first PC. It was an IBM from 1987. I remember watching Karen annihilate aliens on a tiny 5″x7″ monitor.
At a crowded Flea market a gentleman told me he had some printed circuit boards. We met at a cafe and he gave me 2 boxes of green, shiny as new boards of all sizes. These are samples he said. Let me know if you want more.
July 6/17 I saw a black box on the side of the street the other day…. I thought about picking it up but I walked by. Then next day, it was still there, so I took a closer look. It was a 5 disc CD player. So I grabbed it and put it in the back of my car. I opened it up and found a piece resembling a huge black plastic throwing star. I’ve opened one of these before, but it did not have this design. I was most interested in the black plastic pieces, I photographed against a green background.
I started off making Joseph Cornell-like boxes using the things my father had saved in the dungeon of my childhood home. The house I grew up in was being emptied out to be sold. Examples of my oldest work.
Fellow Artisan’s Asylum members offer me their cruft, (left over parts of unfinished projects, surplus materials.) Generally happy to see them being put into some kind of use, even if it isn’t electronic.
Once after doing a workshop at an after school in Southie, I was “paid” with a tower of PC’s they were upgrading from. Stacked, they were as talk as me.
My 100 sq foot studio is packed with components that need to be taken apart. At Open Studios a visitor said, entering my studio “is like entering another world, there is so much going on.”
Sometimes when I am offered parts, I take them, even if they are nothing special because I am grateful they think of me and for their act of generosity. I am also grateful for the time the other members give to me when they answer my questions. Although they often go into more detail that I need.
Melissa Glick has been an inmate at the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA since 2012. She grew up in a home where recycling and saving cool looking things was the norm. She studied Art History at SUNY Purchase and got a masters in art education at Mass College of Art.
Between the Powderhouse rotary and McGrath Highway in Somerville MA is an eclectic strip of stores and restaurants frequented by Tufts students and neighbors. Ball Square is a round peg in a square hole. It’s a locale you probably wouldn’t go to unless you had the insider scoop….. brunch at Sound Bites or cakes from Lyndell’s.
I’ve spent a bit of time in Ball Square because my best friend lives there, the Nave Gallery is near by and it’s where the Blue Cloud Gallery is located. Blue Cloud is located at 713 Broadway, on a busy thoroughfare next to a coffee shop and across from 2 excellent eateries. It is run by one of the sweetest most supportive people you will ever meet.
The first time I hung out with Betsy Lenora was at the Trash Bash in Union Squarewhere I was displaying my Hacker Creations. Betsy was set up next to me selling “Memory Men”, little figures made from old computer RAM and pipe cleaners. Having the recycled technology in common, I struck up a conversation only to learn it was the work of an artist she features in her gallery. That is the kind of dedication and generosity Betsy is known for.
Betsy gives emerging artists a break and often says things like “You are under valuing your work! You should charge more!” Last Spring, Betsy hosted a wine tasting event to encourage business during the post holiday slump. She invited 6 of us to demonstrate our craft in the already packed to the gills shop.
encourage business during the post holiday slump. She invited 6 of us to demonstrate our craft in the already packed to the gills shop.
Wine Tasting and Demo Day
Interview with Betsy Lenora of Blue Cloud Gift Gallery
How did you come to be running Blue Cloud? A long, long time ago…I met and made friends with BCG’s original owner, Patricia Wellenkamp. I was working at the time at Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative, the award-winning craft gallery in Harvard SQ on Church St. I worked there for a total of 15 years, 7 of which were as manager. In the economic downturn, I was laid off. Patricia helped me out by hiring me to work one day a week, a situation that lasted about a year. She then informed me she was closing Blue Cloud Gallery and offered to sell it to me. In April of 2011, I became the proud new owner just in time as my unemployment was running out! It has been a dream come true as I love supporting the artists and helping customers. I have always thought of myself as a facilitator.
How do you find, choose, the work you sell?
At last count, there is work by 140 artists in the gallery. Most of them are local (meaning the Metro-Boston area). A handful are either from New England or states further away. When I first started, I asked many of the artists I knew from the Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative since I had a relationship with them. I then put out a Call for Artwork via the Somerville Arts Council and got quite a few that way. Since then, I get the majority of new work from being contacted directly by artists. I choose the work based on 3 criteria: uniqueness, quality of workmanship and do I think it will be a good match for my store – for my customers.
What sells the best? Jewelry – specifically earrings – and pottery – specifically mugs. And cards! I have the largest selection of locally made cards than anywhere else that I know of. Half the people who come in my store come to buy cards.
Who shops at Blue Cloud? I am supported primarily by the neighborhood that’s around my store, which is made up of young professionals, families, some students (from Tufts) and older women who appreciate creativity.
We you share a story that occurred at the gallery ? There are several heart-touching stories involving children in my store. Yesterday, a little girl I’d guess around 5 years old came back in with her father and went directly to a little fabric mouse living in a fabric ‘can of pumpkin’ and holding a tiny broom; she had her heart set on giving this to her mother, her dad said. (They had been in the store briefly the day before.) While dad starts to pay, little girl pipes up loud and clear that her birthday was April 12th (3 days hence). Hmmmm. She was so cute – wearing a long, white multi-ruffled layered dress that she opened her coat to show me. I have another customer with a young daughter who’s been coming in since she was 3; every time they buy a finger puppet for mom who must have 20 or more by now!
Anything else you would like to add? The world of art and craft is not an easy one to survive in. As an artist, one needs to be talented and skilled at their craft AND be skilled at marketing their craft. It is my mission to support artists in what they do by presenting their work the best I can, marketing my store the best I can. Customers, artists and sellers are in this together; I believe we can support each other in making local, selling local and buying local!
BAM! member Melissa Glick has been making Hacker Creations from recycled materials including disassembled computers, printers, scanners and other cruft. She breaks them down to their smallest pieces which uses as abstract elements in bold, colorful compositions. She combines 2D collage with 3D assemblage in her work which has been described as structural poetry. Melissa has been an “inmate” at the Artisan’s Asylum, for the past 3 years, one of the largest maker spaces in the country. She teaches classes there and a various community events. For more on Melissa’s work visit: www.melissasglick.com and www.etsy.com/shop/melsplace .
There is a show at the MFA that is up until Jan 10th that you must see! It’s called Crafted: Objects in Flux. The show is a collection of work made in methods traditionally considered to be crafts including, ceramics, wood, textiles. The idea that techniques used since the dawn of civilization to make functional things we need to live such as, dishes, clothing, utensils and furniture are not fine art, is blown out of the water. The show is divided into three categories each poses thought provoking questions which stimulated me to see the work in new ways and to understand many new concepts. I will describe 4 of the 50 incredible works which were made by 41 artists – all since 2003. Crafted: Objects in Flux, demonstrates the use of traditional craft techniques in unique, masterful, experimental and transformative ways.
On one wall are 11 color photos of the artist with intricate braided hair styles. Beside her stands the hairdresser. Directly across are flattened out representations of the hair styles done in needle point. As part of the The Performative Object section of the show, which asks the question: How might an object be made through performance, perform in the world, or perform its own making? The Hair Craft Project: Hairstylists with Sonya by Sonya Clark communicates a visseral understanding of the physical labor and manual dexterity required.
This abstract sculpture was also in The Performance Object section. After reading the wall text, I was able to experience the piece in a deeper way. Imagining the artists’ process, I could see the soft clay being pulled and cut and then plopping onto the floor. I imagine that at that moment the idea for the piece was discovered.
The shows next theme The Immersive Object is framed by the question: How can shifting the physical encounter in the gallery change our perception and understanding of the crafted object? Here is one example: Entering this part of the show felt very exciting. Suddenly you are surrounded by large collections of objects, traditional craft materials including ceramics, glass and wood— being used in very non-functional ways. Shards of pottery explode into space; shimmering mirrors dangle from the ceiling, light is filtered through beautiful colors and unusual shapes.* Off the main gallery I came upon an alcove where fabric was hanging down from the 20 ft. high ceiling. The blue/green fabric fell just about to my waist and invited me to explore. As I walk into the piece, I focus on the texture and uniform stitches on wide overlapping seams. I realize it is leading me in a spiral, but when I arrive at the center, nothing is there. As I turn to leave, a wall covered with wilting, aromatic green leaves, perhaps basil, comes into view. At that moment, I am transported to a memory of a quiet pine forest.
Mobile Section, 2015 by Roland Ricketts
The third theme, The Re-Tooled Object , hits close to home with the question: How do new modes of fabrication, whether digital or analog, expand artistic possibilities? For the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to use many new fabrication technologies at The Artisan’s Asylum where I have my studio. I had big dreams of using the laser cutter and cnc machines to cut perfect wood parts with the touch of a button that would increase the finished quality of my work. But I was stymied by having to learn new software, the gate way to digital design.
A collection of black & white objects are displayed on a 3 leveled wall unit. From a distance I was not able to identify the material from which the squares, cones, cylindrical and other shapes were made. Again the label provided necessary information. The white side is made of clay and the black side was 3D printed, in other words, plastic. Strings of plastic are melted and then layered one on top of the other in a tediously long time consuming process. At the Asylum, I mostly see people designing mechanical parts and other functional products.
This piece encourages me because I feel it’s the first time I’ve seen the process explored in an artistic manner. As I examined the surfaces, I saw texture and color variations – which I then compared to the ceramic pieces. I see the artist is speaking in an artistic language by producing shapes traditionally used in learning to drawing perspective and shading, the tools of creating the illusion of 3 dimensionality. One can look at 3D printing like casting and mold making. In any case, I am not sold on working in toxic plastic- but I am motivated to get back to learning software so that I can pursue my original ideas.
If you go see Crafted: Objects In Flux, please come back and share your impressions in the comments below!
Flux was curated by Emily Zilber (MFA Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick) Curator of Contemporary Decorative Art and consists of over 50 incredible works by 41 artists- all made since 2003. Learn about free tours of the show as well as a 3 week lecture series The Path to Contemporary Craft being held Dec. 1 – 15
Articles about the show:
Impressions of a First Time Vendor
The first con I vend at has a Post-Apocalyptic theme. The 10th annual, Temple Con was 4 days of costumes, games, role play, contests, workshops, readings and vendors at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick RI, Aug 25-28, 2016.
For some time, I have had an affinity for clock parts, Victorian era costume & fictitious mechanical contraptions with magic powers – the aesthetic of Steampunk. A time when men wore top hats & vests and ladies wore corsets and bustles (with hidden mechanical accouterments – of course.)
I thought these Con-folk would be a good audience for my Hacker Creations, 3D collage/assemblage made from disassembled technology, combined with bright colors and bold composition. I also brought a collection of specifically Steampunk items made just for the event.
A parade of people in incredible costumes past my booth in the big white “wedding tent” set up behind the hotel. It was great to hang out with my friend Eric Bornstein of Behind the Mask, who was offering amazing handmade masks. He also secured first place in the costume contest with his enormous lion head that looks like it came from The Lion King.
Among the items for sale by the approximately 120 vendors were game software, original card games, miniatures used in board games, costumes, corsets, leather “tool” belts with attachments including a fine china teacup holster, wigs, jewelry & watches. Only a few people selling fine art which included prints, paintings & anime drawings. The most popular items were small felted and polymer clay fantasy characters.
With my best set up to date, I displayed 9 sculptures on my ladder shelf and 5 more on a shoe shelf along with bowler hats with broaches made from hard drive platters & stators in retro tech designs. On a table covered with a new shiny grey table cloth I made – were earrings displayed on a former computer monitor, a stand with necklaces and my little Steampunk Trunk which held the SP pieces (pictured above). An old brown travel case from my childhood – a true time machine retaining the musty smell I remember from long car trips to visit Grandma in the 1960’s.
Although many attendees were attracted to my work and happily identify parts, “I work in software”, not many made the leap from the geek, gamer, steampunk/cosplay genre – to collector of retro-technology, multi-media, cyber punk expression.
The biggest impression of Templecon was left by 16 hours spent positioned between 2 of the most popular vendors in the Garden Pavilion. On my left were veterans Leanna Renee Hieber and Thom Truelove. Dressed in black Victorian garb, Leanna is an actress and author of nine Gothic Victorian Paranormal novels for adults and teens, set in 1880s New York City and London including, the Strangely Beautiful saga, Darker Still & the Gaslamp Fantasy trilogy. In addition to selling and signing her books – she was selling colorful fictitious military metals and was an integral part of the convention. She gave readings, served on panels and judged contests.
Thom Truelove, a purveyor of interesting and eclectic antiques would say, “Have you been introduced to Pandora’s pets? They worry about the little things, so that you can pay attention to the more important matters.” Attracting many to see the polymer clay entities he and Leanna make together.
On my right was the best vendor display in the tent. Tiffany Flanagan’s fantastic collection of sculpted artifacts from the explorations and experiments of one Dr. Von Drachen set up as a shop of curiosities. Amazingly her first show! She has a very exciting future ahead of her!
It was fun talking to Kassundra Katze, a fellow Bay Stater, she works with youth and runs a gamer store in Maynard called Excelsior Comics and Games. She and her partner were vending as Phoenix Latex offering costumes and producing on the spot vinyl cutting for personalized shot glasses.
All in all I enjoyed being part of this collision of technology and reenactment. I especially liked the costumes and room full of console games from the 80’s. I am proud to have been one of Temple Con MMXVI vendors, representing a wide range of creativity, innovation and resourcefulness required to provide just the right mix of bizarre implements and adornments.
As an artist who makes sculpture, jewelry and home decor from old computer parts, seeing the big white trucks around town that say Earthworm Recycling on the side — I’ve been curious to learn more about them for a while.
When I show my work, people often ask me: “Where do you get your materials?”, “Do you want mine?” My work addresses environmental issues and I play a role in educating the public about recycling e-waste. Meeting with Earthwork has helped me to be able to share the most accurate information. It appears that many people have no idea what to do with their old technology and end up amassing a collection in the basement. Which is great for me, because he components in older computers are bigger and better to work with. Besides advancements in making things smaller, n new technology every effort is made to save money by using cheaper materials and designing parts can’t be removed, or reused.
Georgiana Woods and Devin McGuire of Earthworm, were happy to meet with me at their office located in a big brick warehouse which I have driven by a million times having no idea what was inside. The public can drop off their e-waste at their warehouse at 35 Medford Street, Somerville, just around the corner from the Union Sq Target, for a fee of $5 a box
What does Earthworm do
Earthworm is a non profit that has a long history and has played a role in making recycling an accepted practice. Since 1970 they have been educating, advising and advocating to save natural resources while operating a self sufficient enterprise. In 1990, Earthworm introduced its “Close the Loop” program selling recycled paper. You can read a thorough description of their services and how everything is processed on their website.
Currently, Earthwork picks up recycling from over 700 clients located within the Route 128 (Metro Boston) area who pay for their services. It is then brought to the privately operated sorting and bailing facility in Charlestown. The Charlestown facility handles about 800 tons of recyclables per day.
Earthworm started picking up Electronic Waste (e-waste) from their business clients in 2000. Earthworm is an advocate for the wise use of natural resources and values re-use. Their goal is to reuse working technology by getting it to people who need it. Towards this aim they partner with the non-profit, Tecschange located in East Boston, who ships them internationally to places such as El Salvador. Tecschange maintains a list of other organizations looking for old but working computers on their website.
The rest of the e-waste Earthworm collects is sent to Good Point Recycling in Middlebury, VT. an electronics recycling company, consulting office, and a respected expert in “Fair Trade Recycling” run by former Earthworm associate, Robin Ingenthron. He writes a very informative blog – considered to be one of the best in the field.
Up in VT the electronics get disassembled and sorted by material: steel, plastic, aluminum, circuit boards. There is a market for these materials. People buy the metal and plastic. Some circuit boards are reused to repair other equipment.
There is a false impression that America dumps e-waste in 3rd world counties, when in fact, Africans buy shipping containers full of our old technology. They use it. They fix it. They take it apart and sell the parts as raw materials.
Worried about how e-waste is hurting the environment?
As Georgiana said, “Once you’ve bought your new computer, the damage is already done. Mining for the precious metals used in your new computer is the worse offender. Mining is terrible for the environment, working conditions are inhumane and they use child labor. If we were able to reuse all the precious metals in the computers that are thrown away, there would be no need to mine for more. In the future mines will be the landfills of today.
35 Medford Street
Somerville, MA 02143
12.6 million tons of solid waste was generated by residential, commercial and construction/demolition sources in 2008. This is enough to fill Fenway Park 74 times.44% of this solid waste is currently recycled, recovered or composted. An estimated 60% to 70% of the solid waste stream is potentially recyclable.Paper and paperboard accounts for 32% of the municipal waste stream. (by weight)
Places that Re-Use
Source: OPEN STUDIO season!