A Fellow Traveler

Came upon this amazing creature, parked in Harvard Square yesterday and it made my heart swell. ImageWho ever you are, drop me a line if you’d like to make Hacker Junk Mosaics at the Artisan’s Asylum with me!

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Repurpose

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Blue Polaroid

Arc Works Community Art Center 22 Foster St Peabody, MA 01960

Opening Reception: April 25 4:30 – 7:30 – Dates: 4/18-5/31

Repurpose

Here in America, computers and electronics are everywhere. Imagine your day without motors. Already this morning, I have brushed my teeth, turned on the dishwasher, talked on my phone and now I’m typing on my computer. Inside of all these tools are a multitude of parts you never see. When I take things apart, I am amazed at the variety of unusual shapes, colors and materials that are combined to make things work.  I’m not an engineer or a scientist, so I don’t understand how energy is stored up in copper wires and how intermittent pulses cause changes in voltage.  Instead I see jagged edged plastic gears and shiny asymmetrical pieces of metal that call out to me to be reassembled into art.

It feels like technology was born just about the same time I was, and it has been growing like bacteria, exponentially ever since. Computers make everything move faster, technology is advancing faster, gadgets are getting smaller and faster. Clunky old monitors and computers, outdated stereos and cameras are thrown away like garbage.  We are drowning in E-waste!

In my mosaics, I focus on the abstract beauty of the parts. As I disassemble a PC, printer or scanner I think about the person who designed each piece to fulfill a specific purpose.  I envision the assembly line in the factory and the repetitive, mindless labor. I marvel at my luck and appreciation for the opportunity I have to use my imagination to see the beauty in these mass produced objects. For my desire (compulsion, need, calling) to transform them into works of art, that get people’s attention and make them think about all of these things too.

My work is a convergence of circumstances: a father’s pleasure in accumulating obsolete materials from Raytheon; an inherited disposition to seeing beauty and value in old, unwanted refuse; a belief and education in art as a valuable shared expression; and being in the right place at the right time for it to have meaning.

Take it Apart Day

Hosted a Take it Apart Day at the Asylum, March23rd. My pallet of cruft really needed some tending to. Luckily a few guys came to help out and we accomplished a lot! As we started unscrewing and twisting and popping things a part I explained which bins the  pieces are tossed into.The pallet had reached its full capacity.

The pallet had reached its full capacity.

1.Baby: safe plastic things with holes in them, go into the “baby” box. I will wash these parts and the youngest kids will be able to string them on a piece of yarn.

2. General supplies: stuff that has been broken down as far as it can go, resulting in an interesting shape.  This stuff is   ready to go to a class, workshop or event.

3. Screws: there are sooo many screws. I’m saving these up to use as grout in a mosaic.

4. Needs more work: Parts like, stepper motors which are (compression) squished together require being put in a vice and hit with a hammer to break them apart. Inside are the pretty stars wound with different colored wires. (As see in the Header of this blog and my etsy store) https://www.etsy.com/shop/Melsplace

5. Then there is a box of the very very best items I save for myself.

The question of how far to break something down comes up a lot. Peter pointed out the value of a “elbow” like component that would be great in a kinetic sculpture. So that will be a new category

I use approximately, 1/4 of each item. The rest is sorted between the metal recycling barrel and the rest is taken to the dumpster. We got thru 2 printers, 2 PCs, a scanner, video camera, stereo, fan, some old MIT equipment and a bunch of stepper motors. The best item of the day in my opinion were 4 copper colored “men” I found under the push buttons of the fan.

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Peter took apart a video camera and found the smallest motor.

Taking things apart is really fun and a good way to release pent up energy, so much so that a new title has been suggested for this activity FSU or  F.Stuff .Up. Hope you can make it to the next one!

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Finds of the Day: I found these guys under the push buttons of an old fan.

Kids turn e-waste into art at Hacker Junk school vacation classes

This wonderful interview posted by Melissa Massello  February 17, 2013 in DIY Boston.com Unfortunately the Arts at the Armory did not promote the class. They said they would do so for April vacation week, but so far I have seen nothing.  Things are not looking good for the leadership of the Armory. Events keep happening there but I dont think there is a strong, united organization supporting the place, which is too bad. melissa_glick_hacker_junk_mosaic.jpg

Photo: Keith Simmons

A finished “hacker junk” mosaic by artist/arts educator Melissa Glick.

If this winter has your kids climbing the walls and you’re looking to direct their energy into more creative pursuits, send them over to the Arts at the Armory in Somerville this week, where they’ll learn to design various art projects from discarded computer parts and other e-waste in daily “Hacker Junk” classes.

The series of classes, which start tomorrow in two sessions — one for 8 to 12 year olds (three classes) and one for 13 to 18 year olds (four classes) — are taught by Melissa Glick, a local arts educator who began making art from mechanical trash growing up as the child of a Raytheon employee.

“[Dad] would bring home discarded equipment and things he thought were interesting or could be used in some way,” Glick said. “He saved everything. Taking them apart is like harvesting an ocean of unusual shapes, colors, materials. When you see them all spread out, sorted into like piles, its like a penny candy store. Eye candy, there are shiny pieces, bendy pieces, plastic gears all crying out to be played with.”

In the Hacker Junk classes, Glick shows kids how e-waste can be broken down into those smaller and smaller parts and then used as materials for art projects, such as using lasers and mirrors from old scanners for mosaics. She began developing the multi-session educational program last July through the Artisan’s Aslyum and road-tested the class with much success at October’s “Mini Maker Faire” in Union Square.

Each class will focuses on a different project: drawing the objects and experimenting with composition and collage (day 1); clay impressions and designing patterns to use in a tile (day 2); carving rubber stamps based on an abstracted design from the clay project (day 3).

“The final mosaic will be a culmination of the focus, observation, and interpretation of the computer parts and will contain a complex interaction or ‘conversation’ between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects based on their experience,” Glick said. “It’s a fun, unusual, creative project, and I think it’s important for kids to get a rudimentary idea of how things we use every day work — that they are made up of many different parts and that people just like you and me design and make these things.”

Classes are small (limited to between six and 10 students per class) and cost $59 per student (materials included). Sessions begin tomorrow, February 18th, at the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Avenue, Somerville).

Cruft Still Lifes

smallpartloveIs it Still Lifes or Still Lives? I dont know… As you can see I fell in love the first time I took apart a printer. I fell in love with cruft. Cruft is one of the many names for computer parts, along with e-waste & hacker junk which I coined.

I reopened my Etsy store, Melshop, and have been spending a lot of time trying to do social media networking. I’ve listened to youtube videos for advice, down loaded an e-book which I haven’t read yet. I started “friend” ing lots of people and favorite”ing” other shops on etsy – all in an attempt to draw traffic.

I finished 4 new pieces and have 6 or so in the works and a million or so new ideas….. so I need to move some product.

Some people say they like my work, some get really excited. But I get the feeling that others just don’t. I try not to dwell on that, but it does make me feel bad when I am passed over when they talk about all the “wonderful things” happening at the Artisan’s Asylum and my work never gets mentioned…. We’ll show them wont we, Charlie Brown…..

A New Career at 50!

renterspacesWow! So much is going on…. Arts at the Armory is happening:

2. Hacker Junk Mosaic M-W 12:30-2:00 for ages 8-12, students attend all three days, cost is $59 (includes materials). Hacker Junk Mosaic M-Th 2:30-4:00 for ages 13-18, students attend all four days, cost is $79 (includes materials).

1. Laboure Center Afterschool, South Boston Afterschool:  Feb 13th 5 – 6 pm

2. Arts at the Armory, Somerville, Hacker Junk Mosaic, Feb. 18 – 21,
 3. Ames Free Library, N. Easton, Exhibition & Workshop, March
4. Cambridge Science Fair, April14
5. Somerville Public School Prof. Dev. Workshop, April 10
6. Brandeis Community Day, Sunday April 28
7. Somerville Open Studios, May 3-5
Some are tentative, but pretty sure they will come thru. How’s that for starting a new career at 50! Sold 2 more Fluff prints at Magpie this month….. I hope and pray to have continued good luck and that I find the balance between loving it and getting all the work done! The luxury of time, to let the creative juices flow, as they say.
Yesterday I worked on my DeStijl chairs. They are going to be hanging from the rafters at the Artisan’s Asylum for Open Studios, if all goes well. I also tried to “gear up”  to make some clocks, which a lot of people have expressed interest in.
Since I have a back log of ideas, that flash across my eyes as I am sorting computer parts or planning lesson projects, I was hoping I could just pull them all together, start an assembly line and pop out 5 clocks. Well it doesn’t work like that. Trying to re-create a flash of inspiration is like…romance on a schedule.  But I sorted thru my paper collection and about 6 color/themes emerged. One was about skiing! Another, needlepoint. The Grafton St dog popped when I sat it next to a black/white image of an art nouveau stained glass. Next step is to pick out surfaces from my stock pile from the woodshop junk bin. I think I’m going to have to dump the thicker pieces. (What a waste!)
Prequel: I save stuff. My Dad saved stuff. I actually have some of my Dad’s saved stuff…. Like this huge magnet. I love that so many people working at the Artisan’s Asylum have electronics knowledge and can tell me what that magnet may have been used for. They also tell me what all the parts, that I am lovingly extracting, sorting and storing, actually do! Yes the “junk” as I call it are computer parts, components, motors, disc drives, hard drives, motherboards, ……. Its a perfect example of how differently people “see” things…. they see it’s purpose, I see it’s shape and color. I hope someday to understand how energy flows thru metal and how impulses cause complex actions to occur and how people combine a multitude of building blocks to say, build computers, robots, design programs. But that’s for another day.
Sean’s feels that, “If you have to explain your art, then it’s no good.” I know what he is saying and I agree that art is a visual medium, it has to work visually first. But it seems all the Artist Statements, Class Descriptions are necessary to get your work out into the world. We live in a verbal world. Silent beings don’t get much attention.
I had a student say, “I’m not used to all this work and getting my hands dirty with glue…. I like to sit in front of my computer and just click.”
Wrap up: I guess the hours I spend thinking and writing about my creative quest, really does pay off. It would seem that is why I am receiving these invitations and offers which mean so so much to me! Reality check, people are actually interested (willing to pay me for this crazy stuff I’m doing.

Artisan’s Asylulm: Why not?

cropped-img_20130124_152711.jpgSomerville Patch asked if I wanted to blog about the Artisan’s Asylum, so here I will try to give it a go.

As a child I was always told, “you are soooo creative”…. I attended SUNY Purchase, the art school of the SUNY’s but I wasn’t a VA (visual art) major, I did Art History instead.  I got a MA from Mass Art in Art Education, but did I teach? Noooooo, I did admin.  So after I was laid off again, and passed a major birthday milestone, I came upon the Artisan’s Asylum webpage. (www.artisansasylum.com) What I found there was just what I needed. A huge Maker’s Space that had taken over the Ames Envelope Factory on the Somerville/ Cambridge line.

Here’s the quick pitch:

Artisan’s Asylum is a community fabrication and maker space dedicated to making creativity a way of life. It does this by maintaining a community workshop, training its members in the use of all of its professional-grade equipment, and hosting events promoting the learning and practicing of craft and creative expression.  Artisan’s Asylum    10 Tyler Street     Somerville, MA     02141   (617) 863-7634     info@artisansasylum.com  www.artisansasylum.org

The thing is, you can take classes in so many things. You can learn: Jewelry/Metal Smithing, Woodworking, Screen Printing, Sewing & Fiber Arts, Computer-Aided Design and Manufacturing, Electronics, Glass/Lampworking, Metalworking, Mold-Making & Casting, PVC Tube Bending, Circuit Bending, Plasma: Build Your Own Tesla Coil! Jewelry  Photoetching, Metalworking, Solidworks: computer-aided design tool, Digital Illustration,  Hot Glass… and that’s just what was offered in November.

Basically, there is a wood shop, metal machine shop, welding shop, bike designers, 3D printers, computer programed routers, electronics, jewlery and glass workshops – all available for you to learn how to use and then create to your heart’s content.

I will stop there, but I’ll be back soon, with more details, stories and epiphanies soon.