Education: Embarc at CIADC

This past Friday CIADC and Embarc Chicago joined forces to bring local students from Sullivan High School into the shops for a day of immersive education, access and community. The kids jumped right in and knocked out projects from three of our departments: Metalworking & Forging, Woodworking, and Casting & Molding.

In each department, the student’s eyes were wide but focused as they worked. In the Metal Shop, Olivia taught the students how to forge, hammer and twist a piece of bar stock into a handy key fob. Up in the Woodshop, Erik guided the students on the bandsaw to produce a small box. And in Casting & Molding, Micki and Julia had the students independently design their own scratch molds and then poured 1,200 degree hot aluminum get poured into them to create a cast of their design.  

Embarc’s goal is to drive student success with long-term social and cultural exposure. Through the transformative power of these journeys, Embarc awaken students to the possibilities of their potential by dissolving the borders of the city and in their minds. Inspired by Embarc’s important work, CIADC is excited to announce the gift of 30 full-tuition scholarships to local teens. CIADC is working with both Sullivan High School and the Chicago Math & Science Academy to identify scholarship recipients.

Spring Open House and Bronze Pour

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Saturday, March 10, 2018 // 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Join us for our seasonal open house with tours through our four shop departments in Casting & Molding, Metalworking & Forging, Technology & Design, and Woodworking ~ CIADC.ORG

There will be a bronze pour in the casting department at approximately 1:30pm along with regular open studio work in progress in the other departments.

Also check out our extended exhibition of CIADC Instructors works with contributions by Andrew Barco, Olivia Juárez, John Kurman, Micki LeMeuix, Erik Newman, and Quentin Shaw.

Exhibitions: Call for Entries – Review

Review will be our year-end survey of new works created at CIADC during 2017.

We are seeking your exemplary objects from a year of making in metal, wood, casting, and design – wrap up the year and show us your best work! CIADC Members and Students interested in taking part in this exhibit should complete a “Call for Entry” exhibition form available at the front desk.

To participate, please complete a submission form by Monday, October 23

·      Works will be selected and coordinated by Monday, October 30

·      Drop-off will take place November 6 through November 12

·      The exhibit will open on Saturday, November 18

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Education: Register Now for Fall and Receive Discounted Tuition

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Register Now! Fall Teen and Adult Classes Begin Monday, September 11

Casting & Molding (**Save 10% through 9/10**)
modeling, mold-making, and casting of 3D objects in aluminum, bronze, and more!

Metalworking & Forging (**Save 10% through 9/10**)
cutting, shaping, welding, and finishing 3D objects in steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, and bronze!

Technology & Design (**Save 10% through 9/10**)
3D Computer-Aided Design: design for shop construction, rendering for presentation, and CNC output!

Woodworking (**Save 10% through 9/10**)
cutting, shaping, joining, and finishing 3D objects in hardwoods, sheet goods, and lumber!

Fall Workshops

Teen Classes (Ages 12-15)
in all 4 Departments!

Holiday Immersion Classes (Ages 16+) (**Save 10% through 9/10**)
1-week, Mon-Fri classes in each Department. 3-hour -or- 6-hour per day options!

Education: Teen Summer Camps and Beyond

Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center is working hard to provide education and access to the younger generation – spring marked our first term hosting teen-focused courses, and we've partnered with After School Matters and Embarc Chicago to share our expertise with students. This week marks another milestone for our youth education efforts – the first completed week of Teen Summer Camps.

Five students this week were introduced to the world of industrial arts in the CIADC Metal and Woodworking Departments. Monday through Friday, instructors brought students through the basic processes and tool applications that underpin all of the advanced work undertaken in fabricating and sculpting objects from metals and wood.

There are still open spots for interested youth in the morning and afternoon for the next two weeks in Casting, Metalworking, and Woodworking:

Week B: July 17 - 21
Camp 1B: 9am-12pm
Camp 2B: 12:30pm-3:30pm

Week C: July 24 - 28
Camp 1C: 9am-12pm
Camp 2C: 12:30pm-3:30pm

Sign your teens up today, and employ creativity and functional design for the rest of the season! We'll leave you with a few kind words from our Embarc Chicago visitors:

"It's exciting to meet folks who are equally as passionate about providing hand-on, engaging learning experiences for students. You all are such a strong team – talented, professional, enthusiastic . . . we hope to work with you again"

Education: Embarc Chicago at CIADC

Last week, Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center was happy to welcome a group of 11th graders from Sullivan High School with Embarc Chicago for an experiential learning journey that encompassed our Casting, Metal, and Woodworking departments. Embarc is a three-year program that provides community-driven, experienced-based learning opportunities to low-income High School students to inspire and prepare them for college and career success.

CIADC instructors Micki LeMieux (Casting & Molding), Erik Newman (Woodworking), and Matthew Runfola (Metalworking) designed a 3-hour program, rotating students through each shop learning more about design, material, and process while creating components to assemble into a personal sculpture.

In the casting department, students created plaster casts of their fingers, using alginate molds.

In woodworking, they cut and sanded clear pine wooden base, using bandsaw and scroll saw.

And in the metalshop, students cut and folded a steel platform, using power shear, throatless shear, and magnetic sheet metal brake.

CIADC hands-on, experiential learning: learning shop skills directly applicable to creating objects, but also learning transferrable skill sets such as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and empowerment. Our thanks to Ellen Muench of Embarc Chicago for choosing CIADC as a journey destination!

Teen programming (12-15): 5-week Summer classes, 1-week Summer Camps. Ages 16+ enrolled in adult programming with consent.

Education: CIADC Helps Chicago Teens Build Birdhouses, Learn Woodworking Skills

In late March, Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center teamed up with CIADC Member Cathy Taylor and her After School Matters classes to teach basic woodworking skills and help bridge classroom subjects with experiential learning.

The students – teenagers from three different Chicago schools – had been learning about various bird habitats. Cathy selected three unique birdhouses, designed to attract a variety of bird types from wrens and nuthatches, to barn swallows and robins, kestrels and owls. CIADC prepped the wood in-house and joined the ASM classes at Gallery 37 for the final assembly. Each class was able to take three birdhouses back to their school for installation!

Our well-placed gratitude to Erik Newman, Sarah Lu, Doug Rhodus, Donna Hapac, and Vic Nelson for their help with the project. And a special thanks to Cathy Taylor for involving CIADC in this rewarding program!

CMSA at CIADC in 2017

Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center is pleased to announce that CIADC will be collaborating with after school clubs at Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park in Spring 2017.

CIADC will be creating project-specific instruction for CMSA drama and art clubs to realize 3D objects in the Woodworking Department and the Casting and Molding Department. We're looking forward to partnering with this excellent neighborhood school to create new works together next year!

Fall Open House 2016

Saturday, October 15 from 4 to 6 PM Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center will host our seasonal Open House, featuring live demonstrations in Casting & Molding, Metalworking, Technology, and Woodworking, guided tours of our historic building at 6433 North Ravenswood Avenue, and the exhibition reception for Demo.

This weekend is Open House Chicago, with hundreds of historical buildings open with free access for the public. Stop in at CIADC to celebrate fall with food, drinks, and friends – and then go explore the rest of the neighborhood!

Shop Conversations: Brian Blankstein

Nathan Abhalter Smith: How have you come to be working in metal? Have you been doing it for a long time, and has it been a long route to here?

Brian Blankstein: Well, the route to here is long and twisting.

NAS: Yeah, perfect.

Coffee Table (detail) by Brian Blankstein

Coffee Table (detail) by Brian Blankstein

BB: As a kid, I was the kid that was always playing with Legos and building stuff. Didn’t really figure out that I could build stuff as an adult until I was 25 or 26. I went to school – I did math and computers and stuff like that – I hated it and didn’t really realize why. I started building stuff with my hands, at that point mostly woodworking, and started taking woodworking classes, and I was really really into it, and I realized this is what I had been missing all this time. So I was at Chicago School of Woodworking sort of right after they opened. They didn’t have any classes then, so I quickly exhausted their catalogue. I was in the middle of a career change, and had three or four months off, so I did a kind of unofficial apprenticeship thing with them, so I like hung around and did chores and stuff for them and used free shop time. One of the things that I built when I was there was I built this table that had like an etched, inlaid glass top. So I was figuring out that I really liked working with a lot of different materials, mixing things together. A pretty obvious next step for me was, I want to learn how to do stuff with metal.

NAS: So that you could change the composition that much more. . . .

BB: Yeah. And metal and wood are beautiful together.

NAS: Yeah.

BB: And I was totally into steampunk at that point – so I was like, if I do stuff with brass and wood, that going to be amazing.

NAS: Yeah, yeah. (Laughing) Have you disavowed steampunk?

BB: No, I just . . . that was my entry point to a bigger world. And I still love that aesthetic, but I don’t know if the steampunk lifestyle is for me.

NAS: (Laughing) Sure.

Trivets by Brian Blankstein

Trivets by Brian Blankstein

BB: So at that point I’m like, how do I learn how to do stuff with metal? Because wood was fairly straightforward to me, but no one in my family makes stuff, I didn’t have a lot of friends who made stuff or anything like that, so I didn’t have a good sense of what was involved in the metal world. I know there are people who weld stuff together and make crazy sculptures and stuff, but I don’t know what the hobbyist entry point is. . . . So I started looking at welding programs and stuff like that at community colleges, but it was all very geared toward you’re going to be a certified welder welding girders together, and like fixing submarines and stuff like that. And I was like, that sounds like I could get some technical knowledge, but it wouldn’t be very fun.

NAS: Yeah. Yeah, I assume there’s rigor, and weld this weld over and over and over to X, Y, Z. . . .

BB: Yeah – don’t smile. Well, I don’t remember how, but I eventually found the Evanston Arts Center. And I looked up the departments and I went to a class and Matt [Runfola] taught me how to weld, and it was awesome, there was so much stuff here. And I’ve kind of been, on and off due to availability of time, I’ve been pretty enamored of metalwork for the past . . . five-ish years or so? So I still do a little bit of woodworking, but most of what I’m doing is in metal. And the transition from only working in wood to metal was really weird because like, in woodworking, you’re always checking things to make sure they are perfect and they’re right. In woodworking, you’re working with organic materials, but it itself is not a very organic process. You have to plan everything in advance, and if you cut something too short, you’re done. There’s not really a good way to recover from that most of the time. And so, I’m in the metal shop for a few weeks, and I’ll buy some rod stock, and I’m like checking it for straightness – and everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy, and I realize – oh, if this isn’t straight, I can just bend it, no problem. And you’re working stuff and something falls off – okay, just stick it back on. I don’t like this this way, how about over here? And you can just improvise and you don’t have to plan ahead. You can do pieces where you’re planning everything ahead, but there are pieces where you could improvise. I made a table that was all this ropey viney leafing, and there was no real plan. I didn’t know anything except, it’s triangular, it’s going to be about this tall . . . go. It was a really freeing experience because I could just play, and not have to have everything planned, or check the plan.

NAS: Doing the table with inlaid glass – thorough plan, you have to follow everything, or it’s a total disaster. . . .

BB: There was a little bit of improvising, because I realized I wanted it to be something else, and I couldn’t do it, so I was like okay, I’m going to do this thing . . . but, yeah, you had to plan that in advance. So I really liked the freedom of metal, and I love the feel of it, and the weight of it is nice, and I did a lot of things with some metal and some wood combined, and that was a lot of fun. I was mostly doing welding early on, and at some point I discovered forging. And I was like, I love all this other stuff, but this really speaks to me. And I don’t know what about it. . . . It’s very physical. And you can really feel the metal as it moves. I don’t know, I really enjoyed it, and the process of how you get things from point A to point B, I think made a lot more sense to me. It’s not like it’s a complete replacement for any of this other stuff – I still weld things together, but forging is just fun.

NAS: The physical aspects seem particularly pronounced. Is it changing your thought process about the thing you’re doing because you have to be so physical with it?

BB: I don’t know that it changes my thought process so much as, my thought process didn’t work quite as well in other media.

NAS: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

BB: Not that any of them were completely alien or anything, I’m pretty good at figuring that kind of thing out, but this just felt very natural. And after years of doing things where I’m sitting at a desk all day, to be up and swinging a hammer for hours and hours, it’s exhausting and it’s great.

NAS: Nice. Do you have a desk job now?

BB: I have no job now. For the last five years of so, I was a mechanical engineer in product development. We were doing a lot of prototyping and making little test pieces, and stuff like that, and that part I loved, I loved: okay, we need to cobble a thing together. It can look like anything you want, but it really has to feel like this . . . we want to test this thing out. That was really cool. But then there was a lot of sitting at a desk doing CAD, or filling out forms, and things like that, and I was like, this part’s not for me. As that went up and the prototyping went down, I was like, eh. Okay, I’m done.

NAS: Was there a particular project or thing you were making when you started working with the forge where that’s when it clicked, or was it even just the fundamentals, the entry point which sort of immediately made it obvious that this was the thing for you?

BB: I know I talked to Matt [when CIADC opened], and I know that at that point I was already specifically interested in forging. I did a little of it back at Evanston Art Center, but there was maybe a year or two where I wasn’t able to get up there, I was just too busy. I already had my mind on forging, and I don’t remember how I got to that point. Other than maybe it was just that I had done enough of it that it was like, I miss this. I want to weld, but I really want to forge. It might have been that I had the idea I wanted to learn how to forge a knife, to make really nice kitchen knives, or something like that.

NAS: Have you done that?

BB: I’m working toward it, I’ve made several knives just out of scrap metal, but to make a really good knife you need to use high carbon steel, because that allows you to harden it, a knife won’t hold an edge unless you harden it, so just like the tip will fold over. That involves some more complex processes; you have to do heat treating and tempering and stuff like that. So I’m learning a bit about that, how to make them sharp enough, but I’ve gone through the process of getting the rough shape out. It’s something I’d still like to do at some point, it’s sort of always in the background, when I have a spare moment and I’m not sure what else to do, I’ll go ahead and make another rough knife now.

Firepokers (detail) by Brian Blankstein

Firepokers (detail) by Brian Blankstein

NAS: You were saying the other day that you have hundreds of firepokers?

BB: I was imagining having hundreds of firepokers. I have more like a dozen.

NAS: Okay, well, speculative hundreds of firepokers – were they going to be straight up ornamental, or. . . ?

BB: So, I knew that I didn’t know a lot about forging. And it seemed like the best way to learn would be through repetition, and a firepoker seemed like a kind of thing that is fairly simple, straightforward, but allows for enough variety to experiment with different techniques. It’s a quick project, so it’s not like I’m spending weeks and weeks on it, I can get through one in a day or two. Probably a lot faster once I’ve done a few, a quick turnaround to generate a lot, which is helpful for learning.

NAS: So at a dozen, you were like, alright, I’ve gotten what I can get out of this?

BB: I’m going to go back to them at some point, but I have firepokers piling up in my apartment, I don’t have a big apartment, and I don’t have a fireplace.

NAS: (Laughter)

Firepokers on table by Brian Blankstein

Firepokers on table by Brian Blankstein

BB: So, I’ve given a couple of them away. A lot of the things I’ve made historically have been out of need. Like, I need a table. I’m going to go make one. Something to hang things on a wall, I’m going to make that. So, something else came up and I was like, oh, I should actually go do the things that are important, rather than more firepokers. But it was good, but making the firepokers I got to learn techniques, such as making handles that look and feel good, things with a good hold.

NAS: Are they like the handle that’s on that wrench [in the exhibit Country, Life & Economics, which was recently in the CIADC exhibit space]?

BB: That was something that I had made to put on a firepoker, but I never made the poker to go with it, and we needed a handle, so I was like okay, I’ll just stick a nice handle on this thing. You know, if I need to make another one, I’ll make another one.

NAS: Nice.

Twist Wrench by Brian Blankstein and Emily McCormick

Twist Wrench by Brian Blankstein and Emily McCormick

BB: And I have an idea for the Demo exhibit, but I don’t have time to do it. Here’s my idea – and if someone wants to use it, they can. I would make like a dozen different handles, and get a ball, and weld them all to the ball sticking out at different angles. If I had time, that’s what I would do for that. And if someone else has time to steal my idea, that would be fine.

NAS: It’s sort of like a mace head full of handles, or. . . .

BB: Or like a big jack.

NAS: Right.

BB: That’s what I would do for Demo. I might still do that sometime because I feel like it would be fun.

Education: Fall Enrollment is Open

This week, Fall enrollment opens for the term beginning September 12, 2016. Core classes will be offered in 6- and 12-week sections, there will be a smattering of single-session instruction modules, and we're pleased to announce two additions: CIADC will now be offering teen-focused courses on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and we've added an open studio access time slot for 12:30-3:30 PM on Sunday afternoons.

Check out the courses department by department below, and get ready for an active, creative Fall!

CASTING AND MOLDING

FABRICATED METALWORKING AND FORGING

INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN

WOODWORKING

And for all members who are not planning to enroll in core classes this term, please be sure to attend the free STUC sessions to maintain access to open studio time!

Free Safety and Tool Use Certification on Saturday, September 10

Technology Department STUC (ITDSTUC-01) – 10:00 AM with Matt Runfola

Woodworking Department STUC (WDWSTUC-01) – 10:30 AM with Laura Miracle

Metalworking Department STUC (FMFSTUC-01) – 11:30 AM with Matt Runfola

Casting Department STUC (CSTSTUC-01) – 12:30 PM with Dominic Sansone

  

Call for Entries: Demo

Hands-on, first-person knowledge is fundamental to the spirit of our community at Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center. The next exhibit project highlights the hands-on culture of CIADC, and we are encouraging all members to be a part of this project!

Demo will present creations designed to be touched, moved, manipulated, examined, and activated by CIADC visitors. We are seeking kinetic works and interactive pieces, with attention to tactile surfaces and construction methods that encourage participation from visitors. As with all exhibits at CIADC, we are seeking works that incorporate metal, wood, casting, and technological processes.

CIADC Members interested in taking part in this exhibit should send a description of your demo project with images or sketches to socialmedia@ciadc.org or speak to Nathan Smith, Sandra Stone, or Danielle Euer at the front desk!

To participate, please be in touch by Saturday, September 3

 

  • Works will be selected by Thursday, September 8
  • Drop-off will take place September 12 to September 17
  • Join us for the opening reception Saturday, October 15 from 4-6 PM
  • Demo will be on display from September 24 through December 17

Education: 5-Week Summer Classes and Instruction Modules

Summer term at Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center is in full swing, but there's still time to join a series of great 5-week core classes or single-session instruction modules. The second half of the term begins the week of July 25 through July 30 – sign up today and keep up with the latest in the CIADC workshops – CIADC is offering a 10% discount to all new students: use code SUMMER10 at checkout!

5-Week Core Classes

Casting

Intro to Sand Cast Metal (CST120-05)
Wednesday 9 AM - 12 PM with Quentin Shaw beginning July 27;
Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Dominic Sansone beginning July 30

Intro to Composite Fabrication (CST150-05) 

Monday 7-10 PM with Mark Carroll beginning August 1

Fabricated Metalworking & Forging

Intro to Metal Fabrication (FMF110-05)
Saturday 9 AM to 12 PM with Quentin Shaw beginning July 30

Integrated Technology & Design

Intro to Rhino: 3D CAD Modeling For Design (ITD110-05)
Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Nathan Aldredge beginning August 6

Intro to Electronics and Microcontrollers For The Built Object (ITD120-05)
Wednesday 7-10 PM with Alan Baker beginning July 27

Woodworking

Intro to Woodworking (WDW110-05)
Wednesday 7-10 PM with Erik Newman beginning July 27;
Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Laura Miracle beginning July 30

Instruction Modules

Casting

Flexible Mold Making (CST520-01)
Tuesday, July 26 with Dominic Sansone 7 PM

Cold Casting (CST530-01)
Tuesday, August 9 with Dominic Sansone 7 PM

Fabricated Metalworking & Forging

TIG Welding: Steel, Stainless Steel, and Bronze (FMF530-01)
Tuesday, July 26 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

TIG Welding: Aluminum (FMF540-01)
Tuesday, August 2 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

Shop Conversations: Laura Miracle

Laura Miracle: I might just say as an introduction, I’m a sculptor . . . I have an MFA in making things, and that context is useful.

Nathan Smith: Yes, indeed! What is your title here?

LM: I’m the woodworking department manager, and an instructor in the woodworking department [at Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center].

NS: I would like to talk about that in a bit, but first, I’d like to talk about all the other things you are up to right now. . . .

LM: [Laughter]

NS: . . . if you’re up for talking about that.

LM: Yeah! I have a lot of irons in the fire. I just got a message from someone who’s interested in having me create some sewn bags – so that’s a whole other thing that I probably haven’t previously shared with you. . . . I have a few different dream business plans for functional art. I’m really interested in tool belts and tool organization, which of course connects to being the shop manager – that’s part of why I’m here, because I just love tools, and I love being organized.

NS: When I first started working here, I would just like . . . wander around the woodshop, just staring at stuff, I think because the order is aesthetically appealing and kind of – maybe a little bit strangely – of the things I was seeing here, I was like: this is the most visually pleasing, just how the tools were set up looks right.

LM: Well, that makes me really happy.

NS: The way I came up with the idea for the Blueprints exhibit was from basically wandering around the woodshop, your walls look like this exhibit. . . .

LM: Oh yeah! So, part of that has to do with that I really believe in giving things space, and that’s part of making it easy to get access to tools, right? So when you’re talking about the tools being arranged in such a way that first – I like to have hangers or supports for the tools that only fit that one particular tool so it makes it intuitive for returning them, and that has to do with the years of experience that I’ve had in community-built shop environments, where you have people who don’t necessarily know what things are called. It’s not enough to just put a piece of tape that says “slip-joint pliers,” because –

NS: I don’t know what that is. . . .

LM: – if you don’t know what slip-joint pliers are, then it doesn’t help. But if you can look at the shape of the tool and match it to the shape of the holder, then you have at least another clue as to where that thing should be stored.

NS: It’s kinda like those kids puzzles where the apple goes in the shape of an apple.

LM: Yeah! You’ve figured me out . . . in my artwork, I’ve done a lot of exploration of things that fit other things very exactly. I made a series of sculptures, and created boxes with lined fabric receptacles for those pieces – and those things fit just exactly in there, and I get a great amount of satisfaction from that – putting the apple piece into the apple spot. It’s really . . . it feels really good. It also fits into the [Door Chandelier] I made too. That was part of what that was about – trying to match the profile of that found door with the cutting on the bandsaw.  

NS: So, tools, tool belts, bags. . . .

LM: Two years ago, I took a leatherworking class at the Chicago School of Shoemaking and got myself set up with an industrial sewing machine. I have that set up, which I’m really excited to start maximizing – but, as you know, the struggle of keeping the bills paid and the incoming coming in is a very real struggle.

NS: Do you have a working studio?

LM: I have a dining room that – well, air quotes dining room – I have a studio in my kitchen. So that’s something that I’m still very interested in. And my idea, my plan is to have the tool belt and tool carrying systems be kind of a winter pursuit because, in the spring and summer I’m really working on being a garden designer.

Raised beds

Raised beds

LM: I build raised beds for people, and I build garden enclosures, trellises, and garden stuff made out of wood. . . . I love working with cedar. That’s generally the material that I’m using. Time will tell what the lifespan of these constructions will be, but I’ve been at this for about two-three years, and so far of the things that I’ve made, they’ve all weathered to a really beautiful silvery-gray color, and there’s no real sign of any kind of decay or damage. That’s in terms of the objects, but I am working towards becoming a full-on gardener in the sense that there is a potential for what I call subscription, where someone has a set of raised beds, and they basically contract you for the growing season to kind of come out and manage the ongoing care of the garden, including succession planning – where it’s like, once this plant is done you pull that out and what are you going to put in next? Where you’re trying to plan double seasons overall, as well as knowing soil requirements, and light requirements, and all that.

Garden enclosure

Garden enclosure

NS: The first year we had a garden, we basically tried to get someone else to do it. . . .

LM: [Laughs]

NS: . . . because, you know, we’re especially bad at the succession part. We put stuff in, but that would be the only thing that would go there for the entire year, and it is just a fraction of it’s potential . . . Do you do a combination of edible and decorative, or?

LM: I’m actually entirely interested in growing food. It has to do with this thing for me that . . . you know, understanding where our food comes from is just really important and fascinating pursuit. I feel strongly that we should all be working to be more connected to the food we consume. So, that’s not quite a political thing for me, but almost there.

New raised beds

New raised beds

NS: It’s an environmental thing in the sense that it’s your immediate environment, and you would like to be more conscious of it?

LM: Right.

NS: We have a garden. And still, some of the people who have access to it – there’s a wild disconnect, wherein they won’t take stuff to eat out of it, unless it’s brought indoors to them. It’s like a combination of not knowing if things are ready, or something. . . .

LM: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying –

NS: It’s really strange.

LM: Yeah, definitely. Well, I’ll share this with you . . . I just started a garden just outside my new apartment, which was kind of a big decision for me, to put all that time and effort into that, because I’m a renter, and so this is what stopped me in the past from having a garden . . . I didn’t want to do it, but I’m at this place where it seemed really important for me to have my own growing space. So I planted spinach and mesclun greens and buttercrunch lettuce and carrots and beets – and then the squirrels ate all the seedlings. And it was so heartbreaking, but is was also really grossing me out, because that means – ahh, eww, ahh –

The enemy

The enemy

NS: That’s the disconnect . . .

LM: That’s what I’m saying.

NS: . . . that stuff’s in the world.

LM: I know, and like there aren’t squirrels on farms other places?

NS: Well . . . there might not be tons of squirrels in like, the middle of Iowa or whatever . . .

LM: That’s true.

NS: . . . maybe there are, I don’t know.

LM: There are animals though, for sure. And this idea that the food that you get from the supermarket has never been a part of nature – is obviously just silly.

NS: We rent too, and we didn’t set out to have a garden, but at Roman Susan we put together this exhibit where it was decided that rather than building pedestals – we priced it out – we found we could have Home Depot deliver two hundred cinder blocks to us and we could make them out of stacked cinder blocks. And then, of course, the exhibit was over and we had two hundred cinder blocks . . . and we were just like, what the hell are we going to do with these things?

LM: [Laughter]

NS: So, I convinced my landlord to let us have these cinder block beds. So, it’s the same thing – it’s kind of a wild amount of effort someone who is renting, but it’s really cool that they’re there, and there are all these guys that hang out in front of our house, because there are a lot of group homes everywhere around there, and they hang out at the bus bench in front of our house to smoke. Anyway, they are always telling me, Oh yeah! The mice – not mice. The rats come and visit your garden every night. And I’m just like, yeah, shrugs.

LM: Yeah, what are you going to do?

NS: The annoying thing is – they don’t like tomatoes, but they will bite one every night to make sure they still don’t like them.

LM: Yeah, it’s so maddening. Yeah, so that’s actually the project that I was working on today, the triangle I was making is going to be part of a series of supports for frames for my garden that will have either mesh, or – the idea I’m working under is that it’s going to be both to keep rodents out in the summer, but then also those panels can be switched out for plexiglass panels to make it into a cold frame in the spring. So the triangle is just to set over the bed and then the screens or the plexiglass fit in over.

NS: There’s a lot of other green stuff around our garden, yard, trees, et cetera. And so lots of rodents just get distracted, there’s plenty to go around. There are tons of rabbits, so we put marigolds around everything because they don’t like their scent, plus rabbits don’t like nightshades? So that’s good. But, well, rats and stuff – not to be deterred by the scent of anything.

Pest protection

Pest protection

LM: I did the cayenne pepper thing too. So after the initial destruction, I did an entire shaker of cayenne pepper over all the seedlings, and now they are coming back, and the squirrels have stayed away, but it just rained like crazy last night, I we’re going to have to go buy more cayenne. But that feels pretty good, because you just wash it off, and it’s fine. And I actually have marigolds around, too, although not in a solid border – maybe that’s the thing, it needs to be like. . . .

NS: Squirrels can fly.

LM: Yeah, squirrels can fly. So I’m covering with mesh, that’s really how I solve that.

NS: We have scarecrows, which endears us to our neighbors, I'm sure.

Cinder block garden beds plus scarecrow

Cinder block garden beds plus scarecrow

NS: So, you have other projects too, yes?

LM: Yeah. Yeah, but wait – there’s more! I am also an art director for an artistic collaborative performance group based out of Humboldt Park called Opera-Matic, which does free performances in the parks. I work with a team of artists to do these collaborative installations and participatory art events. It’s kind of hard to describe – but yeah, I do art direction for them.

Opera-Matic

Opera-Matic

NS: Because it is in public parks, do you feel you have a lot of interaction with people who would not be engaging with art otherwise?

LM: That is absolutely true, and in fact that’s the goal for Opera-Matic – to engage audiences that are not traditionally served by theatre. We get a fair amount of our funding from the park district, and we talk about how our goal is to see a balance of community residents with the artists. . . .

NS: People who are already interested.

LM: Yeah, it’s a little bit of a slippery . . . yeah, exactly. That’s the right way to say it – people who already have access to art culture.

NS: Is it set up to bring people back, to be recurring?

LM: We did just do that. We started out with a weekend in May – the weekend of Mother’s Day – and we just did our third annual performance there. And that’s a pretty good model, to do something on a fairly predictable schedule, year by year. So we’re going to look at repeating these two shows we’ve added to the calendar. One of them is going to be Simons Park around the start of the school year, and then there’s another one at Mozart Park around the middle of November, a little bit after Halloween. And again, trying to have that be at the same time every year, so people can look forward to it, and know that it’s going to happen.

NS: I’m not sure if I’m conflating this with something else, but do these involve, like, flag making and parades and such?

LM: Yeah! Yeah, that’s Opera-Matic. Last year, when the 606 Bloomingdale Trail opened, we were commissioned to do the whole day-long series of workshops where we set up these sewing stations along the trail, and had people who were coming to see the trail for the first time sew a flag. So they made a flag, we gave them a bamboo pole, and we asked them to come back for the opening ceremony at dusk, and we had hundreds of people waving their handmade flags. We had choreographers teaching people how to do dances with the flags, how to do these different choreographed moves. It was really amazing, and really fun. That gets to the very interdisciplinary nature of things, where it’s like, okay – it’s about class, and sewing and dancing and movement and visual art – it’s all those things put together.

NS: It’s complicated, and that’s probably what makes it interesting. Flags in particular, thinking about making your own flag is very interesting to me.

LM: Likewise.

. . .

LM: For Opera-Matic, the drive to do the project for the 606 thing came out of two very particular sets of concerns. Whenever you do public art, you need to have something that’s visual that can be seen over the tops of the heads of crowds of people.

NS: So it’s pretty practical.

LM: Yeah. So it was very much like, okay, here’s your design challenge . . . you have to do something that people can see, of course. And then, we talked a lot about movement, and how compelling things flying in the wind can be. And a big part of Opera-Matic goal is that the crowds of people are the spectacle. So now you have the potential for a hundred people, a thousand people to all be waving flags. That becomes really visually compelling. There is this ongoing question in spectacle theatre about how to maximize the amount of money you put into something. If you’re going to spend like $5,000 to make one massive object – is that going to get you the same visual impact as creating 5,000 flags? So it’s just a different way of exploring visual impact basically.

NS: And so you have more going on too, obviously?

LM: Yes, I manage the woodworking department . . . and there are probably other things I’m forgetting. But that’s most of what I’ve been up to this spring.

NS: Did you teach in the Evanston Art Center?

LM: I did not. I didn’t get to know [Matt Runfola, CIADC founder] until after he had already identified this location [for the Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center].

NS: So, coming into the new space is very similar to any open design solution – you’re looking at this blank space and deciding how to best serve as a woodworking shop?

LM: Yeah, when I entered the picture we knew there would be a woodworking department on the second floor, and the goal was that it be a flexible and meet a variety of needs, but to have enough depth to it for people to be able to go into a process and latch onto that. So, with those parameters, in a lot of ways the design was more or less spelled out, because of course there’s going to be a table saw, a bandsaw, a jointer planer, a drill press . . . I don’t really think there was any question whether those were the pieces of equipment that would be the foundation for the shop. There’s all kinds of subtleties in those things.

NS: What is up there right now that you are the most enthused about – that people might not be aware of?

LM: Well, we just set up our steam bender, which is very exciting. And so we’re bending wood, heating it up to 220 degrees and the steam softens the wood and makes it easier to form. That’s a whole exciting world.

NS: Was the equipment a donation?

LM: No, we just honestly did internet research and built it. There’s a few different ways of building a steam box and they are all basically variations on a theme.

Steam bender

Steam bender

NS: I had no idea . . . yeah, I assume way too many things are prefabricated, but you guys built this.

LM: Yeah, we put it together is really the way to say it. It’s a tube and a steamer, a source for steam. One of the things that’s really exciting about that is we’ll be doing some collaborative thinking between the technology department and the woodshop. It’s possible to envision and design forms with CAD, but then to go into the woodshop and actually try to create those forms with a process that has it’s own limitations, it’s going to be a really interesting and productive pursuit.

. . .

NS: Do you have sculpture ideas, that are unrealized, or on the backburner?

LM: I do, of course.

NS: Are some on the backburner because they aren’t possible at this moment, or just because you haven’t gotten to them, or?

LM: Yeah, both.

NS: What would be an ideal – unlimited resources – what would you make as a sculptor?

LM: The truth is I’d be here – at a place where I could work between different materials with different approaches, because I think it is clear that I’m not someone who’s going to ever be focused on just one material or one line of thinking. The thing that I’m really interested in exploring in my own artwork is this idea of interaction. I’m not a sculptor that would create a thing that people need to stand back and look at. I’m very much about being able to interact and handle a thing, and to feel the weight of it, to feel the surface of it. . . .

Interactive sculpture

Interactive sculpture

LM: Along the same lines with what I talked about with the tools and having a particular support for a tool gives you an indication about what it’s there for – there’s something that’s very interesting about how form can drive your understanding of purpose. I’m really interested in book forms – pages and unfolding and folding. I’m really interested in things fitting inside of other things because I feel like those forms give you clues about what you’re supposed to do, and in this weird way kind of drives the action of the viewer or the person interacting with it, and that gets really interesting to me.

NS: You wouldn’t be making monuments, you would be making intimate things that people can directly engage.

LM: Exactly . . . That’s the thread that goes through all these things. I even have a hard time making it out sometimes, but design and interaction – form driving purpose is thread that connects the different worlds.

For more info about Laura's various projects, please visit lauramiracle.com.

Summer Courses Now Open!

Summer is right around the corner – sign up today for Immersion Week, 5- and 10-week core classes, plus a range of single-session Instructor Modules!

All members who will not be enrolled in department core classes, please be sure to sign up for the quarterly Safety and Tool Use Certification in order to use open studio access this summer.

Summer Safety and Tool Use Certification
June 18, 2016

Casting STUC

    Metal Fabrication STUC

    Woodworking STUC

    Technology STUC

      5-Week Core Classes

      Casting

      Intro to Sand Cast Metal (CST120-05)
      Wednesday 9 AM - 12 PM with Quentin Shaw beginning June 22 and July 27;
      Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Dominic Sansone beginning June 25 and July 30

      Intro to Composite Fabrication (CST150-05) 

      Monday 7-10 PM with Mark Carroll beginning June 20 and August 1

      Fabricated Metalworking & Forging

      Intro to Metal Fabrication (FMF110-05)
      Saturday 9 AM to 12 PM with Quentin Shaw beginning June 25 and July 30

      Integrated Technology & Design

      Intro to Rhino: 3D CAD Modeling For Design (ITD110-05)
      Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Nathan Aldredge beginning May 14, June 25, and August 6

      Intro to Electronics and Microcontrollers For The Built Object (ITD120-05)
      Wednesday 7-10 PM with Alan Baker beginning June 22 and July 27

      Woodworking

      Intro to Woodworking (WDW110-05)
      Wednesday 7-10 PM with Erik Newman beginning June 22 and July 27;
      Saturday 9 AM - 12 PM with Laura Miracle beginning June 25 and July 30

        10-Week Core Classes

        Casting

        Beginning/Continuing Casting (CST210-10)

        Wednesday 7-10 PM with Dominic Sansone begins June 22

        Fabricated Metalworking & Forging

        Beginning/Continuing Metal Fabrication (FMF210-10)
        Monday 7-10 PM with Sarah Holden begins June 20;
        Tuesday 9 AM - 12 PM with Matt Runfola begins June 21;
        Wednesday 7-10 PM with Sarah Holden beings June 22

        Continuing Metal Fabrication (FMF310-10)
        Wednesday 9 AM - 12 PM with Matt Runfola begins June 22

        Woodworking

        Beginning/Continuing Woodworking (WDW210-10)
        Monday 7-10 PM with Laura Miracle begins June 20;
        Tuesday 9 AM - 12 PM with Erik Newman begins June 21

        Instruction Modules

        Casting

        Plaster Mold Making (CST510-01)
        Tuesday, July 12 with Dominic Sansone 7 PM

        Flexible Mold Making (CST520-01)
        Tuesday, July 26 with Dominic Sansone 7 PM

        Cold Casting (CST530-01)
        Tuesday, August 9 with Dominic Sansone 7 PM

        Fabricated Metalworking & Forging

        The Oxy/Acetylene Torch: Welding and Brazing Steel (FMF510-01)
        Tuesday, June 28 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

        MIG Welding Steel (FMF520-01)
        Tuesday, July 5 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

        Heat Cutting: Plasma Arc Cutter and Oxy/Acetylene Torch (FMF550-01)
        Tuesday, July 12 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

        TIG Welding: Steel, Stainless Steel, and Bronze (FMF530-01)
        Tuesday, July 26 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

        TIG Welding: Aluminum (FMF540-01)
        Tuesday, August 2 with Matt Runfola 7 PM

        Woodworking

        Wood Finishing Techniques (WDW530-01)
        Tuesday, May 24 with Laura Miracle 7 PM

        Shop Conversations: Sarah Lu

        Nathan Smith: I guess the main question I have for you is how do you find yourself here in woodworking? How do you find woodworking? How does it fit into your life?

        Sarah Lu: I like making useful objects, and I like using objects that I’ve made myself. So for me it starts from a utilitarian place, though it’s more than just function, it’s pleasure, too. Wood is also beautiful to look at and feels good to touch. The grain patterns, colors, and textures that nature makes are interesting, and unique. Ever piece of wood is different, so there’s discovery built in to the process of working wood—there are surprises, it can be exciting.  And, I like the smell of sawdust, too. Well, I think that woodworking, because it is tactile, really adds something to my life that I wouldn’t get otherwise because I work a day job, like a desk job behind a computer kind of job. And I like physically making things, and I can get kind of, sort of like lost in the grain of the wood while I am working on it. Yesterday I sanded a tabletop I was working for two hours. Tracing the grain pattern and feeling the surface get more smooth and even after the passes with the sander was kind of flowy, kind of hypnotic. So, you know, I just kind of got lost. It’s work that doesn’t feel hard or annoying or anything like that because it is something I’m creating or making for people I like.

        NS: Maybe this isn’t accurate, but maybe it seems like you actively found this as an adult rather than just as a continuum of you making things always. . . .

        SL: Yeah, yeah! Like, I really never took any art classes . . . pretty much ever, except the normal required ones.

        NS: Which is pretty small.

        SL: Which is pretty small, and I’m a shitty drawer, so I always kind of thought that I didn’t have a lot to say visually, or I didn’t think of myself as somebody who wants to make stuff. I came at it through a practical way of rehabbing a house, and also at certain times in my life wanting to have furniture, and things like that, without a lot of resources.

        NS: So was that in your own house, the initial—when you really started doing it?

        SL: I think I started refinishing thrift store furniture when I was still in college, and in my first apartment off campus. It was a way to make my first independent space my own, to make it feel homey as opposed to an industrial feeling dorm. But yeah, when I rehabbed my house, I hired a carpenter who taught me how to do some of the stuff he was doing. . . .

        NS: Ah, awesome! Handing out trade secrets. . . .

        SL: When this carpenter met me for an estimate, I was pulling staples out of the stairs. (We ripped off this gross carpet to find great old pine stair treads, and I had hundreds of carpet staples to pull out.)  So when he started working on our house, and I was curious about aspects of the work, he taught me a lot of stuff about trim carpentry, so that I could work with him. One day, we were sitting on buckets taking a break from trimming out doors and windows on the second floor and eating pizza, and I was like: do you do this with all your clients? And he said, no, but because when I met you you were happily pulling out hundreds of staples from your stairs, it seemed like working on your house would be fun for you, so why not. He’s right, it was fun, and it’s deeply satisfying to be in a space that I helped shape and bring to form.

        NS: Was it like, additive? Or rehabbing stuff that was already there?

        SL: The house ended up being a total gut rehab. So we had to literally strip all the trim and moulding, in the process and had to do it over in a way that tied together. So, yeah—[the trim] actually looks a lot like that tapered rectangle shape [motions toward CIADC trim around the entry to the woodworking finishing room]. That’s a good way of doing . . . that headboard is a good way of covering up the gaps between a door and a wall in a way that looks nice, but it’s still really simple. And we did that in our house where there were additions from different time periods, and different things going on with weird-sized openings. So, something like that, you can customize to every door, but then it all ties in because it’s the same shape.

        CIADC door trim

        CIADC door trim

        NS: When you started getting into your house—but also just like, putting your hands on the grain I guess—did you start looking at things in the world differently? Or was it closer, in your immediate environment of interior space and projects?

        SL: I guess if there is a theme that ties those two things together it’s working with things that have flaws, and either fixing those flaws so you wouldn’t even know, or working with those flaws, and presenting them, and they are [part of] the visual history of the object. If you walk into my house there are some things that you can see that are unintentional flaws that I don’t really want there to still be . . . I kind of want it to be better than that. I have some holes in the wall to patch, for example. Don’t look in my laundry room.

        Fixing the trim was one of the last things we did after correcting the house’s other major problems: burst pipes, a busted furnace, outdated electrical system, water damaged and buckled drywall and floorboards.  The trim is simple, and it looks good. The design is a nod to the original trim profile we found still intact in some spots.  To me, the trim represents the rehab more than anything. When it was done, it made the house feel whole, after a really long time of dealing with component parts that needed work. It’s all new, it ties the whole space together, and visually, it takes things back to where the house began. Back when it was first built and cared for, back before people messed it up and the house was damaged, foreclosed on, and abandoned.  When you see the inside of my house now, you wouldn’t know what it’s been through unless I told you, you might just be like: pleasant trim.

        On the other side of working with things that have flaws, the bench I’m working on right now in the wood shop is full of flaws that are right out in front. The material is a reclaimed 2 x 12 douglas fir board from the ReBuilding Exchange. It was probably a rafter, holding up a roof in its former life.  There are markers of it’s history like screw holes and nail holes, and the wood surrounding these holes is stained black. There are knots that pop out. It’s not the material a traditional, fine wood worker would use to make a bench, because pine is soft.

        There are also flaws in the bench that are my mistakes, and I’m keeping them right out in the open. I wanted to challenge myself to learn joinery, and this bench has my first attempts at mortise and tenon joints. There are gaps between the bench top and the legs, which is a joinery flaw. But those inexact, rough looking mortise and tenon joints tell part of the story of the bench, and are part of my story as a woodworker/woodlearner.  I learned so much in the process that I’ll take with me on the next project, and when I see those joints I’ll think of those lessons. And also, the gaps don’t get in the way of the bench’s benchiness. It’s a useful object. It’s sturdy, it’s a good spot to park it while you untie your shoes after you get in the door. The bench will function perfectly well as a bench, flaws included.

        Sarah sharpening up!

        Sarah sharpening up!

        NS: Yeah, I like the . . . I don’t know. I’ve talked to you a couple times sort of like about the flaws or fault lines and using them as an enhancement—or enhancing them so that they become the identity of each thing.

        SL: Totally.

        NS: It seems to me, like the purpose of doing it yourself . . . if it were just flawless—you could do that, but why would you do that?

        SL: Right, yeah. I think it is fun to explore this like, this-isn’t-perfect, or that there’s something that catches your eye about this that visually you’re like–That’s not right! But then you’re like–Oh, but I like it! Because I have a job were people make things that aren’t real, like content, you know. . .

        NS: You work. . . .

        SL: I work at a radio station, yeah. So, there’s a lot of planning that goes into something that may or may not be what you intended or be any good. [Laughs] And flaws on the radio are bad. We’re not supposed to have dead air, or you know, when there’s a mistake, then I have to go investigate what broke down and why. And there are certain things like, someone with a gravelly voice or an interesting voice—that plays well on the radio.

        NS: You’re not auto-tuning them or anything. . . .

        SL: Right, but those are things where it’s like, we don’t want everyone to sound the same, or we don’t ever want to sound like a stereotypical perfect voice, but there are mistakes that are not good. [Laughter] And then, that’s a bummer. So this is a kind of . . . working with reclaimed materials, or just in general learning woodworking is humbling because you’re going to mess some stuff up, and you’re going to make some mistakes, and so—then what do you do with that? For me, it’s never been like—Ah! Dealbreaker! It’s like—well, how do we work with that? Or what’s the next move?

        NS: I have no idea how many things you’ve constructed in . . . how long have you been woodworking?

        SL: Well, this is my . . . I started at CIADC in December, or maybe Thanksgiving. I don’t know—let’s say November. But before that, I’ve been building furniture and stuff for a couple years. Probably like, three or four years, but none of it super well, but it got the job done I guess.

        NS: Okay, yeah. So I was just wondering, is there something, is there a project you’ve done, or a kind of project that is an ideal of yours, or have you done things that are way out of your comfort zone? Or where that might be, I guess?

        SL: Since I started being involved here, this is the first time where I’ve been like, I want to devote time to developing skills, and also exploring ideas visually and physically. Before, the first piece of furniture I made out of nothing was a set of two benches when I was hosting Christmas dinner and didn’t have enough seating. Necessity as the mother of invention kind of thing. And they did the job and they were perfectly fine, but they weren’t—they were more utilitarian than they were anything else. And they were still pretty good looking, they were reclaimed two by twelves. Before coming here, it was like, I need a thing, how do I make that thing to do the job and not a lot of focusing on designing, you know, for a certain aesthetic or with a goal, or any aesthetic.

        Sarah with repurposed fence post

        Sarah with repurposed fence post

        NS: So, when you’re using reclaimed materials, like these candle holders you’re making right now, they’re from your fence post?

        SL: Yeah, it’s right over there. [Pointing, laughing] It’s four by four cedar fence post.

        NS: I think maybe I’ve asked you this on a different day, but how . . . reusing materials, do the meaning of the materials themselves inform what you do with them at all? Or is it a sort of a . . . ultimately you just reuse something because it is useful and on hand?

        SL: Yeah, I guess I think there is a trifecta of good reasons for me to use reclaimed materials. One, they’re around, and it’s good to give things another life instead of throwing things out. And so there’s a sustainability and environmental ethos there. But on a purely utilitarian front, my rotted fence falls down, and it’s material for me to use. It’s easier for me to go in the backyard and rough cut the four by four that fell down than to go to the lumberyard. And the third thing is: reclaimed materials are beautiful to me. They can be interesting to look at, and the history of the material can add value to the thing you’re making, like a story.

        NS: So there’s not really any strict sentimental value for you. It’s there, it’s just part of all of the things that are there.

        SL: Right. I mean I think there’s some sentimental value to it too, because I do associate the old fence post with my house and my home, and the history of it. And so I’m making these little tea light things for a friend. They’re sort of a personal connection as well. And also it is just beautiful and interesting to look at—there’s little voids in the wood. I think one of these actually still has a bug, like a dead bug in it.

        NS: Nice! I mean, maybe not everyone would like that, but I like that!

        SL: Yeah, I might take it out before but, I think it was over here. . . . I mean I think, it looks like it was, like there’s . . . yeah, you see that white fuzzy white part? It makes me think that there’s a spider that laid eggs in there or something.

        NS: Exciting.

        SL: Yeah. Which I didn’t know until I cut into it. I couldn’t tell because these voids weren’t really visible. This one was, but most of the holes were not visible from the sides.

        NS: So did your whole fence collapse?

        SL: On one side, yeah. The wood rotted at the post and then it got really windy and it fell down in my back yard. It was an old fence, they don’t last forever.

        NS: Are you going to make a new fence out of wood?

        SL: Well, this goes back to the recycling stuff. I have this idea—we broke up a lot of concrete in our backyard so that we could let the rain go back into the soil.

        NS: Sure, yeah.

        SL: So we have all this busted up concrete, and I kind of want to make a gabion fence, which is wire mesh and you can make baskets or panels of it and fill it with loose material. So then I could recycle the concrete chunks.

        NS: So it’s like, there’s wire in parallel?

        SL: Yeah, there’s two wire mesh panels, and then based steel posts every six feet or so that the mesh panels are welded to or anchored to, and then you fill it with loose materials. And you can make like planters, or retaining walls out of it. . . .

        NS: So it could include like, soil?

        SL: Yeah, it could make planter box out of that and grow things in it.

        NS: Do you know how to weld?

        SL: No, but there’s a metal shop downstairs! Maybe that can be the next thing I’ll learn. Or, I could make a buddy. . . .

        NS: You can probably do both those things, yeah?

        SL: Yeah, probably both those things, yeah!

        Tea lights made by Sarah Lu – with occasional bugs (no flaws)

        Tea lights made by Sarah Lu – with occasional bugs (no flaws)