Reclaiming

This is little blue man. He glows in the dark. My third puppet. Made from reclaimed Douglas Fir, Yew wood, and an assortment of semiprecious stone beads.  Priced at 2500 bucks, or best offer.  I’m keeping the workbench, and the books.   

   This is the natural law of the planet. Something dies, and it becomes something else by breaking down into smaller pieces. Considered as an element or process, one begins to see it everywhere. At one point last year, I had a friend describe a neat concept: Kipple. A Kipple corner is a place where you find a bunch of materials for reclamation. The idea originated in a Sci-Fi book where very few people remained on the planet, and materials would be distributed like they do after a hurricane and flood. Ever since I was introduced to this idea, I recognized it’s relationship with how I discover sources of free things. Becoming passionate with the idea, I began to look for them, think about where new ones were, and find them. One of the first ones was a corner on the Interstate. I knew that the wind would pick up in the mountain valley we were driving through, and began to look for the Kipple. Eleven baseball caps were strewn along the shoulder. Yanking the wheel over, stomping on the brakes, and running up to gather them was a thrill. A perfectly good hoodie sweater was still in it’s bag, and I was ecstatic. We eased up ahead at the end of the turn, and parked. As we were looking at the stuff, and laughing about our luck, a shiny red corvette pulled up, and parked.The driver didn’t look like a friendly sort of character, I got a funky feeling about him, and sure enough, we witness a drug deal thirty seconds later. A Harley pulls up and parks, the rider dismounts, they share a couple words, then both tear off down the freeway separately. I didn’t see anything exchange hands, as I was busy putting my truck between us, and trying not to stare. After they left, we climbed the hill to overlook the shoulder, and waited for about fifteen minutes. Sure enough, bouncing down the freeway come flying baskets. Three of them. Uber cool moment for me. I slid and clambered my way down the incline and ran into the roadway to gather them. Later we went along our merry way, wearing hats that said things like ″Comedians for peace″, thinking about the biggest basket cases we knew, and which one should get a basket.

One of the first clear memories I have of reclamation in an urban environment, is of climbing into a dumpster when I was six. Dumpsters are the classic reclamation spots, if you know the right time, and location, hot food out of the deli is available for free. Fruits and vegetables not worthy of the counter space due to blemishes, in other words fresh raw produce, can be carted away by the box load. Wine, beer, trampolines, bicycles, or gold. My brother and I went into this one with ease. What I remember most about that time, was how it felt to find the paint color demo strips, and how much I liked them even though they were boring.

I grew up spending a month a year cleaning up a festival so dumpsters were a familiar entity. Every last scrap of anything synthetic was to be picked from the dust, and removed from the site. Needles, nails, and nasties. Imagine finding anything under the sun, including things you don’t even recognize, spread out over a couple hundred acres of forest. Ground scores became widely known about over time unfortunately, and other savvy people began waking up pre-dawn, searching at the break of day for the forgotten treasures. Visualize 50,000 people partying for a weekend straight every year in the same place, and how much trash that generates.

My father is an entrepreneur with it. His economic serenity and flair have their roots in reclaimed materials. He taught me about the value of materials, how they are made, wasted, and discarded into the natural world with abandonment. How by design we consume more than we need, to the point of neglecting the materials we own, and wasting what’s left. As a culture we build things to own rather than share, and his examples of recycling to share, inspire me emulate him.

Here is the evaluation process I try to perform when I debate on reclamation. First comes the test of structural integrity. Most of the time your able to see if something has this with a glance. Sometimes it’s a crack, others a twist, a janky-ness, a rot spot, a rust spot, a tear. Look hard enough and you might find a bug eating it. You get better at it by dismantling and separating the parts, in order to recycle them. Is it wet? Does it stink? How old is it? How much is it worth? How much energy will it take to make it worth using? Is it more valuable as separate parts, or as a whole? Can I sell it right away? Do I want it? Do I have space for it? Is my mom home? Can I sneak it in tonight without her seeing it? Can I give it to her? Does anybody else need it? In many ways the process is more fun than the actual acquisition, and thus began a theme of ″Beautiful Trash″ art for me. After a few years of being excited about this type of sculpture, planning acquisitions of clock dumpsters, and visualizing what I needed for each piece, I became frustrated with it. I began to notice that my workspace was brimming with garbage, and cluttered to the point of inefficiency. It was a relief to clean it out and be more methodical about my process, but I’m on auto pilot with some types of materials, and can’t pass them up.

I started investigating how machines are made out of curiosity, for example, the remote control car I got for Christmas when I was four. That one never needed batteries, in fact, I fixed it forever. Towards my teens I learned how to demolish buildings. This is particularly fun. Wild, destructive, primal, nasty, dangerous, and packed with sweat. Too much fun can be had, and the choice of music is the key. ACDC will really liven things up, and somebody might get hurt. Fiddle and banjo are a different matter all together. Put those beats on, and the work will speed up, but in a lively aware kinda way. Then it gets really dangerous and fairly controlled, which to me became really cool fast.

Thinking about all of the materials I have hoarded away brought me to a conclusion today. I love reclaiming materials because the work creates more work. The materials must be processed, stored, altered, repaired, and made into something else. The options are endless, combine rope, glass, wire, bolts, nuts, washers and creativity. What do you need? It’s likely we could make something else that would be just as good. Take shelter for instance. We’ve been building structures for thousands of years with every useful natural element we can find. Why would I throw away a functional device, so I could buy a bright shiny new one? It pleases me more to make do with something slightly damaged, by fixing it to work for me.

No wonder my art became many sketches all over the page. I have an aversion to wasting a full sheet on one image if the rest of the page isn’t filled. In fact, I draw on the back too. The separate pictures overlap at times, which leads me to switching mediums. I’ve always been thrilled by multi-media applications. Penciling in a design, erasing, giving it details, then inking it. Oil crayons are entertaining, with their bright colors, and chaotic lines. A picture then goes through stages like a cast bronze wax. It metamorphosis into something completely different. An example of this, was when I built a storage room for a customer. Sheet-rock hanging takes a lot longer when your using the lift as an easel before you put the pieces up. They were the perfect canvas, four foot wide by eight foot long white paper sheet-goods. About a week later I brought some kids into the room as it got closer to finish, and gave them the opportunity to draw or right on the wall. Our scrawls and drawings are still there because the storage room didn’t require paint, as raw sheet-rock was good enough.

This isn’t really done, but my editor will see this and crack a grin, so I’m going to wind this out now. I might never fix it, but I’m satisfied to have voiced so much about the subject. I guess it won’t matter in the future posts to me either. Seems like a book could be written about any one of the subjects I’ve placed in the titles of my posts. I hope you enjoy them, it’s been fun to write. 🙂

Advertisements

One comment

The pharmacy of your mind prescribing for my pleasure

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s