The Once and Future Peanut

Almost 7 years in, the Giant Circus Peanut™ is still standing in my kids’ backyard. Squirrels and birds live in, which makes me feel a lot better about some of the materials I used to make it.

If you need the backstory of this sculpture, then please see here, and here and possibly here.

UPDATE

May, 2017. The peanut has fallen. Due to the weeds and fencing, I cannot see why it fell. It’s been overgrown and neglected for years.  Maybe the animals finally gnawed through the base.

Circus peanut in weeds

The Peanut has fallen

detail of circus peanut decay

close up of decay

More circus peanut decay

and yet more decay

UPDATE

September 2017. This just in:

LOL

Raccoon Skeletons

line-drawing

For years, I’ve been bringing dead raccoons home to bury them in a makeshift pet cemetery. It is a nice thing to do for them, and it provides a safe way for me to interact with them.

big-fella

found

in-the-ground

I recently started a new taxidermy experiment. I’m not so interested in stuffing them at this point (although I would love to own some stuff raccoons), but I AM interested in their bones.

reclaimed

Instead of burying them and reclaiming the bones later, I am trying a new approach, which is to keep them in a cage above ground until they fully decompose.

snow-white

cage-one

The photo below is from a few weeks ago. Living in such a rural place has been a big advantage. There is a sad abundance of dead raccoons, and the nearest neighbors are far enough away that smell hasn’t been an issue.

in-the-cage

I introduced meal worms to the bodies shown above. Once the bones are exposed, I’ll put them in a box with more meal worms, as they are supposed to rapidly clean the bones. My cage has successfully frustrated visiting vultures and other critters.

Natural-History-Museum

I will make 3D scans of my clean bones. I’ll process those scans into .stl files, which I can then print using a MakerBot or similar (as I do with action figures).

more-bones

I’ll have new, plastic skeletons to use in my work. They can be armatures, charters or sculptures.

for-sale

 

Make your own Monsters

sorting

Some years ago, I wrote about how to “Make your own Action Figures.” When I was a boy, I used to melt various plastic figures into new, fantastic creatures. In a celebration of the last Sunday of August, Leezle and I created prototypes of new monsters using dinosaurs from the dollar isle at Target.

melting

First, we dissected the figures using X-acto blades. Then, we attempted to melt/fuse the parts together with a magnifying glass and the sun. It was late afternoon, and we didn’t have much success (although we did let the smoke out of a couple of leaves and twigs).

us

We ended up using a mini-butane torch, which worked really well.

Hydra

moew

moeww

I must say the following: ANY KIDS READING THIS – DO NOT DO THIS WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION. MAKE ALL FIGURES IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA. The plastic is really smelly and bad for you. And the butane flame is not good for general health, either.

Luckily, I had Leezle to supervise me.

piles

More to follow.

Roller Coaster

I helped Leezle explore a STEM science project for school. She designed a roller coaster. She wanted it to be music based. I found an old guitar in some trash (where else would a raccoon be?) and picked up an old, used violin. She decided the guitar body worked better.

We were able to meet the requirements of the assignment, and we proved that SCIENCE does, in fact, exist.

roller-coaster

roller-coaster-b

roller-coaster-a

roller-coaster-c

 

Return of the Nut

Mount Royal Avenue is now circus peanut free.  It returned home safely after being on display in Baltimore city for 149 days.

There are several features about this piece that I haven’t yet shared – the PVC backbone contains actual circus peanuts. And the inside of the sculpture base is manned by these two fellows who kept an eye on things for me, since I obviously couldn’t be there.

Now you know.

And, there’s more to the story.

The Giant Circus Peanut

The GIANT Circus Peanut is finished. It’s installed on Mount Royal Avenue in Baltimore, by MICA, and will be on display through November as part of the Here, There, Anywhere exhibit. This is the  “making of” post.   I had some help and thank the following peeps.

  • My friends who lent their ears, ideas and support. I promise to stop talking about circus peanuts soon. Very soon. I swear.
  • Kim Domanski and ArtScape 2010
  • RJ spent a hot afternoon in the July sun moving it.
  • My little peanuts helped paint it, and provided a lot of company, interest and opinions.


My initial thought was to use a metal pipe in the center, and build an armature from chicken wire that I could then “paper mache” with house wrap, Baltimore City Papers and the like. My concern was that I’d have to shred the house wrap into slices so thin that it would take weeks to get it smooth, and also that it would be too heavy.

Here’s what I ended up doing instead.

I made a template by piecing together paper into an 8′ x 4′ sheet. I cut out the shape of the peanut and taped the edges with packing tape.

I made the base of the peanut from 2×8’s, held together with decking screws.

I put half-inch PVC pipe in the base for support – very light, and very strong. And, as a bonus, I put some actual circus peanuts into the pipe before gluing the pieces together.

I was going to have three pairs of pipe support, but it was too much, so I removed the center section.

Once the base was assembled, I cut out the “slices” from sections of Owens Corning foam insulation. I used vinyl gutter downspout sections as spacers, held in place with heavy duty foam safe construction adhesive. The bottom vinyl spacer is screwed and glued to the base, and then glued to each section of foam. It ended up being very sturdy.

The original idea was to sculpt the sides to be somewhat rounded, but it proved too difficult to accomplish (well) in the time I had left, so I removed them. I used bamboo skewers as supports between the layers. They are cheap, strong and I needed something to hold the foam spray in place until it hardened.

I’ve used this foam in my home before – it was satisfying playing with it here. Once it cured, I carved the exterior shape, and the divots on the face.

The girls and I  did most of the spackling.

I’m pretty sure it weighs over 300 lbs – it was difficult to move and harder to install. :) Just ask RJ.

Please come to ArtScape and see it in person!

UPDATE

If you’re interested in what happened with the peanut, there’s more to read here and here.

Art on North Avenue

I found some random ART in the road on Saturday afternoon. I call it “AMRINHAMMER.”  I stopped traffic on North Avenue to record this for you:

Baltimore is the city with ART and syringes in the road.

The title of this installation was informed by this: