Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hubcap as Fine Art

I got my very own hubcap!!!

First off, some background info:
Last spring, shortly after my son was born, I started to design fabric for the site, Spoonflower. There are tons of talented designers & artists creating one of a kind fabric designs there and among those artists is Kristen Stein. Her fabric is beautiful and her artwork equally beautiful. Her blog is where I found out about Landfillart.org An Artist Reclamation Project.

Landfillart.org and their mission: 
Landfillart is an international effort encompassing one-thousand-forty-one (1,041) artists to claim a piece of rusted metal garbage and create fine art.
The 1,041 pieces of rusted metal are actually old automobile hub caps from the 1930’s through the 1970’s.  Each hub cap, after being cleaned and primed, is affectionately called a “metal canvas.”  Although most “metal canvases” have been transformed by the artist using oil or acrylic paint, some have been weaved on, glued or screwed or welded to, or made into fine sculpture.
I have found that the fine artists I have worked with on this project do not even flinch when looking at this white round disc of metal canvas.  And why should they.  Artists from the beginning of time have used cave walls (Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain,) walls of pyramids (Egyptians,) animal skins (American Indians,) etc… as their canvas.  In addition, as a gallery owner for over thirty years, I maintain that artists, generally speaking, are more ecologically in touch and environmentally aware.  Perhaps that is the reason forty-one artists readily accepted the challenge and embraced the project.
Although the project is in its infancy (I hope to have it completed by 2012,) it will evolve from a simple idea of taking forty-one old rusted hub caps and creating forty-one pieces of great art.  The second phase has already started with the acquisition of one thousand additional (1000) rusted hub caps which will be turned into cleaned and primed “metal canvases.  The project will continue with finding one thousand (1000) talented artists who believe in this project.
The third phase will involve publishing a book on the project showcasing all one thousand forty one (1,041) completed “metal canvases.”
The fourth and final phase will involve choosing 200 metal canvases that adequately represent the project and create a traveling show. The book and traveling show will publically portray the global art community's effort to positively impact the environment through repurposing previous metal waste into great landfill art.

My first thought was "I want to do this!", my second was "I can't believe they haven't already reached their goal!". So I looked at their application page which read:

If you are a professional artist, who would like to apply for consideration to become part of the landfillart project, please send:
  • short biography
  • samples of your work
  • a description of what you'd like to create
  • why you'd like to participate (please limit your descriptions to under two-hundred words)
to: artistsubmissions@landfillart.org. You can also mail your information (CD format is preferred) to the address below.
conactLandfill Art
122 South Main Street. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 18701 USA

Telephone: 1  570 823 0519
In USA:      1  800 248 2467
FAX:           1  570 823 7182
EMAIL: ken@landfillart.org

Then I thought "Do I qualify as a professional artist?" I have sold a few designs through Spoonflower. I was a graphic designer for over 15 years. Does that count? It took a full 24 hours to muster enough gall to send Ken Marquis an email.

The email went as follows:
Dear Ken and all in charge of submissions,

* short biography -
My name is Jennifer Starchvill. I am a married, mother of two small
children. I live in a suburb of Chicago. I became aware of your
project by way of Kristen Stein's blog yesterday. I found her on
Spoonflower, where I also post my designs for sale as printed fabric
patterns. I have always been an artist. I was a professional graphic
designer for 15 years where I did everything from package design to
product design, marketing anything from construction supplies to baby
toys. I've experimented in quite a few artistic mediums however, the
one I keep going back to is pen and ink. What I draw most is what I
call 'Doodle Babble'. Doodle Babbles are ink drawings inspired by my
subconscious. Some are decorative, some are deep, some whimsical and
fun, and some can be weird, but mostly, people say they're interesting
and they like them.

* samples of your work -
'Subconscious Garden' Pen and ink on paper, repeat pattern -
'Bejeweled Lines' Pen and Ink on paper, repeat pattern -
'Curves' Pen and Ink on paper, repeat pattern -
'The Shirt' Pen and Ink on cotton knit single continuous pattern (see
attached), plus, this blog entry includes photos of paintings The
Shirt inspired - http://doodlebabble.blogspot.com/2012/06/shirt.html

* a description of what you'd like to create -
I would like to create a subconscious scene on one of your metal
canvases. If ink isn't feasible, I can use a different medium, like
oil paint or acrylic.

* why you'd like to participate (please limit your descriptions to
under two-hundred words) -
Why not? Your project seems so cool! I love the idea of arting up some
junk, making it functional again (even if it is decorative).

Thank you for creating this project.
I hope I get the opportunity to be a part of it.
Best Regards,
Jennifer Starchvill

The Fun Begins:
To my surprise, I got a positive response and my hubcap was shipped on July 5th. I received it the following Tuesday. I wasn't sure what to expect but I thought it was going to be primed in white like the photos on their site but mine was still metal. Which, after looking at many of the ones in the gallery, it seems many of those were in their natural hubcap condition before the artist got a hold of them too.

Then I started to experiment. Will my ink stick? Temporarily. It rubs off quite easily with a paper towel. It's really not commonplace to use a rapidograph on metal. There are home made inks and some graffiti market inks but I need (want) them to work in my rapidograph pen and I don't have the luxury of time. I figured, ink would stick to paint, right? So I started to look for paint that would stick to metal. The preparation process was just too much for a mother of a 2yr old & 1yr old to handle... Sanding, acetone, rubber gloves...Ugh! So I looked for a powder coater that could 'prime' my 'canvas' for me. I sent out a few emails searching for advice & pricing. I hit pay dirt! My new friend Dave, of CPC Powder Coating in Crest Hill offered to coat it pro-bono! Understanding my artistic vision, he did a clear coat for me. Another coater offered the advice of a matte silver for $25 but ya can't beat 'free'. I also felt matte silver would have taken some of the hubcappyness out of it. Now, it is still reflective and looks like steel. But, the ink still rubs off with a paper towel. I anticipated a top coat of clear would be needed to hold the design. Dave assured me once my design was complete, some clear rust-o-leum should preserve it. He suggested to do a 'dust' coat first & let it set 5 minutes, then to do a regular coat. There shouldn't be a problem with the top coat adhering to their clear coat. I'm crossing my fingers. Since I can't leave well enough alone, I thought I'd try a different ink, just in case. A good old Sharpie®. (Some artist I am, it just didn't occur to me sooner to try a good old fashioned Sharpie.) Yes! Sharpie will work!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Today, I magically threw together a design for Spoonflower's Fabric of the week contest, Pomegranates. I'm trying to challenge myself more by moving out of my comfort zone and drawing actual things. I referenced some images via the internets & did some 'doodling'.

Then, I used auto-trace in illustrator, colored & arranged them.

Using the signature pomegranate shape, I used just my outline and layered in a screen of it at a larger scale for a scribbly, urban effect. I hope to get a few votes.