Last week I was privileged to teach to an AP Art class at our local high school. We had a great time pulling prints from the Gelli Arts printing plate, as well as plain old paper to paper printing of hand-cut collagraphs. After amassing a pile a papers, they created a small journal or a grid collage, or both. I will show photos from the event next week. Below is a practice print I made to get warmed up for class - using a stencil that is having it's three year anniversary today!
Not long ago I started paying attention to the changes at Pinterest. They seem to continually change their format - just when I think I get how it works, it changes. It's likely they don't actually change it that regularly, but seems like it since I don't visit very often. One new feature seems to be that they have figured out how to compile close-to-accurate numbers for how often a photo/graphic is pinned. It used to be that you would see an item pinned from your blog with a quantity of 10 or 20 next to it, then see the same item further down the page with a 15, 30, or 50. There was a photo montage from my blog that had registered over a 1000 pins and I thought that was pretty cool, until I visited it this week and discovered, because of the new calculating wizardry, that the pin is now on over 12,200 boards. (see HERE if you're on Pinterest) HCIT?
I can't believe it's been three years TODAY since these stencils came out. Designed in October 2013, they were released with Stencil Girl Products on January 27, 2014. Here's an abbreviated posting of my original.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2017!
Recently my friend Seth asked a handful of bloggers to calculate our most popular blog posts for a re-cap he presented on his blog. It was heartwarming to observe and recognize that my most visited post was the announcement of Sam's invention of "purpose" and the opening of his online shop: see HERE. Also in the top ten was a follow-up, when he was featured in my column for Somerset Studio: see HERE. I know that blog reading is down in general, and that most people tend to visit on facebook rather than clicking through to see full posts. So I thank you all for taking the time to swing by here, and to check in from time to time with your kind comments.
Here's to a creative and productive year ahead for all of us. I hope you find your purpose (one or more!) and that if you already know yours, that you can help a loved one find theirs.
On the newsstands now or very soon, the Jan/Feb Somerset Studio - with my article: Silver Linings. Made with gelli prints that were painted back in October 2013, I decided to finally USE THEM as they were in peril of being pitched. Pages are stitched together - a tip I got from my friend Julie Prichard in one of her online classes. I'm a Silver Lining seeker - trying to see the good in every situation, no matter how difficult. Quotes of affirmation, collected over time, now reside in this new journal. See the article for more about the process.
Don't miss out on the early registration discount for CreativeJumpStart2017. Offer good through the ball drop on Saturday night. Join in for a full month of creativity videos and giveaways - from 27 artists. Last year was so much fun - my first time as a presenter. Happy to be back again. Come along!!
Have you signed up for Creative JumpStart yet? You can still get an early registration discount of $45 until the end of December. (Regular pricing of $50 on 1/1/17) Why not get enrolled now, before the ramped up activities of the holidays? Sign up and and sit back, knowing that throughout January you can re-motivate your creativity on a daily basis with videos by 27 artists. Treat yourself! Click HERE.
Here's a sneak peek of the supplies I use for my project video. Debris from your table will work!
My friend Nathalie, host of Creative JumpStart, has prepared a video that is a visual interview. She asked the questions, I sent her graphics for my answers. I love this kind of interview. Check it out. You can sign up for a month of motivational tutorials from 27 artists, to get you plugged in to making cool stuff HERE. I hope you'll join us!
When you get to the end of the video it will show you some of the other interviews that have been posted so far - click on those too. Super fun!
I'm excited to announce that I'll be a participating artist for Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2017, hosted for the 6th year by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2017.
Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with other artists and crafters.
Throughout January participants get access to 27 downloadable videos from 27 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:
Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and to learn more details:
If you sign up before November 30th (11:59 pm EST 2016) the cost is only $40.
Afterwards it will be $45 until December 31st, 2016 before it goes to its regular price of $50.
Treat yourself and jumpstart your creativity for the new year - a full month of inspiring posts to get you plugged in to making art!
I participated last year - with my first video! It was super fun to see how each jumpstart artist interpreted the prompt of the theme, and I learned a lot of really fun techniques (from artists I knew and artists who were knew-to-me) and it definitely got me motivated for the new year. This will be my second year, and only my second video - I know! I'm a dinosaur....eventually video-making will become more of a habit...I hope! I am grateful to my friend Nathalie who pushed me out of my comfort zone to make these videos.
I love the theme for 2017 - MIX, MATCH, & MASTER and I have translated it with a quick and easy project that everyone should try!
So what are you waiting for? Sign up here at:
Chime in below if you are coming along for the ride and we will get excited together!
AND..........if you're a cyber shopper (who isn't?) Stencil Girl Products has deals all day long TODAY.
Stencil savings up to 35% on my SGP designs!
Official shopping details: www.stencilgirlproducts.com
Save 25% off all* stencils Use code: cyber25
Monday, November 28, 2016 from midnight until 11:59 a.m. CST (Central Standard Time)
PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!
AND orders over $100 get a FREE large stencil of Mary Beth's choice!
SHOP for my designs HERE.
Save 20% off all* stencils Use code: cyber20 Monday, November 28, 2016
from noon until 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time)
PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!
AND orders over $100 get a FREE large stencil of Mary Beth's choice!
SHOP for my designs HERE.
Lots of really amazing designs at Stencil Girl Products - stock up for yourself, and double up to get some gifts!
Just in - newest Somerset Studio. My Make It Your Own column for this issue is Draw The Line - got the title from a sign that hangs over my desk. We get so jazzed about stencils with paint, ink, gelli plates, spray paint....we often forget to just use with pencil or pen. Into the coloring book trend? Make some pages of your own with the assistance of stencils, and some freehand mark-making. Love the stencils you already have? Pump up the contrast by adding outlines - draw the line! Magazine hits the stands this week.
Day 31: Here's a new word for you: OPERCULIST. Who knew there was a word for manhole cover enthusiasts and drainspotters. I learned that from an article that tells us Labor leader (England) is a fan. HERE, HERE and HERE.
And just like that the month is over! I have a long list of additional things I wanted to share but many of my emails requests for permission to use photos went unanswered. In some ways I feel like I've only scraped the surface of what is out there in terms of interest and inspiration of street hardware. I have loved putting this series together and hope you've enjoyed it - but most of all, I hope that you are taking notice of what's underfoot, both at home and you visit other places.
Why is this topic fascinating to me? I love circles + pattern. I love observing the differences and similarities common objects. I love that many covers are plain and not that remarkable, and that there are just as many which are intricate, handsome, and deliberately designed. I love the corroded, patina-ed, rusty, well-trodden - wondering at the history, from the manufacturing, installation, and the network of systems below that provide the pulse of a city. Searching for covers gets us looking at other heavy metal offerings like iron gates and fences; we also see layouts of bricks and stone, and carved details in building facades....it's endless what we see when we really look.
I love that I've met so many cool people along this path - from fellow enthusiasts and collectors, to inventive artists, and a whole community of generous souls who *get it*. Thank you to everyone who chimed in with encouraging comments, and to my guests (old and new friends) who participated and broadened our view, and therefore our perspective, and widened our circle of friends with fabulous stories and visuals.
A few days ago, when realizing we were concluding on Halloween, it occurred to me that my very first memory of considering manhole covers as a thing, was during the 70s. An urban legend that was circulating that warned trick-or-treaters to stay on sidewalks as grates and sewer covers may present danger, having been loosened as a prank, thus the peril of plunging frightened everyone. When I asked my mom about it she recalled the myth, but neither of us remember how we learned of it or why it was circulating in the neighborhood. Does anyone remember a similar story? At the same time there was the scare that candy was poisoned, or there might be a razor blade inside, so we always had to do a treat check after coming home. Prior to these 'scares' our greatest concern had been whether there would be snow in October and if our costume would fit over our snowmobile suits.
Staying on the sidewalks is always good advice....and if you're in London, you may encounter many of these memorial medallions. Fallon and I found several while visiting in 2012, almost exactly four years ago today. Info about the Jubilee Walk, HERE and the Diana Walk, HERE. The Diana markers have arrows at the perimeter as directional guides.
And while walking the sidewalks of Birmingham, we spied these. I get excited any time there is a deviation that breaks up the pavement.
A really fabulous resource for viewing covers of the world is Sewers of the World, Unite! In addition to their extensive collection of photos, you can see the artistamps designed by Alexander Kholopov. How clever are these? See those HERE and at the V&A archives HERE. Our friend Bobbi, who was introduced on Day 23, actually met Alexander and his wife when visiting Russia. See Bobbi's post on her blog HERE.
This past summer I saw articles about Raubdruckerin , HERE and HERE. There are terrific visuals in those articles as well as on the site - printing from manhole covers in the same way Russ does (Day 16). Currently they do not ship to the US, but their process and unique cover findings in Germany are worth an online visit - they have additional locations where they've printed from too. HERE.
I asked permission to show you Shepard Fairey's custom cover the City of Milan - no reply. See it in this article, HERE.
Is there a museum? YES.
Not sure how I came across this, but it is such a touching story. During the process of constructing the Water Tunnel No. 3, to bring access to Manhattan, twenty-three 'sandhogs' lost their lives. As a memorial, their names are inscribed on manhole covers installed near Van Cortlandt Park. Article HERE. Additional reading HERE, and HERE. Thank you Matt for allowing me to share your photo.
So back to Halloween for a minute. I was at a costume shop and noticed that the entire collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items all had sewer covers on the label, yet no sewer covers as props. On Pinterest I found Michele McDonald who offers a DIY tutorial. In the event you need one, HERE are her stepped out instructions. Thanks Michele for allowing me to share this. And below that - all the TMNT toys - lid launcher, legos, figures that shoot lids, and the sewer lair. If you wish you could live a lair like theirs, you can! AirBNB has just the place for you, in NYC: HERE.
On Day 15 I showed you my manhole cover stencil designs and patterns for The Ink Pad. I'm excited to announce that rubber stamps are coming soon! They've been in the works since we started working together over a year ago. Still in the process of manufacturing, these will be available at their store and online shop soon. Sneak peek:
AND I'm launching more unmounted rubber for my own collection at GreenPepperPress. I've been inspired by several things - of course covers and grates have influenced these images, but I also have a thing for playing cards. When I started manipulating these rounds and rectangles, juxtaposing the designs, they started to feel like backs of cards, which got me thinking about card packages and the tax stamp that seals the box. I've mocked up some samples of how I envision the usefulness of these images on tags. These are in production and are available for a pre-order discount until they arrive. You can order HERE.
UPDATE from Day 28: Confirmed dates of upcoming tours with Michele Brody are Saturday, November 19th at 1pm and Saturday, December 10th at 1pm. More info HERE
Thanks for coming along! Have a Happy Halloween.
Tomorrow: a preview of my current article for Somerset Studio, "Draw the Line". You might see a few manhole covers ;)
Day 30: As we have been working our way through the month I've been trying to keep up with entries in my manhole cover journals, which came from Vernakular.com. These are actually covers that slip over a blank book and have an elastic closure. They came with a white lined paper booklet - but I replaced one with kraft paper and one with black paper. The also have door mats of manhole covers. Super cool, HERE.
Yesterday I went to a rubber stamp show - it's been a long time since I've attended one. I always come home and mark up my new stamps - do you do that too? I visited the vending table of my friend Seth Apter and got some of his stamps and a stencil - I think they will be perfect for my manhole journals. You can find Seth's product line HERE. Click around - he's got a lot of stuff! It was great to see Ted at his Stampers Anonymous mobile shop - he gives a great demo, much fancier then when I used to do it for SA back in the day.
A few more fun finds this week....I scored a pendant of a cover from Prague (from Etsy), and some mini-manholes meant for train sets. These are smaller than dimes. So cute - had to have them. More model train manhole decals are on the way - gotta have them for my journal, right? Everything is cute in tiny form.
And this wood frame is by Seven Gypsies - looks like the voids are asking to be filled with covers. Found at Hobby Lobby. Might try some paper casting for this.
I will be talking more about stamps tomorrow - be sure to tune in. It will be our last day, can you believe it?
Day 29: For several weeks there has been a lot of focus on manhole covers in our home. Everyone had gotten into it. My requests to family members to collect photos of their daily findings may have been met with raised eyebrows, but all complied. As I'm out and about with Sam in tow he is never surprised when I pull over to get out and investigate a dip in the pavement. Often that would lead toward a few more steps this way, then that way, to see if I missed anything. Even my parents got involved. To follow is the evidence that my family "gets" me. Just below: a custom printed mat for our basement "pub". It arrived just three days after I ordered it! You can get one HERE. I wouldn't consider it a hardy door mat, in fact I won't be placing outside. It's going in the pub of course.
My mom and dad - they found a Neenah cover!:
My sister-in-law Renee, and my son Peter:
My daughter Fallon:
My sister-in-law Sandra:
From my husband:
And look at this beauty sent in by Barbara Pandos - taken while she was in Helsinki. (My loyal readers know why this is so special).
So I got to thinking.....wouldn't this be an appropriate cover for Helsinki too? I borrowed the edges from Gabriele's photos shown on Day 17.
(For those who don't know - the center is actually a Heartagram belt buckle....the Heartagram being the symbol for my favorite band HIM, from Helsinki).
Special thanks to my family serving as roving reporters this month. xoxo
Day 28: Early in my investigation about how/why some NYC manhole covers are manufactured in India and China I found THIS article, by Allison Meier for Hyperallergic. Be sure to click over and read it as she presents evidence of many relics, as well as some newer covers that were commissioned in the city. HERE. This article is FULL of information and visuals. She references a wikipedia page that deciphers the alphabet soup of initials found on covers, HERE. And at the bottom of that page there's a link to an amazing site of sewer covers of the world - a map with submitted photos from around the globe, HERE. Also on the wiki page is THIS link, sewer covers of the Bronx. Back to original article - Allison went on a walking tour, hosted by Michele Brody (so off I went to research her too)....the article had me opening more and more windows I was beginning to worry my computer might crash. Visit Allison's site too - she hosts cemetery tours.
Michele Brody - she is a mixed media installation artist. Those simple words hardly explains what she does. Click over and check her out. I spent a whole afternoon browsing her portfolio of work which is immensely fascinating. Michele is a manhole cover designer too! See her site, Re-Covering the Cityscape: Impression of History Underfoot, a public art project that recognizes lost New York City history, specifically buildings which no longer exist. Special cast covers, which reference architectural details of these buildings, will be placed near their locations. Love this, "they quietly reward the attentive pedestrian with an art form that doubles as a commemorative plaque". The Assay cover, as described by Michele, "a radiating Mandala upon which the experience of the city and its history can be meditated." Perfect. Hope we will see more of these.
A historic reference of the building as it stood until 1915 (source), and evidence of its installation (courtesy of Michele Brody) until it was accidentally removed. There is a movement to get another one installed. Where's the petition? Let's sign it! Again, visit Michele's site HERE. For more close-ups, see HERE. Audio interview with Michele, New York Underfoot from WFUV, HERE.
Here's some cool news: Michele Brody offers tours!! For all my friends in the metro area, let's go! Sneak peek of promotional postcard below. Actual link HERE. As soon as I learn the sign-up details I will edit this post and crosspost on FB. UPDATE: Confirmed dates of upcoming tours with Michele Brody are Saturday, November 19th at 1pm and Saturday, December 10th at 1pm. More info HERE.
From Michele's newsletter:
And finally, after a successful weekend of Manhole Cover tours for Open House NY, I am excited to announce that I will be teaming up with JoAnn Fynke, NYC Guide and Co Founder of NYCTours.us to bring Discovering New York Underfoot: The Manhole Covers of the Meatpacking District and the Village to the public later this Fall. Stay tuned for dates and more details...See above.
Thanks Michele, for allowing me to share your work - hope to get on a tour with you soon!
Michele's "Art In Odd Places", a self-guided tour brochure HERE, sneak peek below.
One more cool thing connected to Michele and her passion for heavy metal, she is also into light metal, as in light fixtures. The etched glass designs are based on rubbings, set in a hand-made stainless steel and copper sconce. You can see more about those at UrbanIlluminations.com
In addition to the Assay cover, NYC can claim a few more. I found an article about the Lawrence Weiner covers on the Public Art Fund site, HERE. The site indicates the locations of installation, which were present in the 2000s and to remain indefinitely but at this time only two remain. Public Art Fund in Collaboration with ConEdison and Roman Stone. There's a book about it - no longer in print. Drats.
In other cities - my friend Jeanne shared an article about Seattle. Lots of cool covers there! See HERE, HERE, and HERE. I didn't have time to seek permission to share Seattle photos. But if you're interested, there is a lot to see. Even better - knowing that there are lots of projects that honor the lid with a decorative surface.
And a new reader, Wayne Wegner, who calls himself Calgary's Manhole Man, shared this article about his city's call for art as they replace 2000 covers every year. How cool to be able to enter a submission! See that article HERE, and below see two of Wayne's findings, as well as the mold for a very handsome Calgary cover, the Chinook. Thanks Wayne for letting me share today!
More links, courtesy of Wayne (who should start his own website soon!):
NOTICE OF EDIT: I'm so excited to be able to share the rubbings of David Robert. I included his link for Day 26, but now I've edited that post to display his work from the streets of Japan. Go see, middle of the page, HERE.
And raise your hand if you want to take the NYC tour with me!!
Day 27: There are a few places that recognize we can place art anywhere, even underfoot. Today is focused on Minnesota, tomorrow New York and more.
During my online travels I had learned about the special covers found downtown Minneapolis. They were commissions by the city, in both the 80s and the 90s as public art. Sadly, at this time all or most, are stacked in storage as the city is undergoing a huge renovation project of the Nicollet Mall. Crossing fingers all of them will be restored once the debris is swept away by fall of 2017. Never been to Minneapolis? Don't know the Nicollet Mall? Sure you do....it's where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her beret, or tam, as they say in Minnesota. There had been a MTM statue on the Mall, but it was removed for construction - but I just read she's no longer in storage and has been placed at the new Minneapolis Visitor Information Center so you can got get a selfie with her.
Andy Sturdevant, is a writer/author/columnist who has a terrific article (2013) about manhole-covers-as-art in MN. These are his photos below - first in the grid are two older standard issue Mpls covers, followed by some of the artist's interpretations of "entertainment". Created and installed in the 80s - only a handful of selections went into production, following submission of over 400. My favorite is "Your Precise Location..." by artist Stuart D. Klipper.
You can read the full piece HERE. He presents a great commentary on public art. Thank you Andy for allowing me to share your photos and your article about the Minneapolis covers.
Below are more from the first commission in the 80s. Artist credits can be seen HERE.
Another blogger, Will Crain, has scored photos of all the 1990s covers which were designed by a single artist, Kate Burke. I really appreciate that Will granted permission for me to share his findings as these designs are stunning.
You can see his post HERE. Thank you Will for these amazing photos of your finds.
From Kate Burke's site: In 1990, the City of Minneapolis commissioned artists to create artwork for Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis. I was commissioned to create 75 manhole covers to replace the covers over 13 city blocks. Thirty more covers for the Northern States Power Company on Nicollet Mall were eventually added. There are 11 different designs which commemorate the state designations and other icons of the state. Included are the the state flower, fish, tree, bird, grain, fruit- the Lady Slipper; the Walleye; Norway Pine; Loon; Wild Rice; Halverson Apples; the grains - Oats, Wheat, Corn, the Timberwolf, the Northern Pike. It is intended that there be discoveries like the worm with the apple or the pheasant in the corn field giving added interest over time. Each are cast iron measuring 26 inches in diameter although the Northern State Power Company covers are 29 inches.
Kate also has designed brick-sized bronze reliefs installed in the pavement of the narrow alley, Winthrop Lane, Boston. More art underfoot!
Bravo Kate! Your designs are so handsome and truly capture the many iconic scenes from the Minnesota.
This year a Minnesota native was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature and the media seems to think he doesn't care as he's been unreachable. I think it's because he already has THIS, a manhole cover designed for him, installed in Duluth, MN.
As a girl born and raised in Minnesota, I love the story of manhole covers as art. As I mentioned on Day 1, I was still in the Twin Cities in the 80s but I was always looking for Neenah covers. I had no idea what lay underfoot on particular streets in town. Looking forward to visiting there again once the artful covers have been restored. It sounds like the installation spans wider than just Nicollet Mall so perhaps you might get lucky when you're on your way to a Vikings game.
Have you been looking down more often on when you're on foot? I've been hearing a lot of that :)