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 ;)