Michelle Stitzlein's Witty Moths and Flowers
Improbable as it may sound, the full experience of Michelle Stitzlein's oversized wall-mounted sculptures sneaks up on you. She began working on this series in 2003, inspired by "myriad varieties of beautiful, exotic moths in my own backyard."
Flashy butterflies may get all the attention, but their quietly colored close relatives have their own beauty, which shows in the shapes and colors of Stitzlein's whimsical invented moths (with imaginary names such as Nocturnal Indigo Gum Snout). All are painstakingly built from recycled materials — license plates, car parts, mirrors, trash can lids, piano keys, bicycle tires, scrap wood, bottlecaps, aluminum siding, faucet handles, oil drum lids, phone hand sets, whatever is at hand — because the artist prefers materials bringing the experience of personal associations over those that are "shiny and new."
One 11-foot wide moth can take Stitzlein three weeks, working eight hours a day, to complete. Her sculptures can be broken down into three pieces to be moved from place to place for reassembly and display. For additional images, visit her site http://web.mac.com/petrafal/iWeb/MGShow/Stitzlein.html.
OHO Rojo Silkmoth, a wall mounted sculpture, by Michelle Stitzlen. 96"H x 114" W x 12" D. Made from recycled materials: license plates, roofing metal, piano keys, bottlecaps, vinyl records, electrical wire, tin cans and lids, scrap plastic, gas mask, light fixtures, watering can nozzles, telephone dial, reflectors,etc.
Detail of OHO Rojo Silkmoth
Lollipop Flowers by Michelle Stitzlen made from bottle caps and lids.
Stitzlein, who graduated from the Ohio College of Art & Design in Columbus, has studied traditional folk crafts throughout the world. She consulted with Aid to Artisans to help artists in remote villages in Peru and Colombia preserve indigenous crafts techniques. She has also traveled independently to three continents to study and learn traditional techniques from local artisans. During her travels, Stitzlein said she was impressed by the work of artists who use recycled materials and takes every opportunity to find new uses for castoffs in her own work.
Discovering an abundance of plastic bottle caps and lids in her supply closet, Stitzlein developed brightly colored sculptures for her garden. Word spread and she was asked to teach workshops to show others how to do them. Because many require use of a cordless drill, these projects are good ways for adults and children under 12 to spend an afternoon together. Sculptures are not intended to last more than three years because the colors fade in full sun. She has written a book, Bottlecap Little Bottlecap with four art projects for children, families, and schools which is available in our bookstore.
Arghand Handmade Soaps
Eco-Artware introduces new product with inspiring story
Arghand Co-Op members making soap.
Eco-Artware is proud to introduce handmade soaps from the
Arghand Cooperative in the southern part of Afghanistan. Not only are we
impressed with the quality and beauty of the soaps, but we are inspired by
the cooperative itself.
The privately funded Arghand cooperative was started near Kandahar in 2005
by American journalist and businesswoman Sarah Chayes. The co-op buys raw materials from local
farmers -- almonds, pomegranates, mint and other fruits and flowers -- and,
using labor intensive processes, makes its own oils, distills its own scents
and crafts them into soap. The cooperative is helping diversify the local
economy for both the farmers and the artisans.
To see a slide show of the Arghand soapmakers at work,
Aircraft come out of retirement
What can you do with a retired airplane?
You can melt it down for its tons of valuable scrap metal, or park it in the hot dry Mojave Desert to become a source of spare parts for other planes still flying. Or, you can relocate it to the perfect location for a house or a restaurant and bar, or use those donor parts to make furniture, jewelry, fine art sculpture -- the sky's the limit.
Home Sweet Plane
747 Dream Home
Using a different approach to turning a plane into shelter, innovative California architect David Hertz and his firm, Studio of Environmental Architecture, are hard at work on the 747 Wing House. The 55-acre, multi-structure compound north of Malibu, is designed for client Francie Rehwald, an environmentalist and a major supporter of the arts in California. It incorporates various parts of a Tower Air Boeing 747, that once carried more than 500 people at a time around the world, purchased for about $40,000 from a junkyard.
In 2005, Rehwald asked Hertz to design a series of curvilinear buildings for her mountain retreat. They drove out to an aviation boneyard in the desert, where she came to appreciate the sculptural curves of the huge plane. Nearly every part of the craft will be used, with sections of the upper fuselage becoming a guesthouse, sleeping loft and art studio, and the nose forming a meditation chamber on the grounds. The 5,500 square feet of wings will become the roof of the main living space, with working ailerons (flaps) to help with airflow. Lucas Goettsche, Project Manager, said, "This project is unique because rather than inserting a living space into an existing airplane, we disassembling the aircraft's components and integrating them into an innovative and unique building configuration." They expect to complete the building in 2009.
Renderings of the main residence, showing the that wings are the primary roof structures.
Not your usual airplane meals
Hotel Costa Verde, high on a cliff near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is a highly unlikely location for a restaurant and bar made out of a Fairchild C-123 cargo plane ? but there it is. El Avion was created from the military craft left sitting abandoned at the International Airport in San Jose, a forgotten relic of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.
The hotel?s owners purchased the plane for $3,000 in 2000, dismantled it into seven sections, then shipped the fuselage via ocean ferry from Caldera to the nearby port of Quepos because it was 10 inches too wide for the antiquated railroad bridges on the route.
After the sections were all hauled up an incredibly steep hill, the C-123 finally came to rest overlooking the Pacific beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. The restaurant is under the wing, while the fuselage serves as the pub.
View of the hotel's pub made from the fuselage of a Fairchild C-123 cargo plane.
Furniture from On High
MotoArt Inc. started as an unexpected hobby for Donovan Fell III, who has had lifelong fascination with airplanes. In 1998, he was building themed entertainment structures and sculptures for museums and venues such as Disney and Universal Studios in Southern California, work that produced a fair amount of scrap aluminum to be recycled.
Fell recalls one day spying several greasy, dented B-17 propellers on the pile of metal already collected on the recycling truck. Like Hertz and his client, he was struck by their flowing sculptural lines. Several hundred pounds of discarded propellers found their way into Fell?s workspace, where he spent the next several weekends degreasing, sanding and polishing them. But then he was faced with the question of how to share his creations, which were simply too massive to mount on a gallery wall.
Eventually the idea of a single freestanding blade sculpture evolved,? Fell explains, and with it, an ever-growing line of conference tables, desks, chairs, credenzas, sculptures and other items that range in price from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
The company has designed and fabricated nearly a hundred different styles of functional art from recycled aircraft, which can be found in offices and private collections in almost every country on the globe. One of MotoArt?s most popular items is the conference table made from the wing of a retired DC-4 commercial jet. But with only about 200 commercial jets retired each year worldwide -- and those in service expected to fly for a couple of decades -- the supply is not inexhaustible. If planes are airworthy and cannot be used in one country, they are sold to other countries.
Conference table made from the wing of a DC-4 commercial jet.
MotoArt's couch made from a pontoon rescued from a bone yard. The designers spent weeks sanding and polishing it before adding red upholstery.
"Since 9/11, the government has required retired military aircraft to be completely destroyed, right down to the tail flaps, to keep the technology from falling into the wrong hands," said MotoArt co-founder and managing partner Dave Hall. "We can't find World War II vintage planes anymore, and eventually, we'll have only commercial planes to work with."
To learn more about MotoArt and see their work, visit their website
or one of their showrooms in Torrance, California; Ellicott City, Maryland., near Washington, D.C.; Geneva, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
Elegant Plane Accessories
On a much smaller scale, wearable art has moved into the wild blue yonder, too. Tokens & Icons, a company that finds ingenious ways to recycle nostalgic icons, has created retro chic cuff links from a scrapped Pan Am Boeing 707. This particular plane was the one used to celebrate the 25th anniversary of aviation's most nostalgic carrier -- the one that began the jet age in 1959. The artists milled the metal from the fuselage's blue stripe into this sleep shape reminiscent of the wing's rib, then set it in sterling silver. Each limited edition comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and is numbered and signed.
A Greener Mini-Golf Course
You may have played mini-golf on a themed course — Western, outer space, pirate, or maybe a rainforest — designed to make the game more fun. This spring the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis presents Walker on the Green, a green-themed mini-golf experience designed by artists to make you think, too.
For the interactive exhibit, artists and designers competed to create holes that stimulate players' senses as much as their game. The winning designers range from independent artists and architects to members of established companies and design collectives. In addition to developing a putt-putt experience with a message, the museum had to "make sure the courses will stand up to four months of weather, not to mention an enthusiastic, club-wielding public," said Christi Atkinson, Walker associate director who coordinated the contest entries. The resulting holes differ in both difficulty and setup.
The exhibit offers two seven-hole courses that share a final hole. Players encounter unique environments including a Water Hazard, designed by two architects, which employs dozens of dangling plastic water bottles that not only make it difficult for the putter to get through but serve as "an observation of the less-than-ecological practice of bottling and shipping drinking water." A teacher and his students created a rainwater garden, a hillside of pop-bottle bottoms that references the constantly growing real-life "island of plastic" floating in the Pacific Ocean. One hole requires the player to putt past a 12-foot-tall Paul Bunyan to sink the ball into the mouth of Theodore Roosevelt, who was instrumental in creating the U.S. National Park System. It takes one hour to complete seven holes.
Atkinson noted that some players drawn to Walker on the Green maybe be stepping into the museum for the first time. "Mini golfers and people who like contemporary art aren't necessarily different," she said. "Sometimes it just takes something different to inspire someone to visit." This exhibit will be in place through September 7, 2008. For more information, visit www.Walkerart.org.
Golfer on the Water Hazard hole.
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