Collection at the Branch Libraries
March 23rd, 2012
Dorian made the rounds at the branch libraries today. Lots of bottles to pick up. Our libraries are great places with wonderful people staffing them. We really appreciate having receptacles in the neighborhoods. Thanks JPL!
March 22nd, 2012
Today we hit the 10,000 bottle mark with a few more thousand on the way in. We have 1,000 waiting for us to pick up and 3 high schools, Douglas Anderson, Englewood, and Wolfson, are out on spring break this week and they are sending a bunch our way. We are thrilled to have all of these and now we can devote 100% attention to the wall construction, installation, and the opening.
A BIG thanks to Dorian who almost single-handedly recruited, collected, and recorded every bottle for the project. She deserves a medal for this!
Building a panel – Part 1
March 22nd, 2012
Each panel in the wall is 64 x 64 inches. I start with a square cardboard tray that acts as a frame while I assemble the bottles with silicone caulk. I had some cardboard from a previous project and these proved to be handy. I built 2 trays so that a completed panel could be drying and another panel could be under construction. I place the bottles so that what I am seeing is the front of the sculpture, the side facing Main Street.
At first I had the tray on the floor and you can image after doing about 400 squats and bending over, my body was pretty racked after Panel 1 was complete. So I did what every good engineer would do and raised the tray to bench height. Wow, what a difference. With a design in mind, the next step is to gather the bottles you need. This is like harvesting in your garden for your meal. I take bottles from multiple bags so that I can get an even distribution, if that is the intent. Dorian is going to sort the bottles by color and size so that I can manage my “bottle palette”. I also keep an accurate count of the bottles when I select them. I tried to count the bottles after a design is complete and this is impossible.
For each bottle I check to see if any of the sides are dented or crushed. Minor dents can be pushed out with a chopstick (ancient Chinese secret). If the bottle is hopeless I remove the message and use a new bottle. If the bottle is moldy and gross, I set it aside. If the message is readable, I’ll use a new bottle.
If there is moisture in the bottle I’ll remove the cap and let it dry out. If there is no cap I put one on (I have a large collection of bottle caps, all sizes). Sometime the bottle needs to be “burped,” so I just open it to let some air in and close it back up.
After a bottle is deemed good to go I test place it in the design and visually note the contact points to adjacent bottles. It’s important to apply caulk to as many contact points as possible to get a good connection to adjacent bottles, especially in designs like “Confetti” where the bottles are more-or-less randomly placed. Also, caulk does not stick to bottle caps, this I found out on a test model. I guess it is the type of plastic or the fact that oils from the hands may be on it. I’m always playing a little mental game about seeing how accurate I am with the caulk placement. After a while you get pretty good at knowing where to place the caulk. You also try to go for just a little dab, not a big glob…that stuff is expensive! After the bottle is placed you repeat 400 times :).
Each design takes between 300-500 bottles. I want each design to be different so there is no set formula. My current rate of construction is 100 bottles an hour. That’s continuous work. I can usually go for an hour and then it’s break time, at least to get away from the fumes for a while. I have a fan for ventilation, but the smell of curing silicone is pretty bad. Silicone cures by combining with the moisture in the air and it releases acetic acid, the same stuff in vinegar. But I don’t want to get ill over this stuff so I try to get lots of fresh air.
I let a tray cure until I finish the next panel, which is always more than a day. Then I slide the mass of bottles out of the tray to an adjacent area where I mount the holding strips. By this time the whole mass acts as a single unit. I use a 4 ft piece of vinyl corner bead (the stuff they use for drywall corners) and caulk it to each side. This is used as a “tab” that allows me to screw the bottles into the wooden frame. After the holding strips have cured, I lay a wooden frame over the bottles and place clamps on two of the sides so I can raise the whole frame and bottles together. Then I screw the holding strip to the wooden frame and voila, it’s complete!
Kiwanis Key Club – St. Augustine
March 21st, 2012
Here’s Kerrianne who collected from the St. Augustine Kiwanis Key Club for Ketterlinus Elementary and Crookshank Elementary. Her daughter Caitlin was our Messenger at Rawlings Elementary. Thanks for everything!
A few personal messages
March 21st, 2012
Today I sat down to write a few messages to the troops. I’ve been seeing all the words from the community and it is all so humbling. Kids who can barely write, people who hardly have means to live, vets, military families, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, old people, young people – they all had something to say. I didn’t want to have some lame excuse that I was too busy or that I did enough work so I didn’t have to participate. As I sat down to write I felt a sense of peace and satisfaction. I think everyone who has completed a bottle and message knows what I am talking about. Sometimes when we stop and apply our consciousness to something positive, we tie into something larger. I was feeling that today.
Wall of Light final design
March 19th, 2012
I just completed the final permit drawings for the wall and as you can see the design has changed from the initial concept of having a single, monolithic wall with bottles stacked on top of each other to a more modular wall with square segments. As our deadline approached, we were able to calculate the total number of bottles likely to be in the wall. With 12,000 bottles, I went to a single layer layout with each segment in a frame to allow individual unique designs. This allows us to vary the density of the bottles used to accommodate more or less bottles. The design also gives structural support and stability to the bottles for handling and the final installation.
We are also using a low-voltage lighting system with 20 or 50 watt lights mounted at the base of each panel. This should alleviate the problems of getting a separate electrical permit, although the lights may not be as bright. We are doing some testing now on the lights to make sure we can get the effect we need at night.
Overall I am pleased with the way the design evolved. Outdoor installations are inherently problematic because of the weather (rain, wind, sun, heat) but with the challenge comes the opportunity to build something significant. I’ll be trying to maintain a schedule of 1 panel per day so that we can finish in time for a May 2 opening. More construction details are forthcoming, so if this kind of stuff interests you, stay tuned!
Rachel and Brian – Super Messengers
March 19th, 2012
Today the bottlemobile was busy today picking up a big load from our “super” Messengers, Rachel and Brian. You guys are the greatest. Officially we now know that a Prius can only hold 750 water bottles…and there are more coming. Brian is the Vice Wing Commander at the 125th Fighter Wing here in Jax. He is one of the people that this project is for – we salute you Brian for your service! Rachel has also been busy enlisting her friends and schools to participate. She has made a big difference for the project. We are grateful.
March 16th, 2012
Joanne has always been a great supporter of the arts and has visited the studio many times for Art Walk. Joanne took the challenge of collecting bottles on base and we thank you for giving it a big try! Every bottle helps to make our message stronger.
Rawlings Elementary School
March 16th, 2012
These cool kids and their teacher, Ms. Heath at Rawlings Elementary in Ponte Vedra created messages and now they are part of the wall. We hope all of you had fun, we will enjoy adding your colorful messages to our sculpture. Thank you!
Crystal Springs Elementary
March 16th, 2012
These students and art teacher, Ms. Harris worked hard to prepare these bottles for the Wall of Light. What a super great effort from a really cool bunch of kids. We salute the teachers for coordinating these collections. You are now part of our collective voice and what a neat message we are all sending. Thank you Crystal Springs!