Monday, August 10, 2009

Styrofoam Happy-(Warning long post and jumping all over the place)




So last week we were sort of otherwise occupied with the Open Day at work.   Cape Town 083 I work at a rural University in a rural part of South Africa.  Being one of the poorest and underfunded Universities – we often have to make do with very little and often if one has a great idea for something, that great idea is usually funded through one’s own pocket.  I really wanted our teeny stall to be a little more than the regular bare bones appeal as evidenced by the stand next Cape Town 099door to us in the pic above.  So I decided that in order for us to appeal to potential students we needed to introduce a little colour and texture to our stand, but that meant that I would have to take everything home as work supplies are limited to a stapler, a stick of glue and red pens.    I could go on and on about this but to cut a long post down, Open day was a resounding a success. cool,- yeah but for me the best thing about the Open Day was my journey into the world of Styrofoam.  Anyway, I had salvaged these big ol’ boards of Styrofoam from the archival grunge that our University’s Stores Dept has on offer as “teaching aids”(???) for our display.  By fortune’s blessing the big ol’ board wouldn't fit in the boot (trunk), so I kinda had to snap off chunks to get it decently portable.  I saved the chunks.  I

did that because I wanted to try one of my mad pseudo-scientist  experiments [which was that I had  read somewhere that Styrofoam is notoriously unbiodegradeable, but that you could melt it with orange rind oil and I had some neroli oil –  wanted to see if that worked]. 

Anyhow I brought the boards back to the pseudo-scientists lab/studio/saponifactory, home-sweet-home and I got working on the displays for the Open Day.  So I still had a whole rectangle of snapped board and so I decided to paint sort of a tree on it – the concept was a tree of knowledge type of deal.   

And then all the Styrofoam balls
started dropping…. I loved the black and white textured contrast on the tree and was thoroughly impressed by the Mujii/Mr Price Home art deco look of it.  I became even more hyped when I realised that it was light enough to be mounted with a minimal amount of effort – regular mirror tape held it up good and well.  Insert EUREKA moment there.  I have been feeling rather sad for myself at being too stretched to buy canvas to paint and decorate my little townhouse with.  Styrofoam on the other hand presented a cheaper, generally cooler option – especially being  that I get

tired of my art and usually shake it up and throw it out when I get bored with it. I am about to raid all the recycling boxes in the garage for more Styrofoam packaging. 

My head is buzzing with possibilities.  My first project was to create a temporary hot-plate sort of thingie – I needed something to place my piping hot-water glass pot insulator (that is affectionately referred to as my HoWPoGI ) which I use to keep oils and stuff from resolidifying when I make soap. Worked like a charm, and the the piece of styrofoam under the object in the pic above serves the purpose of hot plate/work-surface.  In my quest to find ways

to recycle Styrofoam  I also reckoned that I could “build” a little mini stand for my soap enterprises with all the broken bits of Styrofoam. 

Yep, so the addition of Gypsum and Grout to sort of plaster the “stair ruins” soap stand was the best decision I made all day. 

I am pleased with how it all turned out. 

Of course this has my mind going off in all kinds of directions
on what else to build with Styrofoam and plaster – a nice laptop/writing table so that I can take my work to bed perhaps…..until later!