Hedge Magic: Part Three, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.


The opening was a busy and exciting night. Early on my friend and collaborator Jon Oken stopped by with the brick he adopted last year and added it to the wall.

hamlow_david_hedge_magic_recycled_art_collaboration_1 The opening was my first chance to see how the work stations created for me by ROLU, and the brick templates created for me by Cast Iron Design, worked with a large group–mostly strangers–making bricks.


Anyone who came to the opening that night could use a template and my stockpile of materials to make a brick.  This little girl and her father were my first ‘customers’. ROLU designed a smaller, lower table for children and wheel-chair users.


This little girl got us off to a great start! Hope she continues to participate.


My nephew Jonah and my brother Jonathan became my second contributors.


As the night progressed, quite a crowd gathered, and many bricks were made.


I created a sign-up sheet, so anyone who made a brick could get it back after the show and continue to participate in the project. As in my past shows, visitors also had the option to choose an already-constructed brick and adopt it.


The opening was crazy. I thought I would be able to make a few more pieces of the Platonic Solids (see previous post) but I ended up spending most of the night helping people make bricks and talking to the many, many friends who showed up. I almost didn’t get to look at the rest of the show!


A favorite: Keith Lemley‘s light installation.

The artist Keith Lemley and his wife artist Taryn McMahon with David Hamlow's wife, artist Liz Miller, all standing in Keith's blue neon fluorescent light installation.

This piece really transformed the space. Here is Keith with his wife artist Taryn McMahon and my wife artist Liz Miller. A lot of talent between these two posts.


…Through the miracle of the internet it is now a couple weeks later. I am preparing the work tables for Northern Spark , which is scheduled to occur the following evening–Saturday September 9th. Northern Spark is a multi-venue, interactive art festival that runs dusk-to-dawn.


This is the second year for the event, and it is scheduled to be bigger than ever. The Soap Factory asked me to do an event, and I agreed to make bricks–and helping others to make them–all night long. I was very nervous about the number of people who might show up–they were predicting as many as 2000!–so I did my best to prepare the space as much as possible.


I laid out extra rulers, knifes, scissors and tape.


I also cut out plenty of the Cast Iron Design‘s brick-making templates. These worked great, but a few things people consistently failed to do caused problems at the opening. Chiefly: they did not mark the position of fold lines on the cardboard, and thus did not know exactly where to fold the bricks, and they neglected to add the plastic windows.


I made a large poster with detailed instructions for making a bricks–things that I forgot to put on the template or things that I thought could have been made clearer. It is hard to know what kind of problems people will have until they have them!


I also used my rare-earth magnets to hang up examples of a brick at every stage of the build. Kind of overkill, but I figured: better safe than sorry.


I stamped a bunch of new business cards. This stamp was also created by Cast Iron Design (they also did my website).


Cast Iron added business cards to the unused area of the card stock around my template, so those cards got screened along with the templates–typical of Jonathan and Richards’ efficient, eco-savvy aesthetic. The stamp was used to put my contact information on the back to those cards…


…but it doubles as a stamp for recycled-cardboard versions. The small rectangular pieces I cut away to make the brick-windows become a second set of calling cards!


Fast-forward to Northern Spark: About 11:00 pm here: busy, crazy and crazy hot (it was about 90° F in the space and very humid). We had a crowd like this pretty continuously from 9:00 pm until 2:00 am!


I met a ton of people and they made a lot of bricks: almost 100 in all.


Around midnight I had to get out of there for a minute. It was even hotter outside!. So many things were happening–the Soap Factory was only one of 5 ‘zones’ in the city where activities were occurring. There was a 10-second Film festival with movies projected on the side of the gallery, and a whole section by the park chain-linked off for a dance party. The problem was, people were having a little too much fun, and the quality of the bricks was affected by that!


From a distance it doesn’t really matter–as you can see a lot more bricks were made…


…but up-close, there seems to be a problem or two with how they came together.


I can’t really complain through, it would be different if these bricks had to be on the bottom and support a whole row, but you can’t really fault people for getting creative and interpreting the instructions a bit broadly. I provided my own obsolete items for the interiors–including, aptly, a lot of bad slides of old (and sometimes also bad) work. A few people cut holes in the back of their bricks and attached slides to the windows, transforming the bricks into homemade View-Masters! Not so fun: the crushed beer cans and cigarette butts I found inside a few other bricks.


Fast-forward to late July. I had a few opportunities to just come in and make bricks for a few hours. It was great to meet and work with strangers, and I oddly and delightfully ran into several friends just by chance. In this case, however, I was having a reunion with several college friends, and we folded in a visit to the show and some brick-making.


My college roommate and current MPR reporter Tim Nelson adds his brick to the wall. You can see that people had added bricks to the lower levels, disrupting my step-progression. You need to let go with this kind of collaboration, not easy–but good–for me.

Next time: a quick look at the final brick tally and a peak at the other talented artists in the show! Keep it right here!


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