What is going on behind the scene?

So far I’ve just written about the front of my Xtra-Dimensional art pieces – how the patterns of the layers and the shapes for the components are designed to bring out the missing dimensions of the image. I’ve alluded to “creasing the back of the components” to give them 3-dimensionality, but I haven’t explained what really does lie on the other side.

The first consideration for how the components are constructed is that I need to be able to cut them to shape pretty precisely. Easy to do with paper. But I also have to be able to give them a specific 3-dimensional shape – the facets or the veins I’ve described, so they need to be both flexible and have some resilience. And for this, paper alone doesn’t work. What can both be cut and also hold a shape is a thin metal sheet. So, to construct my Xtra-Dimensions components I adhere a photographic print to the metal sheet using a double-sided adhesive material:

Composite diagram.jpg

However . . . the simple choice for “thin metal sheet” – aluminum – doesn’t work. The stuff I could buy in sheets or rolls is either too flexible and too easily deformed or, if it’s stiff enough, it’s too thick to cut. What works beautifully, though, is the material in so-called “aluminum cans” (I use quotes because “aluminum cans” are not made out of just aluminum!). The problem is that these cans are not made from sheets of metal (check out this YouTube video if you’re curious how they’re made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUhisi2FBuw).

Recycled refuse is resurrected…

The metal I need has to come from cans themselves. No Diet Cokes cans are tossed out in my household, and my neighbors, my in-laws, even my gardener bring me bags of their empty cans, but it’s not enough. To get what I need, I go dumpster-diving at my local recycle center:

Alliance & dumpster.jpg

I dig through the dumpsters to find the relatively undented cans, and once I’ve loaded up a garbage bag-full, I need to “process” each one. It’s sort of like cleaning a fish: I cut off the top, down the side, and around the bottom, and then I wash it out. (Unbelievable what stuff people drink!)

Cleaning & drying.jpg

The cleaning station, and “filleted” cans drying on the deck

Flattening the sheets by simply running them over the edge of the table – and one final clean! – gives me the “thin metal sheets” I need.

06.Flattened cans-s.jpg


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