Monday, June 6, 2011

Smartypants Repurpose

I finally found a solution to this project I've had sitting around for a while now. What I needed was a way to amass, store and port a large number of half inch circles of tin. Since I'm pretty sure in the course of human history I'm the only person to have ever had this need, it was pretty certain I wasn't going to find my answer at the Container Store.

You may be curious why I would need said object. Not surprisingly, it relates to work. I absolutely love making my tri-drop earrings:
but the only way I seem to be able to create them is to have lots (LOTS!) of circles out at one time. I push them around and play with different combinations until I find just the right mix. I wish it were more of a science where I could just cut six little circles and they worked together perfectly, but it isn't--and probably never will be for me. 
For the longest time I just collected all the cast off half inch circles and kept them in a ziploc. When time allowed, I would dump them out onto a piece of cardboard, flip them to the printed side and play around with them until it was time to put them all back. This process was completely unfulfilling.

Months went by with this teeny frustration popping in and out of my consciousness. I'd work on it for a bit thinkering of my ultimate solution and the various steps involved to create some sort of prototype. Top priority--they needed to stay on a board face up. That was my one big desire. Flipping them all to their correct side each time was just a boring time-suck. I thought about taking cardboard and laminating one side with double sided, low-tack tape. That seemed like a good idea for a while, but then as I thought about it some more, it occurred to me that tape sticks to everything--not just the intended little metal circles. That made the idea much less appealing, but my brain couldn't seem to drop the tape idea, so I set the problem aside for a while in order to clear the mental decks.

Of course, it's impossible to totally clear the mental decks and as annoying as that can be in some moments, I really love the fact that brains are always working. Even when you think it's not or when you think you've exhausted your ability on any given task, BAM!, you'll be bent over fishing laundry out of the dryer and the answer to the meaning of life will just hit you. Well, it wasn't the meaning of life, but it was the obvious answer to my problem--magnets. And when I say obvious, those of you who have ever been to one of my shows know how obvious this answer should have been to me. So I guess this simultaneously illustrates one of the downside to brains. Even though they are really fantabulous, they often miss what's right in front of them. (I'm sure the brains blame the eyes.)

Since I work with tin, I often use all sorts of magnets in my displays. I use teeny-tiny magnets to make my cocktail rings stand up. I add metal bars underneath my table coverings and use magnets to attach carded jewelry to them. I have metal wall panels and drape long necklaces around a couple of large magnets to simulate how they would hang around someone's neck. It's crazy how many magnets I use, yet it took months for my brain to transfer that knowledge to this problem.

Once I had that idea though, I was like a dog with a bone. I knew I would want sheet magnets and found lots online, but decided for my prototype I would just go to Office Max and pick up the expensive Avery printable 8.5" x 11" package of 5. I got those home, put them in an accordion file folder thingy and was pretty impressed with myself. The little circles stuck pretty well and I could flip from page to page fairly easily. This process was decidedly more fulfilling.

Yet, it still wasn't perfect. Not that I needed it to be perfect. It's not like I'm making 100 pair of tri-drop earrings a week or something. Iteration 2 functioned pretty well and would have been completely adequate, but I had this vision. Flipping pages was fine, but really, wouldn't it be WAY better if I could create a sort of book that was "bound" on one corner which would allow all the "pages" to fan out and into a circle shape? That would allow me to see all the pages at once. I knew I could go down to Don at Pat's Sheet Metal and he would cut several pieces of 9"x 12" steel to which I could then adhere the sheet magnet and assemble according to my elaborate plan. THIS would be perfect.

Except I kept getting sidetracked. Making a trip down to Pat's was just not happening. Plus, it would probably be a little pricey, which wasn't really my goal. So, even though I already had the perfect solution, my brain kept right on working on it. A couple of days ago I was heading to the thrift store to see if I could find a sports coat for my son, and the problem popped back into the front of my brain. There must be some sort of bound thing with rigid pages that I could modify to make into my Tri-drop Travel Kit. And there it was--toddler board books. I could just find an oversized one on the kids book rack and modify it to fit my needs. Perfect. After not finding a size 12 sport coat, I high-tailed it to the book section. Oversized books were separated out and I immediately spotted a few likely suspects, but as I was scanning, this book caught my eye:
I forgot to take a picture of the cover, but it is a Where The Wild Things Are jigsaw puzzle book. If you don't have kids under the age of 12, you might be saying to yourself "a jigsaw puzzle book?" For anyone with kids under the age of 12, I guarantee you've thrown out at least 3 of these in the last few years. There are a ton on the market and for some reason, people (i.e. grandparents) think they are great gifts. Which they are--until your child takes one of the puzzles out of it's page. One of the pieces invariably gets lost thereby rendering that 'page' pretty much useless.
When I saw the book I immediately realized this was exactly what I needed. Rigid pages, smartly bound and, once the puzzles were removed, perfectly inset spaces for my sheet magnets. I couldn't believe just how perfect it was. Well, except for the fact that it was also perfectly intact. It must have gotten whisked away from little Johnny before he even had the chance to lose that first piece. So smart sad. It's intact-ness did give me pause--I hate to disassemble perfectly good things--but sanity won out and I bought the damn thing anyway.
Once home I got right to work. Out with all the puzzles and in with the sheet magnets. I loaded up the discs and it was good to go. Now I need to find some more of these books in order to make some to hold other sorts of projects!


Olivia said...

I love this solution, it just looks so perfectly satisfying.

adaptive reuse said...

Thanks Olivia! You're spot-on. I think this is the sort of work human brains were meant to grapple with because it does produce exactly that--satisfaction. Not that I'm curing cancer, but this sort of low-level figuring-things-out-for-yourself seems to have gotten a bit lost in our modern world. I'm heartened by the surge of DIY stuff in the last few years.

Lynell said...

Brilliant! You have a very good brain.

I still have some lovely tins for you. Maybe I'll see you Friday.

Raj said...

This is utter brilliance. THANK YOU for sharing the idea and the pictures.