It begins at the salvage yard

Our family motto is “How hard can it be?” With this perspective we have embarked on many adventures: from renting an auger and cleaning out our own sewer (you shouldn’t) to learning to survive a dangerous hike in the Italian Alps (sing show tunes loudly to combat fear.)

Four and a half years ago, “How hard can it be?” got me my first press. As I’ve detailed in a past post, my husband built it for me out of recycled steel. Friday I received an e-mail that I am a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the state of Indiana. In the grant I described how I wanted to expand my press to accommodate larger work. I have one year to use the funds, so we began immediately.

When does art begin at the salvage yard?

Although it was Friday afternoon, we rushed to our local salvage yard to look for a pipe. A special pipe — 7 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Most pipes are only 1/4 inch. In the searing Indiana sun, we carefully picked our way through the rusted metal, dodging opportunities for a tetanus shot, finally finding the perfect pipe.

A miracle — the one we want is on top!
We only need part of the pipe, so the salvage yard folks cut off two pieces. Here they are — still warm — ready to be loaded into our minivan. The new rollers won’t be quite this long — we will need to trim down the messy edges left by the torch.
Every artist needs a little help from a forklift sometimes.
My husband realized we also needed some plate steel to fashion the end caps, so we asked our intrepid helper to cut some for us. I imagined this would be a quick job…

Cutting steel turns out to be very difficult.
It took about 15 minutes to cut the steel with a torch. I did not realize how hot the steel would be — especially away from the cut. We gingerly placed the hot metal plate on top of the pipes and began our slow journey home. Indiana is experiencing a serious drought, so there was no water available to cool it. My husband had to ride in the back, using his gloved hands to keep the plate from rolling and melting our car’s interior.
With the most important components in our garage, we have set the great press expansion in motion. Stay tuned for updates on welding and truing up the rollers… How hard can it be?

6 Replies to “It begins at the salvage yard”

  1. I'll start figuring out which was wall in my home can accommodate your new larger pieces. Congrats on getting the grant, Elizabeth!

  2. How cool is that? I will be watching with great envy–this is one of those projects I've only just dreamed of.
    Congratulations on the award of the grant money.
    Theresa Kersey

  3. Thanks everyone! For those of you from Bloomington, you will have an opportunity to see, touch and write about a brand new print from the expanded press. Watch for news early in 2013.

    And thanks to the citizens of Indiana, whose tax dollars make these grants possible!

  4. Yay! Congratulations on getting the grant! That's wonderful. Looking forward to hearing how the new press is progressing.

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