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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Public Art In Arlington: The Pentagon Memorial---Minimalism At Its Finest

When a catastrophic national event and memorial is so successfully stripped down to its most fundamental elements and a feeling of hope and pride still remain, this is minimalist sculpture at its finest.

The Pentagon Memorial, with its 184 stainless steel memorial benches arranged in groups according to ages, forces one to reflect on more than a roster of 184 names on benches. It is very personal and you feel unique individuals and wonder what they were doing at that age in life. It becomes a frozen moment in time while you walk about each age grouping. You observe a bench for a three year old girl, barely more than a baby, and wonder if she was in nursery school in 2001. You think how today she might be looking forward to entering junior high.

You see individuals in their 30's and 40's who were parents, or maybe about to buy a home for the first time and working hard in their careers. Were they going on a business trip or a vacation? You see older individuals who were perhaps contemplating retirement and looking forward to visiting grandchildren in a few months for the holidays.

The loose gravel underfoot forces you to hear the crunch of your own footsteps and at times you feel a little annoyed by it. Maybe it is there to remind you that you are still here, and they are not, and then you feel almost guilty for a moment.

When you start to see the overall shape of the cantilevered benches, they look like wings, perhaps signifying the memories and journeys really have not ended for these 184 individuals. Whether one sees the benches as plane wings or angel wings or something else entirely, it does not matter and this is what works with great minimalist sculpture. Even children can relate and interpret such art while adults can see layer upon layer of possible but similar meanings.

The running water beneath the benches seems to unite all the individual benches and reminds one that life goes on or maybe of a destination to be traveled to eventually by all of us.

Just as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial set a new artistic standard with its minimalist design, the Pentagon Memorial goes even further and locks you into undulating emotions. While I think it purposefully takes you through this range of emotions, it still manages to leave you with a feeling of hope and pride as Americans and gratitude for these 184 patriots. And, like many Americans, I cannot understand how any of us could ever fail to be proud to be an American and to have this sculpture memorial in Arlington County.

Copyright 2009
Cindy Ann Coldiron

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Consumer Products Made From Recycled Glass

Besides artistic uses of recycled glass, more and more companies are inventing methods for using this type of glass.

Kitchen Countertops

Several companies are using mosaic type bits of broken recycled glass embedded in a concrete or resin mix for kitchen countertops. If you are looking for something besides granite, they are a colorful alternative. The Vetrazzo Company is one of the companies that carry this product.


Glass Tiles

Recycled glass in glass tiles is becoming very popular and I think they will eventually become the norm for backsplashes instead of the ceramic tiles. Glass tiles are just as strong and durable as ceramic and come in all shapes and sizes from pebble or stone shaped to conjoined circles to the traditional subway tile. The iridescent tiles, such as the ones carried by Oceanside Glass, can reflect multiple colors and they are stunning works of art. It is important to note that the recycled glass percentage can vary in all of these tiles depending on the manufacturer and the color of the tile.

See for a list of companies carrying these tiles.

Construction Aggregate

Crushed recycled glass is being used as a road base additive for asphalt, for drainage, highway fill, and even for landfill cover.

See for more ideas.

Recycled Garden Glass Mulch

Several companies sell a type of tumbled recycled glass that makes for a shiny accent to your landscaping. Since glass can take 1000 years to breakdown, this mulch is best used on walkways and as an accent. While biodegradable bark mulch will improve your soil as it breaks down, these glass rocks are a novel accent.

However, I am curious how much heat they would retain on a very hot day and whether it would be that easy to keep them clean. Installing some sort of landscape edging would likely be necessary to prevent the glass rocks from floating out of place during a rainstorm.

See for more information.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Can Look Like Crystallized Glass

The Big Snow in Arlington, Virginia.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A PSA Announcement on Glass Recycling

The Use of Float Glass Frits vs. Powders

I originally started out using float glass compatible powders (vs. larger sized frit) in the bottom of my plaster/silica molds. Even though I allow my molds to dry out before firing, the powders seemed to stick more to the glass and created a film I did not like. The white powder (non-lead) created most of the problems. It required a lot of sanding to even out the finish. I switched to using small colored frit instead and the results are much better. This compatible frit can be purchased from companies like CRLOO and Sundance Art Center.

I also have been adding a secret "ingredient" to my castings that will be revealed nearer to the time of the final park installation.

I will be sandblasting a lot of the castings in the next several weeks and will post photos of that process.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Inspired by Red Dragonflies

During my research, I discovered there are several species of red dragonflies in the United States. So,I decided to use the last of my donated Noguchi table top glass for these special dragonflies. I had just enough glass leftover from this broken table top to make two good sized castings (see one of these castings in the upper left corner of the photo above). This plate glass turned a white color during firing, so I thought that would contrast nicely with the trace of red color for the body. I only use the crushed frit on the top of all the castings since I want the primary focus to be on the original color of the recycled glass.

The other day, I was able to use my new wet tile saw (that cuts to a depth of 2.25 inches) to trim off the excess glass for about twelve castings. This is just the first step in coldworking. I also did an initial sanding of all the edges with a belt sander and a wire cup brush drill attachment. I still have a lot more work to do on these. I hope to have close to 18-20 completed by the end of December. When they are finished, I plan to spray the bodies of the dragonflies with a non-toxic gloss spray and the wings will be sprayed with a matte finish.