Common Goods Submission: Pandora’s Blender

This project was challenging because I had no real vision for the finished piece. I wanted to let the process itself drive the outcome, and it’s that element of ambiguity which made this a rewarding effort.

I knew that I wanted some sort of “boxy” base for the work, onto which I would assemble the more interesting and visually appealing components…whatever they were going to be. I started with a frame roughly 11″ x 32″ x 4″ made of poplar:


I mitered the corners as best I could, then filled the nail holes with putty:


A piece of 3/32″ birch plywood was used for the top:


I then applied several layers of shellac to the top and sides, sanding between each coat. Next, a few coats of gray sandable primer gave the base a smooth finish:


I floated another plank of MDF about 3/4″ from the base and added some chrome shower door handles that I removed from the upstairs master bath, much to Laura’s consternation. Then I worked up this color scheme:


After a great deal of browsing in various local stores, I came upon the idea of incorporating vegetable steamers into the work. I needed more chrome elements and these steamers had a cool look when they were closed. But I still needed a capping element on top of the steamers, so I again went hunting. I settled on glass bottles of some sort, but they needed to be the exact right shape. An upside down oil & vinegar bottle seemed to do the trick, but the store where I found them only had two, and I needed five, so I ordered some more from Amazon.

The top of the piece needed to echo the color scheme from the base, so I painted some wooden dowels with a spiral motif and jutted them up into the overturned bottles. I also added four chrome drawer pulls to the corners, since the shower handles fell a bit short of the piece’s length. I ended up with an artwork that met my expectations; a work that appears to offer some oblique function, but just sits there and tries to look pretty instead:


This work was finished just before the expiration for a local competition, but I needed to come up with a catchy title, so I “friendsourced” a few options on Facebook and finally chose Pandora’s Blender. I entered it in a juried show called Common Goods, hosted by Visual Art Exchange, and it was accepted.

After a couple of weeks passed, the show opened on the First Friday art crawl in downtown Raleigh on April 3rd, 2015. I arrived half an hour late because I was drinking some craft beer with Gary and Carrie at The Pharmacy in Cary. When I walked into the show, I saw that Laura was already there. I also saw that I had won first place. That was a good feeling.


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