It has been a while since I posted anything new, and that is because I’ve been crazy busy working on this new project! (Psst…Here’s a sneak peak, keep reading for the full pics.)
One of the great projects that happens around New York City over the summer is Sing for Hope’s piano project. This is the third summer that they will be installing 88 pianos around the 5 boroughs for anyone (and everyone) to play and enjoy, from June 1st through June 16th. Elizabeth and I first met the team at Sing for Hope when we constructed their gala centerpieces last October. Fast forward a few months and we were able to collaborate on a Zipper8Lighting piano! Sadly our piano does not light up, but that doesn’t mean we forgot everything that makes our lighting special. Normally the artists responsible for each piano paint it in some what, but neither of us are painters so we knew we wanted to do something a bit different. Cue our idea to paint the piano solid hot pink, and then cover it in black and white sea urchins created from drinking straws. Here’s my process sketch from before the project started.
Once it was time to begin, Elizabeth and I sanded and painted our piano with primer and then with a beautiful hot pink that we mixed ourselves. An upright piano may not look that large, but after painting it with 5 coats let me tell you, it is bigger than it looks!
Finally after 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of pink and 1 coat of clear polyurethane to protect it from the elements, we were ready to start attaching our sea urchins. (We had originally designed our straw sunbursts for an under-the-sea project, hence why we thought of them as sea urchins.) Each sea urchin was constructed using black or white straws, of varying lengths and diameters. I used small metal skimmers as a base, and then followed the same technique I learned from Mark Montano back with one of the very first lights I ever constructed. Each straw gets bent in half and then the two ends are pushed through two different holes in the skimmer (or whatever mesh shape that you are using.) Total we used approximately 61 sea urchins, and over 7000 straws!
We had 3 different white straws, and 2 different black straws, ranging from full sized straws to small cocktail stirrers, and while most of the mesh skimmers we used were a standard small size, we did have a handful of larger skimmers to make really large sea urchins. We debated how to attach the sea urchins, but in the end we decided to just go with glue. For the urchins we could attach to flat surfaces we used E6000 which worked well, but had a set time of one hour. So for the vertical surfaces we used a two part Epoxy Resin which had a set time of only 5 minutes. After sanding down the surface where the glue would attach, we added glue to both the the piano and the sea urchin, and then placed it on the piano. For the E6000 we used painters tape to hold them in place, but for the vertical surfaces we had to actually hold them on until the glue set… This left us with a lot of time sitting and holding things onto a piano, so I had a lot of time to play around on my phone, resulting in a series of odd and artistic photos of our piano to post on our new Instagram account. (Check us out under Zipper8Lighting!) Here are two of my favorites, both artistic portraits of our piano shot through the tubes of the resin.
And finally, after over 100 hours of work, our piano was finished! We are both really pleased with the final product, I think it looks a bit like a trippy coral reef, personally…
It was so exciting when it was finally time to sign our piano! Elizabeth did an excellent job copying our logo onto the piano with sharpie. The beautiful final touch to a wonderfully exciting project.
Starting yesterday our piano is on view at the Queens Museum across from the Unisphere at the old World’s Fair site. If you are in New York City over the next few weeks you should check it and all other 87 pianos out around the city! Visit the Sing for Hope website for a full map with details about each artist and photos of the pianos. I’ll be back to post some photos of our piano on location, as soon as I have a chance to make the trip.
P.S. Here are a few more fun pics from the studio. The project is co-sponsored by Chobani, so we decided to use some of their recycled yogurt cups for paint mixing!
We even decorated our corner of the studio!