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gilhooly Erector girder (he)art

Barbara Gilhooly, a St. Paul, Minnesota artist, repurposes old Erector set girders to make art.

As an artist I use found objects, wire, wood and many recycled or re-purposed materials to create. I have been known for my wire sculptural work and one of the forms I create in wire are 3-D hearts.

The erector set hearts began as a small experiment in my studio using the long girder pieces from an old erector set I formed a three dimensional heart about 10 inches long. What interests me is combining the industrial material and hardware with a very organic or soft form. This contrast appeals to me as a metaphor, as well. The whole ‘broken heart’ idea turned into a durable ‘industrial heart”!

In terms of making the hearts: I use mostly vintage Erector sets with the original hardware and some pop rivets. Most were found on ebay. I’ve made over a dozen hearts and the sizes range from 18″ to 5″ in length. I bend the girders and shape with my hands and rubber mallet to form the curves. I work intuitively, I make the overall shape and then fill in with cross bracing.

To learn more about Ms. Gilhooly’s work check out her etsy store or

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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