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.