For my upcycle project I initially had a very hard time thinking about what material I wanted to use and what aesthetic I wanted to incorporate. To me choosing the material would some what point me in the right direction for what I wanted to make, and what aesthetics to use. I knew that I wanted to make something that incorporated many many small items of the same type or category to make something larger. Something like a “mosaic” aesthetic.
I also wanted to make this project unique to myself, and use an “outside of the box” material. I wanted to use a material that I know I could get lots of, and that would add a unique aesthetic. It was actually a friend of mine who suggested that I collect the used brass casings from expended cartridges and use them as my upcycled material. I immediately knew this would be an awesome material to use and easy to come by. Many individuals at public ranges leave thousands of brass casings after they shoot, plus it gives me an excuse to go out and get some range time in! Picking up brass is also beneficial to the environment by getting those pieces of metal out of nature.
My friends and I went out Lyons CO to an open space shooting range to collect brass that others had left. We collected an abundance of casings with calibers including 9mm, .40, .45, and .556. After collecting the casings, I cleaned them off a bit and sorted them based on caliber and coloring of the casings (tarnished vs. shiny).
Rather than using the casings like this artist did in the above image, I thought it would be a unique look to arrange the brass all flat to make a shape more in a 2D fashion. After looking around my room for inspiration, I decided that I would arrange the different pieces in the shape of my guitar using different size and colored casings to add some of the details of the guitar.
After seeing the quantity and variety of the casings I had to think about how I wanted to arrange and place the casings and in the pattern or random nature utilizing the different sizes. I decided that I wanted to arrange them in a way that had some sort of organization to it. I decided to start with a shorter round (9mm) as the outside perimeter. The next layer was .40, followed by .45. The pictures below show the orientation and placement of the casings to make up the guitar shape.
The tarnished casings were used to imitate the pick guard, and the orientation of the casings for the circular cutout were flipped to give the appearance of the hole in the center of the guitar. The larger rifle casings (.556) were used to make the neck of the guitar.
Smaller .22 rounds were also used for the center circular cutout. A challenge when assembling was trying to maintain even spacing between all of the casings, especially when the gluing process began. Keeping the symmetry of the shape was also difficult as gluing took place, as pieces kept moving around. Gluing was also difficult as each individual piece was glued to each other.
Thinking about future improvements and ways to make this artifact a bit better would be to laser cut an acrylic base in the shape of a guitar in order to maintain the exact shape, and to keep symmetry tolerance. Additionally, having a backdrop would increase the strength of the piece, as many times the shear weight of the casings would cause the glue bonds to come undone. Overall, I was very happy with how the project turned out, and I think it was a fun challenge forcing myself to think in a capacity that I usually do not. The upcycleness of the project provided great left and right lateral limits and increased the challenge and uniqueness of the scope of the project. I am looking forward to seeing all of the other great things that people have created with recycled material!