Figure 1 – Alternating Waves

For my UpCycling project I created Alternating WavesAlternating Waves is a metallic wall sculpture designed with a minimalist aesthetic. With my artifact I wanted to evoke a calming rhythmic feeling utilizing repeated waves. My intended emotion pairs well with minimalism as to meet the calming nature of the piece I tried to avoid unnecessary flashiness or glamour. Figure 1 depicts an early sketch of my artifact which I stuck with for the remainder of the project.

Figure 2 – Kinetic Sculpture outside ITLL

Initially when I chose my aesthetic and meaning I immediately thought of the dynamic sculpture outside the ITLL building on the CU Boulder Campus. The sculpture includes hundreds of tiny reflective beads that sway in the wind. As they sway light reflects off of them differently so it creates waves of light for the observer.

Figure 3 – Wavy Indoor Metal Sculpture

After coming up with the general concept for my idea I looked online for similar sculptures and came across a wavy metal wall sculpture for sale which closely matched my artistic vision. The artist of this sculpture added circular marks to the sheet which creates interesting glimmers of light. I thought that this was a very cool idea but I did not pursue it for my project as I thought it detracted from the minimalist aesthetic.

Figure 4 – Fabrication Materials

In order to fabricate my artifact I used an assortment of aluminum cans, heavy duty packing tape, and a 12″ x 24″ aluminum sheet. As tools I also used a box cutter, heavy duty scissors, and a square.

Figure 5 – Cut Aluminum Cans

I first did a rough cut of each aluminum can to get it from a cylinder into a flat sheet.

Figure 6 – Cutting Process

Using the square I measured and marked the sheet at 3″. Once marked, I used the square to cut two straight edges removing any evidence of my initial rough cut. I then cut the 3″ sheet down the middle to create two 1.5″ sheets.

Figure 7 – Individual Cans into Full Sheets

Once I had four individual sheets created I taped the sheets together to form a longer sheet. This process is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 8 – Creating the Waves

Once a long sheet was created I taped it to the base sheet using the properties of the aluminum to form waves.

Figure 9 – Setting up the Alternating Waves

I made the design decision to have every other wave have the same trough and peak. This created alternating waves which can be seen in Figure 9.

Figure 10 – Final Product Image #1

My final artifact ended up as eight alternating waves covering a 12″ by 24″ backings. The front face of each wave is bare metal while the back face is still covered in the original can artwork. The piece is at its best when lit as its cool to see the different light reflections.

Figure 11 – Final Product Image #2

Figure 11 shows a full view of the artifact when lit from the front.

Figure 12 – Final Product Image #3

I believe that my artifact achieve my functional goals for this project and it turned out functionally better than I anticipated. I was concerned when I had to resort to using tape as a means to attach the sheets together but the result is barely noticeable.

Figure 13 – Final Product Image #4

I believe that I achieved my artistic goals as I think it hits the minimalist aesthetic and the waves could bring a calming effect. However, an improvement would be to have better quality control on the waves and the smoothness of the sheets as those dissimilarities take away from the piece.

Figure 14 – Final Product Image #5

The process of making this UpCycling artifact was rewarding and I am happy with the final product. There are a few areas that I think could use improvement. I have decided that I will be recycling this artifact. Now that I have gone through the process and have some lessons learned, redoing this project sometime in the future could result in a piece that I would hang on my wall.


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5 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Alternating Waves […]

  • What a fun idea! I thought it turned out rather great for such a material! Perhaps the effect could have been more intense the slimmer the strips got, no? Or maybe if there were more bumps? I assure you that the former will take more time. Where will you keep this one?

    • Alex Fitzgerald
      February 27, 2024 3:46 pm

      Hey Tiana! Thanks for the suggestions about slimming down strips or making more bumps. As of this moment I think I have decided to recycle the artifact and reuse the aluminum backing for something else.

  • Really great job at capturing the exact aesthetic and design you wanted using only upcycled materials. Aluminum cans are really tricky to work with and I think you did a great job at manipulating them to do exactly what you intended. I can’t even notice the tape and I’m surprised some thing like tape was even able to hold all of this together.


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