Opposite Upcycling Aesthetic – Post 4

The opposite of my upcycling project aesthetic is the plush aesthetic. When I refer to plush I think of the teddy bear as a good example. My sketches I have created so far are very sharp and pointy with lots of rigid lines. Everything feels very cut and dry since the parts I used were created from a laser cutter that executes the most precise movements. Every part I use and interact with has tolerances of 5/1000th of an inch (0.005″) or less, to ensure it perfectly interfaces the other components. For example the cogs are designed to be the exact thickness needed to fit within the narrowest part of the bike chain. Additionally the teeth need the perfect amount of spacing to ensure that the cog goes between every gap in the chain. Any error in the fabrication process would introduce unintended wear in the bike, leading to a shortened life cycle of the product. The gears also have tons of slots and drilled features to reduce weight where ever possible.

These high precision parts are the basis of my upcycle project. None of the materials are soft or nice to touch, they’re cold and sharp. Having your finger stuck between a bike chain and the rear cassette is the last thing you would ever want to have happen. These parts have one function, performance. They were never really designed to be handled in any sort of way.

Meanwhile the plush aesthetic like a teddy bear is the polar opposite. Every seam on the bear is on the inside to make the outer surface perfectly smooth and soft. Every button or eye is smooth to the touch and warm in your hands. This is something designed with the human in mind. Little kids can touch and play with their bear whenever they want.

The goal of my project is to take the principles of the plush aesthetic and combine it with the very industrial nature of my raw materials. I want to create a sculpture that looks cute and fun. I think that is the biggest challenge I face. How can I create a project that uses components never meant to be used in an artistic manner? How do I create something cute and loving from a product so sharp and cold?

Below I sketched the teddy bear, a bike gear, and the comparison of the two aesthetics. I think the important take away is that the plushy aesthetic used rounded surfaces and fur to make the product look loveable and touchable. If I lean into using round shapes where ever possible I think I can make something cute from such harsh materials.

In other news I have selected my final choice of materials and have worked on making the body of my sculpture. Unfortunately, the wire I purchased doesn’t seem to be strong enough to hold the sculpture in the desired orientation. I didn’t want to buy thicker wire because it was too expensive. Instead I think I will use bike spokes to hold everything together. I am not sure this is possible or feasible but we will see.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Blake,

    I stumbled upon your blog post and found it fascinating! Your exploration of blending industrial precision with the soft plush aesthetic in your upcycling project is intriguing. It’s a unique challenge, but your insights on incorporating rounded shapes and textures to soften the harshness of the materials are spot on.

    I appreciate your tackling practical hurdles head-on, like finding suitable wire for structural integrity. Your resourcefulness in considering alternatives, like using bike spokes, shows your dedication to the project.

    I’m eager to see how you’ll merge these contrasting aesthetics into a cohesive and captivating sculpture. Keep up the great work, and I’ll follow along to see the final outcome!


  • Wow Blake! Nice drawings! I like your use of cross hatching to help shade the form of the head. I thought your page with all the different textures was also interesting to see, and an interesting exercise to think about the textures feel as well. I’m curious to hear more about what other items would be classified in this inverse aesthetic.

  • Hey Blake,

    This looks awesome and I really like the sketches that you did, especially the bear. If you were to utilize this plush aesthetic, how would you go upon making the bear or convert the bike gear to a plush aesthetic?


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