by Drew Martin
When I set out to build Art Lab I was a little worried about its proximity to the boiler in my basement, which is only a few feet away from the edge of the space. I had originally conceived of a masonry blast wall of cinder-block and concrete mortar but I did not want to get that involved so I made it quickly from scrap wood with the idea that I would shield the exterior with sheet metal. In the end, I just started layering used sheets of aluminum foil: it is light, easy to manipulate and can be power-stapled into the wood surface of the wall.
The only problem is that aluminum foil, especially this kind of use, is associated with crazies, including the people (usually men) who line their hats with it or make hats entirely out of it. My worries that this might be an early sign of schizophrenia subsided when I realized Andy Warhol had lined his Silver Factory with foil. I hope people will think I am trying to steal his idea before writing me off as a nutcase.
This morning I went to the grocery store because I had to do some shopping. I was a little surprised to see that the Christmas present wrapping paper was so expensive, so in place of that I bought a large, heavy duty roll of generic aluminum foil for half the price but twice the square footage, and wrapped my presents with it. Now, instead of just throwing away wads of wrapping paper come Christmas morning, I can reuse the foil by coating my blast wall with it. In the meantime the bright, shiny foil-wrapped presents reflect the colors of the decorated tree and the string of lights.
Thankfully, most hands-on artists are creatively resourceful. The less money you have, the more important this is because the lower you are on totem pole, the more likely it is that you have issues that rich people do not have to deal with. This is especially true of housing.
My other low-budget fix this morning is in this same vein. A decade ago some you-get-what-you-pay-for work was done to the house in which I now live. The worker(s) cut corners on insulating the recessed lighting under a one-story roof. In cold weather the lights feel like they are air conditioning ducts blasting cold air. To help remedy this I bought a stack of clear disposal plates for almost nothing, put two together and then fit them up into the fixtures. First I took out the bigger floodlights and put in smaller bulbs so the plastic would not be close to the hot bulb. And then I taped the edge of the plate around the rim of the fixture. I am happy to report that they no longer draft.