Seeing, Adapting, Modifying Toys

2010 April 23
Rabbit Dropping Pan

The Rabbit Dropping Pan is the perfect size for bandanas!

Part of being an artist is looking at materials for their potential.  

 A mere stroll through Lowe’s, an antique sale or your immense stash of stuff can yield some surprising inspiration. 

My newest find is —  drum roll please—   a rabbit droppings tray!  It seemed to have the right dimensions to marble bandanas.  After testing it for waterproofness– it wasn’t–  I lined the aluminum with heavy plastic & secured with the ever-present duct tape.  It is 24″ square which is just the size for 22″  fabric bandanas!  Perfect!  

Found this in Norris, TN at an outdoor antique/junque sale. 

Duct tape couldn't save this idea!

Duct tape couldn't save this idea!

The nice guy even rooted around & dug found another one!  Boxed & everything for $3 each. 

What a great find!  

You can see the rabbit droppings tray in action at Cliff Dwellers Gallery today Upstairs in the Open Studio where I marble.  

Another adaptation didn’t go so well.  Was trying to put wheels on a 5-gallon bucket.  Those are getting heavier & heavier to lift when they are filled with water & marbled scarves. 

Could it be age?  Could it be back problems raising their ugly & painful heads?  Whatever! 

The magic duct tape, masking tape & heavy twine combo didn’t do the job this time.  Back to the drawing board. 

I had an epiphany in Lowe's!

I had an epiphany in Lowe's!

If you’ve seen my marbling demonstration or have taken a class from me, you are familiar with the last modification.  

When facing my first class of 14 adults at Arrowmont many years ago, I realized that I didn’t have tools for that many people.  In the middle of Lowe’s I had an epiphany!  

While looking for something that I could adapt, there in the drywall aisle were 10 & 12′ sections of marbling tools! 

Of course, Lowe’s referred to them as drywall bead, but I knew better! 

Plastic, waterproof, inexpensive, can be cut with scissors– perfect!  When I teach, everyone makes a set of tools in a short time to keep as their own.  Students are more likely to continue marbling if they have the tools.  I’ll let you guess what the pins are.  Any takers? 

 Am now searching for a display for my nook at Carousel Gardens that will display my marbled scarves to advantage in a clever & artistic way.  Any suggestions? 

9 Responses
  1. April 25, 2010

    You should seal the rabbit droppings pan with silicone caulk…I know you love duct tape, but caulk would probably last longer. 🙂

  2. April 25, 2010

    Considered the silicone, but wanted to try it out RIGHT THEN & not wait for the caulk to dry. Also, the tray had some old dried out sealer in the corner brackets that didn’t pass the water test. Finally, the aluminum was not thick & stable & wasn’t positive that the seal would remain unbroken in moving the tray anyway. Plus, RIGHT NOW REIGNS!

  3. Nancy Akerly permalink
    April 27, 2010

    So what do you use for pins and how do you attach them? I tried to make my own combs and rake and had limited success with glue and wood and straight pins. Can you share your secrets?
    Thanks so much, Nancy

  4. b.a.lundquist permalink
    April 27, 2010

    Good idea using the rabbit droppings pan. Lowe’s also has wheeled caddies in the garden section designed to go under large pots. Mine is called “Saucer Caddy Deluxe” and I think it was about $10, and there were other heavier duty ones. Works great for moving around 5 gal. buckets and small garbage cans (used for my indigo vat). Have fun!

  5. Magda Therrien permalink
    April 28, 2010

    As far as a display for fabric, we were just talking about how people cannot give old cribs away for use as a crib anymore because of safety laws. I had commented that the sides of an older crib would work beautifully for displaying fabrics. Just hand it up sideways (like a ladder) and then hang the fabric piece on the “rungs”.

    Are your rake pins nails?

    I know how you feel. When I walk into our local Home Depot, the staff go running because I am always trying to adapt things to use for some other, never intended use. I am always excited when one of the employees gets it and starts looking for ideas with me. Most of them just give me this odd look and try to usher me out. Tee hee.

  6. April 30, 2010

    Wow! Great suggestions!
    RLG: Will try silicone on the second tray to see if it make a waterproof seal.

    BAL: Checked out those at Lowe’s yesterday. Those are the same wheels I have from some other storage containers. Still have to try a hand-built caddy! Determination? Stubbornness? Just plain cheap? All of the above! LOL

    MT: Like the crib idea. One of my partners uses that to dry herbs & flowers. Know the feeling at Lowe’s– some people just don’t get the idea of adaptation! The “teeth” are actually brush hair roller picks.

    NA: I feel another tool-making blog coming on! All will be revealed!

    Thanks everyone!

  7. May 3, 2010

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss the plant caddys. We have a big one that held a huge pot full of soil and a 6′ palm tree. A 5 gallon bucket of water would present no challenge to it. And they probably turn up at yard sales because like ours, plants sometimes die.

  8. March 29, 2013

    I picked up a plastic washing machine floor tray 30 x 32 x 2 at Home Depot. It has raised areas on the bottom which got in the way of my rakes and combs, so I had a piece of clear acrylic cut to fit in the bottom to make it smooth. It even has a built in drain with a plug. I do have to shim up one corner or another to level the size, but for larger pieces it works like a dream! I’ve used foam core cut in pieces about 2″ wide x desired length to make combs that hold up pretty well in spite of getting wet and goopy. You just stick whatever you’re using for the teeth into the foam and then run a bead of hot glue to keep them in place. Styrofoam or plastic egg cartons work great for mixing small amounts of paint.

  9. March 30, 2013

    Am a big fan of the “whatever works” approach. If I have a temporary-sized tray for a special project & need quick one-time use tools, I have pushed t-pins through foam core or even pushed plastic roller picks through strips of corragated cardboard (handy pre-spaced holes!) Cardboard strips need to be strengthened a bit, so I double-stick tape craft sticks along one side. Have even clothespinned my regular tools together to make a longer tool for these temporary trays.

    Again. “whatever works!” Part of being an artist– especially an artist of an obscure art like marbling– is adaptation & invention.

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