Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lightbulb Art - Giant Squid

lightbulb squid in jar
I was playing around with putting dead lightbulbs in liquid instead of putting liquid in dead lightbulbs when I noticed something about one of the skinny bulbs that Manon gave me. It looked a lot like the head of a giant squid.
And Manon likes giant squids. (Well who doesn't, but Manon especially likes giant squids.)
So I made her one to go on her desk. All the parts were scavenged except the mineral oil.
The tentacles are copper wire (from a broken slide projector power supply) and broken glass (mostly smashed windshield from an accident on Gladstone, and a few pieces of assorted glass collected at the Westbound bus stop at Lebreton Flats).
The sea floor is marbles that a nice fellow gave me at the Great Glebe Garage Sale and more broken glass.
I think the jar used to have pickles in it.
The liquid inside is mineral oil. I used mineral oil because:

  • It has an index of refraction of more than 1.4, this means that it magnifies better than water or alcohol;
  • It is relatively nontoxic (this was all baby oil, therefore food grade); and
  • The metal bits will not rust.
Unfortunately, it's hard to scavenge mineral oil. I put a fair bit of effort into finding a good price for it. Mineral oil can be bought in bulk. Not at a hardware store, not at a paint store, not at a drugstore. At least none of the many that I tried. But at the Petro-Canada bulk oil depot on Merivale Drive. When I last spoke with them, they had one 20-litre bucket of food-grade low-viscosity mineral oil priced at $3.99 per litre or $79.80. (I wanted low viscosity because it pours faster and there isn't much difference in the refraction index between the lowest and highest viscosities.)
But at Dollarama, you can buy a 266ml bottle of baby oil for $1.00. I believe that works out to $3.76 per litre. You wind up with a whole lot of little clear squirt bottles to re-use or recycle, but you don't have to buy 20 litres at a time. (This project required 3.5 litres of oil.)


mae callen said...

This IS a brilliant idea. I love your light bulb art. I love the mineral oil. Megan was right, you are awesome.

Anonymous said...

I love it too! I can't believe nobody ever thought of doing that before.

Anonymous said...

I love my squid. Every time I look at this art piece, I smile and feel happy. If I turn the jar around gently, the squid's tentacles float around and up and down touching and moving the marbles and glass at the bottom. If the sun is shining, the broken glass, the light bulb and the wire, catch the light and the whole jar is filled with coloured sparkles of light. I am trying to come up with a name for her (the squid). Anyone have ideas?

Anonymous said...

What about Cally?

Anonymous said...

It seems that the name Cally is of Greek origin and that it means beautiful or lovely. So, since this art piece is beautiful and lovely, that will be my squid's name! Thank you anonymous for suggesting it.

Anonymous said...

Actually I suggested Cally as a short form of calimari. Delighted to know it means lovely and beautiful. When I was growing up squid meant bait.