CD Changer

I don’t know why I made this.

I mean, I do, sure. It’s a janky prototype of an idea that’s been sitting in my sketchbook for years, and a month ago I got fed up with it just being a sketch. So this is kind of a 3D sketch, really, using some ugly off-the-shelf parts.

I grew up in St Louis, and at the STL Art Museum there’s a great motorized sculpture by Rebecca Horn called Feather Wheel. It’s an elegant rotating circle of feathers. At a certain part in the rotation some feathers fall from the top to the bottom of the circle. It’s cooler in motion.

Feather Wheel

I was kind of fascinated by this artwork as a teen. Like: is this art? Are we sure? I mean, I love looking at it. Is that enough?

Anyway, a few years back I participated in a group project where we were tasked to build a window installation for a local record shop. I thought it would be cool to make a moving sculpture out of CD jewel cases, and coat the plastic in some reflective / dichroic film, and shoot light through it. (We ended up making a giant squid instead).

So I knew I wanted to make this. I knew it would be just a janky prototype. I think it fails its job as a prototype because it… doesn’t really help me visualize a nicer version? I don’t think I’m going to make a v2 here.

CD Changer

But it was really fun to MAKE. And that’s all I’m really looking for, I think.


Readers will know that I don’t do New Years Resolutions, but I love doing New Years projects. These can be big or small, but they’re achievable and bounded. This year, I’m doing something that’s unabashedly about self-improvement.

In 2024 I’m going to force myself to practice thank you notes. And of course I made myself a mini site to record them!

Um... thanks

Seriously, I’ve never written thank you notes. I’m bad at expressing my feelings. I get out the stationery, I grab a pen, and then: I freeze. I panic. I stall. I give up.

The thank you note goes unwritten.

So: in 2024 I’m going to make myself practice. Once per week, I’ll write a thank you note to an artist whose work has been particularly meaningful to me. Someone whose creative output influenced me, or from which I derived great pleasure, or found challenging, or otherwise sparked some kind of inchoate feeling of gratitude that I had no way to process.

It’s going to be like pulling my own teeth. Here goes.

Tilman Riemenschneider - all done*

OK, so a thing I’ve learned the hard way is to start projects that have a finish line. My Tilman Riemenschneider fan site is an excuse to visit every one of his sculptures that I can - and then catalog his work with photos. And I’m finally done.

Or I should say: Done.*

Kind of. So far.

In 2019 I spent a week in Würzburg, to travel around the area and document every one of the Riemenschneider sculptures that I could find. It was great - and then I came home and had to do all the work of actually processing those photos, and creating the listings on my new site. At first I set ambitious goals, like: make all the posts this month. Then it was finish this year and then ok, one two posts per week.

Over the next… FOUR YEARS, I slowly worked my way through this backlog of sculptures. And this week: I’m finally caught up! Every one of his sculptures (for which I have photos) from that trip is finally posted. A good one looks like this:

And a more modest post might just have a photo or two. But they’re there, they are posted!

I still make it a goal to see as many extant Riemenschneider pieces in person. So as I get the opportunity to visit more, I’ll post them here. But for now: I’m done!

Found 2023

Every year the Kirkland family keeps a jar of ‘found’ coins - and once per year I do the accounting.

Found 2023

This year: $14.15 in total cash (not counting foreign currency, a $25 gift card (!), and buttons). One day this will be a part of the Erika Kirkland Museum of Found Objects.

Local Crush: Q2

Hey! It’s November now, so we’re moving the Local Crush penny press to its new location - and more excitingly, putting in a whole new wheel design!

Local Crush on the move

The press itself has a wheel with space for four designs: our first wheel had a design for each of our three hosts, plus a special spot for Local Crush itself. That means we’ve already been through our first three gracious hosts:

  • Mass Street Soda kicked us off. They supported O’Connell Children’s Shelter, and raised $177.50 - which means they and their customers pressed 355 pennies.

  • Then we moved to Wonder Fair in September; they were supporting LAAND, and raised $184.00 - 368 pennies pressed!

  • In October we were at Lawrence Public Library and supported the Friends Foundation. Patrons crushed 220 pennies - raising $110.

  • Now that it’s November, we’re at Liberty Hall, where they are supporting Just Food, the Douglas County food bank.

A big pile of US quarters

Some open questions:

  • We expect that more foot traffic = more pennies. But does a low-cost product like Mass St Soda (a bottle is $2!) make people more likely to get a souvenir?
  • LPL must have higher foot traffic - but it’s not a place where people are ready to spend money, right? It’s the library!
  • MSS and WF are both impulse-purchase meccas. How will it work in places where people are there for bigger purchases?
  • We talk about this like you should go to each host and grab that store’s design. But of course, you can get all four designs at any host, any time during that 3-month window. So; does the first host in a set get more traffic? There are definitely some penny-press collectors hitting up the machine.

The Sea Hates a Coward