In the past week, my local art presence decreased significantly. It reminded me that I need to keep on top of online matters, such as this often neglected blog. So without any further ado, let’s look at the next carnival piece…


Cheri is quite the thrift and estate sale shopper, and she found this very stylish space heater sometime back. Not sure what to do with it, she asked if I could make anything of it. I was pretty sure I could, but at the moment didn’t know exactly what, so it sat in my studio for a few months. It has that carnival feel so it just had to be in this series, so I got to work. First a mostly before picture, though the front grill was already removed, and a handle has been added at the bottom.


The curves on this space heater are great…it reminds me of 30’s and 40’s architecture. I quickly got to adding a red and gold paintjob on it. The head you see in the next photo is the top of a stairway post, which later found out is called a Newell. The part behind the head in the photo above is a bike gear, given to me by my dad.


Another noticeable element seen above are the lights. I already had decided by this point that this would be a fortune teller booth, and no fortune teller booth is complete without colorful lights. This was probably the trickiest part of this project, as there is very little wiggle room inside the space heater at the top, but just enough to house a double light fixture. A yellow light goes on the left side and a red light goes on the right, creating the odd atmosphere I had envisioned.


The next task was the head itself. This one stumped me for a bit, and will even show my first unsuccessful attempt:

Oops…maybe this head will work in something else

Above you see the newell starting to be cut apart and the strange centurion that came about. Besides not matching the theme at all, the “helmet” completely blocked the light from above, ruining the effect. I would need try again, but sadly this newell was unserviceable at this point. As luck would have it, the next day a new newell was found at a garage sale. Back in business!


Another issue was the fortune itself. Most fortune teller booths have some kind of message on paper come out. Had thought about some mechanized way to do this, but that was getting complicated. Instead, maybe it was a fortune teller gone haywire, with fortunes spilling all over the place? That sounded more fitting, so decided upon using strips of dates from a calendar I have had around for years:


I cut rows of these dates and glued them to thin strips of metal, and then placed them around the inside of the space heater, as well as one spitting out of the fortune teller’s mouth.

Unfortunately I have few progress shots on this piece, but got caught up so much in this one that photos were forgotten at many stages. But what I lack in progress shots I make up for in finished shots. First some daytime shots:

Arvin the Amazing

You can see how the calendar dates now appear in these shots, like a printer spewing out little bits of paper all over. Arvin the Amazing - right

The head itself, as mentioned above, was made from a second newell. This time, I wanted to keep the roundness emphasized, as the lights show up better on it. So I took a drill and dremel and carved out the eyes, mouth and nasal cavities. Unlike metal, when boring into wood with a dremel, smoke gets everywhere, and my eyes were stinging by the end of this. A couple blue marbles were used as eyeballs, and a spring as its teeth.

Arvin the Amazing - Detail
Arvin the Amazing – Detail

Next, let’s see a couple shots inside, where the lighting really comes into play:

Arvin the Amazing - with lights

While the yellow and red light were on in the shots taken outside, they were barely noticeable. But as seen above, they make the whole piece come alive. And here’s one more view from the right:

Arvin the Amazing - with lights from right

This art is called “Arvin the Amazing,” named after the space heater itself. It is a 10 x 10 x 6 inch shadow box artwork using a space heater as enclosure. It is lit with 2 lights and can be either mounted on a wall, or set on a flat surface. It is sold. Check out my full page of Carnival Discardia artwork.


I have now made 2 carnival works (plus a mermaid) and have started on another with the Knife Thrower as theme. If I can get at least 10-12 of these done, it would be nice to have a show of these. Like last year’s Æssemblage book reception, it will likely be held in my home, and probably right before this year’s East Austin Studio Tour, so all the work will be set up. And I’m pretty sure that venue will be free. 😉

Update: Feel free to contact me with any questions about this piece or go to the Carnival Discardia page in this website to see a complete list of works in this series.

Arvin’s Got Your Number
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