Monday, June 15, 2009

all I need is a cannonball...

You know, when a Civil War reenactor says such a thing, nobody flinches.

When a historian or a museum curator says such a thing, people consider it a reasonable request.

But when I say such a thing, they get nervous.

Here is a sample transcript of several nearly identical on-line conversations I had last week on facebook:

Dawn: I need a cannonball. Anybody got one?

Friend: You want a what?!

Dawn: a cannonball. You know, round piece of metal, like a ball, but steel.

Friend: Yes. I get that. WHY do you want a cannonball?

Dawn: To make a bra.

{very long silence}

Friend: To make a bra?

Dawn: yup. I need a cannonball.

Friend: to make a bra?

Dawn: yup. any idea where I can get one?

Friend: Why are you making a bra out of a cannonball?

Dawn: it's for an art auction. For breast cancer. I'm making the bra out of metal. I need the cannonball so I can hammer the metal into the shape of the bra cups.

{the light goes on}

Friend: Oooooohhhhh. OK. No. I have no idea where you can get a cannonball. Have you tried the park? By the cannon?

Dawn: those are all welded together. And I think the hysterical society might have something to say about it if I show up there with a piece of sheet steel and a ball peen hammer and start banging away.

Friend: right. well, good luck with that.


Now for a little back story. My friend Sharon, over at the Queen's Blog, is working on a project that has something to do with breast cancer stuff. I think it is a fundraiser/awareness raiser kind of thing. Anyway, she has asked lots of people to craft bras into pieces of art to be auctioned off by folks (we hope) drinking loads of wine and willing to pay big bucks for artistic renderings of a piece of women's undergarment. Here's one of her posts on the subject. At least I am guessing the wine might make that process flow a little more smoothly... Anyway, Sharon asked me to craft a bra from welded metal.


It all begins to make sense now, doesn't it?

See, people automatically think the worst when I ask for a cannonball. Humph.

Only Sharon asked me to do this back in April, I think. There is a July 1 deadline. You know what's coming next, don't you? Yup. Wait for it...

So I started thinking about how to make a metal bra last week. Yes, in the second week of June. You got a problem with that? No? Good answer.

Well as it turns out, nobody could find or lend to me a cannonball. But I did find a shot put. I have right now, an eight-pound shot put on loan from the MDI High School Athletic Department, courtesy of the AD there, one fella named Bunky Dow. I called up, explained what I was doing, what I needed the shot put for, asked to borrow it, promised to return it, and he said "sure, swing by the gym tomorrow morning around 9:30." I love a small town.

The shot put is a steel ball approximately four inches in diameter and filled with lead. It is heavy as shit. Eight pounds of shit, to be precise. Holy crap.

So I took the shot put and headed of the the garage to get Laura's exhaust worked on. While I was there, I poked around in the junk pile where the guys tear apart wheel bearings and found a short piece of stainless pipe that once served as a wheel bearing housing. I asked, and the mechanic said sure, and I cleaned it up and brought it home to serve as a little platform/coaster kind of thing to hold the shot put. Very cool! Also while I was there, I picked up some steel ball bearings. I am not sure yet whether they will be used as nipples on the bra or as the ends of barbells through the nipples (think piercings). In either case, they'll find some cool use, I am sure.

I brought my newly acquired treasures down to my basement workshop and started hammering. Um. It takes a lot of hammering to bend sheet metal around a cannonball. In short order my wrist was sore. Off I go to Lowe's to pick up an air hammer that will run off my compressor. Wicked cool, and only 20 bucks. Nice. I got some extra chisels to go with it, too. I came home, and cut the pointy tip of one of the chisels right away and began to use that flat tip as a hammer. MUCH easier than a regular old ball-peen thing. Very nice.

Only now I have realized that the ball is going to give me a very shallow cup on the bra. This is not good. I need a bra that looks like it actually might hold real tits, you know. So far my comparison process involves me hammering the steel for a while, then holding it up to my own breast to see if it even comes close to looking like an actual bra (it didn't), then placing it back on the ball and hamemring some more. Eventually, I turned the metal over, and began to bang it with the ball peen again, only into the ring of the cannonball holder. OH! That works really well. Only the ring is about three inches in diameter, and I need something bigger than that. Like a piece of 6-inch pipe. Maybe even something bigger. Hmm.

Saturday, after I picked up the shrubs for a client, I stopped at the hardware store looking for a section of pipe that would meet my needs. I told the hardware store guys I was hammering out a bowl. It was easier than dealing with the looks I'd have received. One guy, who apparently spends many Saturday mornings hanging around the hardware store, directed me to a local contractor. "The garage is open" he said "there's usually guys there on a Saturday working on trucks." Off I went.

I found the garage, and it was indeed open, but there were no guys around. I did stop to admire a Luna moth hanging out on the side of the building, though. That was really cool. After a couple minutes, a guy in a BIG dump truck showed up and offered to help. I told him about my quest for short pieces of scrap pipe, and he directed me to the boneyard.

A construction boneyard is where the extra bits of this and that land after a job is finished. A searcher will find all kinds of things there, including odd pieces off pre-cast storm drains, extra lengths of metal and plastic corrugated culverts, odd, twisted pieces of I-beam, and (bless my heart!) scrap pieces of metal pipe. I found three likely pieces - one four-inch, one six-inch and one eight-inch diameter pipes. None of them is a foot long, and all will work splendidly on my workbench. I was very pleased with my acquisitions, and particularly since they were free. Woohoo!

Now it is Monday, and I am still puttering. I am going to pick up my Shopsmith Mark V today, dropping off that book shelf that I built Saturday, and looking for a larger ball peen hammer that I can cannibalize into something that will do what I want. I have no pictures yet of the metal, but once I get going in a direction that I think will be fruitful, I'll take some pictures and put them up. I will certainly post pictures once the project is complete.

But now you know why I was searching for a cannonball and why (and how) I am making a bra out of metal. I only hope it will look good next to the others at the auction. Time will tell.


Robin said...

Would a child's size bowling ball work?

Queenie said...

yay yay yay I cannot wait to see it!

Dusty said...

When is the unveiling m'dear? ;)

Kay said...

I would love to see photos of the bra when it is all done!