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Culinary Wall Art

"Why are you making that?" Well, they asked me to. My shop gets requests for strange things. Thing people aren't sure can be made for their budget. I laugh a little when I get a call and someone says something like "Ok, this might sounds weird, but could you make us ____? " I laugh because it might sound weird to them, but welcome to the Arcana Workshop. Arcane knowledge of materials and methods to make...whatever.

So that leads into this project that came through Christine Burdick Design . Create culinary themed wall art for 90 hotel rooms for the Essex Resort & Spa. They have to mount safely to the walls. Sure! Great! Well, some rooms are going to have a triptych of panels so the actual number of wall art units is more like 132. Awesome ! And some panels will have over a dozen different elements. Ok, so my math isn't so great, but now its 132 x A LOT. Whew! Ok, so we don't have a lot of time either...(yeah, I laugh at that because that's usually how our projects go.)

So working with Christine and Kaitlin at the design firm, I started sketching, brainstorming and getting this project off the ground. It was to become the largest single project for the Arcana Workshop.

Cabbage sculpture
3d Printing Wheat

The shop quickly filled up with sculptures and molds - onions, spices, butter - you name it. The 3D printer was humming for nearly a month straight making stalks of wheat. Cast spoons starting spilling out of the shelves. The big new workshop space was suddenly not big enough!

Small spices

20" Carrots cast in a super light urethane resin

Spoons !!

We used all kinds of materials , trying to balance the need to keep things light with being durable. The printed wheat as ABS plastic, other parts were epoxy fiberglass, or cast urethane resin, urethane foam, lots of silicone molds. Gallons and gallons. There was a graveyard of 5 gallon buckets in the molding and casting room at the end of this project.

Painted spoons with spices

I have to give a whole heaping helping of praise to my amazing team. These guys jumped in and worked extremely hard, doing anything that needed to get done, making this project a huge success. Joe Cauoette, Sean Hunter, Matt Sylvester, Cullen Johnson, Van Franklin and Mike Ridge.

Painting up a tray of star anise
Stylized onions

And of course, we had to paint all this stuff. op has a nice 8' x 12' spray booth. Many hanging racks of spoons came through there - 182 oversized (14" - 23") spoons, and literally hundreds of other ingredients from 22" onions to lifesize piles of resin cast star anise, and 250 wooden eggs.

Painting progress

Paint a few hundred eggs why don't you
Distressed look on MDF
Resin cast honey

And the panels themselves were MDF that we cut to size, added mounting brackets and finished. The large panels done in a faux slate countertop look that was developed by Matt Sylvester. He and I painted 48 6' panels. Then there were nearly 90 3; panels that not only were painted, but distressed to look like barn boards, including little bent nails. All just smooth MDF that is artfully worked over with a variety of tools and techniques. Sean, Matt, Cullen and I all took part in that process.

Some things weren't painted as such, but cast in a tinted translucent resin such as these bowls of honey.

And...still with me? Big project, lots of steps. Just a few months to build it all.

Anyway, all this had to mount safely and securely togethers - ingredients in spoons or bowls, sculptures to the panels, panels to the walls. Lots of hidden hardware and industrial strength adhesives. Joe was the lead guy in assembly and did a great job.

Joe uses a bucket of expensive silicone as a step stool

Bowlz assemble!

Then we had to wrap and pack all the panels and make some deliveries to the hotel. No small task either. We had to do this periodically as the project went along just to clear out shop space to make more wall art!

Wrap it up

Running out of room, get these panels out of here!

Whoa - a lot of work. Let's not forget to get some good photos of all those panels. Call Kelly! Pro photographer, Kelly Schulze of Mountain Dog Photography was able to get in an take wonderful shots of most of the panel art before they were sent off. The shop was busting at the seams so she had to squeeze in a photo shoot wherever she could.

Kelly sets up a shot


Take the shot wherever you can find the space

​An incredible challenge. Very different from previous projects in content, but really right in our wheelhouse as the methods are the same -, printing, fabrication - make molds, make parts, - art, sculpture, painting. Sometimes its a dinosaur, sometimes its a cabbage. Different is good. You never know what someone will ask for, what the next project will be. Keeps you on your toes. Keeps it interesting and fun.

So if you've got a strange idea for a project, get in touch. Contact on the bottom of our webpage

Here's a gallery of Kelly's final shots. As I said, we missed some panels along the way, but what she captured is a good representation of the final products.

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