Bend, Fold, Twist

In 2015 and 2016 I search for materials on the Craigslist website mainly under the Free Stuff tab. Early in 2016 I came across an individual giving away a brand-new mattress spring “inner” (the metal part inside most mattresses). It took them a couple of weeks to respond to me and I thought someone else had picked it up. Funny, how finding that inner altered the direction I was heading. Mattress spring inners became my raw material that day!

I quickly learned how physically difficult it would be to manipulate a mattress spring. Visit my YouTube channel to watch the videos of my hand-rolling a mattress.

Mattress springs are designed to bend under a human’s weight, yet bounce back when that weight is removed. My very first attempt was to use ratcheting straps attached to spikes in the ground to alter the shape – see first set of images below. It didn’t work very well and was a bit dangerous. The amount of tension on the mattress spring was great. The spikes kept lifting out of the ground. So… back to Craigslist Free Stuff where I found someone giving away two buckets of trampoline springs. I knew they would be able to at least hold the mattress spring in whatever shapes I could manage to use my body, and other tools to form. And the trampoline springs did work pretty well, yet, of course when I removed them the mattress spring would bounce back.

I began calling junk yards and cardboard bundling companies to see if I could purchase an hour or so of time to use their compactor machines. No takers, yet one guy from a junk yard was kind enough to ask what it is I was trying to accomplish. HE was the one that told me about annealing metal with heat. The rest is history, I guess?

Another way for me to ease the physicality of contorting a mattress was to design a device. See Rolling Knotting & Braiding link. I submitted a sketch of a machine to the University of Arizona and was able to have five of their senior engineering students engineer and build a working prototype based on my sketch and their experience. This was done through a program they offer in which, mainly companies, yet individuals are able to participate through a donate to the college of engineering plus the cost of supplies. It was an amazing thing to participate in. I will not forget it and may participate again as there are other ideas I have for tools to further my exploration into the manipulation of mattress springs.

In 2017 I began experimenting with tools such as a rotating engine stand in order to create the shape I desired. In order to twist a mattress, I had to be able to secure one side while incrementally twisting the opposite side. (Incrementally, so I could use a torch to anneal the metal after each twist. Mattress spring inners are engineered with spring steel. Spring steel resists contortion unless it is heated. This process is called annealing). A rotating engine stand was an existing tool I could purchase off-the-shelf as opposed to paying a tool shop to make a device for me.

Along with using ratcheting straps and calling junk yards to purchase time on their compactors, I hoped laying a 4 x 8 sheet of wood over a bent mattress spring then parking my four-wheel drive pickup truck on it would help deform it permanently. This kind-of worked, yet not to the extent I desired. AND when I backed the truck slowly off the piece in the pictures below, the corner of the wood got stuck under the plastic form of the front bumper and ripped it off! I didn’t take and pictures of this not really wanting any memories of the event. This is the extent I was willing to go in order to turn a material (mattress springs) designed to resist permanent deforming into whatever was in my imagination.