Rolling, Knotting, Braiding

4, twin mattress spring units rolled by hand, bent, torched and spray painted
44” x 77” x 16”
Approximately 150 lbs

Hand rolling a mattress spring is a 30-to-45-minute planking exercise with many isometric type exercises throughout. This is where my years of working out, the trampoline springs I found on Craigslist and a propane torch came in handy. However, this is not something I want to be attempting should I make it into my 70’s. If I were to consider creating more sculptures such as these and the other ideas I have, I would need a machine to assist me or to take on the entire load of rolling. This led me to the design of a machine.

Visit my YouTube page to watch the videos of my hand-rolling a mattress.

 I submitted a sketch of a machine to the University of Arizona in 2018 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 donation 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.

The sculpture to the right, Regeneration, is nine, hand rolled, twin mattresses clipped together in rows of three and then braided. This was by far, the most exhausting piece I have ever attempted. It took me about 11 hours over the course of 3 days. It undoubtedly led to the fraying of the rotor cuff of my right shoulder. Nine months of physical therapy later, I once again can lift weights, but it was worth it and now that I have the Mattress Rolling Device, MRD, I won’t have to repeat the process by hand. Weighing in at 250 pounds and at 16 feet long, it was quite a beast to move around!

Mattress springs don’t always cooperate while hand rolling. In the case of the left hand image above in which I chose a mattress spring that could not be hand-rolled due to the type of coil spring used, I adjusted my hope for the outcome. (This doesn’t matter with the Mattress Rolling Device) I worked with what the material would give me. The silver paint tends to make the piece nearly invisible under certain lighting conditions. 

Another way an artist adjusts their plans is to envision a different outcome mid-process. This is the case with the piece below, A Sudden Gust. This is a mattress spring made with coil springs that can be hand-rolled yet early on in the rolling process I saw something different and went with it. I enjoy the figurative gesture it possesses and that tint of orange really glows under most lighting conditions.