Back in 2012, I received a box of eight hundred openSUSE 12.1 promo DVDs, which I then set out to distribute to local Linux users’ groups, tech conferences, other SUSE crew in Australia, and so forth. I didn’t manage to shift all 800 DVDs at the time, and I recently rediscovered the remaining three hundred and eighty four while installing some new shelves. As openSUSE 12.1 went end of life in May 2013, it seemed likely the DVDs were now useless, but I couldn’t bring myself to toss them in landfill. Instead, given last week was Hack Week, I decided to use them for an art project. Here’s the end result:
Making that mosaic was extremely fiddly. It’s possibly the most annoying Hack Week project I’ve ever done, but I’m very happy with the outcome 🙂
The backing is a piece of 900mm x 600mm x 6mm plywood, primed with some leftover kitchen and bathroom undercoat, then spray pained black. I’d forgotten how bad spray paint smells, but it makes for a nice finish. To get the Geeko shape, I took the official openSUSE logo, then turned it into an outline in Inkscape, saved that as a PNG, opened it in GIMP, and cut it into nine 300mm x 200mm pieces which I then printed on A4 paper, stuck together with tape, and cut out to make a stencil. Of course, the first time I did that, nothing quite lined up, so I had to reprint it but with “Ignore page margins” turned off and “Draw crop marks” turned on, then cut the pages down along the crop marks before sticking them together the second time. Then I placed the stencil on the backing, glued the eye down (that just had to be made from the centre of a DVD!) and started laying out cut up DVD shards.
I initially tried cutting the DVDs with tin snips, which is easy on the hands, but had a tendency to sometimes warp the DVD pieces and/or cause them to delaminate, so I reverted to a large pair of scissors which was more effort but ultimately less problematic.
After placing the pieces that made up the head, tail, feet and spine, and deciding I was happy with how they looked, I glued each piece down with superglue. Think: carefully pick up DVD shard without moving too many other shards, turn over, dab on a few tiny globs of superglue, lower into place, press for a few seconds, move to next piece. Do not get any superglue on your fingers, or you’ll risk sticking your fingers together and/or make a gluey mess on the shiny visible side of the DVD shards.
It was another three sessions of layout-then-glue-down to fill in the body. I think I stuck my fingers together about six, or eight, or maybe twenty times. Also, despite my best efforts to get superglue absolutely nowhere near the stencil at all, when I removed the stencil, it had stuck to the backing in several places. I managed to scrape/cut that off with a combination of fingernails, tweezers, and the very sharp knife in my SLE 12 commemorative Leatherman tool, then touched up the remaining white bits with a fine point black Sharpie.
Judging from the leftover DVD centre pieces, this mosaic used about 12 DVDs in all, which isn’t very many considering my initial stash. I had a few other ideas for the remainder, mostly involving hanging them up somehow, which I messed around with earlier on while waiting for the paint to dry on the plywood.
One (failed) idea was to use a cutting wheel on my Dremel tool to slice half way through a few DVDs, then slot them into each other to make a hanging thingy that would spin in the wind. I was unable to make a smooth/straight enough cut for this to work, and superglue doesn’t bridge gaps. You can maybe get an idea of what I was aiming at from this photo:
My wife had an idea for a better way to do this, which is to take a piece of dowel, cut slots in the sides, and glue DVD halves into the slots using Araldite (that’s an epoxy resin, in case you didn’t grow up with that brand name). I didn’t get around to trying this, but I reckon she’s onto something. Next time I’m at the hardware store, I’ll try to remember to pick up some suitably sized dowel.
I did make one somewhat simpler hanging thingy, which I call “Geeko’s Tail (Uncurled)”. It’s just DVDs superglued together on the flat, hanging from fishing line, but I think it’s kinda cool:
Also, I’ve discovered that Officeworks has an e-waste recycling program, so any DVDs I don’t use in future projects needn’t go to landfill.
Update 2023-02-20: For photos of the mosaic, plus wallpapers made from the photos, see https://github.com/tserong/hackweek22