A few months ago, I took my parents on a tour of The Plant, a net-zero energy, urban vertical farm (including aquaponics!) and business incubator, started by our pal John. Driving back from the South Side, my father hit a pothole and heard one of his hubcaps pop off. He pulled over and ordered me to get out and find the missing cap.
So, I didn’t find his hubcap, but was surprised to discover at least a dozen others spread out across Ashland Avenue. The more of them I saw, the more I noticed how beautiful they really were. Each hubcap had a unique design. Some resembled grimy snowflakes, others dirty chrome daisies, blooming with bolts. But why were they all in this one spot?
Turns out, I had just discovered my first HubCap Hotspot.™ These are places where lost hubcaps congregate, typically near expressway on/off ramps (Fullerton and 1-94), or long stretches of stop-free roads where citizens can drive recklessly (Sacramento in the middle of Humboldt Park).
Now that the record-breaking snow of this winter is melting, you, too, are bound to see orphaned hubcaps loitering on every street corner. Why not turn them into something beautiful?
HOW TO MAKE QUIRKY WALL ART OUT OUT OF OLD HUBCAPS
STEP ONE – SCAVENGE: Using my interactive HubCap Hotspot™ map as a starting point,* gather up as many lost hubcaps as you can carry. The scavenging step requires you to temporarily swallow any embarrassment you may have about picking up dirty things off the side of the road. If you care about what your neighbors might think, scavenge in another neighborhood. Or, wear a neon vest and carry a clipboard, because then it seems like you’re conducting Official Hupcap Business.
STEP TWO – CLEAN: First, give your children a bath:
Next, take your children out of the bath, but don’t drain the water. Drop your hubcaps in the Baby Broth, and then go to bed.
After a good overnight soak, get down and scrub those hubcaps, first with dishsoap on an (old) sponge, and then with a toothbrush for those hard-to-reach places. I recommend wearing an old swimsuit for this step, since washing hubcaps in your bathtub isn’t quite trashy enough:
PRO-TIP!! Only do this in your bathroom if you are a RENTER. This type of grime (and behavior) does not suit the dignity of property owners.
STEP THREE – PAINT: When your hubcaps are clean and dry, take them out to the porch for two coats of white, high-gloss spray paint.
Look, I’ve been known to say “Everything is better with a coat of white paint.” But after I painted the hubcaps white, Scott declared, “Those just look like hubcaps that you painted white!” Which wasn’t really the look I was going for.
I needed a way to make their lines pop, to bring out their inner sunflower. I ran out and grabbed a small can of oil-based paint in Gloss Sunburst** Yellow. Using a small paintbrush, I colored in some the negative space, indentations, and other details (like the faux bolts).
STEP FOUR – HANG: My original plan was to hang the hubcaps above the bed, since we’ve got a lot of empty real estate up there, and the colors would really harmonize with the white+yellow chevron headboard.
But yesterday, I asked a visiting friend what he thought of hubcaps over the bed. After a moment of reflection he shrugged and said, “I guess it depends on what you’re into… you know… in there.” That was enough for me. Hubcaps are going over the dresser, also part of my white-on-yellow theme.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t put much planning into the wall arrangement, other than for it to be somewhat whimsical (these are hubcaps, after all). Using a regular picture hanging hook, I placed my favorite cap in the middle of the wall:
After that, I simply arranged the other four hubcaps around the first one:
Now, if you can ignore that pink (!) radiator, you’ll see that my bedroom dressing area is full of recycled light and whimsey!
* Sorry, I already took the hubcaps on Fullerton. There’s still about a dozen along Sacramento, though.
** I don’t know what type of astronomical phenomenon a “Sunburst” is, but I bet it’s REALLY yellow.