Pool noodle animals

October 2015 // City Wide Open Studios

In October 2015, my friend Dan Gries and I got to decorate the windows of the New Haven Armory on Goffe Street, for City Wide Open Studios. They were covered in metal grids, and, like we had with the Marilyn Monroe piece we did for Re:Generate 2014, we stuffed the grid with chunks of pool noodles.


Since the grid was diagonal, and stretched, we had to find a new way to cut the noodles to fit into the grid. After a few bad ideas...

...we settled on alternating diagonal placement.

A close-up photo of the pool noodles

We had sixteen grids that were about 30" wide, 72" tall. That meant buying a lot of pool noodles.

Preparing the pool noodles

While Dan did a lot of the image and software work, I cut up over 250 pool noodles with a bandsaw. First, in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters, then each quarter into slices. The final images were composed of 25,352 pieces, and we finished with some leftover stock.

Preparing the images

At the same time, we were looking for images to use. The theme for CWOS 2015 was "Dwelling," so we eventually settled on animals that you often find around the home. It was clear that the images had to be recognizable - we thought a lot about doing abstracts, but it always seemed too boring for this medium. Once we had a range of images, Dan ran them through a dithering algorithm, and made preview PDFs. We had to keep track of how many orange, blue, and green were used in each image, so we didn't run out of any color. To pick the final set, we printed them all, and laid them out.

With about 1,300 pieces per grid, you need a map.


We needed three car-loads to drive the ladders, table, and bags of noodle chunks to the Armory.

The Results

Here they are, from left to right, which is about the reverse of the order they were completed in:

After the Show

Dan's flickr album and project page both have a bunch of great photos of the preparation, installation, and results.

You can (as of this post, anyway) see it on Google Street view.