The Sidewalk Project

I didn’t set out to turn this into a project, but occasionally as time goes by you see things emerge, and then you turn a curiosity into something a bit more solid. Basically, I started walking to get more exercise about two years ago, and as I was walking I would sometimes see an old sidewalk square stamp. I saw a 1956 near my house and thought that was cool. I saw some really beautiful stamps, and some ugly ones (from a design standpoint) and I would share some of them online, mostly on Facebook after returning from my daily walk.

At some point someone asked me about locations, and I realized that since I take all the photos with my mobile phone the location data is embedded in every file. Sadly, the social media platforms typically strip this data, and even if they didn’t I don’t know that they have a good way of showing the data. I use Piwigo for my photo gallery, so I put all the photos there, and was able to add a map. I’d like to show location data on each photo page, but I’m still working on that.

For now though, you can view the photos, download them, see the geo coords in the file, and view the map. (Note that on a mobile device you need to switch to “Desktop” view. (Something else to fix in the future I guess.)

As of this posting date (2023-08-20) this is the list of years I’ve captured (the blue text with a strikethrough). I still have not completed a full decade, though I am close. The great majority of these are within walking distance of my house, though there are a few from Bay View and Downtown, but most are around Enderis Park, Cooper Park, Lenox Heights, and the surrounding areas.

I would prefer to have stamps that are in Milwaukee, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. I’ve been avoiding stamps that say Wauwatosa, which is difficult because I live near the edge of Tosa and walk there all the time. I also don’t limit it to one of each year, and I’ll grab the same year if it’s a different stamp or really unique (or well designed) stamp. (I definitely still want to get all the missing years!)

I’ve also heard from others who say “I keep looking at the stamps when I walk around!” or people will send me photos of stamps (or plates!) they’ve come across. One friend asked if I need to get the photo, and I said that while I really love people sharing with me, I do want to actually see a sidewalk stamp in person and capture the photo. I also encourage others to create their own record.

So, yeah… that’s the thing that has become The Sidewalk Project which is a name I just came up with while writing this post. Let me know what you think.


A Concrete Bolt


When last you saw my cast bolt it was made from plaster and an ABS 3D print which served as a mold. It sort of worked. As mentioned, it was more “art object” than “functional thing” and that was what I was going for…

Well, I made another ABS mold from the first experiment and even though I had worked with a flexible filament mold I thought I would give the ABS version one more try, this time with concrete instead of plaster.


I really liked the way this one turned out. Yes, I had to destroy the mold again, and in the process the part got damaged and broken, and then I pulled out the hot glue gun and put it back together, and now I like it even more!


It’s one of those situations where things go wrong so you just do something and it turns out (possibly) better than you thought it would. I joked that this was the modern maker equivalent to Kintsugi, using hot glue instead of gold.









I really like how it has this feel of being an ancient relic. In a strange twist of fate, I was at first annoyed with all the tiny pebbles in the concrete, so much so that I made a sifter to remove them, but now I’m thinking up a list of things I can mix into the concrete besides pebbles (and, probably pebbles too.)


The Concrete Hammer

Concrete Hammer

It’s been nearly a year since I introduced The Ice Hammer to the world, and yes, I’ve been accused of having an obsession with hammers, but I swear this time it’s (mostly) a coincidence.

The gang at BBCM are doing a MakeShift event this week titled Concrete Mixer, which is an adults-only thing at the children’s museum, and the topic is concrete. Instead of just being jealous of what the BAM folks have been up to with casting concrete in foldable paper forms and digging into the concrete/art connection, I decided to get in on the fun as well. John’s been busy casting concrete too, and he gave me a can of concrete to play with.

So how could I not use the vacuum formed hammer mold I made at a previous MakeShift event to create a concrete hammer?

Concrete Hammer in mold

I’ve been traveling a lot for work, and I knew that concrete takes some time to set and harden, so I was in a rush to mix it up and get it into the mold before I left town. I frantically mixed and scooped the concrete into the mold at about 10pm before rushing off to bed for an early morning flight.

Concrete Hammer (Head)

Air bubbles and lumps? I’m sure there’s a few… But the important part was that I got it ready to sit around and dry for a week.

Concrete Hammer

When I got back I took a look at the surface and it looked pretty solid, but I still didn’t trust it was fully set, so I let it sit for another day. Getting it out of the mold proved a bit tricky. I had taped up the cracks in the mold that occurred the last time I made an ice hammer, and that made it a bit more stiff. I did manage to get it out, but I ended up destroying the mold. No more ice (or concrete) hammers!

Hammer Mold

Even though it’s concrete, I’m pretty sure one good swing would destroy it. For now I’m just going to consider it an art object, and not a fully functional hammering device.


If you’re available Thursday, February 4th, 2016 and want to learn more about working with concrete, plan on attending MakeShift. Tickets are $10 and you can get them online. (I hear there will also be “spiked milkshakes” and other refreshments.)