The GeoBulb is lightening up Spartanburg now!

Hi Y’all 🙂

I know it’s been awhile. I have been completely engrossed in working on the bulb.

Yesterday I got an email from Ashleigh at SAM that my bulb was installed!! Yaaay! So of course, Mom and I RAN to the car and headed out! You know, I hadn’t seen it with the clear coat on yet, nor how the bling filling looked with the window on because the poly-carbonate (plexiglass but not plexiglass) had a protective film on it last time I saw it. It needed to stay on during the spray coat process because I didn’t want the window clear coated and nothing inside the bulb needed the UV protection. The guys at Wakefield Automotive, that did the spray coatings of all the bulbs, got to do the reveal. Those guys were awesome by the way, and they really seemed to enjoy this project. There were 4 other bulbs there when we dropped mine off – there’s one of a cactus that is AMAZING!

So now I will re-cap the whole thing, from start to finish! Even my errors and surprises.

My first thought about this bulb is that it’s a light-bulb, for goodness sake, it needs to have light! But how can I do that short of wiring it for electricity, solar or otherwise. Then I thought, geodes are sparkly!

Well, I was doing a geode idea so first I had to cut the dang thing. One issue was about making the cut FLAT FLAT FLAT because this window had to be able to seal it from the weather. So maybe you read on a previous post about my fun with laser levels. LOL It worked out pretty well though.


The next thing was to fill it. My original idea was to fill it with spray foam, to form the inner surface bowl shape. What I had in my mind was what you see on HGTV or DIY, how they come with a spray gun and in two seconds the spray a whole wall and it puffs up – bada bing! Guess what? NO!

The deal is, they are using professional construction tools and foam. When I went to the hardware store and bought the type in a can – my goodness it was such a wimpy amount and stream. The entire bulb would have taken 30 cans at least and never dried properly. The next level of product  is to buy a more professional kit at $350 – no thanks. One quote for hiring construction dudes to come do it with their machine was $850 to just show up! OK, so this is not happening is it?

All the while I was watching lots and lots of videos about foam. Isn’t that the most fun thing about art? that every project has some learning aspect? I also saw a fantastic nozzle.

Tommy was showing this on “Ask This Old House” It makes the foam stream flat, not like coils of snakes like it comes out straight from the can. These are also really easy to clean. Once they are dry you just pop the dry hunk of foam off.

So on to plan B (Art has lots of plan Bs – love it!) I filled the bulb up to the bowl shape with Styrofoam. I nagged all my family for the stuff – not to throw any away – give me your egg cartons! Give me your packing peanuts! Recycling, Baby!

I was thinking about the weight too. Styro is so light.



Then I layered the final bowl shape with some foam fabric wrap stuff left over from packaging.


Then I had a smaller, workable area to use the cans of spray foam, only 4 or 5 cans! (still expensive) But I really love working with this stuff and I will certainly be doing more projects with it.


It still had a little bit of the coiled snake texture and this last photo is only partially foamed, but you can see the flatter bands from the cool nozzle along the bottom.

After getting all the foam on it was a piece of cake to cut it with a serrated knife (don’t tell my family I was using the bread knife. It’s really a good practice to keep art tools and kitchen tools separate, my bad. )

The next thing was to spray paint the inside silver.

Did you ever try to spray-paint Styrofoam? If you use water-based paint it works fine, but oil based paint eats it! It just starts dissolving. I knew this about Styrofoam but I had also seen people spray-painting spray foam insulation with no problem.

I decided to experiment anyway. Experiments are half the fun! What I found out is, yes! you can spray-paint spray foam insulation with oil based paint ON THE SMOOTH SURFACE! BUT –  where you have cut into it and exposed a porous surface like a sponge, it starts dissolving just like Styrofoam. My solution was to cover the cut areas with water based primer first and then the spray-paint worked fine.


Then I started adding the delicious bling filling! Starting by filling any huge crevasses, stuffing them with Mardi-Gras beads. The rest of the filling has broken glass and lots of mirrors, anything that will play nice together and play with the light. What would make a  volleyball game of light and colors?  Then I added odd bits of fun things to discover like Kermit’s head, a marble, a penny, picture hanging hooks, lenses from glasses, screws, broken CDs, a letter from a car…

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These last pictures are partially filled. I added lots more broken glass. Some of my family got to have fun helping me by smashing glass LOL

Meanwhile, down at the screw end, my idea was to make flowing lava. Again, I researched and watched videos. There are some really fun videos on YouTube about flowing lava, by the way. Lava is glowing hot but has a black crust that looks like a texture of ropes, lots of strings of crust.

This was another time my plan A just wasn’t working well, and for the same reason, too much area to cover with an expensive material. My plan A was to paint the threaded part hot fluorescent paint and then glow in the dark paint and create the crust entirely of polymer clay. It wasn’t working out, it looked clunky.


Not only that, but the good quality glow-in-the-dark paint is insanely expensive. I couldn’t do the entire stem with it. I did the entire stem with less expensive glow-in-the-dark paint from the craft store but it wasn’t giving me the effect I wanted. One of the main themes of the piece is light after-all. It had to glow!

Then I took a lesson from the spray foam experience and decided to add a layer of black crust  with paint first. This was a good solution, in my mind, because it would also add another dimension of depth to the texture.

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This also reduced the area of molten lava which would need the more expensive glow-in-the-dark paint.


Later, I added some layers of puffy paint too which made smaller strings and helped create a better transition from the flat crust to the larger thick strings of crust.

On the Earth….my Plan was to make the Earth look like stone and my original idea was that the water be lapis lazuli and the land be malachite. BUT then I discovered that malachite is azurite that has aged! It’s like it’s rusting or getting a verdigris patina or something! It’s the same piece of stone! Azurite is just as gorgeous a blue as lapis – so that was that!

I googled these minerals and the images that came up were EXACTLY how I wanted the Earth to look. See what I mean?… Don’t they kind of  look like satellite maps?


Here’s the painting of the Earth…

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Finally, for the icecaps on the poles I used a subtle texture of glitter! It was another way to bring in light.

I was a little insecure about this decision for a minute because there is fine art and there is arts-n-crafts and glitter normally falls into the arts-n-crafts category. The problem is there might be something you would shy away from because of being worried what others will think, and then some other artist does it and is called a genius! If Duchamp can throw a toilet on a pedestal and call it art, I can use glitter if glitter is the texture I want. Glitter was just right for icecaps.

It’s a constant battle to eject the “what will others think?” thoughts when making art. Each human being has a divine spark or uniqueness in them. Obey your spark and others be damned! Your spark is the true treasure of your soul! Ok, I’m really trying to convince me, not you. Obey the spark, obey the spark!


Lastly, The cut geode needed an edge…

002006The nuggets of minerals in there are candy wrappers. More light reflective material – more recycling!

Here is the audio tour online. Here are the shots of the bulb on site!

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I hadn’t seen it with the window on yet because of that film covering on the poly-carbonate. (I got my poly carbonate window from Apco Plastics, by the way and they were awesome! Best customer service ever!) The window reflections seemed to somewhat hide the inner sparkle but we were there in late afternoon. I know that they installed the bulb to face the morning sun so we have to go back and see how it looks in the morning. I hope it blasts with sparkle. We will see.

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See my reflection? LOL

So, while I was there some people came up and were looking at it and taking pictures and saying all kinds of lovely things! I spoke up and said “I’m just eavesdropping on you because I made this.” and we got into a nice conversation and THEN..
They wanted to take my picture with the Mom and the bulb! I felt like a rock star!! It was awesome! Thank you, ladies, you made my year.

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Update 4/14/17 – These gals just sent me the picture on FB. Thanks, Ladies! ❤


So the main three themes of this piece are light, geology and recycling. Tucked into the lava flow around the back I wrote “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono” Which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” This is the motto of the State of Hawai’i but it being a state motto is incidental, I just love the quote.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that all these forms of minerals actually DO have life, they GROW! The azurite ages to become malachite, doesn’t it? A geode is full of crystals and crystals certainly grow, that’s how they form! Lava grows for sure. A volcano creates new land all the time. Even the icecaps, even though ice may not be a mineral, they expand and shrink every year like breathing and they shape the Earth too. These are all processes of change happening to rocks which at first glance seem to be dead things, unchangeable, permanent. We say of something that is permanent that it is “carved in stone.” But the land has life and recycling is righteous. It is absolutely righteous to take care of the beautiful world God has given us.

Thanks for visiting!




About sharonpassmore

Hi. I am an artist living in Greenville, South Carolina. I am the Art moderator at Eratosphere, a forum of Ablemuse Review. I play with all sorts of art-forms, including digital design and fabric design, but nearest to my heart, at the moment, is collage. I like it best if the collage materials are not recognized from a distance and reveal themselves at close up, the way a painting can look realistic from a distance but on closer inspection, the freedom of brushstrokes becomes apparent. My materials are my brushstrokes. ​ I use anything I find in my collage that suits the purpose, beads, broken jewelry, wallpaper scraps etc... I always try to incorporate recycled packaging too. This is important to me, partly because of the environment, and partly because I get a little thrill out of recognizing the value of materials most people would discard as trash. Think of this next time you peel that wonderful foil seal off a new can of coffee. ​ I am inspired by many kinds of traditional arts and crafts. The cultural history of the world is just loaded with fabulous treasure, isn't it? I view the world of art and art history as a giant buffet and I want to sample a taste of everything. "Mmmmm that Wabi Sabi looks delicious! Gimme a little of that Horror Vacui! Check out those fantastic Molas!" I completely reject the idea that one artform is superior to another due to what is in fashion at the moment. Art is timeless. ​ If there's something I don't like too much, I try to keep in mind that I probably don't understand it, and that's a signal to me that I have something more to learn. There is always something more to learn. Thanks for visitng <3 Sharon Passmore
This entry was posted in #artbulb, #lightenupspartanburg, #spartanburgartmuseum, Art, Environment, light-bulb, Lighten-Up_Spartanburg, public art, Recycling, Spartanburg Art Museum, spray foam insulation in art and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The GeoBulb is lightening up Spartanburg now!

  1. Bryan says:

    I drove by the other day and noticed that the geo bulb had been removed? Did something happen to it? I was so sad … I’ve been meaning to look at this one up close.


    • Bryan, Hi, thanks for looking! the GeoBulb was not sealed correctly and was leaking ;_( I have spent the past week repairing it and it will be ready to be reinstalled after Wednesday.


  2. I love this! It really turned out so beautifully and thank you for sharing your process.


  3. Anne Ielpi says:

    Absolutely amazing Sharon. Congrats


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