Puzzled into place, the final piece of the project

The second installment of Meadville’s Big Zipper Project was held in the Henderson Campus Center on Tuesday, Sept. 6 and was piloted by Steve Prince, professor of art and artist-in-residence. The Big Zipper Project is predicted to break the Guinness World Record for the longest zipper or representation of a zipper.

The campus center lobby was full of tables and people eager to put together the puzzle. Allegheny students, community members and Allegheny alumni helped place the the pieces. Once put together, the pieces formed a rough rectangle of about 35 feet by 6 feet made up of several wood blocks, each decorated and carved by a different individual.

“The puzzle pieces by themselves are made of MDF or medium density fiberboard, but the meaning behind them is so much more,” said Prince. “Notice how each piece is randomly cut, the purpose behind that is not random. With each piece being differently cut the person carving their own art into each slab must deal with what they are given, such as they [must] do in life. By having design harmony and harmony with design each carver’s block is a direct representation of themselves.”

Gideon Sundback, the inventor of the zipper, lived in Meadville. As the birthplace of buttonless pants, the over-sized zipper pays tribute to Meadville’s history. Community members, Allegheny students and faculty were welcomed to participate in this project.

“Every piece is different from the other and made by hand with a dremel tool in the sense that everyone from students to groups on and off campus carve them in community workshops together,” said Travis Court, ’18, who attended the event.

The organizers of this project have faced challenges along the way, but people have donated their time to help get the job done.

Lee Scandinaro, ’15, said, “While the collaboration process is challenging at times, it is mainly due to the huge number of people that are needed to tech the ‘wood-be’ [woodsmiths] carvers how to use the equipment. As well as convincing them the value of an initiative such as this, to where they are willing to give or donate their time.”

At the end, the project has had a rewarding impact on those who helped with its creation.

“Seeing everything come together really is a great and gratifying experience,” said Scandinaro. “It makes you think about and appreciate how much actually went into that sort of a thing. Oh, and the steamrolling of the print onto the pavement is pretty fun as well.”

The Big Zipper Project is hosting an event on Saturday, Sept. 10 on Chestnut Street in Meadville from 11 to 2 p.m. to see the final element of the project come together. The unveiling of this project will take place in November.