A Product’s By-Product, a By-Product’s Product - CODAworx

A Product’s By-Product, a By-Product’s Product

Submitted by Christine Lee

Client: Madison Children's Museum

Location: Madison, WI, United States

Completion date: 2010

Project Team


Christine Lee


Madison Children's Museum


A Product’s By-Product, a By-Product’s Product is a 17’L x 12’W x 2’D suspended ceiling installation made from scrap wood and binder-less sawdust composite on display in the Possible-opolis exhibit area of the Madison Children’s Museum.


As the fall 2010 Windgate Artist-in-Residence in the Wood Program at the UW-Madison’s Art Department in conjunction with a residency at Edenfred, I explored alternative approaches to material use starting from a supply of scrap wood donated by Brunsell Lumber and Millwork. Responding to the dimensions and large quantity of the wood scraps, I created multiples of a “linear building block” using specific woodworking machines. Each linear element, consisting of interlocking notches, can be assembled into a variety of large-scale configurations reflecting a range of one’s imagination.


Investigating accountability for even more waste, I collected the sawdust she generated and worked with the research and guidance of engineer John Hunt at the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory to produce a usable material out of the by-product. Through collaborative experimentation, a series of binder-less test panels were created from my sawdust from which I was able to make additional linear building elements. The suspended ceiling installation on display in the Possible-opolis exhibit area is comprised of both solid wood and sawdust building elements, with pieces available for the children to create their own imaginative arrangements.

Additional Information

Throughout the process I was conscious about leaving around the least amount of excess and unusable waste material behind. The individual wood pieces themselves that comprise the installation are prefinished so that they may be used elsewhere for children to play with in the event that the installation needs to be dismantled.