Libraries Makerspace helps us Paint the Bridge

By Erinn Aspinall

Student paints the bridge next to the panel for the Bio-Medical Library. Image circa 1990s courtesy of the University Archives.
U of MN student paints the bridge next to the panel for the Bio-Medical Library. Image circa 1990, courtesy of the University Archives.

If your day brings you across the Washington Avenue Bridge, be sure to check out the hundreds of original art panels that line the pedestrian walkway.

These panels change each fall as student groups and University departments are invited to participate in the  Paint the Bridge tradition that can be traced back to the early 1990s.

Libraries join in the fun

This year, the Libraries grabbed a panel on the North side of the bridge – right between the Japan Student Association and the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.  

The Libraries Graphic Designer, Aaron Groh used a stencil and some paint to complete the 4 foot wide by 3 foot tall panel.   

“We had a lot of design ideas,” said Groh. “We ended up with three concepts that could work in the space and that could showcase just a few of the great things we did in the last year.”  

Makerspace tools make it possible

Graph Designer Aaron Groh prepares the vinyl stencil.
Graph Designer Aaron Groh prepares the vinyl stencil.

“Once we had our design concepts ready, I worked at one of the Libraries’ Makerspaces to make the stencils,” said Groh, who collaborated closely with Jonathan Koffel, Emerging Technology and Innovation Strategist.

Koffel leads the Bio-Medical Library Makerspace – a student driven space that provides tools and expertise to encourage learning and innovation.   

“We were able to use Aaron’s design to make a vinyl stencil using our Roland GS-24 cutter,” said Koffel. This machine uses a small knife to quickly and precisely cut designs out of a long roll of sticky vinyl.

Final "Paint the Bridge" panel for the University Libraries.
Final “Paint the Bridge” panel for the University Libraries.

“It’s the same type of vinyl that you might see on laptops, the sides of vehicles or signs around campus,” Koffel added.    

“Printing the stencils was super easy,” said Groh. “Once they were cut, I carefully removed the extra vinyl pieces to reveal the design, and then I used transfer paper to move it off it’s backing,” he said.  

After the stencil was prepared, Groh was able to stick it to the bridge panel for painting.  

Watch as Aaron paint’s the bridge for the University Libraries.

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