HEBRON ESTATES - An art assignment from Hebron Middle School teacher Brenda Hutchison was formed into an attention-getting sculpture of an iconic world famous tourist attraction by eighth grade student Jacob Johnson.
Using wire coat hangers encased in plastic, he created a replica of the Eiffel Tower.
“It took about a week and a half to build,” Jacob said of the tower which includes decks made of Styrofoam spray painted gold. The project is anchored to a piece of cut plywood covered in green artificial turf and weighs approximately 10 pounds.
The actual Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France, named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
The tower stands 1,050 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-story building and has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift (elevator), to the first and second levels. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift.
Jacob’s version is about four feet tall and its precision detail is remarkable. He knew he would make some kind of building but he debated between a standing structure and something on a larger scale.
“I first thought about an entire city block,” he said. “But once I saw a picture of the Eiffel Tower, I knew that’s what I wanted to make.”
He then considered seeking a small scale model from a business such as Hobby Lobby. However, the more he thought about the intricate steel lattice work, he decided to employ a common household item.
“We had around 15 coat hangers at home and I ended up using over 30,” he said.
Jacob researched Eiffel Tower architecture on the Internet and saw the biggest challenge was going to be the base.
“At first, it was going to be small but the more I got into it, I knew it needed to be bigger,” he said.
He sliced coat hangers with wire cutters to a varying degree of length. Cutting coat hangers “was a workout for my arms,” he smiled.
The straight rods of hangers which hold jackets were the most useful. They became the foundation for the legs along with the primary tower frame.
Smaller pieces of wire became the criss-cross lattice. The curved portions which hang on closet rods were not used.
“Those pieces ended up in the recycle pile,” Jacob said.
Each piece of wire had to be affixed together. Jacob and his father, David, used a hot glue gun and could not help but feel a slight burn on their skin occasionally.
“That stuff burns but it really bonded the plastic pieces well,” Jacob said.
Heated glue could not be used for the Styrofoam. After cutting squares using a hand saw, he placed them snugly around the wire frames.
“They had to be cut just right to fit,” Jacob explained. “I put a little adhesive on each one to make it stay in place.”
His tower is topped with a square piece of Styrofoam with a sphere. The real Eiffel Tower has a large antenna.
“I thought a long rod at the top would look weird,” Jacob said. “This turned out the way I wanted.”
He has earned a lot of compliments and praise as the Eiffel Tower sits on the display in Hebron’s lobby.
“When I first brought it to school, my friends were saying how neat and cool it looked,” Jacob described. “And they all wanted to touch it!”
He was appreciative that classmates were careful and respectful of his work.
“Everyone has been really nice,” he said. “They tap it with their fingers and I think they are afraid they might knock a piece loose. It’s built pretty sturdy and anchored solidly.”
Hutchison said Jacob’s work is remarkable.
“He took an assignment of recycled materials and made a true work of art,” she said.
The 14-year-old son of David Johnson and Tiffany Laswell wants to be an architect and earns excellent grades, especially in math.
“That’s been my dream to design buildings,” he said. He plans to take his Eiffel Tower home and place it in a special spot in his room.
Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.