The Great Challenge for Mars Grate

Mars Grate

Before I begin this Blog about the creation of my Mars Grate, I HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE. I now need help to complete some of my artworks.  And that is because I am the SURVIVOR OF A HEMORRHAGIC STROKE. It happened on that fateful evening of October 31, 2017. What a MEAN TRICK for HALLOWEEN.

For the past two and one half years I have endured  this challenge not known to the public.   But I am lucky to be alive and functioning. The stroke did, however affect my left side. I walk with the aid of a rollator or the use of a cane.  At least I can get around.


I am an imaginative dreamer. I believe in the future colonization of the planet Mars. Of course, Mars would eventually have a Public Works Department.  There would be grates and manhole covers on Mars.  Speaking of getting help with my art or advice. I am fortunate that my husband Al was a draftsman early in his career. Then as an educator, he taught Mechanical Drawing and Architectural Drawing.


I envisioned a Mars Grate prototype constructed of polystyrene. Al advised constructing a diamond shaped Mars grate instead of a Hexagon. Simpler and easier to build.

Grate Sketch

Grate Underside

With my dimensions and directions, Al drew the grate on the foam sheet.The underside of the grate was covered with Polyester Reinforcement Repair Fabric which adds durability to the foam sheet. The sides for a diamond shape  chimney were easy to construct. Two sides had cut outs of an ancient design.  The other two sides had cut outs for the Mars Symbol.



Bobbi Cuttting.

Chimney Sides












To simulate Mars red soil, I used red dirt from Utah. Metallic Blue added the perfect contrast.


Utah Dirt

However the red dirt presented a challenge. It sifted about the studio, getting under foot and on our clothes. Spray on glue finally held the soil in place.  To achieve the weather-worn effect, I mixed up a concoction of water, black paint, potting soil, road cinders and sweepings. When it is convenient, I throw the mixture on the sculpture with a drop cloth in place.  Touch ups can be brushed on. The dark mixture settles into the cracks and crevices like real weathering.



Antique Process

Side View









Karen took the photo of Idalia helping with the antique process.  I must admit that working with  friends makes the art process much more fun than working alone. We laughed as we threw on the concoction.  We were awed by the dramatic results.


To achieving the inner red glow in the sculpture, Al came up with the perfect solution.   He discovered the under counter puck lights on line. They could be adapted for the sculpture.  The puck lights were attached to the chimney on the inside walls.  A remote was used to switch on the red lights.

Now doesn’t this “FUTURE MARS GRATE” look like it could hang in the offices of Space-X?

Your comments are welcome.

7 thoughts on “The Great Challenge for Mars Grate

  1. Hi Bobb—We met many years ago as my sister and brother-in-law are Ellen and Harvey Factor! Small world…and it keeps getting smaller as I am on The Islip Arts Advisory Board and just learned that your work is in our permanent collection.

    Your current story is beyond inspirational and that shares the inspirational story that I have been consumed with for the past 6 years. My collaborative partner Ward Hooper will be 92 in October and our book Parallel Perspectives: The Brush/Lens Collaboration will be real and available in October. It is currently on Amazon for preview and pre-order.

    Ellen and Harvey have kept me updated on what you have been doing and best to your husband too

  2. Bobbi Mastrangelo, You are such a Great Artist!! You never cease to amaze me with your creativity and your sense of balance and color and texture!!!!
    I am one if your biggest fans always!!
    Sending much love from New York,
    Roberta Fabiano

  3. So happy to read about the evolution of your newest grate.
    God bless you and Al for your corroboration, plus assistance from loving friends.
    Thank you for sharing your journey and your dreams.
    Your loving fan and Sister,

  4. Interesting way to think outside the box and imagine something not yet imagined Bobbi. Also, sorry to hear about your 2017 stroke but glad you’re still able to create! I was in a car crash and couldn’t walk for a while, but had a surgery and am better… so I can at least relate, a little, to what you went thru and it is NOT easy! But we press on!

  5. Bobbi,
    You certainly have an out-in-space imagination!! You started with a great idea and painstakingly followed through until you were happy with a final product. And what an inspirational product it turned out to be—just beautiful to look at and study all the features. You and Al did a terrific job. I am sure SpaceX would love to have it hanging on their wall. Are you making the connection with them? You and Elan Musk are two innovative people. God bless you!

  6. Hi Bobbie, I am so glad you are continuing to create, nothing can stop you. Love the Mars workPlease keep up your work I love it and you Love Phyllis K.

  7. Bobbi – Your new website is fabulous and the story of the Challenge for Mars Grate is wonderful. You are simply amazing. You have achieved so much under difficult circumstances, and were able to make lemonade from lemons. You are the best. All the best with your new website. I’m sure people will love seeing your work and hearing your story.
    Hugs and be safe,
    Susan G. Hammond

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