Monday, February 15, 2016

Vending Machine Project Part 1

Back in April of 2015 I came across the idea of selling art in a vending machine.  I don't know if something came across one of my numerous social media feeds, or if someone mentioned it in a meeting, but the spark of the idea took light in the tinder in my mind.  Since then I have been finding other similar projects others have embarked on. I also started trolling Ebay until I found the machine I wanted.  But I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

A great resource on art through vending machines I found at  This blog has a great history page of other vending machine art projects over the last century.  Through their history page I learned aboutthe largest "art in a machine" projects: Art-O-Mat. Art-O-Mat machines can be found all over the US.  Each machine is a reconditioned cigarette vending machine that dispenses art in a cigarette pack, usually at the $5 price point.  Each machine itself is a work of art.  Out in Chicago, the Busy Beaver Button Company has been doing a Button-O-Matic project since 2002.  Using a toy capsule vending machine to sell buttons seemed like a natural fit.  I also reached out to the Vending Arts Project in London, Ontario.  Janine Wass said that the project wasn't a huge money maker but I love the idea of greeting cards through a repurposed snack machine.  And these were just a few I found!

With so much inspiration to draw from, I began bouncing ideas off my friends and family.  I began brainstorming idea.  Should I put mini rubber stamps in a machine, or buttons, stickers, or all of the above?  What would be the topic; mythical creatures, food, candy?  What price, 50 cents, $1.00? So after much thinking, and watching Ebay for a solid machine at a good price, I pulled the trigger.  I am now the proud owner of a Northwestern capsule vending machine that dispenses 2" capsules.

So the machine is mechanically solid.  It came with a 50 cent coin mechanism, but I will likely replace this shortly with a $1.00 coin mech (four quarters).  The paint is chipped in a few places, and it has a few dents, but I have been watching some YouTube clips and plan on giving it a nice facelift with a new color.  The plexiglass (polycarbonate) face has some scratches that I will try to buff our, or replace if necessary.  The machine can sit on a table right now, but I might add a wooden stand for it to sit on.  So after a little tender loving care, I'm sure it will be looking as good as new.

So what is going to be IN the machine?  What will come out of it?  Stay tuned....


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