When life gives you lint, make dryer-lint art

Consumer Reports News: April 07, 2011 04:34 PM

Heidi Hooper has 457 boxes of lint in her house and she’d like more. The Andy Warhol of lint, Hooper scavenges the fuzz and errant strings from the dryer to make portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Ray Charles or even your favorite pet. You can’t make this stuff up and today at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum in Williamsburg, VA, where Hooper is appearing, you don’t have too.

A former metalworking artist, Hooper was forced to look for a different, lighter medium after suffering health problems. Then one day her dryer broke. “When I went to look there was this Peter Max-colored lump of lint about the size of a puppy on top of the dryer,” she told the Virginia Gazette. “I saved the lint because people had given me these things as gifts.” Ten years later, Hooper has several pieces on display at Ripley Odditoriums and she runs a contest on her Facebook page each year in which she gives a prize for the best lint.

Hooper would be glad to take your lint, the more colorful the better. And because lint is more apt to spark fires than creativity, it’s a good idea to remove it anyway. Each year 6,900 dryer fires cause five deaths, 220 injuries and $91.0 million in property damage, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and United States Fire Association. And 70 percent of those fires start in dryers that haven’t been cleaned. To reduce your risk, empty your lint screen after every load and clean your ducts at least once a year. Rigid metal ducts are less likely to allow lint build-up than flexible metal or plastic.

In Consumer Reports dryer tests we looked at the performance of built-in vent-blockage indicators, and found most to be unreliable. But we recently tested the Lint Alert, a $40 pressure sensor that you install in clean dryer ductwork, and found it was good at detecting low air flow and sounding an alarm.

That alarm would be music to Hooper’s ears. “When you’re an artist, you have this monster inside that needs to get out somehow,” she told the Gazette.

Reporting by Gian Trotta

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