"Happy 30th Birthday Trent"

Postmarked May 17th, 1995 Mercer, PA

Image scanned courtesy of H&V

Photographer: Michelle Smith-Lewis
Concept: Julia C. Tenney

By now, friends were amusing themselves with my obsession. I was dragged to see a local Reznor heater they found. One actually MADE me a Nine Inch Nail, which an art professor then insisted I incorporate into a sculpture.

At some point, I played with the notion of spelling the NIN logo, in 30 nails, on a birthday cake for Trent's 30th birthday.

I wasn't serious. But everyone else, you know, the ones who "weren't" obsessed, thought it was a great idea.

I tried to duck it by suggesting it wouldn't look right unless they were big thick nails, like railroad spikes, and where would I get 30 railroad spikes?

My "friends", that's where.

I spent much of the shoot in the other room answering the phone.

I found myself having to explain the cries of "spike it" and "torch it" that my "not obsessed" friends shouted in the background. Each explanation resulted in adding another name to the recipient list, even if followed by "So what is Nine Inch Nails exactly?"

Michelle shot an entire roll of this cake. Luckily, we realized early on that she was taking the logo upside down. Her very last photo was the one we used.

I also shot a whole roll of images of the cake, after hers. I wanted close ups of the rust and dripping wax on the cake. An enlargement of one of the better results was sent to Trent.

We tried to get the cake to really burn, spraying the candles with WD-40 and whatever else they could find. We didn't react to the fact that it was INSIDE our rented house until there was a serious fire going.

Within minutes of dousing the flames someone FORGOT and ATE some of the cake.

"Oh what's a little charred rust and wax?" He pleaded when we stared in horror at his actions.

"Oh, no doubt the cake's sanitary, what with all that Lysol you sprayed on it".

By now I was calling my work Infinite Halo. I actually predesigned and printed a themed postcard back. Previously, I'd scrawl on cluttered (prelined) generic postcard stickers and use free return address labels offered by charities seeking support.

In the rush to prepare and mail the postcards; I not only forgot my brother's birthday (May 6), but a housemate's birthday. Yep. You guessed it. May 17.

Recognize That Spike?

Yes, the spike on the first page of this site was used for the first formal Infinite Halo photo shoot. The "crud" is NOT the wax, but, brace yourselves, the cake! The spike was scanned in 15 months after the photo shoot. Yuk! None of the original 30 spikes, however appropriate looking, were even close to 9" long, but the web is a magical place, no?

I have given away about 8 of the spikes to various recipients of this particular card. I still have yet to get one to Trent. What his management must think of the postcards! Imagine getting a big piece of metal in the fan mail. Trent, if you're reading, and you want a spike... let me know.

The Next Postcard

Updated: February 97 tenney.org