Interview with Dan Burfield by Raven_Heather

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Burfield of Wire Not and Tiltcycle. This interview is property of The Arcade Archives and is not to be redistributed without permission. 

RH: Thank you Dan for taking the time to do an interview with us! For our readers that aren’t every familiar with your art. Can you please tell them about?

My current work deals primarily with old pinball machine parts and some arcade and slots items. A lot of the items are lit wall hangings. I mostly use LEDs to prevent heat damage to the pinball parts. I’ve started making some furniture out of pinball cabinets. Currently I have a coffee table, a cocktail table, and a martini bar complete with a disco light.

RH: How did you decide that you wanted to take dead pinball machines apart to create something new?

A few years ago I started with jewelry. I made earrings from pinball lamp bulbs and arcade tokens. But it really evolved from accumulating a bunch of dead pinball machines. I bought a local pinball machine off of Craigslist. It was beyond repair and pretty beat up. I gutted it and started seeing real beauty in the parts. There are these huge Bakelite plates with copper contacts in a circle. I realized this would make a great clock.

RH: Is there any part of the pinball machine that is your favorite to use?

The playfield is the most versatile part. But deciding how and where to cut- what you’ll lose by cutting the best parts out, is difficult to decide. And obtaining playfields in this condition are far and few between. I have a supplier that I meet up with once a year, so I load the truck to the top if I can.

RH: Are there any parts of the pinball machine that you’re just unable to use?

Very little, actually. I keep almost everything. Some really rusted parts I may just pitch in the trash because it’s not worth the electricity of running a polisher for hours.

RH: Have you made a piece that you love so much you just can’t part with it?

Yes. I have a few in the house, mostly the earlier works. And I’ve sold some that I kind of wished I hadn’t. Same with pinball machines. I’d probably pay twice as much as I sold it for to get my first machine, Joker Poker, back.

RH: You have a show coming up next month.  Can you tell us a bit about the show?

My show is titled, “Tiltcycle: A Pinball Revival”. It’ll be my first solo show in over 10 years. It’s located at Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh, 2091 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44221 (just outside Akron, OH). I got my start in the Akron/Cleveland area and there’s a great art community there.

I will have a lot of lighted pieces, all the furniture and barware. I am also debuting my Lion’s Den Pinball Collection which is a series of 10 pinball machine silhouettes on wood. They vary in media and theme and all have a promotional backstory. From a steampunk-themed machine to a hockey themed machine, they all comprise the pinball collection I wish I had. Lion’s Den being the name of my collection. I am a Daniel by birth so-

RH: I saw on Tiltcycle that you also make amazing bird house. Do you look for certain items when you’re working on a bird house?

There’s a kickout hole that just so happens to be the perfect size for a House Wren. I targeted that bird since it’s the most prevalent bird in North America. I like to use at least 2 different playfields for each bird house and a variety of playfield plastics to cover the holes from the playfield parts.

RH: What are some of the technical aspects of taking a pinball machine apart for your art?

Stripping down playfields takes quite a bit of time. Most of the playfields I get still have all the lighting lamp bases screwed into the wood along with a network of ground wire stapled into the wood. I have to remove all of this and sand it to ensure it cuts straight and there is no danger to the birds.

 RH: Again thank you Dan. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am working on arcade marquee collage lamps in the coming months. My first one will be a part Ms. Pacman/part Sweet Shawnee slot machine. I’m very excited about that. I’d also like to thank you for the interview.

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