The Honoured Walleye

Articles on manhole covers keep on popping-up. More and more people are noticing the design underfoot as they walk their city streets. 

Rob Turner writes on the subject of cities much smaller projects that make a big impact in his “Cover Art” article.

“As a visitor to a new city I’m always intrigued to discover and surprised by fantastic cast-iron works of art—they delight me.” 

This article lists wonderful photos of "manhole covers that left their mark in New York City". 

Andy Sturdevant lists stunning manhole cover designs in Minneapolis in his article “Minneapolis' sense of itself revealed in artist-designed manhole covers.” Andy helps us discover the reason for the covers by describing them and their location in Minneapolis. Andy directs us to a few of Kate Burke’s manhole cover designs. 

I received a wonderful email with a nice surprise this week, a sequence of photos showing the steps in the creation of Kate’s walleye manhole cover design. 

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t bring that darn camera with you? Kate wished she had a camera to document her first experience at the foundry eight inches deep in black sand staring at the wheel-a-matic sandblaster. 

We can’t turn back time and document those fantastic moments of creation, but we can remember them as did Kate.

It was a sandblasting booth that had a huge turntable inside a metal box. As I stood in the sand, the guys opened the door to the first cast manhole cover, which was the walleye. As the turntable rotated the silhouette of the cover [emerged] out of the darkness. It was glowing red in the center as they had just cast it and it was still hot. It was jaw-dropping. 

Below is Kate Burke's production process for the Walleye manhole cover for Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis: 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

© 2016 Kate Burke, a quick sketch to help with the design process

 © 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

© 2016 Kate Burke, the sketch created for the carving of the design

 © 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

© 2016 Kate Burke, the actual drawing used to cut the design—many copies were made to prevent the loss of image detail when transferring the drawing 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

© 2016 Kate Burke, these recent photos of the finished cut pattern show its resilience after two dozen casts. It held up well and is still beautiful 

 © 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

© 2016 Kate Burke, altered photo of the original photo by Will Crain, manhole cover installed at Nicollet Mall

 © 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints

© 2016 Kate Burke, a rubbing from the original pattern above to create prints


Need to get back to work and finish eleven new volumes of City Shields from my trip back to Canada. My residence and installation at Ming Studios will come soon enough.

In the meantime, go for a walk and discover your city.

 © 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

© 2016 Kate Burke, installed Walleye manhole cover at Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota