Typewriter case, picture frame, book and magazine clippings, speedometer, ignition switch, motors, LEDs, fresnel lens.
Project URL: Link
Typewriter case, picture frame, book and magazine clippings, speedometer, ignition switch, motors, LEDs, fresnel lens.
Project URL: Link
For as long as I can remember I’ve been in love with stop motion animation. I would say it was early exposure to films made this way that helped convince me to pursue a life in the arts. I’ve made a number of half hearted attempts to try the technique myself over the years, but have always met with some level of disappointment or failure. Well, I recently mustered the nerve to give it another go:
In the span of just seven seconds I think I managed to cram about a million rookie mistakes, but its a good start none the less.
Not visible in the clip above is the rigging that had to be made in order to position the character:
This rigging was photoshopped out of each frame after the sequence was filmed. Now that I have a serviceable character, and a way to position and pose it, I have a lot to learn about the actual art of animation as well as pesky details such as narrative, sets, sound etc.
I mentioned before that I have usually met with some kind of misfortune at this stage. This time my camera broke during my first day of shooting! I’m shipping it off for repairs today, and won’t let this setback stop me this time!
Thought I’d share a few images from this years Maker Faire. Word has it there were an estimated 130,000 attendees from over 42 countries and 49 states! I don’t doubt it, the place was packed. Many thanks to everyone who came by and said hi.
Meredith May just wrote a very insightful piece about me in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was an honor to have had an actual journalist come over for an actual interview, with facts! The issue is on the stands today, or you can read the whole thing online here.
I just added a new little piece to my portfolio titled “Hang on, it gets better“:
“The discovery of an image of boys climbing the rope in gym class brought back some early trauma for me. This piece takes a look at the sort of world in which such an activity could be considered relevant in preparation for adult life.”
Equipment case, radio tuning dial cover, doorbell button, magazine clippings, voltage meters, LEDs.
Well, its that time of year again, Maker Faire is this weekend!
I’ll be bringing my large scale piece “Armed and Dangerous” as well as some new miniatures (image above) that I have been working on for a stop motion animation experiment.
You can find us at booth #111 in the South/East corner of Expo Hall at the San Mateo Event Center. Saturday May 17 from 10AM to 8PM, Sunday May 18 from 10AM to 6PM.
Above: Armed and Dangerous at Lost & Foundry’s recent open house.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting artist Al Honig in his San Francisco studio. He’s definitely a sculptor after my own heart, a lifelong hoarder of wonderful things. He is on the verge of some structural changes to his studio, and a shift in his creative process that led him to invite me to help myself to his awesome supply of treasures! It was a huge treat to peruse such a carefully curated trove of found objects. Below is a collection of images from the visit, and the resulting pile of stuff that made it back to my studio. Countless creative possibilities here.
Thanks for your tremendous generosity Al!
Here are a few examples of Al’s work from his website:
US Products 2006
14″ x 8″ x 12″
Yesterday the New York Times ran an article by Trevor Tondro about the fabulous home of Jonathan and Wendy Segal in San Diego. The impeccable taste of its owners was demonstrated by the placement of two of my smaller pieces: “Psychos-O-matic” and “A Head for Numbers” (Works by Dan Jones were also shown but not credited). Its always a joy for me to see where these pieces wind up, especially when its in homes as lovely as this.
Our technological age brings us closer to people we don’t actually know. Many of whom, we’d rather not. This fellow uses his limited processing power to fill the internet with thoughtless commentary. You’re welcome.
15″ x 15″ x 8″
Typewriter, stenotype machine, calculator, film camera, coffee pot handle, binoculars, relay, wall paper, book binding paper, light bulbs, LEDs
I’m pleased to announce that my studio collective Lost & Foundry will be having another open house and exhibit!
Join us at the event on Saturday, March 15 from 4-8 PM at 305 Center Street, Oakland, CA.
We are literally bursting at the seams with talented people these days. Join us to view the work and studios of:
If you can’t find anything here that interests you, you should probably see a doctor.
You can see photos from our last event in February 2013 here.
I’m super excited to be able to share final images and video for my series of Cephalopods commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium! The pieces are destined for the upcoming exhibit “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes,” opening April 12, 2014. These pieces will help tell stories about the impacts that pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction have on these animals. The project has truly been a dream come true for me and I’ll be sure to post images of the pieces once they are installed among real sea creatures in April. I will also be displaying these pieces briefly at an open house event in my studio Saturday March 15th. Stay tuned for details to follow.
In the mean time I’ve posted details of each piece individually: Cuttlefish, Octopus, and Nautilus here on my site, and put together a quick video overview of all three (above). Below is a very cool little video that the Aquarium produced about the making of the pieces as well as a few teaser images of finished pieces:
I’m in the final stages of my diorama project. The last step is to generate decorative frames that mask away some of the mechanical components of the pieces and focus the viewer on the creatures in their environment. For this aspect I wanted each one to be identical, to tie the three together thematically. While simple in concept and design this actually posed some technical difficulties. Fortunately my neighbor (Hero Design) was ready to help with their CNC router. Its the first time I’ve ever made use of this type of machine, a real time saver!
I had to finish the inside edge with a hand router to make it look more decorative:
Well, the Cuttlefish “tank” is really starting to shape up. A breakthrough moment came when I decided to throw my whole collection of stove top coffee maker lids at the ground plain. I’m not entirely sure what kind of plant they are supposed to represent, but their sheer numbers work to suggest some kind of life. I’m still on the fence about the single color changing spot light. The idea was to direct it at the large Cuttlefish’s back to suggest their color changing skin. Once I’ve added in the general “water” lights I’ll make a decision.
While researching the extremely weird Cuttlefish for this project I was stuck by the odd shape of their eyes. It’s difficult to capture all of the nuances that make these creatures, but its a start (I know, technically the irises are inverted in mine, don’t be so literal!).
The Octopus I posted a while back finally has a home! I settled on a deep blue fade background with beveled side mirrors to create a sort of infinity effect. The real trick was getting all of the seaweed (refrigerator coolant lines) to twist in sync with each other. This was important because I wanted to create the effect of a current running through the “tank”. They are powered by the motor from the seat adjust mechanism from a BMW sedan. I found it ran a little fast so the large gear was added to slow the speed and raise the torque of the system.
The long, ugly cuts in the center are to allow for strips of LEDs to illuminate the interior. I’m pretty anxious now to move on to that stage so I can see how it looks all lit up.
A good deal of work still remains. I hope to better develop the floor and raise the Octopus higher to better center it in the frame. More little jelly fish will also be added to the background.
It’s a little difficult to make out in this shaky video, but the Baby Cuttlefish are now properly mounted on the “piers” and have little mechanisms causing them rock gently back and forth. I’m looking forward to introducing them to the larger Cuttlefish I’ve already assembled.
Having roughed out the lighting and backdrop issues with this piece, I moved on to the second “actor” on the stage. A smaller Nautilus which has been caught in a net and had its shell harvested. He’s naked!
I’ve just finished up a new little piece (“Tipsy”) that will be on display briefly at the Exploratorium in San Francisco CA. The event will be celebrating the launch of a new book “The Art of Tinkering” which I’m proud to be featured in. There will be a small exhibit featuring some of the artists in the book as well as numerous other attractions throughout the venue.
Artists in the exhibit are:
This event is Thursday, November 7 from 6-10 PM at Pier 15 San Francisco CA.
Admission is $15 General, $10 Members.
Check it out: Tipsy
I’ve explored the corkscrews-as-people theme before, but it was the discovery of an unusual brass one that got me interested again. This piece was also an excuse to delve into patinas. Note that the figure is polished shiny, while the rest is stained a deep brown/purple.
Corkscrew, door hardware cover plates, cooking pot, candle stick parts, toy gearbox, motor, aluminum and brass stock.
This months issue of Vanity Fair (October 2013) has an interesting article about the influence of socialite/tech entrepreneur Trevor Traina in bringing tech heavyweights into the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Many years ago I had the good fortune to install my “Goliath” sculpture (part of my M.F.A. work at U.C. Berkeley) in this neighborhood. The reception was mixed, as not everyone there felt he was a welcome addition. None the less I’m pleased that the piece is still relevant to the discussion on class and taste that continues to rage on the hill.
Below is an excerpt (you can read the whole thing here) of the article where the sculpture is mentioned:
Some bad blood followed Ellison (thats Larry Ellison of Oracle) to the Gold Coast when Nicola Miner- daughter of the Oracle co-founder Robert Miner, with whom Ellison had clashed- bought across the street from him and erected on the terrace a nine-foot robot sculpture which you can’t help but notice is male, due to the steel gas-pump nozzle and hose he has for a penis. It’s aimed directly at Ellison’s house. “There was a lot of talk about this being a thumbing of the nose at Larry,” recalls Traina. But Miner replies that the robot “has nothing whatsoever to do with my father’s (or my) relationship with Larry Ellison,” which she describes as “largely harmonious…. We just thought it would make a fun contrast to our serious neighborhood…though I do know some neighbors disagree.”
An image of the sculpture did not actually appear in the article, I just couldn’t resist photoshopping him next to Kate Upton. The second image is a helpful map that illustrates the sort of company that Goliath now keeps.
As I move forward on my undersea diorama series I find its time to get serious about the backdrops. I found some really terrific psychedelic plastic material that looks a good deal like water. By overlaying it with some blue acetate the effect is even stronger.
I wanted to back light it with color changing LEDs but ran into some trouble getting a good sequence of colors. I face pressure daily to get with the times and start programing my own electronics for these pieces, but its just not in my nature to turn to my computer to solve tangible problems in the studio. The LEDs I chose for this project come with a handy little sequencer that you can program (with actual buttons) to output all sorts of patterns. A gentle color shift selection was really nice, except that the reds were out of place for an underwater scene. I struggled with this until it finally occurred to me: Connect the “red” signal wire back to the “blue” contact on the LEDs! Worked like a charm. Shown in the video below is the result with two parallel rows of the LEDs with the blue and green lines crossed between them to change up the pattern even more.
Working on a school of tiny Jellyfish. Each one has the bulb from one of those fake candle LEDs that populate the tables at restaurants these days. The flickering effect really helps these guys seem alive.
I’ll have a number of small pieces in the show “Mechanical Life” at the Wallace L. Anderson Gallery, Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater MA October 15 through November 7. I’m honored to be alongside the likes of Tom Haney and J. Shea. I won’t be able to attend the show in person, but I’ll post photos as soon as they are available.
A while back I posted about the initial failure that I faced with this piece. Well, since then I have encountered even more failure before finally getting things working properly. In the beginning I attempted to power this one with a wind up record player motor. Finding it lacking in torque I started over with an electric motor. This too proved fruitless as I had chosen a bad motor. When I face these sorts of set backs I tend to just walk away from the project until my head cools. Upon picking it up again this week I selected yet another motor and built a tedious little universal joint drive shaft to compensate for some minor mis-alignment in the mechanism. These changes finally did the trick! I’d still like to do something to make it run a little quieter, and all that brass will need some sort of polishing and patina, but at least it works!
I’m pleased to be featured in a new documentary about the Maker Movement. The film makers interviewed a wide array of engineers and craftspeople, I’m eager to see how they work art into the mix.
The film is in its Kickstarter phase, so give them a click if you’d like support the project.
Did some more finessing of the tentacles on this Octopus piece. Pre-existing holes from the original chandelier were filled, paint was removed, surface polished, pop rivets and washers added as suction cups. I’ve also installed glass doorknobs with LEDs as eyes. Still not sure if I’ll keep the brass rings around the eyes though. They balance the finish of the tentacles nicely, but I want to avoid the “steampunk” goggle look, its bad enough that I’m making an octopus with brass tentacles.
I’ve been working on a series of sea creature dioramas. Things have been moving along nicely with regards to the Octopus and Nautilus, but the Cuttlefish has been giving me a hell of a time. Unlike his comrades I’ve never really tried to capture the shape of these little beasties. None the less I’m finally breaking through and have a rough start to share:
A short while ago I briefly installed my latest piece “Armed and Dangerous” at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. This can be a very crowded place, and the majority of visitors tend to be young people. These young people happen to be the best stress-testers available for work like mine. A big robot with buttons and gauges can sometimes produce mania in kids and this time was no exception. Their enthusiasm quickly revealed several flaws in my design.
The first issue I noticed was that too much heat was building up inside the sculpture. I had never run it so constantly before. The solution was to add cooling fans and air intakes in the head and torso.
The second issue was an attention span one. The piece is designed to be in “stand by” mode while the mercury switch mechanism in its head goes through its revolutions. This way the arms only move for a few seconds out of every minute. Most children couldn’t bear waiting and just pounded on the start button until it burned out. Lesson learned, there is now a toggle switch inside that allows me to over ride the secondary timer so that the arms move as soon as the button is pressed. I prefer the piece in its original state, but part of working with the public is making compromises with them.
Another problem was that the motors driving the upper arms began to struggle after the first day. I had made an error in assuming that since all of the arms were the same weight, they would need the same force to move them. In fact, since the upper arms project further from the body they need considerably more. I replaced these motors with new ones, increased the tension on the damping springs, and added brass counter weights to the inside. They now require nearly the same energy to move as the lower ones.
So essentially the piece looks the same as it did before, but is now considerably more robust and up to the challenges presented by heavy use, and enthusiastic children. Each new piece reveals its quirks the first time out of the studio and I’m always grateful for the opportunity this provides me with to further hone my craft.