Author: nemomatic

Finished up a pair of new masks in time for Halloween!  They are both hammered from flat sheet aluminum, a relatively new technique for me.  The glowing eyes on mine are glass taxidermy “Albino Antelope” backed with tiny LEDs.  We were referring to ourselves as “Fallen-Angel investors”, but later settled on the simpler “Devils Advocates”. just posted a nice video about a project I played a small role in recently.  The task was to create a large gravity powered mechanical sculpture that would display political messages and ultimately stamp dollar bills with slogans (that’s literally the shortest summary I can come up with, watch the video for a better explanation).  My job was to produce a mechanism that would cause a cascade of money to fall from a politicians mouth, and then retract.  I can’t take any credit for the great paint job, just the behind the scenes stuff.

I’ll be showing a piece along with Mark Galt and Benjamin Cowden tonight (6-10PM) at the California Academy of Sciences.  If you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, tix are $12.  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend checking it out.  They have a terrific aquarium, natural history dioramas, and all in a pretty terrific building.

It seems that the folks at Google changed their logo to honor “Little Nemo in Slumberland” today.  Fun fact: My parents named me after this wonderfully surreal cartoon and not Jules Vernes Captain Nemo.  Fun fact #2:  In latin, Nemo means “He who is without name” or “anonymous”.

Early stages of motorcycle fairing.
It would be a stretch to say I’m getting “good” at this, but I’m at least beginning to see how it works. To me, a new skill is only enjoyable once I’ve reached the point where I can improvise with it. Up until now I’ve felt totally at the mercy of what the metal was willing to do. Now at least I feel like I’m gaining some control.

I definitely underestimated the difficulty in my tail light concept. I had planned to simply back the slots with strip LEDs. Turns out these are nowhere near bright enough. The solution was a hacked pair of LED car tail lights. Same light source, but each cell is encased in a tiny reflector cone which greatly increases the visibility (and they were pre-wired for two brightness levels). Needless to say the original plastic housings were not eager to play nice with my aluminum tail shape. Bandsaw, belt sander, zip ties, and some custom brackets and I can finally call it a success.

So, I haven’t posted anything in a while but I’ve had a good reason. The image here may look a lot like a motorcycle, but it isn’t. Well, it is, but it’s a lot more. It’s a first step towards breaking my total dependence on found objects for source material.
Waaaay back when I first started making things in metal I went with found things because I didn’t have the skills to make the shapes that I wanted to. This project represents my first attempt at building forms from sheet stock. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m beginning to see the way it works. I figure that by the time I build all the body work on this motorcycle (the tank is coming along nicely) I’ll have developed the skills to apply this technique to sculptures. I’ve had a lot of false starts, and a lot of material has wound up in the scrap bin, but stay tuned, things are starting to flow now.

I’m excited to have finally begun my motorcycle project! I was given a Honda CX500 in poor condition as a starting point. My plan is to rebuild the tank and body work from aluminum sheet. This is a process I have always wanted to learn but have little experience with. To get over the vertigo of not knowing where to begin, I’m roughing out design possibilities with styrofoam. No telling how many attempts it will take before I eventually get a form worth translating into a metal pattern. Bear with me, this one may take a while.

Yesterday I made the mistake of saying “I kinda want to build some models of shapes to make patterns from.  Maybe out of styrofoam, but where am I gonna find a huge chunk?”  Then Jeremy says “Oh, theres one on the curb a block from here”.

So now I am the proud owner of a huge block of styrofoam.  I had to whip up a 13 volt hot wire cutter to process it into manageable pieces.  Next up is a smaller, more precise cutter to do detail work.