Thursday, June 30, 2011

Any Port Will Do

I want to be certain we can see into the robot well enough to view the garden gnome driving.  Also, I spent some time looking at the best positioning of the 20 sided shape to make sure the legs and arms will look good.  The result was that I picked a location to cut out a pentagon shape from the body and then inserted a panel with a port hold cut out.  I think it will provide enough viewing area.  Additionally, this location puts 3 of the triangle shapes in perfect position for the legs- as well as two on the upper sides for the arms. 
I think it's looking I've ordered more Azek sheeting that I will use to carve triangular sheeting which will cover the body.  Each piece will have details carved into it and additional details added by hand.  I took some time and did a test carve of one of the triangles in a low weight HDU just to make sure everything is coming out alright.  I also completed both of the arm mounts that will attach to the body.
Now I have to begin work on the arm and leg armatures...stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walldogs Paint Plymouth

For the second year, I took some time to recharge my batteries by joining a hundred or so of my fellow artists to paint murals.  This year we went to Plymouth, Wisconsin to help put up a record breaking 21 murals in 4 days.  It's an opportunity to help a community increase tourism, encourage pride in the community and generally celebrate a wide range of artistic style.
I was asked months ago by a good friend (called Cornbread by those who love him) to participate on his wall. I was honored and delighted.  I spent 4 days painting next to some old and very new friends.  A special shout out to Bruce and Sarah!
Watching this mural (and all the others) come alive is a special treat that you have to experience to fully understand.  Many thanks to the people of Plymouth for the hospitality, the cheese and the memories that were made.
First we project the design on a primed wall at night...and scramble to avoid the rain!
Then the fun begins! Color is built up and we each begin to add our own personality and flavor into the mural as it takes shape.
I couldn't be happier with the final result and look forward to painting with my friends again next year.
Lastly, here we are with our good pal Eldon, who so kindly loaned us his car for reference and to generally make us look cool. The ride in his car was amazing, and seeing his garage full of other cars, motorcycles and bicycles was a great cap to the event. Here's to my team- who I have decided to call "The Octopus 4".

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Roll Of The Dice....

I'm diving into this robot project with a bang!  I set up my saw to cut the edge bevels and spent about half an hour getting them all cut and cleaned up.
The I started taping up the pieces to be sure they all fit well, and they did. It turns out math wins again!
Now that I've tested all the edges, I can begin to glue them together. First I'll cut a port hole in one where we'll eventually see our garden gnome driving. This part was fun, because one moment I just had a bunch of pieces all taped together flat on the table...and BAM! I suddenly had this shape! It's like magic.
The other thing I did was to leave one 5 piece section seperate as a "lid" which will allow me to get into the robot so I can add the gnome, control panels and other cool things. I'll put the lid on a hinge.  Now I have to start thinking about those legs and arms!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Drome drome on the range....

I had a request awhile back from somebody who asked if I might consider making a garden gnome...maybe steampunk.  It was a neat idea, but one I haven't had time to take on.  Also, I'm trying to focus on larger projects right now and a garden gnome just isn't that big.
What I've really wanted to work on is a robot.  I have big plans for making a massive one someday and look forward to being able to tackle it.  In the meantime, I got to thinking...maybe I could combine these two great ideas.
I started thinking about a "mech" that might be steampunked up...and the driver could be garden gnome!  I started playing with some sketches and came up with a little one that doesn't have much detail, but it's enough to get me started.  Ultimately, the robot will be holding some kind of sign in his claw.

So where to begin?  Well, I know I'll be designing some cool panels to carve up, but I wanted a sturdy under-frame for this thing.  I started thinking about shapes and looking at a little 20 sided dice I have around. Yeah, that's right...I was one of those D&D geeks. Try to hold your shock.  Anyway...I thought the shape would make a cool body. to the wood rack. I cut some 3/4" plywood into 20 triangles, each with sides 18" long.  Next, I'll bevel the edges at 21 1/2 degrees and I'll be ready to glue up a nice, sturdy body!
I think I'll call it a "Drome". Stay tuned!!

It's a lock for sure...

There's nothing like getting some paint on a project to give you that final bit of satisfaction.  This lock and key is no exception.  I put a base layer of brass on it, followed by a glaze slightly darker....
Next came additional layers of glaze...each darker than the last.
Eventually, after about 3 layers of dark glaze...I put in a nickel colored highlight layer and then went back and added back in some brass highlights as well. I'm pleased as punch with my reproduction of this antique padlock. I love that old metal feel and had a great time coming up with a formula to match the one I found....first is the picture I found online...with two keys...the last two pictures are of mine...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Winchester on my mind...

One of the projects I'm finishing up before a Walldog event next week (more later) is an oversized padlock based on one manufactured by the "Winchester" company many years ago. Yes, they did more than make guns!  Although I have an English Bulldog named Winchester, this isn't for him. It's for a person who collects Winchester memorabilia.
I found a good piece of reference online and then built up the layers in illustrator, including the logo which is rather wonky compared to the original...a bit arched.  It's made of several layers of Azek pvc..and boy is it heavy! Super fun and easy project.
It needs some final shaping, some primer and paint...then I'm off to Plymouth, Wisconsin!

And you gotta have a key for a lock !

Paint process

Starting paint is an exciting stage for me.  I enjoy the carving and sculpting, but as the first coats of paint go on, there is so much detail that suddenly comes alive...I look forward to it every time.  This piece will get several more coats of glaze and final touch-ups in the next couple days, but it's coming along!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

High Gear

This Steampack has been a side project between some other projects, but I'm making the push to get it completed this week.  I spent a bit of time this morning finishing some sculpting on the handles.  One trick I use to get relatively similar "ribbons" of Magic Sculpt is to run it through the pasta machine to the thickness I want, then to roll over it with this wooden tool (I found these at Dick Blick art supply).  I have several of them in different widths and shapes. I've found them to be very handy!

The ribbons were put on in the places I needed them and some buttons were added.  All systems are go!
Next up was some work on a "tube" that will mount to the pack.  I plan to put some colored cast acrylic in it once everything has dried. It's about 6" long and is made up of plumbing parts and a plastic tube from a toy my daughter discarded (recycling can be steampunk!).
And lastly, here is some paint work being done on the steam exhaust nozzle for the bottom of the pack.
I can't wait to get all the pieces together in the next day or so and finally see it come together. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Now...A Treat.

You may be looking at that picture and wondering "What the heck is that?" It's something I've wanted to try for awhile.  I heard about a chef doing this and just had to take a stab at it myself.
The PVC product I've been carving isn't very porous...and I thought it might make a good material to make a master for a candy mold. The idea is to carve a master shape, then make a mold of it with a foodsafe material.
Once the mold is prepared and cleaned, a little chocolate gets melted and put in...then you pop it in the freezer for a bit and VOILA!  But what shape to make my candy? Hmmmm..........
To be efficient, the best bet would be to make a big sheet with multiple masters, so that you could prepare a dozen or more at a time.  Yet another unique way to use your CNC machine! Sweet!

You drew ya gotta make it.

One of the exciting parts of the work that I do is coming up with how to make the things I draw.  There are many ways to get to a similar result, but part of the fun is picking a path and seeing what the problems and successes turn out to be.  A piece could be carved, sculpted, welded or a combination of some or all of those.
For this Steampack, I drew a "nozzle" for the bottom of the pack that would be somewhat decorative.  When I drew it, I had a couple ideas for how I'd make it, but that all changed with my experiments with Azek.  I went back to my CarveWright patterns and remembered one that might just work.  Sure enough, I found it and knew instantly it would be just right.
I didn't see any reason just to carve that single piece, so I took the opportunity to carve up some other decorative items that will be used on the pack.  Several of these will be molded and then multiple Magic Sculpt copies will be made.

This set of elements was carved out of 1/2" Azek and came out very well. I continue to be amazed at how well it carves and how easily my machine handles it.  I will tell you, though, that additional cutting has a learning curve.  If you cut too fast (Like I did with my Scroll Saw) the cuts are hot enough to reseal as they cool behind the blade.  You have to set the speed low enough to cut, but not get too hot.  Once I figured it out, it was smooth cutting.
So my plan is simple...I will heat this shape up, and bend it over a round object to form it into the nozzle shape I want.
 As I looked at it, though, I realized that the leaves were so close together that they would overlap during the forming-so I went in and cut some additional space, so there would be room for them to form.

It took about 5 minutes of heating and then over the form it went.  Once I dunked it in some cool water, it was instantly rigid.

Now we're pretty close.  I decided that the tips needed to flare out a bit, so I hauled out my handy heat gun and warmed up the tips...a little forming with some gloves on and then cooling.  I've put a base coat of paint on it to begin getting it ready to attach inside the pack.