Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Make.com and Eclipse Season

Make.com is helping us prepare for an eclipse season! Today, our post is a visit back to one of the most amazing eclipse experiences we've ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and since it occurred during Maker Faire, it was even more fun... it was a fitting and beautiful finish to a weekend dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and sharing! At the end of our second day at Maker Faire, the hot day began to cool suddenly, and shadows shimmered, doubled and turned every edge into crescent shapes. The sun slowly disappeared behind the moon, and everywhere people were pausing to marvel at the occurrence. We got our hands on some safety viewers, and looked up. We shared the viewers with anyone passing by, anyone missing out on the eclipse, and it was like sharing magic. It was like the whole of the rest of the Maker Faire experience, where everyone is sharing and learning, and there is a constant exchange between people who are teaching and learning, giving, and receiving... but in this instance everyone was enjoying the same event, the same science of nature. Somehow, there is a kind of tangible sensation when hundreds of people all direct their attention to a common purpose and all are reveling in the experience, describing, admiring, engaging with each other and with the almost surreal happening. It feels really good, it feels affirming of the positive, thoughtful, inquisitive nature of people. It was inspiring because of the power of nature to unify us in our curiosity and interest, our knowledge, and our eagerness to learn more. The entire weekend holds some of my fondest memories, for the people, the place, the things we saw and learned, and shared, and I hold these moments dear.

We are thrilled to have our photographs featured in Michelle Hlubinka's Make.com article, Packing For Eclipse Season. "The lunar eclipse Wednesday morning kicks off a series of blood moons..." and "then… when the moon swings around to the other side of the Earth in a little less than two weeks, most of the United States (and Mexico) get a peek at a partial solar eclipse on Thursday, October 23rd!" Michelle has suggestions and practical tips for enjoying this month's celestial show, so I hope you will follow the links to her article, and look for her kind remarks about our Young Maker's Club, Love & Rockets! We feel honored to be a part of the good things that happen in the Make community!

Alex, Maria, Bambi, Eli, and Max~
San Mateo, California, May 2012





William's shadow, and the tree's, with the crescent edges created by the partial eclipsing of sun, where a small bit of the sun, like a ring of fire, makes these strange, beautiful forms. Michelle writes,
"... you don’t need to use fancy equipment to play with and witness this beautiful moment. All you need is a tiny hole. Take a piece of opaque board or foil to project the image of the obscured sun, pinhole-style, onto a flat, white surface the right distance away. Forget your hole at home? You can even make a tiny aperture with a curled finger or fist (as William, of Maker Club Love & Rockets showed us.)"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Still Making

Things may be quiet on the blog, but believe me, we are still making! Here are some glimpses of projects we have been immersed in. Alex and William are leading the creative tide, but everyone gets swept up in the current of activity!

William's blade and the start of the first hand guard, which partially failed, and he had to start over with a new approach.

Apoxie Sculpt flintlock hammer, ready to be drilled and sanded into shape.

Rough cut of flintlock pistol. African mahogany.

Measuring the fitting of the trigger guard.

Trigger mold... "the finished master for the trigger guard."

The chopsticks are called sprues.

The rebuilt sword guard, glued back together, this time with biscuits.

Max and Mister Foo, checking out the anvil.

With an anvil, the children are another step closer to completing their forge!


Trying the hammer.

Measuring seams on the britches.

Details on the sword Alex made. Ask him about aluminum backed plumbing tape! Stuff is amazing!

How many hits to turn steel plates into a helmet?

Helmet panels.


A lot going on. As usual. {By the way, this is our "dining" table.}

William designs things on the computer, then takes his patterns to either wood, fabric, or metal. In this case wood... shaped, and sanded, then painted to look like metal.

He made flaps and I sewed them to the thrift shop loafers, and with the buckle he has a whole new look!

William continues to work on the sword.

Steel blade and the wooden guard {hilt?} that he began in the first image.

Viking Festival time! Gauntlet time!

I added a pouch, and Maria and I added the pocketful of posies. Alex is a Viking with a cell phone, and wallet.

The medallion is Appoxy Sculpted, the armor is home-hammered!

Alex and Sarah bear their shields.

Okay, that's all, for now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make a Carousel :: In Albany Oregon They're Making a Beauty






There were a lot of sights and activities that we looked forward to on the Oregon Trail, but there was one place, one experience that we did not anticipate... and it was easily a great highlight of our entire adventure. I'm talking about visiting the Historic Carousel & Museum in Albany, Oregon. Ron and Delia took us to downtown Albany after dinner, and we walked to the Willamette River along the Dave Clark Trail, to Monteith Riverpark, up and down First Avenue and Second Avenue. All the shops were closed, so was the Carousel Museum, but we pressed our noses against the windows, peering into a maker-artist wonderland! Across the street, at Sybaris Bistro, Janel and her daughters were busy putting things in order, but invited us in to meet Hope, one of the carousel figures, on display in the restaurant. This meeting absolutely confirmed our plans for Monday: We had to visit the museum, see all of the Carousel figures, get as close as possible to the tools, illustrations, works in progress, and meet the people in the workshop!

All of the details, the history of the project, the plans, hopes, and accomplishments are explained on their website. Basically, they are ten years into a fifteen year project to build an historically inspired carousel, with 52 unique and original hand carved and painted animals. Their vision statement: "To enchant young and old alike with the finest carousel in the world, promote the artistry of carousel building by sharing our skills and talents, and build community by opening our venue to events and activities”. Awesome! This is being accomplished with an all volunteer craftsman, woodcarving, painting, and artist team, and donations. And when we walked inside, met the people and saw their work, we were definitely enchanted.

No two animals are alike. In fact there are sixty-six total animals... fifty-two of them will be in use, with six alternates for days when a figure is getting repaired, or maintained, as well as five more animals for holiday and seasonal themes. A black cat for Halloween! Our Chango approves. And to my delight, how about a Christmas Rooster? He looks amazing! In addition to these there will be two chariots. Following the link to the Animals page will show you a list of all the creations, with illustrations, and details about their inspiration. Each concept is a heartfelt and creative masterpiece... some completed, some in progress, each awe-inspiring.

Harriette! What a darling. This picture show's the romance side of Harriette, this is the more elaborate and detailed face that will be seen when facing the carousel from outside. I love this word and meaning, and when lead painter Gwen Marchese explained it to me it was an aha! moment for me as I realized that of course a carousel figure might be more interesting on the showing side, where the carvers' and painters' work would enjoy more attention! Harriette the frog is spectacularly whimsical all the way around, and it's fun to read about the meanings and significance of each detail.

Soon this entire workshop, plus the carousel itself, will be in a specially designed and constructed building. Until then, you can visit the Museum and studio, free of charge, and there is a gift shop, too. In the front we saw the animal figures waiting to be painted. Each figure will be stipple painted in at least eight coats of oil paint. This means no brush strokes! It also means a lot of time for drying is necessary between coats of paint. The finish is glossy, smooth, and the colors are rich, and vibrant.

To protect the paint, and to prepare the animals for all those happy riders, each figure will be finished with 3 layers of automotive clear coat. This carousel is a working art piece, and letting people enjoy their ride will be as important as protecting the artistry of the animals. In the paint studio it was important for us to stay behind the barrier, for the pieces to not get touched. That's understandable considering how vulnerable wet oil paints, and drying figures are. We admired the works in progress from a safe distance, then stepped into the wood carving studio!






Here we met woodcarvers, men and women who chip by chip are taking roughed out forms and cutting out the details and features that will turn basswood into a bear, a quail, horses, and chariots. David showed William basic carving techniques, and talked about the forgiveness of working with wood... it's not impossible to fix an error and make adjustments to the plan. In fact some mistakes can turn into something quite lovely. David's wife, Linda, is a painter, but she's been branching out and taking on some carving jobs, too. I love how they've carved grapevines and the basket into the saddle on Martha's back.

Here is a mustang, and you can see the artist's rendering hanging on the wall.

Here's Lady Sophia, with her cat and mouse traveling companions.





The concept art is charming, and so pretty. I love all the details, and personal touches, like the gnome at the back of the reindeer's saddle, and bespectacled Grizzly Berry's optometry basket.

Inspired by a family cow, in Switzerland... I just adore Sally, the darling Brown Swiss cow.

And it's fascinating to see the animal come to life, to see the inspiration on the wall begin to take shape in the wood.

Every stage of development in this project is compelling, and a treat to observe. The finished pieces, like Daisy the elephant, are even more impressive and awe inspiring once you can appreciate all the steps and phases that brought her to life. The new Carousel home will be more than a beautiful attraction and ride; it will be a place to witness the living history of carousels, a working studio where craftsmanship and art can continue to be taught and passed on for new generations.



Hello, Sampson!

I want to return. For sure when the Carousel is operational, and we can see all the animals in their fullest splendor, but I would enjoy another visit, when everything is still coming along, when things are being put together, and people are figuring things out. This isn't a kit, the parts aren't waiting in a warehouse, there are fewer and fewer experts who can provide all the answers. They still need donors, sponsors, supporters, even just people who care about uniquely compelling projects. Challenges. Wonderful challenges... the kind that bring talented people together, and rally communities. I love those kinds of opportunities. I love the tools laid out for use, and people in a circle, thinking and tinkering, and making.

And I deeply admire anyone who wants to make something, who is willing to see what can come of holding a new tool, finding some material, asking questions, and diving in. Every contribution matters. Every part will make a whole, and I think the pleasure of partaking must be gratifying and good.

This is the romance side of The Guardian. {Oh, and also Harriette's adorable backside!} The Guardian is a Hippocampus, a mythological animal. Someone imagined a creature, half fish, half horse. Someone made sketches, and drew lines, developed a saddle concept. Wood carvers pulled The Guardian out of the wood, and painters shaded forms, colored fish and seaweed, and a mermaid's smile. Engineers will come in and add this piece, and all the others, to the fully restored 1909 Carousel mechanism. My favorite places are where art and engineering meet. A carousel is a wonder of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music, Math... and imagination.

Even if you cannot visit in person, please visit the Albany Historic Carousel and Museum website.
You can also Like them on FaceBook. I am sure those volunteers would love to hear our oohs and ahhs!