Friday, September 4, 2015

Force Friday

I live with all boys. Thus, I know it's Force Friday. The Bitty Bots know it, too.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Not Quite Oscar Nominated

The boys and I were playing with the idea of a stop motion video. It didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped, but it's a first attempt. And there's a raging elephant.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In Recovery

I've been taking some time to recover from the big project. Translation: I've been procrastinating and then finally organizing.

Then on to the opposite of my last project--Bitty Bots.

Sometimes you need a little Bitty in your life. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Orukter Amphibolos Story - with Pictures!

Once upon a time, two men in Delaware decided to open a restaurant called Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen
To celebrate their Delawarean heritage, they wanted to honor the state's own Oliver Evans, an early 19th century inventor credited with creating the first automobile called the Orukter Amphibolos ("Amphibious Digger”). So they asked an artist to create a Steampunk reproduction of the vehicle.  
Evans' Orukter Amphibolos

As that artist, I began thinking . . . and looking at antique stores . . . and thinking. Since my work centers around transforming vintage (or secondhand) objects into seemingly workable versions of real things, I knew I didn't have to find the exact parts, but I felt daunted. I had to find existing vintage items that could fit into the general idea of the Orukter. I wasn't sure it was going to happen until I found these iron wheels at a local flea market. 

It had begun.

Before long, I also came across this rusty, worn garden cultivator--which became the paddle wheel--and while it didn't have the big wood paddles, it was definitely reminiscent of that idea in an unexpected form. 

On that same shopping trip, a well-worn iron and wood horse yoke became the main cross bar (at least to me). I continued to gather vintage items for everything I could (like a handmade wooden toolbox that became the engine block and driver's seat, leather reins that became strapping, and pieces of weathered barn wood throughout).

Meanwhile, I sketched and calculated and finally commissioned a fellow Etsy artist Rustiek to create the main body of the vehicle. 

Then it was time to take the actual plunge and begin assembly. I'd never made anything this big before and rarely worked with wood, so I wisely enlisted some help: my dad. (He knows a lot.)

When I couldn't find vintage items, I tried to keep the Steampunk theme intact--like using copper plumbing pipes for the axles and bronze bolts whenever possible. Some elements were challenging, but we always found a creative solution. For example, I ended up scuffing and painting a pcv pipe as the smokestack, attaching it with a shower drain flange. But my favorite improvisation was using a vintage cookie press as a piston.
It took a while to get things figured out, and we made quite a mess (in my new house--yes, I moved in the middle of all this!).


One of the last things to be made was a robot driver. I mean, it's a Remnants by RJ piece, it needed a robot, right? I used the lid from the engine block tool box for the driver's seat; the hinges became the driver's legs; the stain can I'd used for touch ups became his body; and his head was a measuring cup with a vintage tea strainer hat. The best part? His monocle.

And then, at long last, the Orukter Amphibolos was finished. 


Almost 5 feet in length and 3 feet high.

Weighing in at 60 pounds.

There's so many little details that probably no one will notice, but that I love. The paddle wheel has extra gears mounted on the side from an actual grandfather clock. Also, the paddle wheel is mounted at a level appropriate to the water line of the boat, and it rotates the correct way for "scooping" the water back to propel the vehicle forward. The main post, which came from a banister, has little clock works mounted inside it. There's a bronze metal tag with 1805 DE (Delaware) mounted on the engine block. The "piston" can actually move up and down. All the wheels--even the flywheel--are free moving (you don't know how tempted I was to roll it down a hill). It is easily the most satisfying thing I've ever made, and I'm so proud of it.

And, by the way, the Orukter Amphibolos is now installed at Grain

They had a sneak peek of their restaurant last weekend, and their Grand Opening is tomorrow. So if you happen to be in Newark, Delaware, you might want to stop in. I hear the place is amazing--oh, and there's a pretty cool art piece hanging above the front bar.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Flywheel and Other Important Sounding Words

With the help of my engineering-minded dad, I made some good progress on the interior of the Orkuter Amphibolos this morning.

We have a plan in place for the flywheel and the main posts.

And I'm working on painting a pcv pipe to make it an 1800's smokestack . . . with a little help from my skeptical youngest assistant.

I'm off to get a few more parts this afternoon. It's really coming together. Now who wants to go on a road trip to Delaware with me?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Orukter Amphibolos - Translation: Big Project in the Works

I've been commissioned to make a Steampunk version of the Orukter Amphibolos for a new restaurant opening in Delaware called Grain. They are planning to hang it from the ceiling in the bar area.

Orukter Amphibolos

Now, let's get serious, I know what you're thinking. And, no, I don't know why they have confidence in me either. I've certainly never attempted anything this big before, but, let me tell you, it's been crazy fun to start something new and challenging like this. In fact, on good days, I think I may just pull it off.

I first spent a good six weeks just thinking about ideas and then finally took the plunge and had this wooden trough made (four feet long and eight inches tall). I figured I could use it as a feeding trough and become a farmer if things didn't work out. But at an antique store, I came across these amazing iron wheels which fit perfectly, and it seemed that this vehicle just might come together.

As I've continued to collect potential parts, the paddle wheel has been a particularly troubling piece . . . until I happened across this rusty garden cultivator.

Disassembly is probably my favorite part, so taking apart the cultivator to get the cylinder was quite satisfying. (Full disclosure: I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to use it in the end, but it's a great base. Vintage and rusty.)

I've also been playing around with ideas for the interior "engine," which is proving to be challenging in its own right. But I've found some cool vintage pieces to incorporate, like a worn horse yoke (the upper horizontal piece), an old tool box, pieces of barn wood, and another of those fantastic iron wheels (for the flywheel). I'm sure this will go through a few more revisions in the days to come.

Yesterday was the first day of real, no-turning-back work. My dad helped me mount the axles and wheels for the main body. He's good at making sure things are extra sturdy.

I'm contemplating the paddle wheel situation next, but I'm feeling good about the progress so far. Wish me luck as I press on--the deadline is looming ever closer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New Workshop!

We're finally in the new place, and I've set up a temporary workshop in the downstairs bar area . . . because a drill press is more important than a cocktail, right? Not to mention I'm completely anti-social, and, therefore, not planning on entertaining . . . ever.

My littlest assistant made himself comfortable right away.

And now to get down to work on the Orukter Amphibolos project.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ode to Bot

I have packed 99% of my workshop now.

Ah, lonely drill press! You sit on the loveliest, sturdiest shelves ever made. Will you miss them?

Of course, in the midst of packing, I had to make one final bot.

This is the last to be made here in Baldwin City. Next stop, Tonganoxie . . . with a minor layover at my poor parents' for two weeks.

Robot on.