Friday, January 25, 2013

New In-Progress

New mask/goggles in progress, I'm trying to invent an art deco/golden age of aviation hero. This wax form is being built on a plaster cast of my face, the wax will be used to cast the final bronze pieces. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prognostication and one of my prognosticating heroes

With classes back in session, and new job keeping me occupied 30 hours per week, and another potential endeavor into the world of fine art management, posts may become even more erratic and spastic than usual. I hope to keep all my projects documented here for all to enjoy, but they will come in spurts most likely.
Please keep checking back for more fabrication, more fine art, and even more rambling ruminations on my heroes, villains, passions and temporary fixations.
Also, take some time to check in with PariahCycle, a project by a good friend of mine which promises much challenge and even more reward.

But for now, I'd like to tell anyone who may be curious a little about one of my personal heroes, R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky to his friends). Fuller was something of a renaissance man, he was an inventor, designer, author, and he contributed major thoughts and theories to the early 20th century.

Along with now common words such as synergy, Fuller used the term Dymaxion as a brand name for many of his projects which were designed to improve daily life for humanity and the world in general. His Dymaxion car (below) is an example of one of those projects.


The Dymaxion car was designed based on models tested in a wind-tunnel for aerodynamic efficiency and, along with the Chrysler Airflow (itself a ground-breaking vehicle), was one of the first vehicles in the US to be designed around an aerodynamic form. The Dymaxion could seat 11 passengers, its three wheel, rear-wheel steering allowed it a near zero degree turning radius, it was powered by a 90 horsepower Ford V8 and it reportedly could travel up 120 miles per hour and average 30 miles to the gallon. Keep in mind that in 1930 "the top speed for new cars was 60 mph; fuel efficiency was 25 miles per gallon." 

Unfortunately, during a test drive for the 1933 Worlds Fair, the prototype Dymaxion was involved in a collision with another vehicle, killing its driver and wounding the two passengers. Despite an investigation which revealed the accident was not caused by any design flaw in the Dymaxion but instead by the other vehicle, investors pulled out of funding the project. Some theorize that the accident may have been arranged by large automobile manufacturers of the day, worried that "this revolutionary design would kill all other car sales."

Despite only three Dymaxion cars being built, it had a definite effect on the world around it, inspiring numerous other inventors to try their hand at ultra-modern and efficient vehicles, such as this one:

This is a 1934 patent model for an aerodynamic vehicle designed by Normal Bel Geddes, another designer and industrialist who was most likely influenced by Fuller's Dymaxion car.

Or this one:
The Fascination, another prototype built by the Highway Aircraft Corporation of Sydney, Nebraska. Apparently this one is still a bit of a mystery but at least one was built in the 1970s, with plans for a whole production run.

One can only speculate about the state of the automotive world today if any of these cars had gotten off the ground, and many think the big American auto makers had a strong hand in preventing it. But Mr R.B. Fuller was ahead of the curve and set the standard against which we are only lately trying to compete.

The Dymaxion in action:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Warka mask

Doing research to recreate an African Warka mask, associated with the people of the Mali area.

They are constructed of hammered metal sheet (usually copper or brass) over carved wood.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bicycle Trailer Part Deux

Went out to the garage and found that my quench bowl had frozen solid.

I won't bother to detail about why I haven't been out in my un-insulated, unheated garage lately. But I did finally get to work again, trying to finish my bike trailer.
With the frame done I needed to attach the wheels, so I took two pieces of 3/4 by 1/8 inch steel strap, and bent them at the ends.

After bending these were welded to the back of the frame.

And a vertical bracket with a gusseted back was welded directly inboard from there.

The holes for the axle bolts are oval or elongated, so the wheels can be adjusted, the inboard bracket has vertical ovals and the outboard has horizontal ovals.

The wheels have been set "toe-in" for straight line stability.

Last thing left to do is work out a hitch.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Ceramics Figurines

New batch of ceramic fetus figurines, the last batch were given away to classmates, these will be available for purchase. Not fired yet so they're still very fragile, baby gloves for now!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teenage Dream

Making real progress on my motorized bicycle, the Teenage Dream. After riding it happily for a while I became weary of the single speed setup the kit comes with, knowing that there were kits to run the motor through the bikes existing gearing system I decided to make my own setup.
Power comes from the motor to a jackshaft which brings it from the left side to the right (where the transmission is), from there it travels via pulley down do another axle where the chain finally sends power to the back wheel. The pedals have been eliminated, I plan to bump start it until a pull-starter can be worked out.
Fabrication of the lower pulley had already been documented, but making the sprockets and bearing brackets were quite challenging.
Also visible in this photo are the fire extinguisher fuel tank and the ported exhaust pipe, which will soon be modified with a tuned resonance chamber for more power.
It all still looks like a bit of a mess but it will come together into a fun little scoot I believe.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Useless machine?

I enjoy making things, working with my hands, touching my imagination in real life, making disparate objects fit together exactly as I wish. I used to describe my hobbies as anything that 'rolls, explodes or just blows my hair back.' Whenever I think of something it tends to have a purpose, when I come up with ideas that don't do anything I tend to file it away, and only ever think of it again if I can think of a use. As an art student, I frequently debate the practicality of art, and of the things I make. For a long time I would say that "I don't like useless art", by which I meant that if an object didn't serve a utilitarian purpose I didn't like it. Later I amended that to "I don't like things that look like they should do something but don't", and this is still true, if someone builds a full scale motor, but never put any pistons or valves into it, I would call it fairly pointless. There are other points of view, and in that example I can definitely understand the beauty of the motor what it represents.
I suppose the problem is that I feel like the object is only half fulfilling its destiny when it doesn't perform as intended. Cars that sit and are never driven make me sad, especially the gorgeous and powerful ones often collected. A person might say to me that "some things are made to just be beautiful and that's all," and I can't really argue with that. All I can really say is that I'm still disappointed by things which look like they should have a function but can't perform that function.
This machine is a perfect example of nothing I've just written about, while it does not have a utilitarian function it absolutely does something, it performs and interacts:

Something like this, not reliant on its looks but on its actions, ignites a wonderfully whimsical delight in my belly. The device consistently dares the builder to touch a switch, "go ahead, see what happens." It peeks out from its trapdoor just to flip a switch and scampers back as quickly as it can. The whole affair becomes a performance. Watching the builder play with his creation is like watching a puppy chase it tail: yes it's pointless, but it's just so much fun regardless.
Maybe what I've been looking for is not utility, but a way to engage the viewer. The reason I love moving and mechanical objects is how interactive they are, how they require spacial understanding and inspire me to touch and feel the movement. The fine art world tends to be populated by fragile and fearful objects, hiding behind "Do Not Touch" signs like a child born with no immune system; a timid world is not for me. I want a rolling, exploding world, where you grab something and if it doesn't want to be grabbed it punches you in the gut. I want art that tells you "get on the floor and say thanks!" rather than "I don't quite like that, please don't." I think this is a world that needs more personal challenges, and I think art should confront the viewer, not comfort them. "Go ahead, flip my switch, punk."