Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Deco (Dieselpunk?) Goggles

Brazed the wings to the goggle frames.

Made a bracket from brass, with soldered in plates that screw it to the frames.

Made brass lens bezels and re-applied the patina that burned when I brazed the wings on.

Friday, February 22, 2013

People who buy things are suckers

Not only is he one of the only good male role models on television, Ron Swanson is  a master craftsman, and he's dead-on right here:

Art Deco Goggles

Made a little more progress on the art deco hero goggles, got the wings made thanks to some help from friends who had made a mold already. The wings have black patina and have been buffed. Also drilled and tapped the ends of the side tubes. Next will be the brass mesh lenses.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Scorcher Menace

Bicycles are a mainstay on most college campuses, and are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout urban areas. As both a cyclist and a pedestrian I have on more than one occasion been 'buzzed' by a biker, they zoom past from behind with no warning. I have even heard (a small minority of) cyclists complain about pedestrians on sidewalks and brag about riding past them closely. Last year while walking to class I was clipped by a bike and dropped a very fragile and expensive project I was to present that morning. It should come as no surprise that when I encounter a fast cyclist in a crowd I will usually tell them to slow down, get a bell, both, or worse. As it turns out, this isn't a new problem: during the american bicycle boom of the late 19th century, fast bicycle riders called 'scorchers' were considered a public menace, they inspired whole new police divisions to be created just to deal with them and even a medical hysteria, all before spandex or ironic mustaches.

The first bicycle craze happened in the 1860s, when 'boneshakers' briefly gained popularity, though their harsh ride quality drove them out of fashion quickly, to be replaced by the equally uncomfortable 'penny farthing', or 'regular' which had an equally short life in the limelight. When the 'safety bicycle' (what would become the modern, diamond frame bicycle standard) was invented, it revolutionized individual transport.


We could easily go off topic talking about the ways that the safety bicycle changed the world (lightweight steel tubing, pneumatic tires, gearing systems) and paved the way for automobiles (literally), but today we're discussing the scorcher fad that came with the bicycle boom of the 1890s.

Bicycling had traditionally been the realm of spry young men, mostly due to the extremely difficult riding conditions of the boneshakers and penny-farthings, but when the safety bicycle came to the world many of those conditions disappeared or were lessened considerably. So not only did a wide new range of people take up cycling for fun and commuting, but they could do so at greater speeds than ever thanks to the chain gearing and the bicycle's new, low center of gravity (which made 'taking a header' practically a non-concern). Young men began challenging themselves to reach ever greater speeds.

Cycling was considered a very feminist activity, giving freedom to women everywhere. Though even most feminists advised against wearing men's clothing.
As early as November 1895 citizens were writing in to their local paper complaining that:
"The number of "hoodlums" scorching along... with heads down, with no regard to the safety of persons crossing, is rapidly increasing"
There were cries for police intervention, and arguments that horses would never be allowed to travel so quickly through a crowd. 

Theodore Roosevelt created a “Scorcher Squad” in December 1895, made up of 29 police officers on bicycles. In his autobiography, Roosevelt praised the squad for having “ not only extraordinary proficiency on the wheel, but extraordinary daring.” The Scorcher Squad, in addition to chasing down and ticketing fast bicycle riders, ran down out of control horses and even automobiles, forcing them to slow and eventually stop; some of these events even sound like action-movie fare, such as one officer who made a habit of catching up to runaway horses and getting “alongside the horse and seize the bit in his left hand, keeping his right on the crossbar of the wheel,” at which point he would either dislodge an irresponsible rider or simply calm the horse until it slowed and stopped. These ‘wheel mounted’ police made 1,366 arrests in their first year (though not all of these were bicycle scorchers). Denver, Colorado and Grand Forks, Minnesota began bicycle squads in the summer of 1896, “to control scorchers and sidewalk cyclists.” In Chicago, apparently, bicycle police were using slingshots to hurl lead balls at the spokes of scorchers, the impact would break the rim and bring a cycle to a sudden halt.

Police bicycles had enormous front sprockets to give them an advantage in catching the fastest scorchers.

All the additional attention from the police gave some hope that scorching might soon be eradicated, one New York Times columnist wrote in June, 1896 (under the headline Scorchers WILL Be Suppressed):
"Scorchers are the most dreaded of all evils which terrify the wheeling element. But decided steps have been taken to abate the nuisance, and the consequence will be that shortly the bow-backed fiends will be run to earth and suppressed entirely."
However, two years later scorchers were still considered a menace, and by this time they had automobiles on the road to contend with, “nearly every Sunday the spectacle is presented of reckless wheelmen racing with the cars.”

Many incidences of pedestrians being injured in collisions with cyclists were reported in the last years of the 19th century. In October of 1900 a 55 year old pedestrian died following a collision with a 16 year old scorcher named Harry Morton, who was said to be charged with manslaughter. What became of Morton was not discovered by the time of this writing. 

By the late 1890s, the public had become convinced that not only was scorching dangerous and irresponsible, but that it posed a serious health risk to the riders themselves. The “bicycle heart” was said to come from fast riding, which, according to an army recruiting doctor, had a "tendency to enlarge the heart and thus interfere with its proper action.” The French Army also rejected potential recruits for fast bicycle riding, saying that riders had heart trouble. In July of 1899 the New York Times reported that a fast ride had killed a scorcher, the scorcher also happened to be 64 years old and suffered of heart disease.

The second bicycle boom is considered to have ended by 1903, and the golden age of the scorcher along with it. No single event caused the end of the scorching fad, but the rise in automobile use along with social pressure probably contributed. In The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Bicycle Police Ross Petty claims that police motorcycles were being used as early as 1908, and that “closed cars became more popular not only for  patrol work, but for pursuing criminals who frequently attempted to escape in cars that could travel at increasingly faster speeds.” So most of the young men and women likely either grew out of the scorching practice or graduated to internal combustion speeding. Bicycles have seen at least two major revivals since then, and more than likely the scorcher has been encountered in each one.

You can peruse my research page for more information, or if you have anything to add please do so.

New Surroundings, Same Beginnings, Brighter Futures

After several years of reporting on my projects as Conjectural Technologies, I have decided that a joke from a cartoon is not the way I want to show my work to the world.
So here is where everyone can continue to track my projects, my thoughts and ramblings, triumphs and failures. I hope to bring more meaningful and interesting content to bear on this forum as I continue to explore my craft and learn about this big amazing world. Hopefully this can mark a new phase in productivity and creativity in my life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Warka mask Final

After the copper sheets were shaped and fitted I stained the wood a nice dark color.

After staining
Stained, with copper

Then I raised the details into the copper with a hammer and chasing tools.

The coffee table is a great place for metal working

 To fasten the copper to the wood I made copper nails, by cutting lengths of copper wire and placing them into the vise.

Then gently hammering them down to form a flat head.

The last thing left was a display method, so I made a spear which could stand unsupported (screws to a flat tripod, hidden by sand), the tip has a rounded strip of steel that conforms to the chin of the mask. The mask is held in without fasteners, friction from the pinching strip holds it steady.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Warka mask III

With all the copper pieces made and fitted, I can start fine tuning the edges, and then putting details in.
Starting to remind me of Odin.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Art Deco hero goggles

Cast in bronze the art deco goggles from a few weeks ago, patina'd black with a leather lining, still need to make them wearable.

Bronze mask

I posted images from this mask while it was in progress last year, now it is mostly compete, though the polished metal has tarnished a bit. It has a leather lining holding the brass scales and is displayed on the familiar plaster cast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Warka mask II

After cutting the shape with a wood grinder, I chiseled the big bumps off and got some finer detail into the nose, and drilled out the eyes and chiseled them as well. Then I made a paper template and cut out one side of the copper for the face, which I began forming over the wood.

When forming metal, remember to anneal it frequently to avoid gardening and work cracks.

The arms sticking out are screwed into the back, and allow me to clamp the whole mass down while I form the copper. Once all the pieces are formed I will begin raising the details and decoration into the copper.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Warka mask I

As mentioned before, I'm attempting to re-create an item called a Warka mask, of African origin, associated with the people of the Mali area.
The masks are hammered metal over carved wood, so I began by laminating pine boards together. 

Pine is most likely (definitely) not the traditional material, but as far as I can tell the wood isn't actually significant to the creation of the original so I'm fudging.
While the glue was drying I made a paper template of the main features of the mask, to scale, using a square, a ruler and a large sheet of paper. 

Using the template I cut out the shape on a band saw and drilled holes at the four corners of each eye, this will let me carve any shape I want and not lose the position of the eyes. I also traced the nose into the wood, which is the only other key feature of the wood carving.
Then, using a wood grinder to rough cut the shape and chisels to refine it I carved the basic form of the mask.

I also got a little excited with the bandsaw and took a bit of a loose cut.

It's far thicker than it needs to be but that's OK, I would rather have too much to work with than not enough, I can cut the back off when everything else is ready.
The next step is to finish smoothing this form then create the copper overlay.