Thursday, December 8, 2016

We Are Making Arts

No one has seen the dining table, for weeks! We've been making art.

Alex is applying glaze to the ceramic forms he made. With this fine point stylus he discovered in a classroom locker, he can add elaborate illustrations and details to the sculpture he is making.

Back in November, Alex was sculpting the forms that he's glazing, now.

And in November I was busy, too, designing shapes to make little shelves. William offered to take my drawings, and add them to software for operating our CNC router, Frankenrouter. It sounds simple, but it's a lot of work, and he adds his own attentive consideration to the process, including layout, formatting, scale, and measurements. I feel so lucky to have his thoughtful skills and own artistic perceptions to help me get things done.

Then comes taking what William finished, and loading it into Mastercam... a notoriously fickle, yet indispensable operating system for CNC milling and routing. Now we have three artists and makers on my little project. I never underestimate the time and frustration some of my brilliant ideas can command! Fortunately, Geoff relishes a bit of tinkering and puzzle solving. His unique skills are always in demand, and much appreciated.

Maria, Emma, Amira, and Sarah~

When we celebrated Maria's birthday, it didn't take much more than paper and markers to make the party fun. Artfully so.

I love this collaborative, engaged activity... how it evolves and is interactive, but also spontaneous. Sometimes, art can be private and personal, need it's own space, but there is something energizing and stimulating about sharing space, too. The exchange affords opportunity for developing new skills, new ideas.

Thanks to William and Geoff, my little shelves are cut, and glued, and now, I sand. And sand. And sand. I actually enjoy this part.

And this part, too! Painting my cat shelf with a chalkboard surface paint! These little shelves are for holding tiny things, and are completely inspired by the ones I saw in Lauren's home. Of course, I slipped in another New England mention... the goodness has become ingrained in me!

Besides sculpting and ceramics, Alex is painting, drawing, working on his life drawing. And I would love to post more on this, but, to quote myself, "Sometimes, art can be private and personal, need it's own space." For now, just this peek.

Just before her birthday, Maria turned a corner of her room into a gallery, with her own work, and friends'.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BOoM Make: Past - Present - Future

"The Steampunk movement as a natural human defense mechanism against Future Shock...

Two events got me thinking about this: yesterday's release of the documentary "Vintage Tomorrows", about the Steampunk movement (a favorite of our family), and the recent death of the futurist Alvin Toffler.

Toffler defined future shock as the perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". The magnitude of the velocity of change can be reduced by increasing the period of time in the denominator ("delta t"). Steampunk effectively does this by reimagining the timeline of the vast technological changes of last several decades: if our current technology was mostly in place during the Victorian era, it suggests that development of that technology is taking place over a much longer period of time. This increased "delta t" results in a reduced velocity of change which, in turn, results in a lessening of "future shock".

Steampunks embrace technological change -- celebrate it, in fact -- but lessen its damaging effects by pretending the changes have occurred over a much longer period of time (at least relative to other cultural changes).

It will be interesting to see if Vintage Tomorrows touches on this idea."

~Geoff V2

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Taking Flight :: Making Masks

Benevolent Order of Makers is proud to share these excerpts from the Utah Ballet production of Hansel and Gretel, featuring the crow masks designed, developed, and built by Alex Van Valkenberg.

The order was for masks that were form fitting, stable, but comfortable enough to wear while dancing, and with beaks that could not only open and close, but also pick up breadcrumb props in a ballet. Fortunately, for Alex, he knows a very good ballet dancer, and he consulted with Bambi about measurements, and other specifications and recommendations she had. Most manufactured masks are either very small, like for a child, or rather large, for bigger adults. These masks were specifically measured and scaled with the proportions of a ballerina's size kept in mind. Maria and Bambi were helpful models and testers for this purpose. During testing it became apparent that air holes for ventilation were necessary, the elastic bands were modified for improved fit and function. But these details were what followed the elaborate process of making the basic mask forms...

Everything began with Alex's research, and drawings. He took his concepts into the computer and fine tuned them in Autodesk Mudbox. What he made were designs for a wood mold. The wood mold was cut using our homemade CNC router, Frankenrouter. This picture shows the two layers being glued together.

Here the face mask is being sanded and prepared to be put into a vacuum former.

This is the ABS vacuum formed face mask, and Alex is cutting it out for finishing.

Each part of the beak was made in the same way as the face portion, but in separate parts, both due to the limitations of the router, and the vacuum former, and so that they could function with the design to open and close.

A total of fourteen crow masks were made for the Utah Ballet.

Here they are, about to be shipped. In Utah, they were finished with details by the costume department.

We see this not only as a job well done by Alex, but as the culmination of years of study, practice, experimentation, and artful design by Alex. His diligent pursuit of engineering, from concept art to completion of robots for competition, and art for public enjoyment has been practiced with creative imagination, as well as an instinctive understanding of mechanics and engineering.

Alex, congratulations on the successful completion of this custom order. It's a pleasure to see both your art and your engineering skills applied to such a clever and beautifully finished product. Your career is taking flight! Bravo!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Make Light :: Start Fires

Light... let's always support, love, and care for one another, and always make light.

{The news this morning is sickening, yet again, and so I push myself to look beyond the grief, sadness, frustration, anger and darkness, to seek light, celebrate the strength of constructive, kind, inspiring, creative, beneficial activities. And from a post my friend, Carol, shared, this Billy Crystal quote, resonates even more... "Build bridges between people, not walls."}

We are preparing for the North County Mini Maker Faire... and it's like a beautiful, and wild mania around BOoM Town! We want to bring our best to share with the Faire, to inspire, to enjoy. We have almost as many works in progress, as old favorites. And we have many, many old favorites that need tune-ups, repairs, and updates, too. Honestly, it's probably more than we can complete, but we are trying, and we like to savor and celebrate the process, the journey, as much at the destination. Yesterday we were fully engaged with old, and new making, and loving it...

We collect and gather supplies from thrift shops, from curbs and dumpsters, from our awesome cousins' market! Recently, my uncle lent me his truck so Alex and I could haul home all the wood pallets my cousins shared with us. Now we have great wood to salvage for sculpting, and constructing. This day, the wood is being disassembled, cut, planed, sanded and stained to make a box. What's the box for? The box is for an interactive Makey Makey garden!

The making Alex and James were doing, was inspiration for the making Maria and jumped into! All of this sawdust sent me into the house to look for wax. We discovered some really clever and effective fire starters back in the day, when we were camping at El Capitan State Beach, and so Maria and I decided to start our own cottage industry.

Fire Starters...


A double boiler
Tiny paper cups
Wood shavings

Our wax is from beeswax sheets we crafted with years ago. I raided our candle drawer and decided it was time to repurpose some of these old beauties. We pulled out the wicks, which we decided to cut up and use with the fire starters. (They don't need wicks, but we like the idea of not wasting them, and maybe they will prove to be an improvement.) Tiny paper cups are from a restaurant supply store, and can be fun and useful for a little baking, too.

The wicks go into the cups, along with wood shavings, or fine wood chips. Then we pour the melted wax into each cup, sealing the wood shavings, leaving the wick end exposed.

Our first batch of wax was all colors and looked like weak coffee. Then Maria decided to separate the colors, so we made yellow, blue, and orange fire starters.

Together, Maria and I made seventy-six fire starters. And we still have wax, and definitely plenty of wood shavings for more! Alex put together some logs, and we tested one out. The wick is handy for lighting the fire starter. With kindling around the fire starter, the slow burning wax and sawdust keep a consistent heat so the kindling can get the logs burning. It works like a charm!

Double boiler? Yes, a coffee can, squeezed for convenient pouring, works nicely.

Check out our blues!

Seventy-six! They smell good, too, with the pine shavings, and honey.

And while Maria and I were engrossed in our industry, James, Alex and William continued in theirs.

Geoff replaced ropes on the tent, and checked all the repairs and new dowels Alex used to repair the Viking tent (another victim of rough winter weather!) William and Alex painted details on the dragon heads. They look fantastic. Paul and I returned from an administrative meeting for the Maker Faire, pumped and inspired and so we got right back to work at actual Making.

Making doesn't have to be complicated, or brought to a Faire. It doesn't have to be technical, or documented. What I love the most about what we do, is that it brings us together, sometimes just two of us, or only our immediate family, but often with friends, and we find a higher purpose, learn, teach, grow, and feel inspired to achieve meaningful, purposeful, good things. Light is good. Smiles are good. Laughter is good. Making is good.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This Guy

Benevolent Order of Makers is proud to share some exciting news from our club member, artist, scientist, mentor, and all around awesome friend, Grant! In his own words...

"Finally, after all the trials and tribulations pertaining to admittance into the credentialing program at CSUSM, I can celebrate!


Also... Some news that I've been dying to share! A while ago, I interviewed for the NOYCE scholarship, a $12,000 scholarship specifically for STEM educators. (That's science, technology, engineering, and math for you laymen) I'm not sure how many applied, but with that kind of dosh on the line, it must've been more than a few. Anywho...
Grant the science guy!"

It has been our pleasure to know Grant since 2011, when he began participating in our Young Maker’s Club, Benevolent Order of Makers, as a student maker, and fellow mentor. Our members typically begin as students and over time can become mentors in the club. Grant joined us as an enthusiastic and dedicated young maker, attending Maker Faires, in San Mateo, San Diego, and Encinitas, volunteering, demonstrating, and most recently developing curricula and activities to present with BOoM at the Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire 2015. His creative skills, coupled with his education, and his personal interest in promoting and teaching STEAM education have made him an indispensable member of our club. We have enjoyed seeing his progression from participant as an artist and student to becoming a mentor, and teacher with a great capacity to reach out with innovative projects, and an empathetic approach to communicating with young people.

All of his mad skills and hard work are heading with him into graduate school and studying education, then he will inspire even more people in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math! As BOoM founders, we've had some time to think about Grant, his projects, and his participation in this club, and it's been a pleasure to consider why we are so excited about him being a teacher. Grant has the happy gift of being innately curious and intelligent, as well as educated. In our club activities, at Make events, he works diligently, energetically, cheerfully; the effect is inspiring for everyone in his company. Grant embodies the values and aspirations our club holds to support and promote opportunities for learning through art, design, science and engineering, so that we can make things, teach and learn new skills, exchange ideas, and enjoy a celebration of learning for people of all ages and abilities.

Grant, congratulations on passing those entrance exams, and earning The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship. Mr Noyce was a remarkable thinker, with innovative ideas, that he applied to do great things, benefiting all. It seems to me that with all that "dosh" on the line, they chose wisely when the program selected you for their scholarship.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Make and Re-Make... Our Neighbor Totoro

This isn't a re-make of the movie Our Neighbor Totoro, this is about our stand-up friend from the Miyazaki classic animated film, My Neighbor Totoro. Our Totoro's first appearance was for a birthday celebration, and he's lived with his Chibi companions around our yard for two and half years since. Unfortunately, this last winter was too much for the wood cutouts, and they suffered a lot of damages. After completing work on version II of the Laputa robot, William decided to rehabilitate the friendly wood spirit, too.

Before we share the re-make, let's look back to the first making of our Totoro...

To begin, William developed an original illustration of the animated character. He did this at the computer, and when his design was completed we set up a projector, so we could trace the image on 3/4" plywood.

Next, with Totoro's outline sketched on the wood, William cut out the shape with a jigsaw, right down to those six whiskers.

Gray, black, and white... time for the paint. While William finished this wood spirit, Alex began work on adding some smaller spirits to the party.

A finished Chibi Totoro, and Alex sketching the Chu Totoro.

Chibi Totoro has already visited San Diego Maker Faire, but we want to bring all of our Miyazaki inspired creations to the North County Maker Faire, so here is some of what William's done to get ready...

Let's call this triage... an assessment of all the damages. Plywood splitting, whiskers shorn off, paint worn, base loosened. Poor Totoro does't have much to smile about.

He spent days glued and clamped together, had his whiskers removed, got sanded, then taped up for a fresh coat of paint.

William designed then cut new whiskers. Made of aluminum, the new and improved whiskers are epoxyed to Totoro's face. It should be a stronger finish. They definitely look good.

Intensive care.

Sometimes things look much worse before they're all better. Totoro is on his way to recovery.

Here he is! Our neighbor and friend, restored, and ready for Maker Faire!