With a couple of wood shows coming up in the near future I'm busy outfitting the Conquergood Creative trailer for the trips. The automata will be loaded into the boxes shown in the trailer which are stopped tightly so they will not slide around. Each will have packing to protect the automata pieces in the boxes. I decided to avoid building shelving to reduce the risk of things tumbling around. In the future I will build in shelving to increase capacity if necessary. Near the rear are the carts used to haul the stuff in and out of the hall. The footstool is for the step up into the trailer which is a little steep at 16"! A few more display pieces, my toolbox and stool, and we should be off to the shows.
When people look at my finished work, usually a more complex one, they always ask, "How long does it take to make that?" In a instance like the current project the answer is, "It depends!" School's Out could have been built with simple fish. The mouths could be fixed and the bodies could be made with a smooth surface - no scales. The scales add an artistic touch but add a lot of time to the project, not only in making the scales but in the added complexity of painting. I have attached a short video to show part of the process of burning on the scales. Each fish takes about an hour to complete the scale and fin markings. Add an extra 15 minutes over a simple paint job for the extra wash coat to penetrate the voids and you have just added 12-1/2 hours to the project due to the wood burning detailing.
Hopefully most viewers would think it is worth it! Somehow having the fish looking fairly realistic adds to the serenity of the piece. To put more detail into it, I would feel I should be making a fish carving, not an automata. For me when making characters it's always about finding a satisfying balance - not too simple, but not too exact.
It's time again for the Kawartha Carving Competition. Hosted by several carving clubs in Central Ontario. The show will be held this year on Saturday September 13th at the Bobcaygeon Curling Club. Conquergood Creative will be there again this year to display automata and talk to woodworkers and show goers. If you are in the area drop in for a visit, you will see some spectacular carving work!
Here'a a quick video clip of the unpainted fish in motion! They have been painted since. Temporary jaw pins are still in place.
Fish were mostly done day before yesterday and it's on to painting. Here's a look of the setting, minus a few pectoral fins!
Back in the shop today finishing up the school of fish. Currently fitting individual jaws. I have p ut small lead weights in the jaw just to be sure that the overhung jaw weighs more that the weight of the wire that will pull the back down.
Things took a giant leap forward for the future of Conquergood Creative when No 1. grandson decided that making an automata project of his own might be interesting. Of course the conceptual design was over the top, the attention span allotted was limited and a little skill development is still required: but you can't stifle creativity and we set off on a short project.
A little saw safety training and we were cutting out a ninja, Star Wars storm trooper, warrior, battle bot, transformer kind of thing: or something like that! Grandson projects seem to have priority over my automata production.
Had a few other things to accomplish today so the school did not grow as much as I had hoped. Spreading out the tedious pyrography would be nice. So here are a few more fish with fins but no scales yet.
Because the movement is fairly simple in "School's Out" I had decided to build a little character into the characters, - meaning the fish of course! So here is the first of nine after carving and pyrography. By the end I will probably wish I had not committed to all the scales. Oh well.
You can now see the articulated jaw.
I got back into the shop, a little rain always helps, and basically finished up the mechanism portion of "Schools Out" as planned. It's what will put the bounce in the school of fish that will give them the illusion of swimming forward. I haven't done the final glue-up of all the fittings yet. I always try to leave my options open till the end. Many a time I've glued pins in and then cursed as I tried to free them to make some unplanned last minute correction. Although I showed you the handle in my last blog post I also have not attached it yet. This allows me to disassemble the input shaft of the gearbox if necessary.
I've attached this little video giving an early peek at how things will work. The fish bodies are just blocks for the moment. The jaws of the fish will open and close as the fish rise and fall. You may be able to see on the template where these will eventually be fitted. Enjoy.
School's Out Teaser Video
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.