Last week I took a run up to Ottawa to discuss the possibly of working on a few small components of a new exhibit being created for the museum of Natural History. It was a fascinating glimpse into a very creative endeavour. I now need to assess whether my contribution can bring value to their project and what I can deliver in the required delivery timeline. It's a fascinated opportunity!
I hauled out last years Santa Claus Parade float to check it out this weekend, while it was still warm. I have to decide whether it is going in the parade, or just sitting in town for the day on display, or both. I though by being on display some of the animation elements might be more noticeable than during the night parade. Still deciding.
No going back now! Undertaking this assembly requires lots of thinking and testing of parts as you go. There is no way to get back to the upper mechanism without cutting our frog apart.
Here is most of Chester the frog glued together in one piece. Since the previous blog entry he has been shaped and sanded and has a rough coat of paint on him. It may be a little early for paint , but I was going to be away from the shop for a while so I took some supplies with me. He needs another sand to get rid of some of those grain marks once the paint hardens and a final paint. His eyeballs don't have pupils in them yet which gives him rather vacant look.
He is resting on a little stand, (basically a board with a hole in it) that allows all the brass actuators to hang out the bottom of him so they do not get damaged. This includes: an eyelid open/close actuator (the two rods from the head were soldered together in the space inside the torso to act as one), the eyeball left /right actuator, the mouth open/close actuator, the arm raise/lower actuator and the rod to hang arm counterweights on.
His upper legs are made but not attached yet and his lower legs are roughed in. His arms are yet to come.
Well I finally am getting caught up with my website updating and today have also created the webpage for "School's Out" the piece I completed before "Poultry in Motion". This was meant to a more serene piece with less emphasis on the mechanism and more on the characters.
Today I added a web page for my latest project "Poultry in Motion" on the website. Previously I had called it "The Coop" but I came across what I thought be a more interesting name.
You can access it from the Automata Gallery or the drop down menus.
Well the weekend has passed and the first woodcarving show of the season has passed. My wife dutifully assisted me in promoting the art form and managing wandering hands of some visitors. We had lots of fun talking to woodworkers and show guests about automata. Thank you to all those who kept us busy and came by to chat. The photo below shows our setup this year which included a few folk art pieces from the past. I didn't expect to sell any pieces since a lot of the attendees are excellent wood carvers and could likely make some beautiful automata creations of their own however we did sell a couple of plans to folks to build their own raving fans.
Our next outing will be to the OWCA show in Pickering Ontario on October 18th and 19th. Maybe we will see you there!
I decided to update the video loop I use when attending carving and woodworking shows. Boy, did I underestimate the time I would spend fussing and editing what was to be a simple video montage. On top of that I had to break in some new video production software in the process which included a few training sessions the Apple Store. With new digital cameras the file sizes of video projects are becoming daunting. It seems to me like I could carve a duck in the time it takes to create and render a nine minute video! After that you have to figure out how to load it on your tablet to take to the show. Anyway it is now done. You can see the montage I created on the homepage of Conquergood Creative. Happy viewing.
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!
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.