But is it Art?

My Completed Art Deco Wall HangingI sketch quite a bit and I’ve been doodling things like this for years without realizing that, technically, they fall under the “Art Deco” category.  If I were content with that, I’d paint it blue, pink, and silver.  However, because cerulean blue belongs in the sky and not on your wall, pink belongs in distant sunsets and not on your wall, and why the hell would you paint wood silver?  I decided that to bring this piece into the 21st century I’d need to radically rethink the colors.

At first, I had intended to only paint 3 elements of the composition.  After picturing it in my mind, I decided on the single yellow piece that you see here.  I’m quite pleased with the end result.  Unfortunately, the spray-acrylic sealer that I used was very old and I suspect that it was this that led to the strange patina you see on the main circle here.  No matter what I tried, I kept getting glossy parts and flat parts.

The primary material is MDF, some of which was cut with our very own CNC router, with hardboard being used for the yellow part, and split pine dowels (thanks to my own rig, clamped to our band-saw) for the 3 extending pieces.

*Note: When cutting a perfectly cylindrical piece length-wise on a band-saw, the piece will have a tendency to rotate as you’re cutting.  I’d have done a better job had I thought to clamp the piece to the jig that I set up.

The preliminary sketch of the art deco wall-hanging.This is the rough sketch of what I had planned on making.  Things change in a wonderfully organic way when you go from sketch to completed project.

The wall-hanging before painting and glueing.The piece before painting and assembly.

I laid the pieces out separately and hit them with flat-black spray paint.  This took very well to the MDF.  After painting and clear-coating everything, I waffled about how to assemble the many into the whole.  I first toyed with the notion of pre-drilling, then screwing everything in from the backside of the piece; I also realized what a pain it would be to try to locate each hole without being able to see the front first.

Next, I thought I’d use a brad-nailer and just pop everything in, but ours doesn’t take anything shorter than 5/8″ and this entire project is just under 1/2″ in depth and I didn’t want to bother cutting the ends of the brads flush with the back, plus, they could scratch the wall that it hangs on.

I finally decided on some epoxy that one of our makers had brought in.  It’s proven very workable and durable, as I found out when I used it to make the spools for our Makerbot ABS plastic filament.  I put several pieces on at a time, weighting them down with some paving bricks (covered in cloth, as I didn’t wish to scratch the paint).  After letting it cure for 24 hours, the project was more-or-less done.

All that’s left is to figure out how to mount it to a wall.  I think I might use a plunge router and hollow out a portion of the back for that.  Another idea has been brewing in the back of my mind, but it’s too cool to mention unless I actually do it.  Rest assured, if I use that idea, I’ll be posting about it here and on Instructables.

UPDATE: I found that it’s about the same weight as a moderately sized picture, so I picked up some picture-wire and attached it via two screws in the back.  It is now hanging on my bedroom wall.

Ridiculously Large Jacks

On June 18th, Milwaukee Makerspace participated in The Great Milwaukee Race as a challenge sponsor.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

The Great Milwaukee Race is a scavenger hunt/series of challenges across downtown Milwaukee that was started in 2010 by Fit Milwaukee and friends.  This year’s event was put on by Fit Milwaukee, AJ Bombers and Performance Running Outfitters.  In 2010, 50 teams of 2-4 racers competed in the inaugural race. This year 75 teams raced throughout downtown Milwaukee and along the lakefront to find all 10 of the challenge locations and get their passports stamped.

The post i made a couple weeks ago (I’m welding! I’m a welder now!) about my Ridiculously Large Jacks was a preview of the challenge that we would run at the race.  After the initial batch of jacks was finished, Sean, Kevin, Adam and David helped me fine tune the game a bit in our hangar before the event itself.

Shane helped me run the event on race day and it worked like this:

  • Team would decode the clue to our location and decide on when they should come to our station.
  • When they showed up, they had to nominate two players.
  • One player was the bouncer and was in charge of bouncing and catching a kickball.
  • The other player (the grabber) donned a pair of gardening gloves and had to pick up the jacks.
  • On the first bounce, the grabber would have to pick up and hold onto one jack before the bouncer caught the ball.
  • On the second bounce, the grabber would have to pick up 2 more jacks while holding onto the previous jacks.
  • Repeat for 3 and 4 jacks.

The game only took a couple of minutes when done correctly, but some teams were faster than others. We also saw a variety of techniques.  Some grabbers would try to stash the nearly 12″ diameter jacks under their arms.  Some folks spread the jacks out between their hands and used them like claws to scoop up the remaining jacks.  One women even stashed the jacks in her running shorts, but they were a bit heavier than she bargained for.

We were stationed at the underpass at water and pearson, across from Trocadero.  After watching what was happening for a while, the Trocadero bartenders popped out to see what was happening up close.  We invited them to play a game and they did pretty well!  Another couple came by to watch and started laughing at the silliness they saw so we invited them to play as well.  They had a few close calls with some wild bounces, but took care of the round with only a couple of do-overs.  They looked pretty happy by the end of the game.

Great Milwaukee Race 2011 - Ridiculously Large Jacks

We heard really good feedback from racers and the organizers of the event.  The game was odd enough to give people pause before they jumped in, but easy enough that it could be completed in a couple of minutes.  The fun we had with this has led us to discuss making some more oversized games to bring to parks in the area. Stay tuned for more info on this front.

Thanks again to Fit Milwaukee and the other Great Milwaukee Race organizers for letting us be a part of this event and thanks to the racers for being such good sports!