New Workshop

So, I was complaining about how I was out of room on my workbench and had no real room to expand. Kathy’s response: why not rearrange this stuff like this, do this, and take over the whole other side of the basement instead? Woo hoo!

limberjack in progressThe last project I did before rearranging was a limberjack, an Appalachian dancing puppet. (You may recognize him from Mister Show if nothing else.)

I’ve been interested in wooden automata for a while, and the book Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels in Wood has some great full-scale plans.

The first project in the book is a limberjack, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be an excellent introduction to the whole process, from transferring the pattern, planning the cutting, and assembling.

limberjack complete Using the scroll saw, it took a loooong time to cut the pieces from such thick wood, even though it was just soft basswood. Although he’s a bit rough, I really like how he came out. I was especially proud of the joints. As soon as he was finished, I put on some good bluegrass and let him dance!

After that project, it took several months of weekends to get everything moved around the way I wanted, but it’s finally done. Instead of one workbench jammed in between the beer fridge and the electrical panel, I’ve got 2 workbenches and a sit-down worktable. That gives me enough room to get a couple power tools in and star doing a little more complicated work. Kathy got me a bandsaw for my birthday, and my dad is giving me his old table saw. We also had some additional outlets put in, and some overhead lighting so I can finally see what I’m doing.

It’s really exciting, and hopefully I can do justice to all this new potential. I want to start off with some simple wooden toys, and continue looking into automata. Now that I can use the bandsaw to rough stuff out, I hope to be able to get more done, quicker. I also want to learn more (well, anything) about electronics and do some simple projects, and, and, and…

the new workshop


More Moon Pix

Here are two more moon pictures taken during a very brief moment last week when it was both clear and not too cold.

Each picture is actually a composite of 2 photos, which themselves were made by averaging several hundred frames of video. Some time I’d like to do a composite of the enitre moon. I wonder how many images that would require.

The first one shows Mare Crisium on the moon’s eastern limb. The second is centered on Mare Serenitas, which is more toward the north-east-center of the moon. If you want to put these features in context and see much more detailed pictures (or perhaps find out the names of those Mister-Bill looking craters), check out the Full Moon Atlas.

Mare Crisium
Mare Crisium

Mare Serenitas
Mare Serenitas

Frazetta Close Up

The BarbarianOn Saturday Jim and I drove out to East Stroudsburg PA to visit the Frank Frazetta museum.

Frazetta’s been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I don’t remember when I first became aware of him, but I do vividly remember begging my mom to let me buy “The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta” when I was fairly young.

I never realized there was a Frazetta museum until a few months ago when I finally got around to watching Painting With Fire, the Frazetta documentary, which mentioned it in passing. I immediately said, “OK, I’m going!” The museum is curated and managed by Frank’s wife Ellie. Although we were disappointed not to meet the man himself, she took the time to meet each visitor personally and told some interesting and funny stories about some of the paintings.

Frank Frazetta MuseumThe museum is quite small (this image shows about 75% of it) but it’s an inspiring sight. To stand in front of a single Frazetta painting from only a foot away is fantastic, and to see them all at once is almost overwhelming. It was hard to keep from running all over the place going “There’s that one! Ooo there’s that one!” Although I have several books of his work, I was surprised to see how much detail is not reproduced in print. The makeup on the Egyptian Queen, the scars on Conan’s face, were so incredible.

As sort of a funny side note, seeing all these paintings in one place made me realize something: Frazetta doesn’t draw feet! I forget at what point it dawned on us, but as we moved from painting to painting we started to laugh, “Yep, no feet on that one either!” Of course there are some that have feet, and they are certainly well-rendered (so it’s not like he can’t draw feet obviously) but time after time the feet were hidden behind trees, under water, buried in snow, in stirrups, obscured by piles of bodies, etc. Take a look at a bunch of his paintings and you’ll see what I mean!

Anyhow, the museum is open Saturdays and Sundays. If you are a fan and in any way able to make it out there, take the trip and you won’t regret it.