SteamPunk guns aren’t just something to hang over your mantle for decoration. The weapon pictured above is a fully functional Nerf gun created by Etsy seller faustus70. Alas, it is already sold, but there is really nothing stopping you from making your own customized SteamPunk gear out of some beloved item and stuff you have lying around the garage. Faustus70 made his gun out of planks from an old chair and hand cut aluminum strapping. A bit of sanding, painting, and artificial weathering, and a masterpiece is born.
My only criticism of the piece is that I think rivets would normally be centered on the planks, rather than between them. It’s important to get these things right, because hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.
This one may be gone, but last I checked, he still makes such things and sells them at quite a reasonable price at his Etsy store here.
Why hasn’t anyone told me about popsicle stick bombs? These have so much more potential for mischief than dominoes.
For some simple instructions and complex constructions out of these frame bombs, check out framebomb.com
And if the thought of eating all those popsicles makes you blue, you can get a thousand popsicle sticks on amazon for under ten bucks.
Pastels on the Plaza time again. My entry above (click for actual size), for the lovely and talented Genevieve Schmidt, a local landscape designer and garden writer. See her work in this month’s Fine Gardening Magazine pages 42-47, as well as this month’s issue of Pacific Horticulture.
We arrived at the Arcata plaza at seven in the morning with a fist full of sidewalk chalk, art ideas in the other hand, and a bag full of new tricks to try out. The weather was ominous. I’d heard rumors flying for a few days about the big storm coming in and estimates for when it would hit.
The weather was great though. It was overcast and warm, though I imagine it will all be washed away in a muddy rainbow in a day or two. Keep in mind that these vary a lot in size, most being either three by three feet or three by six, but I’ve mostly cropped them to the same width, so if the rectangular ones look more detailed, it’s because they are shrunk twice as much. It took me about five hours. These entries are all done by local artists and paid for by donations from local businesses for a local children’s charity. Let’s take a look at this year’s event:
That pastel for Moonstone Grill in the front with the fun shape was done by local author Joan Dunning. I should really take more of these shots, but things are usually so crowded. If you look at the upper left of the image you can see a rare Tibetan Mastiff. I love the red reinterpretation of Starry Night as well.
Above we have the entry by Leah Vaughn for Holly Yashi Jewelry. And below, her husband, graphic designer Casey Vaughn for Tomas jewelry.
This was the first year for Susan Fridley, the artist of the below entry for A to Z Eye Care. Pretty good for a first try!
This one by Primal Decor Body Art Studio is a contender for best of show in my opinion.
I wish I had gotten to watch Renaissance Painting Company work. I’d be interested to see their process.
Duane Flatmo was there of course. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. When I mentioned to him that I had seen his SteamPunk octopus from Burning Man on The Huffington Post, he hunted down a flyer for me, which I’ve put a scan of below his entry below.
The Humboldt Area Foundation had real leaves mixed in with the pastel.
B&B Porta Potties clearly has a healthy sense of humor with their flowers below.
I’ve worked in the rain before. I’ve worked in the wind. I’ve worked in the sun. Each has its own challenges. For anyone out there who may be attempting this kind of thing for the first time, I’ll pass on a few of the things I’ve learned.
You can work wet, or you can work dry, but you really need to decide at the beginning, Trying to spray water on pastel after it is on the ground just kicks up chalk and then beads up and sits. Working wet will get you richer colors, smoother blending, and an almost total inability to deal with mistakes. Once the wet chalk goes somewhere, trying to remove it or alter it just makes mud. Working dry lets you change everything as you go, and gets you finer detail, but builds up dust and sometimes doesn’t adhere well. Below is this year’s entry by Alan Sanborn, a talented watercolor artist. He works wet and with brushes.
Paintbrushes are great if you are working wet and those foam ones work better than expected. If you are working dry, it just flings everything about like a broom. This year I was working dry, and I brought an old towel and cut it up into pieces. It worked much better than a brush for blending crumbs into the sidewalk and mixing colors. We also brought a Dust Buster for when we had chalk buildup and didn’t want to blow it on the neighbors. I highly recommend it.
I prefer to work dry, but sometimes the weather doesn’t make it an option. I work wet when it’s raining or windy. Morning or evening sun casts a lot of shadows, which add to the difficulty of keeping track of perspective while sitting on your work. I end up sitting on wet grass most of the morning, but this is easily solved by getting a good bath mat to sit on with a solid rubber backing. If it’s thick enough, it is also a good alternative to knee-pads when kneeling on cement.
I leave you with a few more honorable mentions:
Looking around for press coverage I came across this youtube video posted by radmul:
And an image from someone flying over:
Dailymail has a story about a 21 year old girl who destroyed the left hemisphere of her brain in a car crash. It may seem strange to even be alive at all with only half of your brain, but Taisia Sidorova has shown an artistic ability she didn’t show before the crash, as seen in the painting above.
I often hear people saying they don’t have artistic talent, like it is just something other people are born with. There are aptitudes certainly, but mostly it is about getting the overly analytical portion of your brain to stay out of your way and let you work. When most people try to draw someone’s portrait for the first time, they start by drawing a head, or an eye, or a nose. The results are cartoonish and unflattering because they are drawing their mind’s stereotype rather than just looking at what is right in front of them. If you look at Taisia’s painting above, the overall effect is like a photograph, while the art is in the color, brush stroke, and impression of the scene.
If you’ve ever tried to learn how to draw from a book, it goes something like this:
This just isn’t the right approach. Drawing isn’t a step by step process. My first great sketch I drew in a circle, like the movement of clock hands, fully completed. It seems like a crazy way to work to me now, but the ability in in perception, not in technique.
Years ago, I read a book with some great tricks for getting around those mental blocks. I recommend to anyone who would like to improve their artistic abilities, even if they feel like they are starting from nothing. Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She’s also got some other good books on things like improving creativity and getting around the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block.
The land mine sticker above is part of a land mine awareness campaign by Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund). The other side is sticky and camouflaged with a pattern to match flooring. When the camouflaged ad is stepped on, it sticks to the bottom of the shoe. The text on the front reads, “In many other countries you would now be mutilated! Help the victims of land mines!”
There is a beauty to this type of guerilla advertising. It allows for an organization without a lot of resources to spend a small amount of money on a clever advertising gimmick and then see their message spread multiply through the internet as sics like ours report the gimmick. Some of us even have enough shame to spread the message as well.
Where we live, if we fail to watch where we step, we end up with a smelly shoe. Other countries aren’t so lucky. For more on Unicef and land mines, see their page here:
Ever wanted to search for images using an image? I often find images that are out of context online and want to know where they originated. Sometimes I take a picture of a weird bug and want to know what it is, and sometimes I just want to put in a favorite image and see what the algorithm finds that it thinks is similar.
From a processing standpoint, the task is monumental. We take so many social and stylistic cues from an image. I can’t imagine trying to tech a program to find what some random person on the internet is looking for in the pile of billions of images that is the web, but Google has decided to take it on.
Let’s give it a challenge and see if it panics!
First, go to Google’s image search page. Then drag an image into the search bar. That simple. I’m using Kevin Sloan’s awesome image above to see what we can find.
Well, it still needs work clearly, but I’m actually rather impressed. First of all, it did nearly instantly find me a ton of sources with the same image, so if you are using it that way, it gets an A+. The above pictures came from a section it refers to as ‘visually similar images’. What impresses me is how many completely unrelated but undeniably similar compositional elements it found. The search engine isn’t differentiating objects like we would, as flamingo and monkey, which on the one hand is unsurprising, but on the other, I’m a little shocked that not a single similar image popped up on the front page with either a flamingo or a monkey in them. It instead seems to have focused on composition, pattern, and color.
Take the picture of the woman with her children in the upper right; she is wearing a flamingo colored shirt, the cup in her hand is its head. There is a cloudy sky, trees on the horizon, the shadow on the lawn gives us the plateau, the monkey is seen in her sunglasses, and its leg in the same position as her daughter (held). Her shorts are the sky under the flamingo, and perhaps best of all, the stovepipe as monkey tail.
I can’t wait to play with this some more. I sense a multitude of new memes coming from this, with every famous image in history having a page of doppelgangers.
It’s kinetic time once again in Humboldt County California, and this year there were even more challenges than usual for our brave contestants. The weather has thrown them the usual mix of sun, hail, and rainbows, but this year, in addition to slogging through sand dunes, the bay, and 42 miles of track, they also got to slog through months of politics.
Most of the entries this year seemed a bit sub-par. The bigger contestants like Calistoga and Yakima are no longer in it, and most of the rest are just new paint jobs on last year’s model, though I can see why. It all started with disputes over who was in charge, licensing problems, and threats of cancellation. Why would anyone put months of effort into building a sculpture for a race that may not even happen? On that note, I’ve got a message for those involved in the politics: nobody cares who you are, so either get your crap together or hand over the reigns to someone who will.
This year, the politics went too far. When officials barred Tess and Sara Kraus from piloting their tiger (below, made by local high school students) for failing to prove their age, these two responded in true Amazon style by getting up and rousing chanting supporters from the crowd with a speech that would make Xena proud. In the end, parents had to take the place of the devastated teens, and pedal the float past the officials, at which point they switched back, and continued on. They’ve been told they will not be treated as a part of the race, all in the name of some liability tyrant. Well, I hope someone feels safer now.
There was certainly no lack of enthusiasm though, and turnout was good, considering. I was glad to see the Endeavor entry come in first on day one. NASA needs a victory under their belt after the gutting of our space program. The high ground and the best technology have won nearly every war and industrial race in history, and those of the future will be no exception.
This albino gorilla even seemed to be having some trouble with the law. I moved on after taking this shot, but I expect the gorilla is in Guantanamo by now.
Above is this year’s entry from Duane Flatmo, a man who puts out so much awesome every year that I’m tempted to put him in the site navigation. I’m not that impressed with the conversion this year after seeing his last several entries, but taken on its own merit against the rest of the field, it is still a contender for number one.
And it breathes fire!
This one gets my vote for most questionable engineering. Maybe I was missing something, but these guys were pedaling like mad and going at a slow walking pace. The guy next to them even felt the need to put his foot on the ground to keep his bike from falling over, and it sounded like they were using their pedaling to tumble rocks in their pontoons rather than for propulsion. It looks heavy, but it was apparently blown over by the winds at the dunes.
Gloryopolis, above, is another great entry. You may remember them from last year’s Classical Nudes sculpture. They reused a well engineered base, but did a complete overhaul of the art. This is what it’s all about, and they pulled off the superhero theme better than I’ve seen done before.
There are some interesting regulars in the race that don’t get a lot of notice, like the dog above. I’ve posted pictures of this cycle/dog pair before, and now I’m curious. Has this dog been in the race since it was a pup? I’m going to have to go through my old pictures. The salmon on the right was entirely scaled with compact discs.
There are hundreds of people in single person contraptions and bicycles as well. I don’t know if it is home made or off the shelf, but I want the cycle below. It looked comfortable, efficient, and she could turn it 360° in place.
If you would like to see more coverage from Kinetic Sculpture Races past, check out my coverage from past years at the links below:
Not a year goes by lately without Festo coming out with some awesome new biomimetic toys, well, industrial automation really, but you can bet these will be in toy stores in some form within a year or two.
This time, they’ve created a bionic seagull, fully autonomous from takeoff to landing. It uses the same kind of active torsion to take advantage of vortices that flying animals use to get that extra edge in flight that has previously been hard to duplicate in man made devices. Turning is accomplished wit a tilt of the tail.
Rather than using lighter than air materials like in their past projects,the SmartBird frame is constructed from carbon fiber, polyeurathane foam and other lightweight but strong materials, yet they’ve still managed to keep it aloft even with the weight of the brains, batteries, motors, and even a radio transmitter. Video below.
For more technical specs, check out their pdf
I’m a big fan of X-Prize style innovation. Instead of hiring a research team, and building a whole facility to research a subject, just start adding to a prize fund for whoever the first person is to give you the answer you seek. This way, you end up getting facilities, minds, correlations, and other resources you may not have realized existed working for you, all without paying a cent until you see results.
Several years ago, Google started a project along these lines, asking the public for their ideas to change the world. They offered big connections and prize money to those ideas they chose as the best. They ended up far behind schedule, and I wasn’t that impressed with their choices in the end, but I like that they tried. My submission is below:
A data path exists for processing credit and debit transactions at stores. Use this system to upload store receipts to online accounts. The customer could then use their account at home (like online banking) to use this information as they see fit, and the aggregated data could be used to varying degrees (allowing for privacy) to better the retail system.
- Like online banking or Amazon recommendations, it could be both secure and useful to all involved.
- Allows people to track their own spending in an interactive fashion while saving manhours.
- Potential for adsense like contextual marketing.
- Could merge with personal finance software, calculate nutritional intake for dieters, alert people with allergies. etc.
- Affects a large portion of the world (everywhere you want to be).
- Employers can keep tabs on company credit card usage.
- Checkboxes to make easy tallying and splitting of bills for roomates.
- Reminders or suggestions for recurring purchases.
- Easy to find one click tech support, manuals for bought products.
- Competing stores could send advertising telling you how much you would have saved shopping with them.
- Quicky target customers with product recalls. This could have prevented many deaths recently in China.
- Could integrate with massive medical databases to find hidden correlations between products and health.
- Manufacturers could target customers with coupons and offers.
- Environmental: Saves paper on receipts, manuals, coupons, advertisements, as well as the other impacts from creation and delivery of such products.
- Google is one of the very few companies with the resources, expertise, and trustworthiness to make this a reality. If you don’t do it, who will?
What problem or issue does your idea address?
- Waste Management
- Wasted man-hours
- Unnoticed product recalls
- Compulsive spending
- Allergic reactions
- Credit Fraud
- Running out of milk
- Lost product manual/warranty
- Advertising wasted on the uninterested
- Medical research
Involuntary collaboration refers to a project contributed to by multiple parties in which at least one of those parties did not intend to be working with the others. Examples include things like covers of songs, spoofs of movies, and in the case of the pictures above (painted in part by Chris McMahon), unwanted landscape paintings bought at yard sales, which he then painted monsters into. I think they’re brilliant, and would be a perfect DIY project to hang in your kid’s room, or send to your grandmother.
A similar process (seen below from The Monster Engine), has adults upgrading children’s drawings of monsters to add realism. Sometimes the toughest thing for an artist can be just sitting in front of the canvas wondering what to paint, or going through all the trouble of painting a whole landscape when what they really want to paint is a big hairy monster, and it can be hard to throw away original artwork, even if it is boring.