Monday, November 21, 2011


Or devolve, but they're definitely still changing. The first effort (antique storage cube) was good enough, even if a little ham-handed, to lead to further development of a Portals2 style block set. But the companion block in it's several incarnations kept development stalled for days. Marking accurately, and then the equally important burning correctly seemed at first to be the biggest challenges, But no!

 Frustrated by by my first couple of tries at burning good clear circles, I tried carving a couple. Ow, While the obviously needed carving workout was eventually justified by a couple of pretty excellent laser cubes, the extensive lowering of background required in the carved companion-cubes slowed their production to less than one a day. The worst thing though, was I was stuck with several dead end cubes, too nice to toss and too hard to fix. I wasn't ready to give up, but wasn't sure which way to jump just yet, so I tried a new direction and made the cube-symbol block from the legend (level instruction panels).

 The rebirth of the wayward laser cube was a turning point. Hey, you didn't think every carving turned out right the first time, did you? I can't speak for any other wood-cutter types, but I don't throw away every project that takes an unexpected turn.

What about the, "I meant to do that," factor? Often the detour leads to an undiscovered but equally if not more interesting destination. Hence two lack luster wood-burned laser cubes, followed by an interesting but injured carved one, followed by a cool carved but non-directional one, followed by an excellent aim-able carved one, and at last a do-able interesting wood-burned version.

All these repairs and redesigns have brought me back to the less than satisfactory carved companion cubes. Emboldened by my laser cube success I jumped the most chipped face of one of the carved companion cube experiments , and laid a couple of razor-saw cuts with the grain and patched in a complementary grained piece and clamped it up. Woo-hoo! I liked it so much I went back and fixed the lowered end grain and remarked and lightly cut my new lines. The wood-burner follows the lightly scored line very accurately, while scoring too deeply produces a double line.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


 After three or four tries I managed to make a couple of companion looking cubes good enough that they need a job, like sitting onna button. These were the ones that inspired me to carve the button. The 2nd "laser cube" was good enough to make me consider maybe making a few more. At least try a couple of more styles. I'm still hoping for a wood-burned version that's close enough to be fun to make and play with.

 Alright then, I've got eight keepers and a button so far. The antique storage cube was the first I tried and it was acceptable, but the necessary logo art was way too to dense to burn at that size. I faked the logo (simplified as accurately as possible) and was going to leave the words off altogether till Plush Neon Monkey suggested that I just fake it. Huh? "You know", he said. "Just make a fairly good first letter followed by the approximate number of uprights and down strokes with some of the cross-strokes for spice." It must have worked pretty good, Cheddar Vic tried to correct the spelling.    

Saturday, October 15, 2011


  Alright so I'm not momentarily nimble enough to Hacky the Clackey, but I still love to slap them around. They sound great and the dead-blow nature of the ball-o-caps slows down the action just enough to make it fun.

I've made a number of these balls-o-caps over the years, but I always tied them together with soft wire. I've recently mastered tying them up with string. Here's a few of the new ones.

  In the Acorn-Bamboo article I mentioned Poly. That excellent  shareware program shows 157 shapes. Crystallographic Polyhedra by Dr. Steffen Weber also shows several really cool ones. It's under the Wireframe Polyhera heading on his homepage  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


 Yeah one of those. Looks like it might make a pretty cool Christmas tree ornament huh? Good thing it's only mid October, it took about three hours to get this one done. After I figured out how to get the knots tight enough (hemostats) it went pretty smooth. 

 I love working with bamboo and acorns, but haven't thought of anything this interesting lately. I picked up most of the acorns in the Plush Neon Monkeys yard. Then I broke a bunch drilling the holes with an Xacto. Good thing I had a stash from past acorn projects.

 The bamboo was left over from earlier projects too. I made a whole bunch (two or three square feet) of bamboo beads, most of which split while drying. Mimosa sticks work good too. The seasonal growth is pretty soft, and has a pith core you can push out. We used to make beads out of them when we were little.

 I thought I was making a cube octahedron (intersections only) but I couldn't get the acorn caps to tie that close together. The symmetry I was after, was fours surrounded by threes. After I was done I looked for my symmetry on Poly, and found it in the Catalan solids list.

 During the assembly phase the model developed some weird tensions. It seemed like it was heading for the ditch, but I remembered the plastic strap rhombic triacontahedron Sarah (MillieKitty's human) and I assembled with pop-rivets. It developed such weird tensions that as we were getting close to closing it up, it pulled it's self into a wad. So this time I was confident that if I stuck with the symmetry and made sure all my fours were surrounded by threes eventually it would close up.

 Ok, its not a block but it is fun and thought provoking. Interpreting polyhedra is one my favorite things to play at. The plastic strap models were springy and cast cool shadows, and the pillow forms are just nice to have around. Gotta love a 32 sided pillow, eh?

  I used Jute twine cause I liked the color, but I realize now the knot tension thing would have been easier if I'd used elastic.The jute was a bit of a pain, but with a waxed end on it, getting it through the holes wasn't that bad. It definitely looks funky and organic.

Monday, August 29, 2011


They really were a bit  more interesting. Admittedly the pentagonal cylinders and tori were more challenging to produce, although accurate cubes turned out to be more challenging than expected. The linear polygons were a good bit easier than the toroidal ones. For all but the rhombic rods, the solution that we favored was to begin with a fat dowel. We laid the blanks against a scrap of plank and made a reference line lengthwise, and then matched up  the polygons on the ends. Using the same plank, marks from one polygon to the other marked where the points (edges) touched the surface. Then it was just whittling down the humps between the lines and sanding them, trying to leave the lines to the last then erasing them.

 The methods worked out for the smaller polygons came in handy when I started thinking about packing. How circles relate to polygons fascinated me and they seemed like they'd be a thought provoking bunch of blocks. Fitting the polygonal rings tight enough so they didn't slide down unless pushed was a slow tuning challenge. Thank goodness for self adhesive sandpaper sanding disks. Using the home made wood files I made we managed to get a pretty fun set going. Who knows how far this would have progressed if I hadn't burned up the vacuum cleaner using it to capture the dust coming off the band-saw. Oh well, the neighbors downstairs were good sports about my hours of hand sawing and chiseling but no doubt they'd had about a dose of my block mania. Chloe and Madison were great at testing and didn't mind that I kept showing up with grocery sacks full of new and odd kinds of blocks, but Amy, Niko and Jason though very helpful with the hours of hand-sanding were also ready to round off the block fest.

 Lately I've had my hands full organizing the Blocklogic section of  The Flatware County General Store. The retro collection just mentioned already rate a couple of mugs, but the arithmetic blocks (the Buffalo Mao collection) are so far the biggest part of this section.
With eleven so far, Mineral Comix # 47 still has a few more surprises in store.
 "Dem Bones," are a pair of blocks that started out to be dice. The idea of dice that had human skulls for numbers though strange seemed kinda fun, till i got well into the first one. You probably haven't counted the spots on dice, there's twenty one (each). Well before I finished the first one I was way tired of trying to find new and interesting ways to draw human skulls.

The thing is one dice (di, dye, whatever) isn't quite right, eh? Still the prospect of another few hours on a block I was already tired of, well maybe one die wasn't so bad.

Then I started looking at animal skulls. Awesome, so there was no way to make twenty one of them fit on a block less than two inches square. These animal skulls rock. The first challenge was picking six that I could fit on block faces, and the next was burning them in. 
 The Blocklogic section is due to be well represented in The Flatware County General Store. So far there are only 15 mugs in the Blocklogic section, but we're just scratching the surface. The Olmec, Toasters And Squid, The Okinawa Aquarium, and the Hamlin/Kelly block all seem like candidates, but I'm leaning toward the cornbread next I think.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Ok there they are. Since I was giving away my only color proofs of these two kaleidocycles, I figured I better get a picture up showing how they look assembled. The two printable Buffalo Mao kaleidocycles themselves and the assembly instruction tips I offered are in an older post, "Buffalo Mao and the Banned Dental Boop" post May1, 2010. I had to change the way I loaded the originals in the article to get them to print right for folding, this made them look lame in the article but they printed and folded great.

The bizarre critters above are from the excellent collection of flatware animals at Hoveyware. The black and white pictures of stainless steel tableware sculptures made an even better black and white kaleidocycle than the "Banned Dental Boop."  All of my kaleidocycles except the first "Buffalo Mao" one were made with the kaleidocycle maker at Foldplay.