Let’s Get Caught Up

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m always up to something. I’m hopelessly obsessed with learning, especially learning to make things. That’s one of the main purposes of this blog, to document my those adventures. And while I’ve been constantly making since the inception of this blog, I’ve done a poor job of documenting the things I’ve been working on. That’s about to change

I want to bring this blog current with an overview of the things I’ve been working on the last few years. So here’s a quick rundown of the things I’ve been doing.

The “s2duino” I developed. A single sided easy to make Arduino clone.

Electronics: A few years ago I caught the electronics bug, specifically, the microcontroller bug. But playing with and programming an Arduino wasn’t enough. I wanted to see how hard it would be to actually design and etch my very own Arduino clone. It turned out so well, I sent the design off to be professionally printed. The projects can be found here.

3D Printing: Then I discovered 3D printing after receiving a 3D printer from why wife for Christmas 2015. Wow! 3D printing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. That was three years ago, about the same time I started this particular blog. I’ve done a ton of 3D printing since then but sadly haven’t documented it much. Oh well, there is no time like the present. There are multiple things I’ve been working on that will show up here in the future.

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A ring made from a 1oz copper round. A round is a piece of made to look like a coin.

Lapidary, Jewelry, Engraving: Sometimes in 2016 I became interested in jewelry making including lapidary (a fancy word for shiny rocks), other forms of jewelry making and engraving. Truth be told, this is a rabbit hole I haven’t thoroughly investigated. I’ll most likely revisit it sometime.

Coin Rings: Later on in 2016 I decided that I wanted to learn to turn coins into Jewelry. Why? Well, blame it on Kickstarter. Back in February of 2014, I backed a campaign to produce coin rings for $20 each. It funded, but the guy never came through with his promise. Fast forward 3 years and I still wanted a ring made out of a coin. So what did I do? I learned to make them myself. That project cost me way more than $20, but now I can make all the coin rings I want, anytime I want. I even sell them on Etsy. I have some ideas coming up that revisit coin rings, so watch for that.

Abby: Abby came into our life in February of 2017. Keeping up with a dog that always wants to be moving isn’t always easy, but she’s a doll and we love her.

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James Jr. playing with Abby…
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Bee Keeping: Then in the spring of 2017 I was stung by beekeeping (in a good way). I started with two hives. Last year I expanded to three. Then at the end of last year, one unexpectedly died. Currently I’m back to two hives, but will probably be able to split one this spring and will most likely be back at three for the 2019 season. Beekeeping is a fun and fascinating hobby. And the rewards are often sweet.

I Ching: Last year I also discovered I Ching (often called Yijing) which is an ancient Chinese book of wisdom and divination technique. I Ching means Book of Changes. I was first made aware of it from watching the Amazon mini series, Man in the High Castle. As I looked into it, I found a very fascinating and historically rich book that imparts great wisdom to those that seek it. I’ve created some 3D printed implements to help in the use of it. One is on Etsy, and the other will be soon.

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Candy: At the end of last year I started watching a lot of YouTube videos about candy making, specifically ribbon candy. In December my daughter and I tried our hand at making some. What a fun experience! More of that is certainly on the horizon for us.

CNC Carving: I bought an X-Carve last year. X-Carve is a CNC router. What is a CNC router? Think of it as the opposite of a 3D printer. A 3D print adds material. A CNC router subtracts material. It has been a goal of mine to have a CNC for a long time and now I finally do. The assembly was not a fun experience. I found the assembly instructions left something to be desired. On the other hand, customer support is top notch and very responsive. The CNC will become a central figure in my maker studio.

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Wood Turning: My father-in-law, who passed away at the end of 2017 was a talented wood turner. I regret not having the opportunity to learn wood turning from him while he was alive. On the plus side though, I inherited his lathe. And so my goal for 2019 is to really put it to use and learn to turn. January was a very productive month for learning.

Wood Stabilizing, Resin Casting: Once I go down a rabbit hole, I usually don’t go half way. I explore every twist and turn. So naturally once I started to turn, I found that not only did I want to turn crazy looking acrylic, I wanted to learn to make make my own acrylic and acrylic/wood hybrid blanks.

Well, that brings me to the present. I’ve skipped over a few other projects I’ve worked on. If they become relevant, I’ll add a post at a later date.

Welcome to the “Art of Making It” Website

First posts are probably the hardest to write. Where do you start? At the beginning of course! But where does the beginning really begin? That’s the hard part…

It all started back in 1969 when my mother and father…wait…that is obviously a little too far back. Okay, fast forward a few years.

I’ve always loved making stuff. When I was a child and was given a coloring book, I was more interested in making more coloring books than in coloring in it. At the time, I had a hectograph, (Full disclosure…it was technically my brother’s hectograph) and I would take a page from my coloring book and make 10 or 20 copies.

I loved to dream up things to make, such as pretend robotic arms from rolled up cardboard, candy machines from shoe boxes, hacky sacks from scrap leather, Toobees out of empty soda cans. There seemed to be no end to what my imagination could dream up.

But sadly, back in the ’70s I lacked several things we take for granted today: Google, Amazon, UPS, micro-controllers and 3D printing to name a few. If I was a kid today, those dreams would be inventions!

Fortunately the day has come when we have the entire world at our finger tips. There is no limit for our imaginations. What’s limiting us now, ironically, is that we have too much. Our time is occupied by too many ideas. Our attention is cajoled, prodded or enticed in every direction. There are just too many avenues to explore.

Now I don’t mean to sound like a toothless old timer sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch, but back then, summer break was a time for exploring and invention. I watched way too much TV, but that just made my imagination sore. I remember watching Battle of the Planets and dreaming I could build the space ship from that show. Yes, I realized that it wouldn’t fly, but I wanted to play inside such an amazing craft.

Where am I going with this train of thought? Did I mention trains? Yes I did…I like trains. What’s so great about model trains? Is it because the train goes around the track again and again and again? I don’t think so…that part is somewhat boring, at least it is to me after about the second or third time around. I am much more interested in world building. And when I was a kid, model trains gave me the chance to create a tiny universe.

Speaking of world building, what about Dungeons and Dragons? I played that too. Is there any better way to use an imagination than to explore ruins and caves, fight ogers and trolls or make deadly decisions that wouldn’t actually hurt you?

Yes, the world was an open book back then. And it still is. Now anything one wants to learn has most likely been uploaded to YouTube. And with all this information available, where does that leave us? With endless possibilities and too many decisions.

So this blog is my way of deciding what to explore. It’s a place for me to go deep on a creative subject and geek-out at all the permutations of the maker movement. But this website is also going to be personal. Making it through life is an art. And I’m going to explore a few of the aspects of living that I feel would be helpful to you, my reader.

I’m here to share my journey on this road of creative discovery. This website is about where the rubber of my imagination meets the road of life. It’s about where I choose to put down stakes and jump a claim on the endless universe of making. My slogan is Make. Life. _________. (Fill in the blank with an appropriate adjective).