Did you get a chance to check out the 8-legged walking spider this year at Maker Faire Vancouver? Well, the organization that put that project together is moving forward full steam on another project – which will be a giant moving snake.
Charlie Brinson from eatART has put together a kickstarter campaign to help fund his most recent creation, Titanaboa. Want to see a giant snake in Vancouver in the near future? Charlie needs your help! Check out his video below and learn more.
Metro Diverse Services is a 3-person team specializing in unique fabrication projects for monumental art or for architectural and landscape decoration. They are sponsoring this year’s Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, and will be showing off their elegant walking machine. Learn more about the project in the interview below, and check out the video if you want to see it work its magic!
1. What exactly is a Panterragaffe, and how did you guys come up with the name?
Based on Theo Jansen‘s Kinetic art, Panterragaffe is a pedal powered two person walking machine, a walking bicycle. The name has a few elements to it. It’s a play on pantograph, which is a mechanism for copying drawings, since it’s similar to the leg mechanism. Also; Pan – all or spanning. Terra – earth. Gaffe – an unintentional act causing embarrassment to it’s originator or just goofy-ness. A bit of goofy-ness for everybody. To most people the name doesn’t mean anything, therefore its meaning is flexible.
2. Do you have any previous experience building things?
We make our living from designing, building and fabricating. All of us have hands on experience in our backgrounds, from construction and manufacturing to sculpture, jewelry, and photography. We also have virtually every skill set covered from software and coding to welding and metal casting. It’s shorter to say we’ve never laid bricks, but we know we could.
3. How did you know that you would be able to make a structure like Panterragaffe, and what was the driving force behind it?
None of us are the “let’s ask for permission” types. Our biggest problem isn’t deciding what we can do, it’s having the time to do all the things we know we CAN do. Panterragaffe was conceived from the beginning as a public exhibition piece. It’s purpose had shock value and public participation in mind from the start. After building a seven inch prototype, it was clear that a mobile entertainment platform was possible. It was only a small step after that to decide to add a power source, music and lighting to suit events. The rough frame allows us to add character coverings, Panterragaffe can dress up differently ever time it goes out. Hence the flexible name.
4. How does it work? I mean, I understand that it’s pedal-powered, but it looks as though there are some pretty advanced mechanics going on there. How does each leg know how to go forwards or backwards at a given time?
The legs are based on a mechanism made popular by the kinetic sculptures off Theo Jansen in Holland. We didn’t have access to drawings, so it took us 13 months of spare time and 3 iterations to reverse engineer them. There are two leg boxes containing three pairs of legs each, spanned by a bench for two pedalers. Three pairs of legs are required to ensure there are enough points of contact with the ground for stability. Each side is driven by a crank shaft, which is in turn driven by pedals and one of the riders. There are two leg boxes and pedalers to allow steering. Similar to a skid-steer loader, one person stops pedaling while the other keeps going and you turn a corner. The feet are heavy steel cups that are allowed to spin something like casters, helping to reduce the friction on corners.
In this configuration it requires smooth hard ground, but we’re working on a modification to the mechanism to pick the feet up higher with each step. We should then be able to walk on grass and slightly irregular ground.
5. Can you talk a bit about construction? I assume there was some welding involved, is that right? Do you have anything to add that would pique the interest of the technically-inclined?
It’s made entire of mild steel, with ball bearing joints and pivots. The bench and two leg boxes are three separate pieces, held together with hitch pins for easy transport. It weighs nearly 700 pounds loaded without passengers.
The legs are only 1/2 inch square tubing with 1/16 inch wall thickness. This material bends very easily, but with careful leg design we were able to use this extremely small tubing to reduce weight and present a lighter appearance.
It’s very common for new Makers to over build. There are lots of monstrously heavy prototypes out there. Using conventional wisdom, this machine could easily have ended up weighing over a ton. It’s easy to build test pieces and do a little destructive testing before you build.
6. Where do you store it? I assume that you have a studio, but where does it live?
Panterragaffe lives in our manufacturing studio in West Vancouver. We do all of our design and fabrication in one building, practically under the Lions Gate Bridge. Our neighbours can’t here our noise over the sound of the traffic on the bridge, so it’s the perfect spot.
Want a bike that glows so that you can fight for the user? Or better yet, for safety and visibility? A few members at the Vancouver Hack Space have recently put together an EL wire Glow Bike kit. What’s a kit you ask? Basically, VHS’ers purchased supplies in bulk needed to create this contraption – and are also interested in teaching people how to put the kit together – with some basic soldering knowledge. If you’re interested in the kit, and also learning how to make it, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and read this post for more details on ordering information, and how to get yours today.
If you don’t want to purchase a kit but want to learn how it’s done, we’ve made an instruction manual free of charge.
Happy International Yarn Bombing Day! In honour of International yarn bombing day, today’s feature is dedicated to the Museum of Vancouver’s Youth Council, Concrete Expression.
Museum of Vancouver Youth Council, Concrete Expression:
Combining street art, recycling, plastic bags, and the time-honoured tradition of yarnbombing, the Museum of Vancouver’s inaugural Youth Council brings their exhibit, Concrete Expressions, to Maker Faire Vancouver. An intensive group of young creative minds aged 16-18 from around Vancouver, members of the MOV Youth Council discussed ideas of sustainability, youth culture in Vancouver, and street art before coming up with the idea to ‘yarnbomb’ the iconic crab statue in front of the Museum of Vancouver. The Youth Council is excited share their exhibit, engage Vancouverites with their colourful 25-foot plastic yarn scarf, and provide demonstrations on how you can turn your own plastic bags into a recycled work of art.
I read that you design and make handcrafted, heirloom-quality furniture. What makes a piece heirloom-quality?
An heirloom is more than just something old, it is a special object which has been selected to carry on a family legacy. I provide a service for people looking to invest in a unique piece of furniture that will enrich their journey. By using traditional and proven construction methods, I can guarantee a piece will hold up and always be a part of ones family history.
What is your creative process when developing an idea?
I employ different methods depending on the situation. When I’m making a speculative piece, I let my imagination go and experiment with whatever strikes me. I have recently become enamored with the simple yet intimate designs produced by Scandinavian designers durning the 40′s and 50′s. I’m especially crazy about Finn Juhl so I made a chair based on one of his designs. That chair and one other Danish inspired piece will be on show at the Maker’s Faire. For custom pieces, I work with clients and explore their values and dreams and that information becomes the inspiration. Once I’ve established what the goal of the piece is, I’m guided by my three musses: human stories, the materials with which I create, and the practice of exploration.
Some of the work on your website is somewhat quirky. There’s the table with the inlaid silver tank and a three-legged chair. Yet other pieces are quite classic. Is there a style that you identify more with?
Oddities capture my attention and I love to play. Through intentional exploration, I bring my own sense of quirkiness and originality to my works. I feel it’s a playfulness that complements the more formal aspect furniture has in our lives and I use this whenever I see it as being appropriate. But some pieces defy quirkiness soI don’t identify with one style more than another. I just follow the inspiration and see what happens.
Shannon Harvey of Monkey100 and chalk xchange is a socially engaged artist, with a career spanning community murals, theatre, installation and artist residencies. She sees Monkey100 as an extension of this work: an engagement through the arts to instigate dialogue and positive change. At Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, she will be leading a silkscreening workshop, and will have a selection of bamboo/cotton tshirts on display. Here’s a bit of what she has to say about Monkey100:
I created Monkey100 five years ago as a public art project. With a background in murals and collaborative projects, I was interested in finding ways to reach a wider audience on issues that were important to me. I chose the name Monkey100 based on the 100th monkey story which is essentially a parable of how critical mass is achieved. I loved the idea of every person’s potential to ‘be that 100th monkey’, the tipping point for massive social change.
As a kid, I had learned screen-printing from my Mother, and found it was a relatively inexpensive way to reproduce an image. I started with the Fossil Fuel Series of prints, illuminating the fossils behind our fuel. Over time, the designs have grown and expanded covering issues of local ecology and bicycle culture. I’ve sold and exhibited them at art markets, events, and stores throughout Vancouver. I’ve been inspired to keep going by the conversations the designs have sparked and the absolute love people have expressed for them.
Right now, I’m working on a series of silk-screened Animal Icon posters featuring portraits of local agricultural producers and the animals they work with. I’m also a Board member with the popular Eastside Culture Crawl, and have recently started a community arts space in Strathcona for people who want to share knowledge and make things together (chalkx.com). I’m looking for interested folks who would like to teach workshops or classes in any creative medium.
Shannon also runs a creative neighbourhood space in Strathcona, known as Chalk Xchange. Workshops and classes are hosted in the spirit of promoting an exchange of ideas. See some photos below and check out some of their upcoming classes and workshops.
Daisy is the world’s largest solar powered tricycle. Made in California by master inventor and fabricator Professor Bob Schneeveis from the medical department of Neurobiology at Stanford University, Daisy resides in Vancouver at the eatART hangar.
In three sentences, would you please sum up the goals and activities of the Knot Tying Guild? From the guild website:
We are an educational non-profit making organisation dedicated to furthering interest in practical, recreational and theoretical aspects of knotting. Our aim is to preserve traditional knotting techniques and promote the development of new techniques for new material and applications. We attend public events to advertise the Guild and its work, and conduct talks and demonstrations by arrangement with interested groups.
Note that the “theoretical aspects of knotting” mentioned above is not, y’know, Knot Theory.
It’s an international guild, and you’re part of the Pacific Americas Branch. What are some locally focused projects? What about international projects? The guild’s main focus is teaching and general proselytizing, so its main activity is sending delegations to (usually) boat-related or scouting type festivals. Many members teach workshops or classes. A surprising (or not?) number of members have authored books, made instructional videos, websites, and apps. Members have consulted on movies, TV shows, novels, and historical re-creation events (both for entertainment and scientific research purposes).
What first got you excited about knots? I first got interested in knots way back in grade 6 when I was visiting relatives in Taiwan (no specific dates, ha!). My college-age cousin who was supposed to be entertaining me gave me a Chinese knotting book and some string. As they say, the rest is history.
What keeps you excited? Ok, this will date me: for the longest time there was no information in English about Chinese knotting with the single exception of “Chinese Knotting” by Lydia Chen. Part of the story that is told in that book is that the art of knotting nearly died out for lack of participants as the cultural revolution on the Mainland and the drives to modernize elsewhere left people little time for that humble little folk craft. But Ms. Chen got obsessed and went around interviewing surviving practitioners and recording what she found. It offended me that part of my cultural heritage was nearly lost due to craft secrecy and lack of proper recording and sharing practices, so a few years later I set about assembling a learning resource for Chinese knotting on the newfangled world wide web as a public service, more or less.
These days decorative Asian knotting has achieved a fairly low-key form of success in the English-speaking West, with a number of books written and the occasional magazine article. A more mature web brings the scattered pockets of practitioners together, but there’s still a gap between Asian and Western knotters due to the language issues. While I can’t actually read Chinese (or Japanese or Korean), a working knowledge of the subject matter allows me to sift the blogs and forums of decorative knot tyers in China and Japan for new and/or interesting developments, not to mention research new book releases in China and Taiwan (Japan and Korea, too) which I share with the Guild (plus the rest of the Anglophone world on my website and blog. Plus I like to think that my independent research and experimentation efforts occasionally contribute new things to the general body of knowledge.
I tie my shoes. Well, I tie some of my shoes. Those are pretty much the only knots I tie. What will I learn about knots when I stop by your booth at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire? What would you like to learn? 8-) We will have a display of both practical and decorative knots for you to inspect and admire. We will have a selection of make-and-take projects for you to try your hand at. If you have any specific questions about particular knots or knotty applications, we will do our best to answer, discuss, teach or demonstrate if we know. We will occasionally demonstrate the making of rope.
Say you found yourself stranded on a deserted island and were able to fashion ropes from grasses you found. Would you prioritize applying your knot-tying skills to using your ropes to build shelter, or to build a vessel to sail away? Being a complete land lubber, I’d stick with shelter.
Kim Werker interviewed Bob Cook, one of the organizers of the Vancouver Robotics Club.
In just three sentences, what’s the Vancouver Robotics Club all about? The Vancouver Robotics Club is an informal group of hobbyists who share a passion to make robots! We meet once a month to exchange ideas, show off our creations, and encourage more robot building.
What’s your role in the club? What about robotics excites you? I’m one of the club organizers, looking after the website, mailing list, and try to do my part to encourage more robot building. I find the combination of mechanics, electronics and software (the three basic building blocks for robots) really interesting, with many new things to learn all the time. It’s really rewarding to make something that can have a “life of its own” – even when it drives itself into walls all the time.
I take it you don’t have to be a robot to join – is membership open to anyone who’s interested? Robotics experience required? Membership is open to robot builders of all ages and experience levels. Most of our members are working professionals with some experience in software or electronics. On occasion we’ll have tutorials or workshops, but often our meeting discussions are of the kind “let me show you what I’ve made” or “wow how did you make that?” Everyone is encouraged to share their knowledge and skills.
What will the VRC be showing off at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire? What’s your piece de resistance? Will you have any hands-on materials people will be able to learn with? We’ll be showing off the typical line-following and mini sumo robots that people can build themselves with only a moderate investment of money and time. These are autonomous robots that “think” for themselves (rather than remote-controlled toys), and are great to build as a first project. We’ll likely be showing off some larger, more complex robots too. Club members will be on hand to give lots of demos, talk about how each robot works, and how people can get started to build their very own.
Which fictional robot do you find more impressive, or at least more companionable – Rosie from The Jetsons or R2D2 from Star Wars? Ah, excellent and very difficult question! Rosie certainly has a charming personality and certainly could keep my workshop tidy (something I’m really terrible at – most days it looks like a tornado came through). On the other hand, R2D2 seems to have a quick wit and an excellent sense of humour. At least it sounds that way (requires a bit of an imagination, with all those whistles and pops). He is quite good at getting around – most robots only have legs or only have wheels, but he has both. And R2D2 seems to have no problem navigating deserts, swamps or space stations. Better than a GPS!
For Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, Rachael will be displaying some of her recent altered book artwork made from old books and recycled materials. She will also be demonstrating some of the techniques she uses to make her book art, as well as paper cuts, and exploring making sculpture from the reclaimed cardboard of toilet paper rolls. Check out a timelapse of her work, and read a bit about what she has to say about her work below!
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My name is Rachael Ashe, and I am an emerging artist working in photography, collage, and altered books. I work on all of my projects in a small home studio located in East Vancouver.
Photography has always been my primary focus, but for the past couple of years I’ve been exploring paper-based art forms such as collage and book arts. I create fine art three-dimensional assemblage collage pieces that combine found objects, recycled paper, natural objects, etc. with old discarded books. These altered books are an endless source of fascination and inspiration for me because I feel there is an unlimited potential for creating interesting work by modifying books through cutting, folding, rolling, and collage.
Creating altered book art is as much about the process as it is about experimenting with the materials I’ve used to create each work. I often start with a rough idea of something I wish to explore which can be inspired by the objects or materials I have on hand, or by ways in which I want to alter the pages of the book itself. The composition and material choices for each book evolves as I work on them, often over several days. It’s a process I find very stimulating.
Book arts have led me to explore using recycled paper materials in different ways in my work. An on-going project I have in development is to create a large-scale installation from cardboard toilet paper rolls. I was inspired by the work of Junior Fritz Jacquet and Yuken Teruya, two artists who create beautiful work from this material. They opened my eyes to the potential of making something wonderful from even the most mundane household object.
I have most recently exhibited my work at Container Art, the CreativeMix Conference, and during the 14th Annual Eastside Culture Crawl. I am currently working on a series of altered books inspired by fairy tales which will be on display at Seymour Gallery in June 2011.