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#a58 :: Grinding wheels

April 11, 2008

ENLARGEClamps (spring, plastic, steel), drill bits (metric, English), dental picks and scrapers, pottery sculptors, socket wrenches (metric, English), hammers, screwdrivers (slotted, Philips, Torx), scales (analog, digital), scissors, pliers (needlenose, cutting, stripping), locking pliers (needlenose, small, large), wrenches (box, open, ratcheting), rulers (brass, steel, aluminum, 12-inch, 24-inch, 48-inch), forceps, scalpels, magnifiers (10x, 2x8x, folding, pocket, dual-lensed – and grinding wheels like this.

The tool vendors at L.A.’s swap meets load these and hundreds more tools of every description into plastic bins, set them out beneath easy-up shelters and sell them to geeks like me for what – in America – would be pennies on the dollar.

These glittering wheels are meant to be used with Dremel tools. I have literally no idea how I’ll use them, but when I do, the metal heads coated with fine abrasive grit will make them the perfect tools for the job.

Filed under: Fetish, Tool | Comments (0)

#a57 :: Chinese clock key

April 10, 2008

ENLARGEI have too many projects.

Let alone the fun, engaging day job, the kids, the still-not-build-logged-but-almost-done basement studio renovation and this little site, I always seem to take in orphans, hoping to nurture them to completion.

My latest is an antique ukelin – an obscure 1920s stringed instrument that – I learned to my amazement the other day via Google – is meant to be simultaneously bowed and plucked … (more…)

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a56 :: Atwood Tactical Whistle

April 10, 2008

ENLARGEPeter Atwood hand-makes the most exquisite pocket tools.

I discovered his work last summer via Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools newsletter.

That one post, and a subsequent re-post at BoingBoing made the New England tinker suddenly rock-star famous – and made his marvelous little wrenches, knives, prybars and uncategorizable nifties virtually impossible for anyone with a day-job or without an industrial-strength web-bot to snag:

The moment Atwood hand-finishes a batch of tools and posts their availability, they’re snapped up and treasured – or by some of the more unscrupulous, flipped straight onto eBay where they enjoy a sizeable markup.

I was lucky enough to buy two of his tools before fame put that barrier between his work and his fans (there’s no barrier with him personally – he’s an industrious and extremely affable blogger – Hi, Peter!) and I can’t decide which tool is my favorite … (more…)

Filed under: Fetish, Instrument, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a55 :: Yoda handlebar ornament

April 8, 2008

ENLARGEI’m actually a little proud of this. I built one for everyone in our camp at Burning Man a couple years ago to mount on their handlebars:

I found a box of little “crystal” Yoda figure kits for a quarter apiece at a flea market. I glued each together, drilled the base out and inserted a high-output Chinese LED.

I then wired the LED with alligator clips, running the wire through holes I drilled in a chunk of yellow-mirrored Plexiglas I had sitting around from a previous Burning Man
(more…)

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Miniature, Part | Comments (0)

#a54 :: Contest entry envelope

April 8, 2008

ENLARGEMy son and I are running parallel these days on the scales of work and hope.

He really needs to win this Lego contest. Design your own Mars Mission kit, write something about it, win the sweepstakes.

He’s put *days* into typing a 400 word essay and taking photos of his creation, and now he’s folded it all up into an envelope, carefully addressed it and set it out to be mailed this morning.

I really need my current project to succeed. We’ve built this little application on which ride the corporate hopes and reputations of an enormous charity and an equally enormous community site. Now we’ve done most of the design and development and bugfixing. And we’re working through bugs while waiting for it to launch, about six hours from now. (Details to follow).

It’s past midnight. Mike Watt’s transcendent “Contemplating the Engine Room” is moving me through the night.

And my son is sleeping downstairs.

Filed under: Artifact, symbol | Comments (1)

#a53 :: Quail call

April 6, 2008

ENLARGEThe sound gusted through him just before he staggered back and sat down hard in the marsh grass.

A boom – probably a 12-gauge – arrived milliseconds after the shot caught him full in the chest and knocked him onto his heels. Funny, the delay. Kind of funny how that works.

Who in god’s name would be out taking game birds with a cannon like that? Sonsabitches. God.

He began a swift inventory – Face, head – no blood. Chest – some, but no organs punctured – he couldn’t be sure.

And this thing in his hand – an elegant little sandwich of Bakelite and chromed steel around a taut membrane of fabric.

He had blown into it – just before he was shot.

His father had given it to him: “This is a good call, once you learn how to use it.” And then his father showed him how real it sounded. “You just have to practice.”

And he had blown into it, and then the … God. So much blood in the water.

The dog bounded over to lap his face. Then he saw the blood jumping from the inside of his thigh. He pulled himself up onto his elbows, breathing hard. The dog barked.

He blew an alarm cry from the little zeppelin of antique plastic. Maybe José would come.

Before he passed out, he patted the dog one last time, and exhaled, sagging back into the marsh, where water seeped cold down his neck, and pants, and boots.

Maybe I shouldn’t have practiced so well.

Maybe …

Filed under: Instrument, Microfiction, Objet, Tool | Comments (0)

#a52 :: Tattoo needle & inks

April 5, 2008

ENLARGEThis evening, Justin (this gifted gentleman) used these to finish my arm (front | side | three-quarter | full | video).

Not just fantastic work. Deep art.

Filed under: Adornment, Art, Tool | Comments (2)

#a51 :: Digital keychain

April 4, 2008

ENLARGEPicture this object surfacing in the late 1800s.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistiguishable from magic.”

Arthur C. Clarke really mattered. He’s gone now, leaving behind a legacy of important work, good stories, and one of the great epigrams of modern civilization.

This thing is as trivial as it is powerful. It can play four or five dozen low-rez images in a slideshow with checkerboard dissolves. But how does that do much more  than enchant, on a snapshot-as-fetish level?

When the price drops and these are cranked out in China by the millions, I want to create a pocket gallery of about 2,000 of these, sending out each one full of images in the pockets of friends and strangers, and think of it walking or dangling from steering columns all over the world, slowly being scratched by keys.

Filed under: Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a50 :: Blown halogen bulb

April 3, 2008

ENLARGEIn the end, when I’m dead and this blog has vanished – along with the servers that hold it and the culture that cared about any of it – this manufactured object will still be here.

Somewhere, at the bottom of a moldering heap of trash, its component atoms of silicon and tungsten will still hold this shape.

Its filament will stay coiled – and snapped by the heat and stress of its short life. Waiting inside its micro-vacuum capsule of glass. For eternity.

Somewhere else on earth, hollows will remain to mark its creation. Gaps in the environment will never be filled: sand beaches, tungsten mines, and all those sapped pockets of oil that powered the bulb-making machines, warmed and entertained the workers who ran them and fueled the trucks that brought it to our home to burn and shine and die.

Nothing else will remain to tell the story of how this thing came to be – but the thing itself, and the holes it left behind.

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, Part | Comments (0)

#a49 :: Little rubber robot

April 2, 2008

ENLARGEThe great joy I find in chibi, or “superdeformed” heroes is, as Lou Reed sings, the power of the sun “shrunk to the size of a nickel.”

Lou is talking about something entirely different (radiation for cancer treatment), but the image is the same:

Here, a mighty robot some 60 metres high is squashed – his (her?) powerful turbines, enormous gun and blast shield reduced in size and proportion – to a chubby plug of microsculptured silicone barely 2 inches tall.

As always with so many pop-cult fetish objects, he was meticulously hand-painted in China. He may or may not be a Gundam variation. I’m not geek enough to say.

Filed under: Fetish, Miniature, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a48 :: Fishin’ reel

April 1, 2008

ENLARGE
Vinny and I went fishing once. My best buddy since 6th grade A/V duty, my (then) future best man. My good friend.

Out in his scruffy little 18-foot runabout with the asthmatic Evinrude – or was it a Yamaha – in Long Island Sound.

We set out from New London mid-morning, fortified with a cooler full of beer and sandwiches and a boxful of old sea tackle.

Swacked by a wicked sinus infection, I was popping 12-hour time-release decongestants, which slowly did the trick, so I felt well enough to sail.

The wind and sea were fair, the air about 75 degrees. It was a damn nice day for catching bluefish …
(more…)

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool | Comments (1)

#a47 :: Styrofoam real estate

March 31, 2008

ENLARGELittle punch-out strips of styrofoam, imprinted with brick, stucco, tile, wood and glass.

They’re a child’s plaything, a kitsch archetype, a metaphor for the insubstantial fragility of the current real estate market.

So many hopes and dreams, hanging upon such a breakable substance, basically consigned to the four winds upon its manufacture. Build a house. Don’t let it blow away.
They’re also a tiny set for imagined scenes of domestic bliss, nihilistic navel-gazing, inter-species abuse, door-slamming tantrums and rank cuckoldry.

By aping our homes, they are our homes. Oh, the stories these tiny buildings could tell, had they but mouths.

Filed under: General | Comments (0)

#a46 :: Scissors sharpener

March 30, 2008

0330081.jpgBanks used to do cleverer things to get your money than yell at you through mass media.

Die-cut a couple of chunks of pasteboard, glue them together around a snip of steel rod, and print helpful instructions and your brand name onto the thing. And hey, maybe someone will remember you fondly the next time their scissors get dull.

They moved on to credit cards and sub-prime mortgages and other wacky stunts, and they left useful ephemera like this behind.

I’m going to guess this is older than 1960, but so timeless is the font, I can’t place it any more precisly than that. I wonder how well it works, but hey, all our scissors are pretty sharp.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a45 :: Chain mail

March 29, 2008

032908.jpgI think I must be magnetic.

I yearn for metal. I gather it to me, carry it around.

Half my keyring actually functions. The other half is clogged with crap that won’t fit in my pocket genteelly, but weighs heavy in pocket and hand, delighting my fingertips.

This handsome chunk of stuff was hand-made by a RenFaire artist out of 96 pre-split, ready-to-assemble stainless-steel rings. It is dense, and heavy, and so close to hand most of the time that it feels a part of me. Supple, yet iron-hard in the right configuration, it defies me not to play with it.

Best 11 bucks I ever spent.

Filed under: Art, Fetish, Objet, symbol, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a44 :: LED keychain lights

March 28, 2008

032808.jpgI won’t say I hate the dark so much as I love light.Fumbling in the dark for anything breeds frustration, fear and needless aging – even if it is only a matter of seconds.

But all those seconds stack up, so it’s best to go prepared or spend your last few deathbed seconds wondering why you never had light when you really needed it – such as, during your last few deathbed seconds.

Used to be, you had to spend $12 or $15 on this sort of thing.

Now, you can get 10 of these little keychain sunbeams for $4.68 at DealExtreme, the crazy-insane Chinese gizmo-mart I’ve mentioned before.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a43 :: Paste jewel

March 27, 2008

032708.jpgThe azure promise of bogus gems. So alluring.

I’m listening to Roy Orbison’s “Leah” right now, and falling right into this one’s watery depths.

Filed under: Adornment, Fetish, Part | Comments (0)

#a42 :: Baby tooth

March 26, 2008

032608.jpg“Until you have kids, you’ll never understand.”

That’s what my fuckup-addict high school classmate and ex-best-friend once said (after he accidentally fathered his second child by a woman he didn’t love, after he burned every last bridge but one between us. But before he ended his pain one dark night by steering himself into the high-speed, head-on crash that killed him).

It was the truest thing Scott ever said – even if whatever he had snorted, injected or drunk at the moment completely obliterated the real context of the statement.

Eight years after my son was born, I understand so much – including the knowledge that the more I understand, the less I realize I know … (more…)

Filed under: Artifact, Jetsam, symbol | Comments (0)

#a41 :: Handmade mosquito

March 25, 2008

032508.jpgMosquitos the size of hummingbirds. Mosquitos the size of skillets. Mosquitos the size of fuckin’ weimaraners.

Hyperbole always fails when you need to get your friends to understand just how buggy your weekend was.

You show them welts, you groan about the itch. You make up stories about the size of the bloodsuckers.

But in the end, only you experienced the silent assault. Only you waved your hands impotently at the insistent whine of the female, unable to fend it off because you couldn’t even see the wispy-grey little monsters.

Only you suffered the flat-out fuck-you insult of an engorged mosquito lifting off from your now-punctured forehead just seconds before you felt the bite and slapped the place where it was feeding … (more…)

Filed under: Fetish, Model, Objet, symbol | Comments (0)

#a40 :: New $5 bill

March 24, 2008

032408.jpgMoney is like weather: It shapes the tides on which ride our dreams and lives, yet we often ignore its true nature.

“Crap, it’s raining” is to “Crap, I’m poor” as our planet’s ecosystem is to the new $5 bill: Until you stop focusing on what it’s worth, you miss the complex beauty of what it is.

U.S. mints began pumping the new $5 bill into circulation about 10 days ago – packed with anti-counterfeiting gimmicks. Microprint, ultraviolet-sensitive threads, surface embossing, multiple hidden watermarks – it’s a wonder the damn things don’t cost at least $5 each to make, so extravagant is the technology and craft behind them.

Our cash is no longer dull, green and filthy. Our tax dollars are at work, making more of our tax dollars. Our money is art. Yours?

Filed under: Art, Objet, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a39 :: Rubber dinosaur

March 23, 2008

032308.jpgHe’s a little feller. Inch long, tops.

Someone took a swipe at his eye and mouth areas with a 2-hair brushful of gold.

Came out of an Easter egg that one of us hid in the bushes this morning, until my son found him.

And gave him back to me.

Filed under: Found Object, Objet, Toy | Comments (0)

#a38 :: Bicycle chain

March 22, 2008

032208.jpgSome objects hide brute power in the repetitive grace of their sturdy, small parts.

The leaves and pins of a bicycle chain have a piddling weight when separate. Chips of steel barely worth ignoring.

Assemble them, and they can move a 220-pound man up a 1,400-foot mountain one morning a week to gape at the sunrise.

This thing’s been kicking around my desk forever – the cobbled-together remnants of several chain replacements. Prime fiddling tackle, to be sure.

Filed under: Part, Toy | Comments (0)

#a37 :: Urchin

March 21, 2008

0321081.jpgThe alarm whirred her up from a dead, dreamless, liquid-black sleep.

Solo Salvage. Fuck. She was supposed to be an interceptor pilot.

Not rifling vacked hulks for osmosis pods and pocket jewels.

Not jerking awake from cryo every two weeks, hung-over and disoriented, 19 light years from the outer spiral rim of nevermind, over and over and over again.

Not subsisting on year-old hypercast signals and stale V-mails and MREs and Emo-Stat patches.

Not. Fucking. Salvage … (more…)

Filed under: Fetish, Microfiction, Objet | Comments (0)

#a36 :: Mimobot

March 20, 2008

032008.jpgWhen it comes to urban vinyl, I’m a dry drunk.

I walk through Munky King or KidRobot and drool.

I never buy anything in the $125.00 range, nor even the $9.00 range, never pick anything up to hold it or ask to see something in the case. I shuffle around the shop, hands shoved into pockets, shoulders hunched, staring into case upon case full of exotically painted (and priced) vinyl caricatures and … just … drool … (more…)

Filed under: Art, Fetish, symbol, Tool, Toy | Comments (1)

#a35 :: Hostess orange cupcakes

March 19, 2008

0319081.jpgThis guilty pleasure dates back to age 10, if not farther.

I indulge whenever I’m racing through a convenience store and jonesing for sugar that’s gentler than a candy bar, yet more hardcore than Skittles or a pack of gum:

A thick hat of fudgy yellow frosting curlicued with white icing atop spongy nonbaked cake, injected with a squirt of gelid, unnaturally white goo called “creamy filling.”

They were in there just a minute ago. Honest.

Filed under: Edible, Jetsam | Comments (0)

#a34 :: Goth fetish beads

March 18, 2008

031808.jpg At some point, cool morphs into kitsch – and kitsch into drooling fan-dork overkill.

With these tiny metal sculptures, the balancing game happens at around six or seven.

A single bead on a chain – an itty-bitty skull carved into the muscle end of an animal claw and cast in metal – feels very cool, as if it’s a talisman against rat attacks or spider bites.

Add a couple more, string them on black cord – even cooler. The handful of them ripples pleasantly when you shake them, a sine-wave tinkle that tickles your fingertips … (more…)

Filed under: General | Comments (0)


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