Plotting a MAKEcation …

ShopBot has been keeping me pretty busy … for years. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a real vacation. Well … I’m not really the type that relaxes just doing nothing, but I have been wanting to take some time to do something a little different for me.

Different would be using a ShopBot to actually make stuff myself. You would think ?? But it’s the old story. Many hours working with ShopBots, but little time making anything. My thought is that I’m going to take a 6 week sabbatical, actually what you could call “MAKEcation” (a term coined by MAKE Magazine’s Phil Torrone for a vacation where one builds projects instead of sunbathing).

I’ve got two projects in mind. First, for a number of years I have been interested in developing a ShopBot-related art project. I’ll explain this a bit more below, but I’m thinking I’ll spend my mornings on this concept which I expect will involve some Aspire work and a lot of ShopBotting. My second project is the matter of finishing the little backyard plywood boat from which I was distracted to start work on ShopBot about 16 years ago. The boat, just a little 8′ pram, sits unfinished in our barn/shed. My hope is that there is enough left of it to make for interesting afternoons. Both of these projects have a bit of a story behind them. Part of the relaxation of this MAKEcation is going to be babbling about what I’m up to with each of them as I work along.

My vision for the art project is to create a type of painted, bas-relief marinescape/seascape (you notice the boat theme is pretty pervasive for me). I’ve always loved large, somewhat abstract, seascapes with lots of play of color and light. I imagine expressing something like this in relief, painted/stained onto wood. It may end up looking more like a hokey sign than art — but I’ve been looking forward to exploring what will evolve from these techniques.

My decked canoe in action at ShopBotter Graham Byrnes' 'messabout', Oriental NC.

My decked canoe in action at ShopBotter Graham Byrnes’ ‘messabout’, Oriental NC.

As I’ve attended Camp ShopBots over the last few years, I have tried to take along my Bill-Young-built-ShopBot-cut (Karl Stambaugh-designed), decked canoe that can be both sailed and paddled. I usually get some opportunity to explore the local waterways.

I’ve got a lot of pictures and sketches from on the water on these trips that I’m hoping to use as material for the imagery and starting points in this project. Here are a few examples:

Beaufort harbor, NC Camp

Beaufort harbor, NC Camp

Swamp, Orlando Camp

Swamp, Orlando Camp

Beach, CT Camp

Beach, CT Camp

Bay, FL Keys Camp

Bay, FL Keys Camp

Coast, NC Camp (hurricane year)

Coast, NC Camp (hurricane year)

Pacific, Maker Faire

Pacific, Maker Faire

pram_inBarn I hate to admit it, but the little ship that launched a thousand ShopBots has sat rotting in my barn since we started shipping those first, utility-strut ShopBots. But I’m hoping I’ll be able to resurrect it. I’ll need to find the old plans and do a lot of restoration just to get started. The pram design emerged from boat design software that I developed and sold about 20 years ago (with Joe Dominic). That’s how I met Bill Young. The boat also incorporates a new type of joint (new 16 years ago) for boat building that I’ll also describe. It’s not an idea that has caught on … but if I explain it well enough here — you never can tell.In foreground, the unfinished and deteriorating pram in its building jig. In the background you can see fleet of Bill Young-built small boats (blue decked canoe and white 1-man canoe, I believe Bill still provides Part Files for a similar canoe).
barnshop The barn/workshop is a bit of a disaster. Partly lack of attention from me, and also because my wife Sallye who uses our ShopBot that is housed there almost constantly, embraces a different level of organization than I am comfortable with. Bottom line is that I’ll probably need to spend the first week of my MAKEcation getting things set up the way I’d like. That’ll may include a Retro-Z upgrade to our PRTstandard (the original prototype — still hard at work) as a kind of present to myself. My plan is to start September 15 and MAKEcation until the end of October. I’m looking forward to finally doing a little ShopBotting … (more to come)

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