Proto-Droid – the robot of parts unknown

I like this little guy. He’s a droid of sorts, a robot made of leftover parts. Maybe a prototype: still figuring out where everything goes.

Weren’t the first real robots much the same: a little bit of this, and cut that shorter, file that off over there, and weld this to that … and there you have it.

Function, not form: he’s less concerned with movie-star looks than what he can do.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shake his snow globe and his world is electric with a shower of sparkling gold possibilities.

Rain Gear Water Globe

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s not a snow globe, it’s a rain globe.

I love the jaunty little step inside this globe, an example of the materials leading me to the design and not the other way around.

It started with the desire for a parasol. A real one, Victorian and lacy, which proved difficult to find except for bridal designs with floral lace, which wasn’t the edgy direction I wanted. So I started thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to get an umbrella, and then cut circles in the fabric, and fill them in with another pattern? Maybe I could crochet gears and make it more steampunk? (Wait, are crocheted gears even legal?) Never mind that I haven’t crocheted in years, and never crocheted with much success (although that yellow yarn halter was pretty cute until it shrunk after I ran through the sprinkler.) I could see this perfect parasol, with gear shapes instead of lace roses, it was going to be a stunner. That is, of course, once I acquired the parasol, cut it up, taught myself to crochet gears and affixed them perfectly. (Note to self: don’t use real metal gears on an umbrella skeleton, way too heavy.)

And then I got what can only be described as a hankering. More than a whim. Greater than an inspiration. It rumbled up from somewhere unexpected. A deep desire to make an umbrella of watch gears. To have real gears create the lace effect I wanted in real life. I got right to work, making the tiny skeleton of the parasol with six crossed pieces of gold wire. Then I began to fill the empty spaces between the ribs with tiny watch parts, watching as the illusion of lace appeared in the tiny frame. I loved it.

Then I stalled.  Completely. I loved the arching lacy gear top, but when I added a proper umbrella handle, it was just boring. Oh, hey, here’s a tiny umbrella.  Meh.

I set it aside and kept coming back to it every week or so, picking up the perfect lacy hemisphere and trying different parasol handles. I carved them out of wood, I twisted bits of metal, I adapted cocktail stirrers. Nothing looked right. I went on to other work, notably a sculpture with the working title of “I Love Shoe” … which was a haphazard and amusing (to me) piece made entirely of miniature shoes. And boots. Wait. Boots.

Bingo. I dug around for the tiniest pair of metal galoshes, rain boots that were looking for a purpose in life. Waiting patiently for their turn to shine and determined to make the most of it. The boots reminded me of a rainy afternoon decades before, I recalled taking my niece out once, splashing happily in the gutters during a rainstorm. Her joyous face at being allowed, no encouraged, to splash in the puddles. And in a happy inspiration, the Rain Gear sculpture took shape, with dangling robotic legs that reminded me of a Star Wars All Terrain Scout (the two-legged walker), and no torso or body whatsoever, just a happy pair of galoshes stomping in the rain with a lacy gear parasol overseeing the parade.

Yes, yes, I know. Technical purists note this is not a working robot: I didn’t add the guts, there’s no machine to make it walk, no artificially intelligent brain to tell the  crazy legs to do. There’s no basis in science, no mechanical reality. What can it do? I tell you, it’s pretty cool: every time I look at that brainless, carefree happy step, it makes me smile.

There’s no snow in this one,

it has iridescent dust,

silver sparkles and a

sprinkle of iridescent dots,

to catch the light

like a clean fresh rain.

They Will Always Find You – (tip of the hat to M.C. Escher)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gravity is SO over-rated.

My first attempts at stairways involved figuring out how to break the perspectives forced on us so gracelessly by gravity, and create a tiny world that would have made M. C. Escher proud.

Not that I’ve been there, done that, because I enjoy the results, but I decided to branch out. Escher tended to use similar looking people marching endless up and down stairs. And I had a thought: what else would be cool if gravity was random and up/down could be different for each participant? What if you took the staircase idea and made it a little more science fiction?

So I give you this custom snowglobe, with a twist on Escher’s drawings: “They Will Always Find You.”

In the interior of the globe, wrapped in floating gold dust, “They Will Always Find You” — massive robots scour the twisting stairways looking for someone. We’ve seen the movies, we’ve read the books; it rarely ends with the smart but plucky human outsmarting the robots for long. Once in a while (War of the Worlds maybe), if you sit really still, they might pass you by. But then a sneeze or a cough, or the stair squeaks, and … “They Will Always Find You.”

Since the original sculpture is only 2.75 tall, I’m showing you the insert piece and three angles of the finished waterglobe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.