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I am talking to you… through the internet!

I forgot to mention the rewards such as limited etchings on brass, paintings, and the like – but, if you’d like to know more, we’ve got a writeup about the project here:

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My first Video ever: It’s terrible! You’re welcome!

Because we needed video up for The Infernal Device‘s kickstarter page, and didn’t have one, I decided to do a workshop video to talk about progress on the model. Problem being that I did not have any camera person to move the camera to key points like… I don’t know… my head, the model, the table of gears.

Still, I am proud of it – if not simply because I managed to not wear a helmet with blue spandex, nor am I waving a frisbee about.

If you would like to know just what the hell I am going on about in this video, you can see images of the parts we’ll be using, the part of the model already built, progress pics of building this drum, pictures of us and our works, and actual things about the Device and why we’re building it, details about our ArtPrize bid, all at

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Our Kickstarter was approved and launched yesterday, and you can find it here: Our KickStarter Page

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a perfect addition to our community project feel, in that it allows fellow art lovers to become a part of our project, while receiving rewards for their participation.

Gifts offered for donations starting as low as $1 begin at our sincere thanks, and go as high as being painted into the artwork itself – with many, many levels in between at $5, $10, etc…

If you do not have a dollar to pitch in at the moment, we completely understand, and would appreciate your help in simply forwarding on the link to others. All those little donations matter greatly, especially when friends and friends of friends are chipping in.

On a sidenote: If you would like to hep out in other ways, from donating junk from your garage, to being there for the hands-on work such as the build, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us through our contact form, linked at the top of this page.

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Work with me here

I am seeking two people who live in Grand Rapids, or are willing to travel to Grand Rapids for the Artprize competition/event.

Most importantly, those people would be able to be here during Artprize, Late September through early October, or at least be able to transport their part of the project before the event begins. Preferably, they would live in the region and be able to work on the project right here – that work period being from May through September.

This would be a collaborative project, with winnings split evenly between collaborators, should we win. Expenses would be covered by whatever sponsors we can find, and I’ll be seeking space to work in, in addition to the perfect venue for our work – hopefully one that will yield the most visitors.

The types of artists/artisans I need are as follows:

A plumber, or preferably someone who has experience and tools to weld brass, and feels they can do so imaginatively. Bonus points if you have some experience with functional structure and moving parts.

An Architectural design/engineering student (or preferably certified structural engineer), because venues and insurers are very happy when there is paperwork ensuring them our work won’t fall down and go “Boom! Squish! Aaaagh!”

Someone who works with electronics and electrical might also be nice to have, as we probably won’t be able to use coal power our device.

A co-painter might also be desired… preferably one who works in the pop-surrealism vein and does not mind putting down paint with other people’s paint.

Someone who works in alternative energy would be a plus. Electrical is the fall-back, but I would *like* to see this thing powered by green or alternative energy sources – anything from solar power, to sterling engines, to just a bio-diesel powered generator… or otherwise.

Persons experienced in grant writing and/or press releases. I’d be happy to count you as a collaborator as well – as long as you are willing to pitch in on driving, organizing, and/or some physical work in the process.

Of course the fewer people we have, the bigger the share, so people skilled in multiple areas outline above would be preferable – but I feel our team should not be so slim that it presents difficulty. That perfect balance is what I am looking for.

Creative Freedom:

I’ll put in ideas, thoughts, and designs where/if *wanted*, but want you to have as much creative freedom as you desire. I want this to be a collaborative project, not an artist as an overseer project. You can put in equal input on what I am bringing to the table, wood working, painting, promotional ability, web site skills, programming skills, graphic design skills, and a broad knowledge of most everything practical, to make a huge and impressive piece that is *ours* collectively and equally.

What is to gain?

Aside from participating in the nations largest open-entry art competition, which spans an entire downtown area:

$250,000 is the first prize,  $10,000 is the second prize, $50,000 is the third, and fourth through tenth prize are $7,000.

I am confident that if we do not win, we should be able to find a home for the finished work pretty easily, because we are that awesome. Interested parties can contact me through my contact form (hit the little envelope on the pipe at the top of the page).

Sponsors needed:

Right now, I would love to hear from suppliers of fabric and canvas, art paper, lumber, brass tubing/piping/hardware, tool companies, transportation/logistics companies, hobby shops (gears, cogs, shafts, servos), salvage yards (much of the same), art supply companies (paint, gesso, acrylic medium, pencils, markers, brushes, etc..), and anyone who has a hangar, industrial space, or large garage for us to build in.

Progress to date:

I’ve already grabbed a domain and hosting for the project, in trying to be more pro-active than last year. I will be using my “spare* time to build the site for this project over the next month or so. Details will be on that will be posted here once the site is up. Everything from there will be rather “hush hush” and done via groups, phone, email, or in-person, aside from press releases, until the ArtPrize bidding process begins.

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Sorry Charlie

One of several possible layouts or poses for his sculpture
Sorry Charlie - fine art sculture by Myke Amend

He came to the surface world, wondering where all the food had gone, but there were no fish to be found on land.

There was however an abundance of two legged meat-things… they tasted somewhat like seals; Perhaps even enough to save his kindred, and maybe enough to last till next season.

All he knew, was that he had to return to tell the others, but maybe after just one more meal or two…

All pieces were sculpted, hand-painted, silver-leafed (cans of tuna), and hand-varnished by Myke Amend and come as a set. The wood barrels and scrapbooking paper aren’t included, but could be if you really want them.

Sorry Charlie - fine art sculture by Myke Amend
One of several layouts fo rthis sculpture

One of several possible layouts or poses for his sculpture; I envisioned it with Charlie on top of the crate looking up pitifully, with a few old cans of tuna laying about the scene (as above), but I really have a hard time choosing just one. There are more images, including closeups on the Etsy Page at

The set includes Charlie the sea monster, 3 tuna cans, “wooden” (polymer clay) crate, and crate lid:

“Charlie” is about 3.5 x 2 x 2 inches. His eyes are made out of brass, and all scales, shading, and countershading are hand-painted on.

The Polymer Clay crate is roughly 4.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches.

Tuna cans are tiny… really tiny.

This is a fine art sculpture, and is *not* a toy. It is *not* intended or recommended for anyone under the age of 18.

I put a lot more work into this than I expected to. My first thought was to make something quick I could sell for $40 or so, but then I decided to use brass for eyes, then to hand-brush and shade scales onto him, then to make the crate out of clay instead of weed, then silver leafing the tuna cans for a more realistic look… I’d sell it for $300 for all the work that went into it, and its uniqueness (only one of its kind), but right now it is up for $145 on Etsy.

We are putting a lot of time and resources into our Artprize bid… a $5,000 estimated expense, between 5 people who can barely scrape together a handful of change (i.e. artists, post-July,2008). So, if you want to make good of our situation, this sculpture is available online until we have the fundraiser/teaser for the event – in which case it will be on sale there.

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How to Make an Airship Model

This construct is mostly wood, with papier-mâché for the balloon and the base shell of the gondola, and mesh sandpaper for the deck floor (to mimic the cross-hatched wooden cargo doors on an old deck). It took a couple of nights to make, but  a lot of that was walking from basement to top floor scouring the house for possible materials, and waiting for glue to dry…


I did not really start off with any materials in mind. I had bought some of these supplies for something similar a while back, but a lot of these I found around the house as I went – so, just because I used them, doesn’t mean you can’t find something better. I am a starving artist, and also having to use what is handy because I am working after midnight, after most stores have closed. Feel free to substitute – but I have found up-sides to most every improvised material and I will try to elaborate as I go. Materials: 1) Two pre-made papier mache eggs – one large, one small. If you cannot find them pre-made at your local craft store, you can make them by simply layering papier mache around a party balloon. I used the large egg for the balloon, and cut the small egg in half to make the gondola. 2) One large wooden dowel (1 inch diameter), Eight small dowels (1/4 inch diameter or 3/16ths) 3) A spool of wire. I used framer’s hanging wire because I had some handy. 4) Drywall screen. It is a type of mesh used for sanding drywall – a fabric screen coated with abrasive crystals. 5) Some thin wood panels. Modeling stores have them, crafting stores have them. They are typically used for everything from model ships to doll houses. I cut the propellers out of these. 6) A packet of small hardwood spools 7) a packet of hardwood “pickle barrels”, 8 ) a packet of wood beads. 9) Glue – the stronger and harder the bond, the better: Gorilla glue, Tacky glue, Elmer’s glue all… 10) Paint – you’ll probably want to paint yours. I recommend some cheapy apple barrel or comparable acrylic craft paint. For the demo, I am painting everything black, but I will eventually go in with browns and brass colors to finish the job. Tools: 1) Two pen knives / craft knives. I use them for moving small parts, holding other pieces in place, and of course cutting things. 2) A drill, or a drill bit will come in handy. If you have a power drill it does come in handy – but you can make due with a drill bit stuck in the end of a wood dowel. Match the drill bit to the size of your smaller dowels. 3) A pair of shears or tin snips or some really good (or really disposable) scissors. 4) a coping saw or other fine-bladed crafting saw. To Begin: There are a few steps I do not have pictures for (but will correct this when I start the next one. I didn’t at first plan to make a tutorial of this (sorry). 1) The first thing I did was to cut a hole in the top the big papier mache egg. I made the hole just a little bit smaller than the large dowel. I then cut a hole through the other side of the egg, and pushed the dowel through. This is the mast and (possibly) smoke stack… if you want it to be a smoke stack… I won’t stop you. Either way, it is a big pole going through the balloon top to bottom. Make the big mast long enough to protrude from the top, and from the bottom about 3 inches. This mast will also be the main thing holding the gondola onto the balloon. 2) I did the same thing with the small dowels – making holes with my pen knife and poking the dowels in – one long one in the front (foremast), two in the back (for the tail – one straight out the back, one higher up), two on each side (to hold the sails) You can look at the second image down to get the general feel for where I put mine. I made them go deep into the Egg for more strength.

Balancing the bead on the tip of the knife is easy, especially if the bead has holes in it. The spots of glue you press the beads into will pull the bead off the tip of the knife pretty easily.

3) To strengthen your masts’ joints with the body, pour glue around where a dowel meets the balloon. Then, with the pen knife, add beads around the mast. This mass of beads and glue will make a nice collar to keep the mast from sliding back and forth, and it will also reinforce the balloon where they meet (see image below).

Airship Model - early stages
Airship Model - early stages

4) For the gondola (above) I cut the smaller egg in half. I also cut a round hole through the bottom where the large mast will just barely pass through (enough to give it a strong bond). 5) I cut a little semi-round divot out of the back and glued a barrel into it (the main boiler). I then glued a barrel in the front to balance it (it also makes a nice wheelhouse). From there, I covered the top with my drywall screen, which a cut with a pair of tin snips. 6) Engine assembly: two short bits of the small dowels on the sides, one as a cross-pipe, and two pickle barrels make the main engine assembly. I drilled holes into the sides of the pickle barrels so the crossbar could be glued in securely.I also drilled holes in the back-ends of the barrels so that I can put my propeller shafts into them. 7) For a touch of added decoration. I also added some wood beads to the top of the assembly. 8 ) The rest is just decor – wood beads cover where the mesh meets the egg, little wood pins add a touch more decor to the deck, a thin shim of wood and some more beads makes a solid walkway to the wheel.


9) For the propellers, I cut two of the small spools in half with a coping saw. I drilled my hole through first – and then I fond that I could just leave the spool to spin on the drill bit while I pressed the blade of the coping saw against it. It worked like a mini-lathe. Follow my example there at your own risk – it may be dangerous. 10) I then carved 4 thin propeller blades from the thin wood slats (using the utility knife) and I glued them to the top of one of the spool halves. Then I glued another spool half on top of the propeller blades, sandwiching them in between. 11) Repeat the above step for a second propeller.

end cap
end cap

12) I cut the ends off of another spool, and used them as end-caps on a 3-inch piece of a small dowel. Again, I drilled holes in the spool first, so the end caps will go around the shaft. These end caps will allow your propellers to spin freely, without the worry of them falling off.

painting the ship
painting the ship

13) Lots of black acrylic paint. When adding a patina to anything, it is often easier to go black to light, especially when it comes to acrylics. Slather the stuff on – not only will it add strength to your construct, but it will smooth out the surface of the balloon.

Unwound Wire
Unwound Wire

14)  I cut the sails from the drywall screen (abrasive sheets). I pretty much just held them up to the masts I had made, and cut n small steps until they were just how I wanted them. Then, when the sails were the right size and shape, I tied them to the masts with thin wire. I did not have any thin wire handy, so I unraveled the framer’s hanging wire. I tied in about 4 spots per mast. If it is hard to tie, you can twist the wire instead… that may even be better. 15) For the jib sail, I had to secure some of the thicker wire between the top mast and the foremast, so i could have something to tie the sail onto. You could probably use a really thin dowel for this and have a *much* easier time.

Wire and Mesh
Wire and Mesh

15) With the sails tied on, I poured glue through the sails where they met the masts and cables. The nice thing about having used the mesh – the glue passes right through the holes.


16) I put the propellers onto the shafts I had previously end-capped – make sure the holes through the propeller are big enough to allow for spinning (they should be if your drill bit is the same size as the small dowels). If not, give them another pass with the drill… some glue might have gotten in there, or the pieces might have shifted before drying. 17)  If they spin, or if you don’t care if they spin, you can now glue the shafts into the holes at the back of the engine assembly.

Complete for now
Complete for now

18) Done… or for the most part. I have ideas on what color I am going to paint mine – but you know the principle: put paint on a brush, brush paint where you want it – use smaller brushes for details,  bigger brushed for bigger areas – ‘not too much more I can tell you there.

Complete - alternate view
Complete - alternate view

I’ll post pictures of mine when I am done. For tonight, I have to let everything finish drying…. then off to the World Steam Expo on Wednesday night/Thursday Morning.

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Goggley Stripey Elf – By Liz Amend

My sister in law Liz Amend makes these incredible fairy figures, and figures by her are always in rather high demand. This one, I just *had* to post here, as it has stripeys and goggles and a very cool nut-shell helmet. It is available here on Ebay.

Harden is an intrepid explorer and photographer and it looks like he is off on another adventure! He wears a little acorn cap (sculpted of polymer clay) and goggles. He has a tiny camera to capture all the amazing things he will see, maybe he might even see a human! Harden measures about 7 inches tall from his head to his toes, but will measure taller with his stand (not shown).