Monday, June 21, 2010

A new look for the Beacon

The second wave of Beacon lamps are here, with different bulbs. Originally I used an extra-long display case bulb with a dimmer, but this time I'm using antique-style Marconi bulbs. Instead of a coiled filament, these have a glowing cage of carbon wire suspended around a glass stalk. I ordered these from Bulb Town, who generously replaced one after it broke in transit...and I broke another one when I knocked it off my workbench. Obviously these are fragile, but they look like something from a very high-budget sci-fi set in 1935. They give off a great light too; very soft and warm, like candlelight.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Print - the MIG-15 Fagot

I'm very happy to announce the addition of prints to my product line! I'm making a series of block-prints based on Army aircraft-identification flashcards, focusing on those craft with amusing or unfortunate names. I started with the MIG-15 Fagot, and the first ten prints are available in my Etsy Store. Some more prints to look forward to:
  • Canuck (Canadian)
  • Super-Mystere (French; sounds like a Euro-knockoff of Scooby Doo)
  • Fishpot (Soviet)
  • Starfighter (American; luckily phased out shortly before opening of Star Wars)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Look at this Flying Fagot

This is a card from a US Army aircraft identification deck, circa 1977. The "MIG-15 Fagot" is my favorite card of them all, and I thought I should provide some background on the name.
Firstly, it's pronounced exactly the way you're thinking. "Fagot" was the MIG-15's NATO designation. Every Soviet jet was given a name that started with F, and our Fagot friend here was named in 1947 for its resemblance to a cigarette. The next two MIGs were named the Fresno and the Farmer. I am not making this up.
This little Fagot is only one of 54 cards in a flashcard deck, and I'm going to make a series of prints featuring enlarged versions of the most interesting illustrations. But first, some common military phrases involving the MIG-15 Fagot:
"Look at all those flying Fagots!"
"There were so many Fagots they blocked out the sun."
"Head for cover - Soviet Fagots are coming your way."
"That flaming Fagot is going down!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Megaton, and new Beacon Lamps

This is the Megaton, made from the tail section of a 100 lb practice bomb. It was the first lamp I made, and got me interested in re-purposing munitions. I'm planning on making a small batch of these in the future, as soon as I can lock down the supplies. The bomb casing it's made from is fairly rare and very expensive, so I might have to fabricate a reproduction.

In other news, the Beacon Lamp is sold! I'm choosing parts for a new iteration on that first design, and hopefully will have a pair assembled within a week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More on the Blitz

The final version of the Blitz lamp is done, and up for sale at my Etsy store. It's a refinement of the first design. The steel was cleaned with an electrolytic process instead of by hand for a more even finish, the cord is cloth-wrapped with a bakelite plug, and the socket has a chromed finish.
The Blitz also got called out by Etsy user stephanieburciaga, who added it to her "Honoring Military Dads" treasury! As the kid of a military man, it was really nice to have my work get that kind of recognition.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Beacon Lamp

I've added a new piece to my Etsy store. It's called the Beacon Lamp, and I made it from a cluster bomblet (dummy, of course) dating to the Vietnam War. I used the spring-loaded fins as the base, and fitted it with an 11 7/8" incandescent bulb and a dimmer switch. Eventually I'll produce shades for this guy, but I honestly think it looks its best with the raw bulb.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Blitz Lamp

The Blitz lamps are my first product on Etsy. I make them from practice bombs left over from WWII. They've been sitting in a leaky warehouse for 65 years, so when I get them they're basically heavy chunks of rust. The original (which is up for sale) was cleaned entirely by hand, which leaves a cool patina on the bomb, but also leaves a cool patina on my hands, on my sink, inside my lungs, etc. A second set is halfway done, and these were cleaned with electrolysis. This involves running high-amperage current through a container filled with alkaline water, using a setup which looks like the Unabomber's dishwasher. (There are a number of incredibly helpful articles about doing electrolysis at home, but this was my favorite.) The process gets the bomb casings incredibly clean, and releases nothing but hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is a common element with many uses, such as floating the Hindenburg and vaporizing Nagasaki.

The original Blitz is for sale here on my Etsy store, with all-new photos. It's going to be joined tonight by the second wave of electrolyzed Blitzes, plus a new piece made from a Vietnam-War Cluster Bomb!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Big Bang

Stockpile started with a bomb. Specifically, a bomb's tail-section, which I bought on eBay during a late-night browsing session. By the time it arrived, I had nearly forgotten about it, and was concerned that my name had suddenly been added to watch-lists all over the country. It was rusty, and filthy, and those parts which weren't rusty or filthy were covered with stiff, chipped paint. I realized why the military hadn't wanted to keep it, and why the second owner didn't either - it was junk.
The shape of it was beautiful, though: sheet metal bent into aerodynamic curves, with squared-off fins flowing from the back. And I realized - it could make a great lamp. I coated it with paint remover, which made a tarry mess but exposed gleaming steel underneath. The rust came off under an electric sander, revealing gorgeous patina of black pitting and tiny dents. After a few hours of steel wool and polish, it was clean, and the last thing anyone would call it was "junk."
A few months later came Stockpile. I take military junk: surplus that's been gathering rust, bombshells from planes that haven't flown in sixty years, cases for equipment that's been obsolete for a generation. Then I figure out how it could be beautiful, and what it should do once it is. I'll be selling the designs on Etsy and (soon) in local stores in New York City. Works in progress and updates will be posted here, along with design concepts and public sale announcements.