11.05.2020 bis 22.06.2020
Uta recommended Lofoten
Norwegens Nationalfeiertag 15 Mai
Mandaljazz 2020 20 -29 June – very southern tip of Norway.
Recently I was playing around with an augmented reality robot on my mobile phone https://developer.apple.com/augmented-reality/quick-look/ (it doesn’t do much on a desktop computer). After a while of course you get fed up with virtual stuff and I thought that it would be more fun to make a tangible desktop robot with parts that really move.
I wanted something friendly that wasn’t too complicated and something which initially looks like nothing special but which you can discover by pushing bits to see what happens. Best would be something to make you smile as things start to move. A sort of stringless desktop puppet, which reminded me that I always wanted to have a go at a pinocchio puppet with an extensible nose for when it starts telling lies. The hands should be useful but, for simplicity’s sake, should not have too many fingers so a spanner shape seemed just right. To make the nose extend, I made Blubot’s top tilt around its centre line, and a rod attached to the back of the top yields enough of a push to make the nose stick out. I even did a simple drawing to check that it would move far enough.
Drawing to check the clearance for the eyes and the movement of the nose
This is basically a 10 x 10 x 8 cm box. The parts are cut from 10 mm plywood with a saw or a scroll saw for the curved bits. Good quality plywood means that the individual layers are properly glued and cutting doesn’t cause too much splintering.
Parts for the box
The nose is a piece of 12 mm diameter dowel in a 13 mm hole. It was then handy to use a piece of the same 12 mm dowel to fix the nose linkage to the hinged lid. The linkage is a piece of 1.6 mm brass rod.
Top part of the box with eyes and nose
The nose linkage
I painted the eyes before gluing them in place and I glued a row of small hemispheres along both sides to make a sort of rivety impression.
Initial version of Blubot
Addition to the design
At this point I painted all of it and tried it out on my four-year old test pilot. More or less her first comment was that it has no legs. I had originally thought that legs wouldn’t add much to the narrative and might destabilise things. On reflection, I thought, OK well let’s add something moveable to the legs and decided on child-safe rocket flames, which come out on lift off. They just dangle on the string and disappear when you place the model on a flat surface, sliding back up into the legs.
Making the legs and feet
For the feet, I used MDF, drilled a hole for the flame, used a bowsaw to cut a round shape and then sanded a taper. Continuing the rivet theme, I added 4 hemispheres to each foot which then look like toes, elephant’s toes!
The flame (right) slides out of the leg (left) and is retained by the string
I thus added three chunky legs, each with a hole drilled through the centre to accommodate the flames, each made of a piece of suitably shaped and painted dowel. Add a piece of string to prevent the flames from completely falling out and Bob’s your uncle!
It was good to work with better quality plywood than I sometimes do and I was very pleased with my simple wooden hinge at the back of the box. I generally find working with brass hinges quite hard work in such small items. Also, tilting the lid with two fingers to reveal the eyes and extend the nose gives you a very good level of control. Just right for puppeteering!
I find that the longer something takes, the more ideas that you have, don’t you? Even when you are painting, things can occur to you and it was only while painting that I thought of rivets for the eyebrows. 3D rivets were no good, as the lid wouldn’t close so I opted for nice painted red dots instead, which are the very first things to appear as you start tilting the lid. Almost the last things to appear are the two goofy teeth which is quite a funny climax to the opening of the box. I had originally planned on a full set of teeth, changing my mind at the last instant.
The flaming legs were quite simply an afterthought. It’s hard to imagine everything in your head right at the beginning. As things come together in reality, it is then easier to think a bit further and to grow your original idea.
Link for images https://www.wordwise.de/Blubot_images.zip
Link for leg images https://www.wordwise.de/Blubot_new_images.zip
https://www.altabadia.org/media/paraisc-di-mituns-de-en.pdf includes lots of easy walks.
Alexandra Hopf “Spell Around the Corner”
Gregor Hildebrandt “Column 2018”
Monika Sosnowska “Stairs” + pony
Katja Strunt “Unfolding Process”
Toshihiko Mitsuya “The Aluminium Garden Structural Study of Plants” (detail)
Carsten Nicolai”Echo 2020″ (detail)
Toby Ziegler “Slave 2017”
Dan Graham “Play Pen for Play Pals”
Anette, Gerhild & Sabine “Picnic”
Kim “Three happy girls”
The Kremmen barn quarter http://www.scheunenviertel-kremmen.com
Coming soon! In Schloss Lieberose: From 27 June the 25th “Rohkunstbau”.
About 1h 30 min drive.
Picnic in the rain next to Plauer See
Our room in Fuhlendorf
Ramir, Birgit & Catya’s house
On the dyke in Zingst
Music on the pier
Dancing on the pier
Banana boots on the ropes
Ramir lends his mobile to this cool girl
Do dogs like lollies?
Feeding the sheep
Catya out for a spin
I see no ships!
Catya and her kite on Wustrow beach
Ramir and his kite
The big girls having a chat in the sunshine
Pinocchio awaits his fate
The Happy Couple
Happiness is infectious, so a happy couple must be doubly infectious, no bad thing to catch whatever else might be going around. The challenge is to move a happy couple into the fourth dimension so that they aren’t just in a happy state, they must also move happily too. I thought back to one of the United Kingdom’s prime ministers, Edward Heath, who was renowned for his heaving shoulders when he laughed, copied by many, not least by a later prime minister Theresa May (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_wGgPvoysQ).
Our happy couple are also confronted with the eternal question of what to do with your hands whilst on the podium. I decided to have the woman hold a cheerful bunch of flowers, in her personal colour scheme. For the man, another, smaller happy couple seemed just right, even if children have their own ideas about when to be happy or not.
My test engineer, a very smart 4 year old girl is so entranced by talking figures that she likes to not just follow the programme set by the cams, she likes to improvise too, inventing her own narrative about what is happening. This often means grabbing brass rods and yanking them to achieve her desired effect. In this automaton I thought that it might be smart to anticipate that and offer two ways to bring our cameo scene to life. A red handle turned on the side gets the cams moving stubbornly through their preprogrammed sequence and blue and green levers on the front allow free improvisation.
With the blue lever, the man can chatter or laugh endlessly, while his partner waits patiently. With the green lever the woman can return the compliment, while he listens attentively. Of course both can join in the action as and when they wish.
This means that a logical OR function is needed. The shoulders lift and the mouth opens if the red lever is turned OR if one of the blue of green levers is pressed. This means that if the red lever has opened a mouth, pressing the corresponding blue or green lever will have no effect. Blue or green can only do their thing if the red lever is in a passive position which would leave the corresponding mouth closed.
Cranking the red lever turns two cams, one with eight regularly spaced movements, the other with nine. This means that the two figures laugh together, but they are not synchronous, making a pleasantly chaotic impression.
The heads are made from hardwood (beech) eggs which are cut through diagonally at a smiley sort of angle. There are a few tips for a successful cut. (1) It’s tricky to clamp an egg and then cut through it, so it helps if you first drill a hole in the end of the egg and then glue in a dowel. Now you can clamp the dowel, leaving the egg freely accessible for your saw. (2) My drill press produces two sparkly red laser lines which cross to show the position of the centre of the drill bit. If your drill has this feature too, it’s very handy to mark a “straight” line on an egg for cutting. (3) Drill the hole for the jaw hinge before cutting.
How to mark & cut hardwood eggs
The figures’ movement
The two figures’ movement is controlled in the same way. In this simplified section through the woman’s lower body you can see that one leg is fixed to the body (and to the base). The other leg moves up and down, which is not obvious to the casual viewer, pushing the waist and the upper body up and then allowing it to fall down.
Simplified section through the women’s lower body
The top of each head is attached by a brass rod to the lower part of the body. When the waist is pushed up this cause the rod to pull the mouth open. I used an old leather shoelace for the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints, allowing them to move quite freely.
Leather shoelace for the joints
Top of head is attached by a brass rod to the lower part of the body
The works inside the box
Turning the red handle rotates a small cog which drives a larger cog. This gearing makes it easy to turn and the outside lever is as long as possible to provide the best “leverage”. The larger cog is attached to the same shaft as the two cams which each drive a simple cam follower.
The geared drive for the cam with 8 curves. The other cam has 9 curves.
Pressing the blue or the green lever simply lifts one of the cam followers. At rest, the weight of the inside parts moves the outside knobs up into their inactive positions.
The blue and green levers
With slots cut in the front panel to allow the levers to move, the complete mechanism looks like this. Now you can see that each cam follower can either be lifted by the turning cam OR by pressing the lever at the front of the box (at the right in the picture).
The complete mechanism with two alternative ways to lift each cam follower
Note that if the cams are lifting the followers, then the blue and green levers will have little if any effect. You can’t lift something that has already been lifted.
I painted the parts for the figures prior to assembly and allowed them to dry properly to ensure that I got the clearances right for easy movement. The babies are very simply made and don’t move, their tiny fists and feet represented by small spheres.
Video is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhEzWAcQC1g
Download images here https://www.wordwise.de/Happy_couple_images.zip
There was an old spider who lived in quite a stew.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
So she span a nice roundabout from silken thread;
And whizzed them all around until she put them to bed.
Mum spider was worried about the kids just hanging about and wondered what she could do to keep them busy.
Then she saw this bare tree and thought this will do nicely.
With a little bit of work, there’ll be room for everyone.
The technical brief
The mechanism to turn the roundabout should be as simple as possible and should also drive a small music box mechanism which plays “Die Berliner Luft” – a tune that every Berliner knows about Berlin’s fantastic air. Spiders can have phenomenally large families, but I decided to go for a token number of nine baby spiders. What was good enough for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is good enough for me. They had four boys and five girls, I will leave it to the viewer to decide on the sex of the various members of my little family. Brass rods will be strong enough to make the web and wood will do for the rest.
Making the family
The parts to make a baby spider
Baby spiders are uncomplicated creatures made of a small drilled wooden ball for the body, two wooden hemispheres for big appealing eyes and eight pieces of bent brass rod for the legs. For the strand of web for them to dangle from, I used a cotton thread glued into the predrilled hole which I then filled with a piece of 3 mm dowel.
Finished baby spider waiting for its colour
Fashion-conscious mum spider
Mum spider is larger of course, has a more stylish hairdo and shoes and a 3 mm hole in her underside to attach her to the top of the tree.
Spider mum and her freshly spun web
As there are nine spider children, the web has to have 9 segments. Mum spider needed a bit of help to make the web so I used slim brass rods, bent carefully to shape which I then soldered together, arranging for a slight “umbrella” shape. The web is mounted into a wooden ball which just rests on top of the tree, with a 3 mm dowel through the middle to hold mum spider, glued safely in position. As the ball is not glued, it is turned by friction. This allows mum to jig around and issue instructions to her brood and also allows the web to coast gracefully to a stop when the tree stops turning.
The base mechanism
The bare mechanism
On a circular base, I mounted the small music box mechanism which I bought for a few euros. After cutting its bent metal handle off, I could push on a wooden cog which I cut using my bow saw. An identical cog drives it, when the handle is turned. Fortunately the music mechanism doesn’t mind if you turn it the wrong way, it just goes click, click instead of playing its merry tune. Turning the handle also rotates the drive wheel which is in frictional contact with the larger wheel glued to the vertical “tree”. I added a wooden bearing at the base of the tree which, together with the hole in the upper part of the base, keeps the tree nicely vertical.
The assembled roundabout, ready for testing
The upper part of the base rests on three fairly chunky pieces of dowel. Careful alignment is required to ensure free rotation of the tree before gluing things together.
Link to the video https://youtu.be/RCSqZP25s30
Images to download
It’s Sunday so let’s wind the clocks up!
And watch the Andrew Marr show on the telly.
Look who’s on the show today!
Check how the flowers on the balcony are doing.
And it’s time to cook lunch.
Yum, yum, yum!
Delicious strawberries from the farmer.
His and hers expresso.
Need to fill up the sugar bowl.
Time for a stroll around the block.
Or that way…
Cheerful tree stump.
Young man, can you bend down far enough to do my loose shoelace up?
What time is it?
Do you think we could tow this behind a tandem?
A musical pond (Gustav Mahler Platz).
Busy mushrooms eating what’s left of this tree.
I’ve already got that but in a nicer colour.
Kim is flagging.
Nearly home again.
Who said strawberries are just for eating?
Now wash your hands.
And read a good book.
Kim can only manage one with pictures.
Episode 30 of Hope@home (https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/RC-019356/hope-home/) – particularly liked the Schnittke music.
The creative brief
Summer is a cumin in Berlin and my wife is busy planting the balcony so that we can enjoy our evening cocktails in a fragrant, colourful environment. Young plants grown in Dutch greenhouses do give you a really quick start but much patience is still required. As an impatient man, I thought about what I could conjure up that gives instant satisfaction for friends of the floral.
The technical brief
The mechanism was to be as simple as possible. A handle rotates a cam which friction drives a wheel perpendicular to it, so that the wheel and its shaft are both lifted up and down and rotated a little. Petals are attached to the other end of the shaft and as the shaft is lifted, the petals should open up to reveal an egg-shaped centre.
Petals & hinge
To get the shape of a petal I used a piece of plastercine pushed against a wooden egg. From this I made two templates in card, to mark up my lime wood for cutting on a bowsaw.
Plastercine petal and two card templates
First cut for petals
Second cut and carving for petals
Instead of trying to hinge each petal separately, I bent a piece of brass rod into a ring and cut two holders to grab the ring in a sandwich.
A hinge for 6 petals
And when this is all assembled it looks like this
6 petals hinged on a centre piece
The base mechanism
The base has four chunky dowel legs. Two of the legs have holes to take the 8mm dowel axle with its cam and its disc-shaped crank
Parts for the base mechanism
The assembled base mechanism
There is a short video showing the effect of turning the crank.
Youtube link “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQMXmhIrygE”
The flower and its “cage”
Adding a wooden egg into the centre of the petals completes the flower
The open flower
To push the petals up when the flower is closed, a wooden ring is required at just the right height. A certain amount of experimentation shows the correct height and some trimming of the outside of the petals gets them all to move synchronously.
A ring/cage at just the right height
The flower jammed when open and didn’t want to close again. A lead washer fixed that.
Lead washer to increase downward force
It was caused by the vertical activating rod tilting due to the off-centre upward pressure from the cam. It’s a delicate balance between the diameter of the dowel and the diameter of the hole in which it moves. I used a 10 mm dowel in an 11 mm hole and that was too loose. Maybe a 10.5 mm hole would have been better, maybe I should have used a much slimmer dowel to reduce the surface area subject to friction? I will just have to try it and see in future.
What did the critics say?
My severest 4 year old critic asked “are those rabbit’s ears?
It only has 6 arms so it can’t be an octopus
Something from outer space?
This finished piece has a very short narrative. Each turn of the crank opens & then closes the flower. That is not much of a story. Nevertheless my official tester played with it happily for quite a while. I think it is more something to entertain kids and is of less interest for adults. I had fun making it and learned a bit, so I am content.
Video link “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwzTALIhS_c”
Download the images
What was the creative brief?
As an Englishman in Berlin I am naturally a staunch defender of English culture, so I aim to sell the benefits of teatime to the pagan Germans who much prefer coffee! When two chatty friends get together, the benefit of having to drink tea is that while one is drinking their delicious tea, the other can chat and vice versa. The more vivacious the chat the better, so waggling head & hair and dangling earrings are a must.
Dangly earrings are a must
What’s the technical brief?
I like the idea of cams controlling things, but as I live in a small flat I see a drawback in the size of the base needed to accommodate cams which turn around a horizontal axis. I wondered whether arranging cams to turn around a vertical axis is feasible and whether the resulting base would be more compact.
This simple illustration shows the 2 options. At first sight the vertical bearing option looks distinctly flatter.
- With a horizontal bearing, as the cam turns, the cam follower is pressed onto it by gravity. As the edge of the cam moves up or down, the follower moves with it, or follows it.
- With a vertical bearing, gravity stubbornly remains a vertical force, so some other force X is needed to keep the follower in contact with the cam. It does however mean that several followers could share the same cam with a “phase” difference depending upon how far apart they are, angularly speaking.
Force X could be a spring, or we could use a piece of suitable routed string attached to a weight to pull the follower against the cam, thus bending gravity to the required angle. The angle of rotation of the handle should also be left to the user, so the cams should be “bidirectional”. The base should be as open as possible, so that you can see “the works”.
Additional ideas which came while making
The bearing for the cams became the leg for a table.
As the cam is in the centre of the base and the two figures are at the rear, the empty space at the front begged for something to fill it, so each of the friends has space for their dog which, as we know, always looks startlingly similar to its owner.
Small dog which is strikingly similar to its owner
The table rotating seemed to make no contribution to the narrative of the piece, so I almost stopped it from turning, but then I thought that it would make a splendid carousel for someone small enough to enjoy it, so that’s what it became, a tiny subplot within the bigger story.
A tiny subplot within the bigger story
The cams will turn in the horizontal plane, around a vertical axis, but the crank for users to turn will rotate in a vertical plane, around a horizontal axis. Pin gears seem like a good idea, a small one with 8 pins for the crank and a large one with 36 pins to drive the cams.
The two pinwheel gears
The pinwheel gears engaging
For a smoother motion, (after I took this photo) I folded a piece of sandpaper into a V-shape and chamfered the tops of two of the pins at a time in the large wheel. This is not needed for the small wheel.
Each figure has two moving parts – the mouth and the arm which lifts the tea cup. As good friends they take turns to speak and while they are not speaking, that’s the opportunity to have a slurp of tea. I decided to just use two cams. Each figure is driven by the same two cams but with a 180 degree offset. While one figure is chatting the other one is slurping and vice versa.
In the above picture the left sort of egg-shaped cam is responsible for lifting the arms, the right cam for opening the mouths. When not chatting (the wavy bit) the mouth is held open to await a slurp of tea. Note that there are no abrupt steps in the shape of the cams here to make sure that it will work in both directions.
There are 4 followers mounted on levers which are pivoted at the front of the base, two for the lower cam and two for the upper cam. In the photo you can see the pivot at the left, the follower in the middle with a plastic ring to cut down friction, and at the right the part which drives the mechanism mounted on the rear wall.
Two follower levers
In this photo of the base you can see two followers with small springs to keep them in contact with the cams.
Base with two follower levers & springs
The rear wall mechanism
Changing the direction of motion
As the lever to which the follower is attached moves, it in turn moves this small mechanism, which has the effect of changing a horizontal motion into a vertical one. As the lever moves out it turns the triangularish piece of wood around its axis at the bottom. The row of small holes in the side are to take the vertical brass rod which moves the model. Unsure as to how much movement was needed, I could thus choose a hole and shorten or lengthen the movement by trial and error. This mechanism is repeated four times for four followers.
The tea drinkers
Half of a 40 mm wooden ball serves nicely as hips.
The figures are assembled along a piece of 8 mm dowel which is fixed into the seat. This means that they are adjustable. I left the knee hinged on a piece of 3 mm dowel until I was happy with the pose, only then gluing it. Half of a 40 mm wooden ball serves nicely as hips.
A whole wooden ball makes a good torso
One of the arms is hinged on the body to lift the cup of tea. The other arm is fixed to carefully hold the saucer.
A few wooden eggs & balls serve as the head and hairdo
The jaw is fixed to the 8 mm dowel and the head is then hinged onto the jaw. This means that the whole head moves when the figure is speaking/drinking tea, causing the earrings to swing about most satisfactorily. The eyes and nose are removeable to make painting easier before gluing them in place.
The head is hinged onto the fixed jaw for maximum waggle
Hands and teacup
Carefully hinged woodwedge teacups
The hands are carved from lime wood with the smallest finger slightly lifted. When the arm lifts, the protruding pinkie then makes that elegant gesture so typical of polished tea drinkers. Of course the teacup must stay horizontal to make sure that nothing gets spilled so it is hinged on a bit of brass rod.
The brass rods in place
I ended up with quite a compact base so it was worthwhile turning the cams sideways. Precision seems to be more important like this however, so I had to take great pains to keep the two cams parallel to one another as well as to the box. The spacing between the two pin wheels also had to be just right for smooth operation. Fortunately, I could adjust that a bit via the thickness of the washer underneath the cam assembly. When I was almost done, I decided to use what I had intended to be a collar as a waist instead. Happily, that just meant changing the order of the bits on the 8 mm dowel. The figures look much more stylish like that. When testing the movement, I decided that the mouth was chattering too quickly, so I made a new cam from 3 mm plywood to slow things down a bit. I tried to resist gluing parts together for as long as possible to keep my options open. That is a delicate balancing act. While things are not fixed the precision wobbles and occasionally pieces tumble all over the place and have to be carefully collected. Once glued it can be hard to take things to pieces again to change this and that.
Youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COTnQGcVq34
Kite flying into the sun to confuse the mice.
People used them to make crosses in order to protect the harvest and with the dry leaves they filled mattresses. Its popular names is fiori di morti – “flower of the dead”. The official name of the variety found in Corsica is in fact Asphodelus ramosus.
When heated its bulbs explode like fireworks, on the feast day for Saint John the Baptist children hold them in the fire built in the village square and then knock them against stones to make them bang.
For centuries it was planted near tombs to nourish the dead. It also fed the living.
The asphodel is edible: its bulb can be made into a kind of bread. It lost its importance as food after the introduction of the potato in the 18th century. The asphodel became known as “the bread of the poor”. It continued to be appreciated for its medicinal properties in treating ailments such as indigestion, coughs, inflammations, ulcers, toothache, as well as tuberculosis…
Quick look at Ajaccio (pronounced Adjgaksio) after discovering that Napo-Rama is closed for the winter.
Window in Ajaccio.
Drive to Corte 1h 25 m
Well-aged entrance to the apartment.
Corte apartment https://www.booking.com
First impressions can be deceptive. Great apartment! Check out the wash-basin.
On the way up through the village.
View from the belvedere up to the old castle.
From one mountain goat to the next.
Small, free contemporary art museum in Corte https://www.frac.corsica
Gerhild shows solidarity with the Corsican women.
Kim is trying to understand the Corsican man.
The motto over our fireplace –
Friends are silent angels who put us back on our feet when our wings no longer know how to fly.
The link for the guys with a drone Youtube channel
Picnic looking down into Cala di Palu.
Kim thinking lofty thoughts
The view from our balcony – Residence de la Tour Piana
The sun rose over the mountains at quarter past eight.
Stock up at Spar Supermarket – Route de Calenzana, 20260 Calvi
Drive to Piana 2 h
Look who we bumped into on top of a hill!
This fellow wasn‘t very talkative.
Résidence de la Tour, Piana https://www.booking.com
Hotel Calvi Marina https://www.hotel-mariana.com/en/ Hôtel Mariana, Avenue Santa Maria, 20260 CALVI
First impressions – Calvi airport is enjoyably tiny. Starlings deafening in the palm trees by the seafront. Fish & chips / salad in one of the few open restaurants for an expensive €70 (with 500 ml of Sicilian red). Snow on the mountain tops.