NJ Makers Podcast

Last month, I followed through with a long time dream of mine to make a podcast. Now, I'm in that awkward spot of figuring it out as I go, making plenty of mistakes, as well as a few happy accidents, and hopefully, getting a few things intentionally right along the way. The show is about Makers, and the Maker Movement in New Jersey. A lot of the future guests I've approached so far are friends I know who love making stuff as much as I do. They are Artists, Programmers, Cosplayers, small business owners, Farmers, and more. I am so looking forward to bringing their stories to you as the show progresses. This will be a slow process going forward, as I am building this from the ground up by myself, and learning as I go about quite a lot.

There are two episodes out as of writing this post, a third and fourth recorded, and a few more scheduled in the not-so-distant future. The response so far from my friends, family, and community, have been stellar and most humbling. I sincerely thank you.

My goal with the podcast is to help highlight some of the awesome things going on around me that I think deserve more attention, and will maybe help inspire others to start their own personal maker movement. I'm a Maker myself, learning on the job how to make a podcast, and enjoying every minute of it. NJ Makers Podcast is on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play, and Stitcher as of a couple weeks ago. You can follow the show on Twitter and Facebook @NJMakersPodcast. I would  love to hear what you think, good or bad. Please leave a review on iTunes or whatever podcast app you use, that would be much appreciated and a big help.


Better Hate

way down by the gallows
of our history

you’re bound to see shows
of lost misery

lured there by the Sirens
of our fantasies

they’re downed in the shallows
of yore mystery

weighed down by the shadows
of our memories

they're tethered at the ankles, doze-
-ing lazily

smothered by the dozens
with the greatest of Eves

any other Day of favor reckons
these discrepancies...


Better Hate makes

entangled fates
has proved futile

when separate ways
becomes the fashion

thrown away
Is evolution

and their hate has
fed extinction

separate ways
has halted traction

entangled fates
was the solution

but Better Hate
has proved the problem

and other Days
should heed this lesson

better hate makes
truth deniers

Afterthoughts and new hands

When I started making these #timepieces I would painstakingly craft the face, and use some out of the box hands I would dress up and make fit the piece. It always felt like an afterthought to be honest. I wished I had some certain skill or technique that could will into existence the hands that were in my mind. A couple years later, I found out I already did. Just not the technology. Thanks to the #MakerStudio and #Adobe, I can design these custom hands in #Illustrator, and print them out. My dad's sweet pair of calipers and some pro-tips are coming in handy as well, but that's nothing new. It's really thank to the hand skills he's given me, and the tools I've "sto'borrowed" that I can do any of this. That and, ya know, Google...

These hands were able to be conceptualized right along with this #clock the whole time. I knew the look I was going for, and thanks to Illustrator (and by extension my mom for teaching me that one), these were super fun to make. They even almost fit the first print around. There is still a lot of work to be painting and placing them on the #collage, but that's another fun challenge. 

Some more recent, non-afterthoughty, hands made without the advent of being able to ctrl+p a solid object were the stock metal ones I dressed up (grunged up? maybe both? depends on your perspective). The first set were for a teacher of mine that was awesome enough to come out to a couple of my shows last year. She was also nice enough to be patient for it while I worked out some pretty major life changes, much for the better, in the last year. When I delivered the clock I found out she "was" an artist herself. I felt like I should have known that, or asked. It made me feel guilty for being too self-aggrandizing. A lot flashed through my mind when she told me. I was inclined to wonder about the support she received as an artist, and if she had a teacher, like herself showed an interest? I also wanted to know what it would take to turn that "was" into an "is", and suddenly though of Ken Robinson's TED Talk on educating children out of creativity. Her timepiece had a wise owl hidden in it. When I was in her class, she had a patience and a kindness that only comes with wisdom, not simply age. The hands had to be a clue. Using the metal hands, an old vice grip as an anvil, and a hand me down jeweler's hammer they now look like feathers. Or at least to me they do.

The next set were for two friends I gifted a piece to, also a about a year in the making. They are two of the most caring people in our life. The clock was on a piece of wood they gave me after moving into their new house. I didn't know what it would be, but I knew it would make a cool gift to give back to them one day! These hands were done up to look like ivy and was maybe more of a meditative repetition exercise, that what I would call "fun", but I'm happy with how they look and think I was probably listening to Star Talk Radio for the hour or so it took.

Time to get back to tweaking these gear hands. You can check out pictures of these hands and more @Oconoclast on Instagram.

Beautiful Oscillations

Beautiful oscillations on a cool Summer day,
     waxing and waning for, none of us to see....
Such full distillation to be born just to burn away,
     taxing and tazing my, Generation Mi....
To beat a fool's own intentions? Find a new game to play,
     hacking and snacking is, all you think of we...
A regretful Constitution to find it holds such sway,
     stacking and backing, firearm fallacies...

"Joining The Revolution" or "Just Window Shopping"

"Revolution begins at home, but for most of us it ends there too" - Pinhead Gunpowder

I've always loved that quote. It has been an inspiration to me over the years, but mostly in a self-deprecating kind of way. It has fueled the guilt that has gotten me off the couch more than once, to do something that felt productive, at least for a while anyway. Then soon after, I would lose the energy gained by eating my own shame, like you do, and retake my position on the couch, and rejoin the ranks of my fellow Americans.

Finally there is a revolution of ideals happening that I feel is worth dedicating myself and my passion to fully, because it is a revolution I have been a part of since before I was born. I come from a family of artists, mechanics, designers, musicians, computer techs, singers, movie makers, radio hosts, knitters, watch makers, seamstresses, and many a variety of other crafty types. Most of these people blend seamlessly from one of these categories to another. A family of dilettantes, and I am the product of it. I come from a family of makers and fixers.

The revolution is the Maker Movement. It has been called "the democratization of tools". Today, right now, it has never been cheaper or more accessible to use or learn any number of pieces of equipment that I have wanted to get my hands on before. The price on CNC machines, laser cutters, 3d printers (TY to the many patent laws for expiring last year), quality design software (a lot is free or open source now), and there is finally some space to use it.

I'm in slight disbelief that The NY Times just announced Philadelphia as the #3 place in the world to visit, because of it's Collaborative Creative Place Making Endeavors. That seems to fall in nicely with my plans for my day off from The MakerStudio on Thursday. I will be visiting another couple Maker Studios in the area. My volunteer from the library and I will be going to check out NextFAB in Philly, as well as The Factory in Collingswood. I'm hoping to window shop for another maker gym to join, and start learning some more hands on stuff, not really opposed to, but to work in tandem with, the 3d printing and digital design I have been focusing on lately.

The space that GCLS has carved out in Mullica Hill is super awesome (and free to the public), but there are definitely some big pieces of equipment (L4zR CuTt3R!!!1!s) I want to get my hands on, for reasons. My other hope is that by continually going and checking in on other Maker Spaces and reaching out for advice and getting other view points, that will be all the more wisdom and knowledge that I can bring back to my creative place/coworking space near me. That is the heart of the Maker Movement, not cheap tools, though that certainly makes a boon, but it is this spirit of wanting to learn, make, and share that is fueling this revolution.

Today a riddle

First, a riddle. What do you pay an artist to get them to part with their work for free?

I'm having trouble putting down to words the mixed feelings I am having right now. Tomorrow a piece of my work is being raffled away to raise money for children's art classes through the CFAA. At first it felt great just to be a part of this and to be in an place where I could help. Now, I am really regretting my choices of work to donate. It's incredible how attached I am to these pieces. I had mixed feelings from the start, but it really hit me packing them up in the car to be driven out to Ohio. I said goodbye to the one piece in the same way I say goodbye to my cat... "Goodbye buddy". Same inflections. Same sentiment. I'll miss these works in the way that I miss old friends, the smell of Fall when winter takes hold, lost youth, and that day in the rain where it became clear I had found love.

There's no guarantee this art will bring any good to anyone, but it's got to be worth trying, and it is always nice to hear someone appreciates the work. So what do you pay an artist to get their work for free? A compliment.


Today, a poem

We are all Monsters of Story.

Some we buy. Some we sell.

Some we even sell to our very own selves.


We barter in blood and worry.

Don't ask why. Don't dare tell.

Don't dare even tell me your very own tales.


We are all monsters of our stories.

Some are bought. Some are sold.

Some of us have even sold our own damn selves.



Making Makers

I've always wanted to teach. A handful of teachers in particular, have inspired me enough with their stories, that I've always wanted to pass on my own. Spreading knowledge is, to me, one of the highest endeavors a person can undertake. It isn't exactly what makes the world go 'round, that's gravity, but it comes very close. Mankind is a story telling animal. 

Being in the MakerStudio has already shown me hundred times over how one person taking just a moment, and explaining something that at first looked difficult, but wasn't really, could completely alter the future in a positive way. That is a barrier breaker. That is tearing down walls a person had built up in their head holding them back from something.

People are natural makers. No matter what you do for a job, or are in school for, or however low you think your hand/computer skills are, you can make something really cool, and completely unoriginal. Nobody else in the world has your exact set of skills and experiences. You might just possess the perfect set of experiences, that will come together and inspire you to make the next biggest thingamabob. I've been lucky enough to see it, and now facilitate that environment for other people.

Lately, I have been trying to take it all in and learn as much as possible. The onus is on me to either be able to answer someone's "How do I do this...?" or figure out how we can find the best answer together. Sometimes my job is making a person comfortable with the idea that they are about to fail over and over again, before their newest widget will achieve its full awesomeness. A woman last night mentioned her CAD teacher stressing the importance of failure in his class. I was happy.

This has been a journey for me into the world of art, tech, 3D printing, Arduinos, Raspberry pis, coding, Macs, PCs, Linux, graphic design, product design, education, customer service, circuitry, mechanical skills, 3D modelling, physics, Materials science, video games, community outreach, CAD, politics, nonprofits, bugging friends to do this stuff with me, the Maker Movement, recruiting volunteers, social media, emails, lots of emails, and fun, lots of fun. This is just the beginning of something awesome and a lot of stories to tell.

Fall is getting underway

I've been spreading myself a bit thin lately, "like butter scraped over too much bread". It's time to decide what is really important to me, and focus in on that. Also, I need to stop wearing that damn magical ring I stole off that dude in the Misty Mountains, while pretending I was a burglar. I've been really lucky to have a few doors open for me lately, but there's only so much one can juggle without just dropping everything. When I do something I like to give it my all, and I feel like I haven't been able to do that lately. I just accepted possibly job #5, reviewing curriculum this Fall for a 3D modelling class, which is an awesome opportunity/learning experience, but doesn't leave much time for my art and relationship.

In positive news, I'm mostly done the commission timepiece I've been working on, and I'm really happy with it so far (teaser link below). Now I just need to order some clock parts and get extras with the coupon www.clockparts.com sent me. Then I gotta get going on the timepiece I'm donating to the CFAA and their fundraising event this December (more to come on that later).



Last Friday's show was a lot of fun. It always amazes me who shows up to support this craziness of mine. I'm never upset at those who don't, but it means a lot to me when people do. My friends Jim and Erin McHugh (http://mcartalacarte.blogspot.com/) have been especially supportive of my art recently. They are two individuals I wouldn't have recognized walking down the street a year prior, probably in Woodbury, and now they are two of my favorite people. Both are talented artists and genuinely kind people I'm grateful to call my friends. My English teacher last semester came, and commissioned a timepiece from me. I'm looking forward to getting started on that soon. A "music teacher" of mine, who attempted to teach me piano, and I was an utter waste of his time, was there. He had a flat tire, and walked a pretty fair distance in the heat to be there. It was great to see him as well. The other exhibiting artists, Kelly Lynd and George Herquet, were a pleasure to meet too.

Show tomorrow

     Tomorrow is the show at Rowan College (9/5 12-2 pm), recently renamed from Gloucester County College. I am very excited to be a part of this. Myself and four other artists are being featured here, two are from the area, and two from other parts of the country. They feature some pretty well respected contemporary artists, a couple of which I am proud to call friends. I was part of a student show at GCC about ten years ago, and I am happy to return for what I'm calling "The Big Kid Show". I recently started attending courses here again actually, and will submit to show in the student show in December as well.

    I have about 45 pieces of work in the show, ranging from collages to timepieces to photography and a couple paintings. I'm grateful to be allowed to show such a variety of work, and the creative freedom allowed to me by the gallery director Eoin Kinnarney. The other artists all fit a niche of some kind. One does these sweet collages featuring a drawn portrait and found materials. There is one artists who does these abstract stone carvings, they are so tiny but seeing a photograph of them makes them look larger than life. There is a photographer (lyndphotography.com) who is displaying her contact sheets and several wood prints of her work. The contact sheet idea is a well executed idea, she did 365 of them with one photo being taken each day. They are printed with about 16 on an 8x10 sheet. The result takes you from this giant space to getting lost in a tiny little image, while the world behind you fades away. Another artist has these incredible scenery paintings, my sister really loved these. Some of the paintings have these birch trees that reminded her of our childhood playing out front by our birch tree. It was a neat tree with three main limbs coming out of the ground that allowed you to use it as a seat or climb it pretty easily. It has long since rotted and become an unsightly hole in the ground, but those memories came rushing back while admiring the paintings.

     Today was my first day of class. I am slowly chipping away at my liberal art pre reqs at a pace of one class a semester. English Comp 102 is what I am in now. I'm definitely the 'old guy in the room', at the age of 30. The teacher posed the question "Who enjoys American Literature?", to which mine was the only hand who went up... Fifteen years ago I may have been embarrassed or shy enough to keep my hand down, but those days are gone. I also had a horrible speech problem and was frequently bullied, time and disregard have fixed both of those.

     Yesterday, my fiance and I went to pick up her engagement ring. We're official now! It's almost as beautiful as her. We wanted to pick it out together and I'm glad we did. She imagined something kind of vintage looking, in keeping with the aesthetics of my art and personality. I think we really picked a winner.

     I'm stoked for the show tomorrow, but maybe not necessarily for the reasons one might think. My friends and family have always been super supportive of my work, and it always amazes me who shows up to these events. It's a great hang out time, and as we all get a little older each year, those times get fewer and fewer. The only unfortunate thing about it being at the college is the distinct lack of wine...

Playing catch up

     As some of you know, I was working this summer for Black Rocket Productions. They mostly teach video game design, 3d modeling, and other techie things to kids during the summer. It was my first year with the company, and I had an absolute blast! The kids were super creative, and excited to be there. I had two favorite things this summer. One was, and I know this kind of cliche but, seeing the look on a kid's face when they had that "aah hah" moment, and figured out how to do whatever they were just trying to do or create. That was priceless, and worth the long hours in the car driving to and fro North Jersey in my '96 Ford P.O.S. My other favorite thing was learning right along with the younglings.

     This summer was such a challenge tackling somewhere between 15-20 new pieces of software, daily tech problems, behavior issues, getting a grasp of classroom management, and learning a whole new group of kids each week. I had very little teaching experience, and was able to pick up a lot of useful techniques from my coworkers. Also, my girlfriend is an educator, and was an invaluable resource this summer. She was unafraid of telling me when I am wrong, or what I can be doing better with the kids. Having gone through art school where critiques were a big part of our education, I miss having an honest opinion of my work. All of the issues were overcome, and none of it I would have traded for an easier summer, because I learned soo much.

    In the last few weeks; I have gotten engaged to my beautiful girlfriend (and I'm not just saying that because she might read this), I started volunteering at the MakerStudio at the Mullica Hill Library, I was asked to be on the advisory board of the CFAA (www.centerforaccessibleart.org), I hung 45 pieces of work with help from my friend Ben and my sister at the Ross Beitzel gallery at Rowan College for a show this Friday (Sept 5th 12-2 pm is the opening), got a new job, and got back in my own studio working on a couple new timepieces (WIP pics to come).

     The MakerStudio (www.gcls.org/makerstudio) has been really fun. The 3D printer is by far my favorite thing in there. I started working in TinkerCad, upgraded to Sculptris, and now I'm starting to learn Blender and Autocad. The coolest thing, IMO, I've printed has been a chess set. I still need to work on the board, but tonight while I was watching the space I found a modular board that snaps together when you need it, and breaks apart (more to come on this too).

     Now that the summer program is over I am playing catch up with the rest the things important in my life. Starting this blog is one of the things I wanted to do over the summer, but needed to focus on other endeavors. I am going to use this space to showcase works in progress, events, random things, and whatever else may arise in my day. A good quote I read today was, “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” Heraclitus, so the intent and content of this page will surely evolve, or devolve over time. Please stay tuned.