Small House - Stairs

Designed as a focal point to bring people into the foyer and up to the second floor, the stairs for the small house project are designed to be built out of four pieces of steel plate.  

The two stair sections are cut on a large waterjet and then bent into shape.  The landings are cut from the same steel plate and welded to the stair sections.  Ideally the stairs would only be attached at two points on the upper and lower slabs but additional wall mounts or a structural glass railing may be needed to prevent the stairs from twisting.  In this case, the attachment points would be integrated into the design before the pieces are cut on the waterjet.  The stair would be left in its raw metal state to weather with the building or coated with a blackening agent.  


Small House - Floor Plans and Elevations

More progress on the small house.  A few variations on the ground floor plans, some elevations, sections and basic renders.  Nothing too fancy today. 



Small Lot, Small House

This project is for a small, skinny lot on the San Francisco peninsula.  Oriented east/west, the lot has large north/south exposure.  I wanted to take advantage of the best possible lighting conditions for the site, but the narrow footprint would not allow for a desirable orientation.  Extruding a single 1000 sqft mass upward created another 1000 sqft but left the building with the smallest masses facing east/west and the large ones facing north/south.  By rotating the upper mass I was able to capture more sunlight.  To utilize sunlight, the living, cooking and dining spaces are upstairs, while the sleeping and utility spaces are downstairs.  A double height void containing the stairs connects the two masses and serves as a focal point to bring people through the lower foyer and up to the second floor.

Today's post includes concept sketches and diagrams, floor plan variations and current progress on the 3D model.



On Hiatus

Started a new job a few weeks ago. (yeah!) I'll be back to the blog when things get routine... Stay tuned.



SciFi Blaster 02

This work in progress started out as a light gun.  After stripping out the interior of unnecessary parts I came back through and added electronics to add a level of realism to the project.  The barrel uses a blinkM programmable light, which allows me to set both the color of the LED and the pattern that it flashes when the trigger is pulled.  I also added a toggle switch to act as a safety switch, flipping it turns the gun on and lights the green LED on the side, flipping it the opposite way arms the gun, lights the red LED along with the green and enables the trigger light. On the outside I've added a scope, flash hider, maglite, and a laser scope. Right now it has been painted with black paint to make it all one uniform color as I add details and work to hide seams and screw holes.  I hope to finish this soon!

Chronicles of Riddick Ulack Knife

One of my favorite props, the Ulaks from The Chronicles of Riddick Movie and The Assault on Dark Athena video game were fairly easy to build.  The X-ACTO Ergo and a fantasy knife called the Swing Blade are the two main components in the build.  The handle of the Ergo knife was heavily modified on the inside to fit around the handle of the Swing Blade knife.  Once bolted together the seams were filled with bondo and painted.  The knife was detailed with multiple layers of flat black paint, coated in Plasti-Dip for a rubberized texture and finally weathered with pastel chalk.  The blade itself was weathered with acrylic "mud and blood," and rough spots were created with steel wool to facilitate the growth of a bit of rust.  

The knife was very sharp so it needed some sort of display.  In the movie, the knife was used on the volcano planet Crematoria, so I designed the display to emulate the surface of the planet.  Pillows of hardened lava were created with expanding foam on a steel backing. I added an image from the DVD cover as a name plate and attached the knife to the steel backing with magnets.  


Landing the Space Shuttle

Spent thirty minutes today shooting landings in the space shuttle... a perk of having an in at NASA I guess!  

The vertical motion simulator at NASA Ames is used for testing and simulation. With an interchangeable cab, the VMS can suit many different simulation and training needs;  moon landers, the space shuttle, helicopters, and standard aircraft cabs can be switched out as needed for the various engineering and training tasks that NASA carries out on a day to day basis.  Most recently the VMS was outfitted with the space shuttle cab for use in astronaut training, which was completed a few weeks ago.  

As the cab is ready to be switched out for another test in a week or so, I was given the chance to come in and fly the cab in a series of demos that illustrated its capabilities.  Set up as a landing simulation, I was able to bring the space shuttle in under various conditions including cloud cover, high cross winds, a night landing, and one with a wheel blow out.  The cab is outfitted with actual space shuttle control sticks and other various parts that are needed for the landing simulations, the VMS, being a full motion simulator, can giver accurate feedback to the pilots and provide a compelling simulation for someone like me, who will never get the chance to fly the real thing. After the jump you'll find a few pics and two videos, one of my first landing, the second of what the cab looks like from the outside as it is underway.  Thanks to the techs and engineers at NASA who made this possible.  You can check out more on the VMS here


Succumb Lightsabers

A few years post the creation of Lumen Ex Consilium, I was contacted by a film maker in Austin, Texas who was putting together a Star Wars fan film in the genera of Steampunk.  Two hilts were needed in a relatively short period of time.  Using a similar design language as before, I built the hilts around custom parts cut on a laser cutter and off the shelf brass tubing and rod.  The crystal chamber emitter and various small parts all came from my spare parts boxes.  Current progress and a trailer for the film can be found here.

WIP - Malcolm Reynolds Pistol from Firefly

This work-in-progress is from a TV show that was killed too early; Joss Whedon's Firefly blended sci-fi with the old west in a spaceships and horses post civil war galaxy.  One of the main protagonists in the series, Malcolm Reynolds carried a war issued blaster made to look like something from our own civil war.  I started building a replica of the pistol by measuring and drawing blue prints off of screen captured images of the prop. A foam core mockup was made to test proportions and once those felt correct I started to build the pistol out of pieces of brass and aluminum, shaping them with a dermal tool, files, and a hack saw.  Two years into the project I was offered the opportunity to purchase a raw resin cast of a pistol from the screen used molds, which after painting and weathering was adequate enough for me to use in a display.  With this copy in hand I set out to make my metal project more accurate, at this time it is still a work in progress.


Chachapoyan Goddess of Fertility Idol

The Fertility Idol from the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most iconic props of the twentieth century.  After liberating the solid gold Chachapoyan Goddess of Fertility Idol from a temple deep in the jungles of Peru, Indy was forced to give it up to the rouge archeologist Belloq.  The mythology of the idol has it traveling to Marrakech, where Indy eventually picks it up from an antiquities dealer and brings it back to the states.

In reality the prop was built out of resin and fiberglass and gold plated.  Built in two versions, a hero and a stunt version, the original prop now resides in the archives at Lucasfilm.  The two versions were slightly different; the hero containing glass eyes that could be moved via radio control and the second a solid stunt version that could withstand abuse.   


Sci-Fi Blaster

This was my first blaster project, constructed in 2002.  Built with the same mentality as Han Solo's blaster from Star Wars, which was built upon a German Mauser C96 pistol from WWI; I chose to base this one on an American Colt Model 1911.  I began by taking apart a 1911 bb gun to harvest parts from the interior to used as detailing on the exterior, a scope, digital number display (similar to the one used for the pulse rifles in Aliens), and various parts form my parts bin completed the project.   A coat of flat black paint and a custom leg holster completed the project.

Retro Raygun

Every pulp sci-fi hero or heroine needs a fantastic raygun, no matter whether they are battling martians or exploring the depths of a black hole.  Built out of found parts, the Retro Raygun takes its cues from Buck Rodgers and the many Raygun toys from the 20th century.  The main hull of the gun is a repurposed light from a beach-cruiser bike, the handle was built by me and consists of alternating layers of aircraft grade mahogany ply and spruce.  The barrel is a brass tube with a drawer pull fitted on the end as an emitter.


Biodynamic Structures 2010

Architectural Association of London Visiting School 2010

Biodynamic Structures at California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California.

The 2010 Biodynamic Structures Seminar brought sixty people from twenty different countries together to learn, research, and build fully interactive biodynamic structures in ten days.  Starting with a series of workshops focusing on Arduino, Grasshopper, Firefly, and structural systems, the class challenged students to develop full scale working prototypes of a biodynamic system of their choosing.

Each group of students started by locating an area within the CCA campus for their intervention.  They then isolated the issues inherent in that location that a biodynamic system could address and then set out to design and build their full scale prototype of the intervention, applying what was learned in the three days of workshops to the project.


Lumen Ex Consilium

These first few post will be about existing or past projects.  The first project I want to bring to the forefront is a lightsaber from 2007.

Lumen Ex Consilium was built as a joint project between myself and one of my old college buddies.  He was looking for something interesting to give to his brother as a gift, I was looking for a project that was different from the others I'd done before.  Lumen Ex Consilium was designed in the style of Steampunk, a historic alternative to victorian London where mechanical computers rendered in brass, leather, and wood ushered in the birth of the information age through clouds of steam and coal smoke.  Built mostly out of period materials, Lumen Ex Consilium opted for an open handle to facilitate fast cooling of the steam chambers and a custom brass, steel, and copper faraday cage around the crystal chamber to protect the user from the massive amounts of energy needed to create the classic lightsaber blade…

Welcome to The Open Shop

A blog that follows my projects in interaction, prop design, and architecture.