My Solar Robot

My solar robot, sitting on the windowsill, harvesting sunlite

If anybody else is still out there blogging in 2020, I’m sure the last thing anyone needs is a post about the impact of Coronavirus and the public lockdowns that have ensued. I have to acknowledge it though, and stress that I’m trying to not take for granted the fact that I’ve been doing quite well under the circumstances.

I told my dad on a phone call earlier this summer that it’s the introvert’s time to shine: working from home is how I’ve always done it, and doing things like trying to work out cycle routes where I would encounter as few other people as possible is exactly my kind of task.

I haven’t let my foot off the creative accelerator either. It’s physically small, but my biggest personal project this summer has been a robot I have made out of some tiny solar panels I ordered from China, a can of chickpeas, and a tiny little computer.

All he does is rotate his arms to collect power, so he can use that power to rotate his arms again the next day: a perfectly useless little machine!

The project took a couple of months of simmering, and I made a nice little video of the project. A few recent experiences have encouraged me to get over the hump of the sound of my own voice, so I have narrated this video, and I think I’ve done a nice job! I’m proud of the little robot, and proud of the video I’ve made, so I’d love for you to give a couple of minutes to watch it.

Waschmann spins again

My new attempt at an old painting of a spaceman-washing-machine

It feels a little silly to paint a picture I already painted a few years ago, but the Waschmann caught my attention again recently. I was thinking about how my attempt at contrasting a matte space sky with a glossy robot body didn’t really work on the canvas surface. I decided I’d give it another go on a harder surface, and it would be a good excuse to have another go with Stuart Semple’s Black 2.0 paint (and by funny coincidence I then heard it featured on 99 Percent Invisible recently too). I’ve got to say – the Black 2.0 paint is super disappointing. The best thing about it is how it photographs, as it’s very easy to blow it out to 100% black when post-processing, but in person it’s laughably not-black. Even regular old System 3 process black is dramatically darker to the human eye, even with a gloss glaze over it. I hope Semple’s Black 3.0 paint is an improvement, but I’m less inclined to try it considering how disappointed I am by the 2.0.

My old attempt at painting the Waschmann

My painting is a little better anyway – it’s a lot more subtle without the thick black outlines.

Rickmansland Calling

It’s a slow process, but I’ve been trying to get myself out to more portfolio reviews when I can get them. I’ll usually give people cat stickers or post-it notes, but I had an idea recently to use the tiny letterpress to make some calling cards. Not business cards- I’m far too independent and self-depreciating for them – just something to give someone, to hopefully remind them they met me.

Letterpressing alone would make for a nice and somewhat-unique thing in this world, but I had an idea for how to make them more interesting. I’m constantly drawing robots doing mundane things, which I’ve combined into the cards – along with my name, I’ve letterpressed in a template for a robot, which I can fill in for the recipient based on the mood of the encounter.

As I was printing something as small as intended with my little letterpress (for once), it gave a really good deep impression on the paper stock.

Check out the tiny video I made about making these tiny cards!

Now let’s hope I can find some interesting people to give them to.

Clean-up in Sector Six

I created the above illustration for Barbican’s Sci-fi poster competition. Clean-up in Sector Six imagines a team of domesticated robots commissioned to travel into junk orbit and collect the space junk that is floating out there. Inside their rocket ship, they dismantle the trash they capture, and after sorting it for valuables, use the rest as fuel for their engine that powers the ship. They’re kind of like space wombles! Of course, because their job is cleaning, they can’t help cleaning up their ship perpetually as well.

Here we see a robot vacuuming the vacuum chamber

I do like to think about junk orbit from time to time. Some of the stuff floating around up there would have been the most expensive objects ever created in their time. Now they just hover around out there, trying not to cause any accidents. Kind of like how I feel on the internet.

Speakerbot III

Speakerbot III

This weekend’s project was an upgrade of sorts for Speakerbot, the little robot that lives beside my turntables.

He originally came to be because my speakers sat on different shelves that weren’t the same height in an old apartment. Of course the way to remedy that was to make a robot to bring one speaker up to the right height. Here was my original illustration of the idea:

120210 - Annoy

A couple of days later, he emerged from the cardboard

120211 - Speakerbot

Then he had a well-received lick of paint

120311 - Productive Day

About five years later, the cardboard was starting to get a little soft and wobbly, so this weekend I rebuilt him out of MDF. Who knew cardboard could be so human-like?

woodbot

An upgrade was done to his electricals, including some new switches on the light-matrix and a new meter that can just-about be hooked up to the music to display its current.

Press the button

He stands a lot firmer now, and will hopefully last longer than the cardboard incarnation did!

Secret Ingredient

One of my favourite cakes is a coffee and walnut cake. I got the recipe from my gran – she still makes the cake, my mum makes it, and now Lilly and I make it too. The only thing about the cake is it has a secret ingredient – it’s not coffee in any way I’ve known it.

Eternal Cake

Can you tell what the secret ingredient is? Chances are, if you’re American, you probably can’t tell (as Lilly and I learnt last time we were on the other side of the Atlantic). If you’re British you might not know what it is either – the only occasion I’ve ever known to use it is in this cake.

Look at the robots go though! And the electric butter cow! Never stop making those little cakes guys, coffee and walnut forever!

How To Make A Washing Machine

If the title of this post didn’t make it clear enough, I was really pleased with the hyper-detailed looping animated gif of a robot factory I made earlier this year. So much so I have decided to make another one. This time they’re making – you guessed it – washing machines!

faktur1140

It took a lot of energy, but for a 1.1 second loop, you can spent a whole lot longer than that looking at it to follow what’s going on.

My favourite bit is the robot who stretches the drive belt over the drum. It feels nice when things come out of my brain in the way I imagined them!

How My Mind Works or The Best Gif I’ve Ever Made

Factory (Click for a massive version)

I was digging through my archives last week and got completely distracted by this six-piece post-it drawing I did a year ago. After staring at it for a moment, I had the idea of turning it into an animated gif, so this weekend instead of watching it rain, I got to work.

I think it has to be the best damn animated gif I’ve ever made. It loops so perfectly, and it’s full of robots and washing machines. It’s a pretty good representation of what goes on in my mind too.

You can click it to load a huge version of the drawing if you want to check out some of the detail in it!

 
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