Origami War Elephant

I’m sure you if you read this blog regularly you’ve been wondering how is that origami War Elephant coming along? Well, I’m pleased to announce here it is!

When I started designing this, Jeannie commented that I was aspiring to Brian Chan (http://chosetec.darkclan.net/origami/) territory. Making models at that level of complexity requires some R&D. I folded quite a number of prototypes, mostly out of larger (15″) foil paper, to work thru the placement and proportion of the tower with respect to the elephant body. The other major issue to solve was what to do with all the pleats that ended up at the edges of the sheet. Some of them were tucked inside, but I was to use the ones near the back to make more complete hind feet. The ones in the front were transformed in into multiple tusks in the spirit of Peter Jackson’s Oliphaunt.

Which is cool because I originally got the idea to design this model after seeing Lord of the Rings, thinking a fantastic Elephant would make a nice complement to my Dragon. The concept and design changed as it developed, but it’s nice that I was able to keep that original detail, and that the insight about the relationship between the castle and the tusks turned out to be correct.

The last issue had to do with thickness of the paper.  It’s easy to make pretty much anything out of foil, which is why it’s good for prototyping, cuz you can just crush it into shape. But for exhibit quality models, I tend to use thicker papers like Wyndstone and Canson, and the layers can add up fast and produce a tendency for the model to spring open. In the past I’ve tended to solve this problem by refining my designs to use the paper tension as a feature just where I want it in the model. But for this subject it just couldn’t be simplified out.

So I ended up wet-folding the model. This has been a technique that has been around for years and alot of complex folders use it. But I’ve resisted up until now, feeling that it’s a bit of a cheat. But it works so fantastically, now I’m a believer! You just dampen the parts of the model that you would crush it were foil, and clamp it in place with a paperclip and wait for it to dry. Then the paper is held in place stiffly in the desired position.

In fact I like it so much I went back and touched up some of my older models with this technique!

The model shown here is folded from a 19″ square of Wyndstone Elephant Hide paper.  Coming soon: new origami galleries!


My site has been jammed for the past few days.  I had to upgrade my version of WordPress to be be able to publish posts again. This has the strange side effect of introducing strange characters in old posts.  Gotta get on the horn with tech support.  Hopefully we’ll have it cleared up soon.

Catching Up

It’s been a while since I posted so here’s a quick update. I’ve been in the middle of a bunch of things; progress on multiple fronts.

Summer’s here! Summer Fridays are in effect at my office. The kids are counting the days until the end of school. We had a good visit with our friends Seth and Cathy at their new summer house over the long weekend, kayaking and making barbecues. Great time. Thanks!

I replaced the drive gears in my garage door opener, and then had to debug all kinds of fussy settings for travel and balance and torque so the thing would go up and down smoothly without tripping the automatic safety shutoff when it wasn’t supposed to. Looks like it’s pretty much there. Also I took the Mustang out for a good long drive the other day. It sounds kinda rough under 30 MPH, especially when the engine is cold, but once it gets above 50 it’s strong as ever. Strange. I wonder what can be done about it. Once I straighten that out I’ll feel better about getting the bodywork done.

I’ve been slowly getting back into updating my web site, which is long overdue for a major overhaul. As a start a made a new index page, which combines the features of old index and home pages, replacing them both.

I got the horn section for my new song Green Glove recorded and mixed, and I need just one more session to tweak some levels before I’m ready to post the rough mix. I’m also nearly complete my origami War Elephant. I’ve been working on this steadily the last month or so. More on both of these in separate posts soon.

New Song: Green Glove

I’ve been working on a new song called Green Glove. It’s sort of a silly song that I made up last winter when we were painting our house, and a green glove literally fell out of the coat closet and onto my head. I just started spontaneously singing it and we had a good laugh.  Days later I was still singing it, and it seemed like it was a catchy tune so I decided to work on it and record it. The song is on the short side and deliberately repetitive, with one verse and a two-word chorus, in contrast to my last song which was very verbose. I took as the model a song like Steely Dan’s “The Fez”, or maybe some Zappa jazz. But it has a big ol’ piano solo in the middle and a sort of buildup ending and none of the repeats are quite the same.

Also this was something of a departure from my usual way of arranging. In the past I’ve tended to work out the structure of a song to the point where I can sing it the whole way thru and accompany myself on piano, and that gives me the skeleton of the song I can use as a basis for arranging and recording. But for this one the arrangement was more mutable and I did a good amount of experimenting once I started tracking. To some extent this was inevitable because there’s a fair amount of layering going on in the vocals and in the instruments in the second half of the tune. So now I’m almost there. The only thing remaining before the frst rough mix is to lay down the horn section parts.

Green Glove

Once I found my own true love
Beneath a shady apple tree
And while green apples fell on my head from above
She wore a
Green glove green glove
Green glove green glove
Green glove, green glove
Green glove

Fixin’ The Machinery

I’ve been feeling for a while like random tasks have been piling up, to the point where I took a day this week just to get a few things done. Last weekend I did some work on everyone’s bicycles, and I also had to rebuild the support that holds out our mailbox. But I ran out of time Sunday while the todo list keeps increasing.

The specific motivator was that my Mustang, being and old car, wouldn’t start this spring. The car is mechanically sound, but alot of the hoses and gaskets are just old. So I had to get it towed to garage, which was kind of a big deal. The place I took it to a couple years back to get the carburetor worked on (basically they replaced all the gaskets and seals in it), that specialized in classic cars, is no longer in business, so I took it to my main local mechanic. It turned out the problem was the fuel pump was leaky and needed to be replaced, a fairly straightforward fix. While they were at it also replaced a radiator hose.  I drove it home and it’s nice to be running again. The engine was a bit rough but it was a cold rainy day so it didn’t get warmed up. I need to take it out on the highway for a good run this weekend until I get that warm rumbly feeling of anachronistic V-8 power. I’m also wondering if it could use new shocks.  Also, this is the year I hope to get the body painted. I have been saying that every year for the past few years, but this time I really mean it! Still there’s always something coming up that demands my attention, so we’ll see how it goes. The first step is to shop around for a body shop to do the work.

The other fixit project is my garage door opener, which stopped working last week and was conveniently easy to reach with the Mustang away at the shop. The motor spins and goes on and off, but the drivetrain and the door don’t move. I took it apart to find the main gear — which inexplicably was made out of soft plastic — was completely stripped and snowlike shavings all over the inside of the box.  Also the main axle was seized. I lubed up the moving parts and tracks for the garage door to make it easier to slide, suspecting the problem was excessive strain on the gears. I ordered a replacement gear kit, so hopefully when it arrives I can put it back in working order.

New Mexico Fotoz

Okay here it is.  We took almost 600 pictures on our trip last month, and from that I distilled four galleries of pictures.  If you follow along with my post describing the trip you can probably figure out where every shot was taken.  Good luck

For those of you who don’t want to look at lots and lots of rocks (Hi Mom!) I posted a few images to give you the flava below.  For everyone else, follow the links.  If you need the password, please let me know.


Tea With Warriors — Niagara

My friend John Neumann recently released a new record album as Tea With Warriors. This follow-up to Quiet Revolution is called Niagara, and it’s sort of a concept album, a set or related instrumental tracks inspired by the famous river. Trancelike, moody and evocative, the songs feature lots fretless bass, ethereal synthesizers, exotic percussion, and John’s haunting violin playing. I’ve really been enjoying listening to it; I’ve had it on in a loop the whole weekend. You can learn more at teawithwarriors.com.