Arte e Artigianato, con un Po 'di Magia

(Art and Craft, with a little Magic)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Back in the Shop/Studio

Taking a little break after the big Skyship Project, I cobbled together a TOOL CADDY for my workbench. It holds my most-used tools, and can be carried to any work area. Made from  wood scraps, cut on table saw, glued together.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Skyship ERIS - Part 7 (March, 2019)

POST-PRODUCTION:  After Gary finished the beautiful photos in Post #6, I sent copies to my son Paul. He did some post-production magic in software, and came up with the beautiful renditions shown below.

Remember, There have now been 7 Posts in this series. Scroll all the way down to #1, and work your way back to the here.

SkyShip ERIS in her natural environment, searching for new adventures.

This is a design that might have been found in one of Leonardo DaVinci's Notebooks.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Skyship ERIS - Part 6 (March, 2019)

THE COMPLETED MODEL...  The Skyship ERIS model is now finished. I completed all the little details and touched-up all the little paint chips, and here she is. I thank my friend, Gary Lowell, at Chase The Sun Creative Media for taking the beautiful photos below. 

There have been 6 Posts in this series. One more is coming. Scroll down to #1 and work your way back to the top.

Now, I'll take a little break, and decide what my next big creative adventure will be. 
Thanks for looking... Carlo

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Skyship ERIS - Part 5 (February, 2019)

THE GNOME CREW:  The Skyship ERIS is owned and operated by a large, extended "nation" of Gnomi living in Northwestern Italy. In Italian; Gnomo/Gnoma, singular  Gnomi plural. They are divided into a group of autonomous clans, but come together for large celebrations and projects like building and using their fleet of skyships. To learn more about "Gli Gnomi" (Italian Gnomes), go to  Italian Gnome History and Culture

A typical Gnomo is about 2-3 feet tall, and has a stocky, heavy-boned stature. They are proportionately very strong and quick for their size. Each clan is led by the male and female elders, usually a married couple. A Shaman guides and advises on the spiritual aspects of gnome life.

On the skyship ERIS, a small, fast explorer vessel, there is a crew of 5; Il Capitano (leader), Il Guarda Fuori (lookout/navigator), and 3 other crew members, who tend to the engines and gas generator.

Il Capitano: Leader of the crew, and master of his skyship. He dresses according to his station, and stands at the controls, ready to guide his ship.


Most of the crew were too busy, but we caught Luciano on a break, singing and playing his concertina.

Otto is the "Guarda Fuori" (Lookout) and Navigator of the skyship. He can usually be found in his Crow's Nest with his maps and telescope, plotting the ship's next movements.
The Crow's Nest, seen from above. Notice the maps, a telegraph key,
and the radiophone, used for talking with the capitano, below on deck.
Finally, a larger view, showing the Crow's Nest atop the balloon, a rope ladder, and wires for connecting the radiophones.

Skyship ERIS - Part 4 (January-February, 2019)

THEORETICAL INTERLUDE:  Before I describe the workings of the Skyship, how about a little Fantasy Physical/Chemical/Engineering Theory. This vessel is driven and steered in the horizontal direction by the twin propellers located on outboard pods. These propellers are, in turn, powered by an engine at the rear of the ship. Of course, if we accept that we are in the "Steampunk" era, it should have a coal-fired steam boiler and engine. Only parts of the engine are visible; the rest is below deck.

The vertical movement of the ship is driven by the balloons, which are filled with an inert helium-like gas. This gas is produced by a secret electrochemical/mechanical method, developed by Italian Gnomes in hidden valleys of the Alps. They gathered all the existing information from Universities in Parma, Milan, and Bologna, andthen added their own special adaptations (and a bit of magic). Most of the gas production equipment is hidden below deck, but some of the hardware can be seen at the front of the ship; a large gas storage barrel, assorted controls, and a large tube leading to the control console, amidship, and on to the balloons. By adjusting the gas flow rate and direction, the ship can be raised and lowered quickly and precisely

The Control Console is the province of "Il Capitano". Here he oversees all the workings of the ship, utilizing the ship's wheel, gauges and switches, and several levers. Here, Il Capitano controls both the vertical and horizontal movement and direction of the skyship. He also communicates to the Crow's Nest via a two-way radiophone or telegraph.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Skyship ERIS - Part 3 (January, 2019)

CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES:  Through the month of January, I worked on the ship, added sheathing to the inside of the framework (I wanted the frame to show), a bottom, and the decks. For all the sheetwork, I used commercial sheet balsa and basswood in various thicknesses. Inside, I hid a big wood block, drilled through to hold the threaded rod, which now ran from below the ship bottom to the top of the balloons. I bent it to disguise it's support function, and would later disguise it further as a big tube supplying gas to the balloons.

The assembled airship on my workbench - Note the wooden support block
and the rod. Dowels were placed through the structure to act as "landing gear".

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Here, the ship has planking and decks added, along with rails and the beginnings of the engine (in primer), the gas production barrel, a deck hatch, and an earlier version of Il Capitano.
A little later, there's been a second version of the deck arrangement. The control console is in progress, and a corrugated tube (from my CPAP Machine) covers the support rod. I'm hoping that, when finished, the curved tube will hide the fact that a threaded 1/4" rod (not the ropes to be added) is actually holding up the balloons. At the bottom, you can see the open cargo hatch beginning to take shape in the side of the hull. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Skyship ERIS - Part 2 (December/January, 2018/19)

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS:   After research was complete, and sketches and plans were drawn, I actually started building in early December. 

I started with the balloons. I wanted a multi-lobed design with a coarse cloth surface, so I bought some cheap dollar-store balloons, and tried to glue them in a cluster. No glue worked very well, and then my son Paul suggested that I stuff the balloons into the "butt-end" of extra-large pantyhose. Well, that worked fine, and I was able to arrange the balloons, and apply layers of plaster bandage over that, to set the shape. Then, I popped the balloons, leaving the hard shell intact. At this point, the balloon cluster is about 12”High X 19”Long X 11”Wide.

5 balloons, covered with plaster bandages.

Finally, I cut some muslin material into pieces, stained it different shades of tan, and glued it on for a final rough-textured surface. The restraints are cord with brass loops and fasteners. A threaded rod was run through the balloons to support and attach it to the ship.

At this point, I put the ballon assembly aside for the Holidays.

In early January, I started work on the ship, or sky-vessel. The Gnomes call it a "ship" because that is a form they are familiar with, for water transport. The advantage of a "skyship" is that is doesn't have to be waterproof. This allows for more freedom in the design/build process.

The basic structure of the ship was built from clear pine wood strips, cut on my table saw. As in traditional ship construction, a keel was laid down, on a simple jig. The cross-frames and other braces were then added to give the ship its overall basic form.

Now the ship could be removed from the jig, and readied for sides and decks.

Skyship ERIS - Part 1 (November, 2018)

PROLOG:  In the late Fall of 2018, I decided to take on a big new project that I've been dreaming about for years. It's a fantasy airship, supported by balloons, with a Steampunk design, and pirate gnomes as a crew. 

The origin of my fantasy airship idea dates all the way back to the early 1970's when I was a big fan of a folk singer, the late JOHN HARTFORD, and we attended one of his concerts in Charlottesville Virginia. One of my favorite songs of his was a fantasy story-song he sang called "The Steam-Powered Airplane". Ever since, that idea has been rattling around my brain, waiting for realization. Seeing the movie, Mortal Engines, was the clincher. 

Research began in earnest. I searched the web for fantasy airships, and found the 3 examples below; the first one from a "Mortal Engines" book. I also decided that this ship would be a small, fast, explorer vessel, used to locate, map, and explore new territories. Larger cargo and passenger vessels would follow later.

Add to that my long-time fascination with gnomes, especially Italian Gnomes, and this airship began to come into focus. So, those are some of the motivations behind this project. 

Oh, and the names of this ship (one on each side) will be ERIS and DISCORDIA, honoring the Greek and Roman Goddesses of Chaos, respectively. Yes, that's big list of fantasies, dreams, and expectations, but I was ready to begin construction.