Backbone Radiation  

Cog & Chain Progress

Cog TemplateVideo Maker

Ok, so the cog & chain that I posted about last week has been sitting on my floor ever since. In that time it has been whispering to me what it wants to become and I’ve been listening.

The two pieces together have so much potential for interesting movement that it would be a down right shame if they didn’t become kinetic in some way. In order for that I reckon that at least one more cog will be needed.

Years ago, my friend and colleague Ben Cowden figured out a clever method for DIY gears. I used his technique to duplicate this cog in a plywood template. Next I’ll transfer the pattern to a steel plate and mill the new cog.

-Stay Tuned

Cog & Chain

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I don’t remember which I found first, the massive cog or the 6′ of burly chain, but the day I found that they mesh I was happier than a pigeon with a french fry.

Sadly, that excitement was shelved, along with the chain and cog, for a while as other, paying, projects passed through my shop.

As any horder  sculptor can tell you, the compulsion to save things of value sometimes conflicts with the efficiency of storing them. What follows is both the disappearance of cool stuff into the depths of one’s work space, but also the occasional joy of re-finding them.

This is exactly what happened last week as I unearthed the forgotten cog and chain out from behind a stack of buckets underneath my drill press.

I was so happy to see these objects again that I decided to put them directly in my line of sight for the next week or so to see if I can think of what to do with them. This usually encourages my inspiration and I really am looking forward to seeing what happens.

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I found this video earlier today while cleaning out an old hard drive.

This scroll, along with the several others I bent that day, eventually found themselves in a set of window grills that I made for a client in Berkeley.

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Shop Tools

Bending ForksVideo Maker

Sometimes a job comes along that requires a tool that I don’t have. Sometimes that tool is specific in such a way that might make it hard to find and buy. Lucky for me, blacksmithing is a profession that folds custom tool making right into the core of its process.

I made this bending fork set recently because I had donated my previous one to the Crucible Blacksmithing dept.

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Daniel Hopper is currently making a set of very cool chandeliers, and I am happy to be helping him with this project.

Here I am forging a bunch of smaller elements which will be added to the rough form that I posted a few days ago.

Next week we’ll weld the elements together, run wires and light the thing up.

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Daniel Hopper Designs


Recently, I have been helping my friend and fellow blacksmith Daniel Hopper (maker of the internet famous octotpus chandelier) with another,  larger chandelier project.

These pieces are forged pipe that have been bent in a press to follow the armature on the floor. If you look closely, you can see the un-welded seams. When assembled, the pipe conceals the electrical wires leading to the bulbs.

Sadly, the chalk grid that we drew on the floor for proper registration has worn away. It was a work of art in itself.

This is one of two for a private residence somewhere in Nebraska.

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Back From Alaska And Moving Forward


My trip to Alaska this past summer was full of learning and adventure. While I was there, I made the conscious effort NOT to record anything in any media format. No photos, no video, no audio recording. OK, so I took this photo, but that was basically it.

I did this as an experiment of sorts to see how/if my memories of the experiences that I had will last without the aid of what my friend Ryon calls “our collective prosthetic brain”.

Will my memories fade without the omnipresent assistance from Facebook and Flikr, or will they become stronger without the visual aid? It’s been about a month since I have been back in Oakland. So far, most memories are still quite vivid.

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Dialogues In Motion Picked Up By Portland Art Museum

Dialogs In Motion – 2012 from Benjamin Carpenter on Vimeo.

In 2012, my friend and collaborator Sudhu Tewari and I responded to a call made by the SFMOMA. They were asking artists to design games that visitors could play while viewing the work in the museum.

We came up with an idea that involved combining specific physical movements with words commonly used in art discourse. Dialogues In Motion, along with 3 other games, was accepted by SFMOMA as part of their ARTGAMELAB exhibition.

Last week I was contacted by the interpretive media specialist from the Portland Art Museum because they wanted to use our game for their new Friday night programming.

So, if you are in Portland Oregon Friday Oct 3rd, and you make it to the museum, and you see a bunch of people acting like fools, then they are probably playing our game.

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The Lost & Foundry Studios



Almost two years ago, I moved into the unrefined space in the rear of an old industrial foundry in West Oakland.

We have made some progress since then and today, we have twelve talented and productive tenants would do a wide variety of creative work.

Check em out at our new site.

-Stay Tuned


Blue Yodle BoatVideo Maker

OK, I have been in Alaska for the last 6 weeks working as an independent welder on the salmon boat fleet on Kodiak. I know, I know, what the hell right? I should have posted about my decision to come here and how I prepared for it as it happened, but as anyone who works with their hands for a living can tell you, posting about your works sometimes takes a backseat to the actually doing the work. I apologize for my aloofness.

I first considered coming here several months ago when a friend returned from a trip to the island and told me about the potential opportunities for a welder here during the fishing season.

In the months to follow the prospect became more appealing for many reasons and I decided to go.  As it turns out, my friend was correct about the opportunities for welders, but he was slightly off about the timing of it all. Fishing is the major industry here and it operates in seasons. The busy time for the several, smaller, satellite industries such as  electrical, mechanical and welding happen just before these seasons begin.

I have landed a few jobs so far that have paid pretty well, but most of the fleet is out fishing. So, to make up for the lack of work on the fishing boats, I have been putting in some hrs with a local boat builder.

Above are a few shots of a custom, aluminum landing craft that I had a hand in building.

-Stay Tuned