Tuesday, October 2, 2007

endings & beginings

The time has come for me to bid farewell to the development of tall grass and begin the exploration of a new project for Black Rock City sometime in the future.

More process here:


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Its been one week since I returned from the playa and my mind is still spinning from the experience.

Here's a small collection of images showing the project's life span in Black Rock City.

In short, it was an awesome experience. My camp mates/crew really came through and provided the perfect amount of help needed through out the event. The tower broke during the big windstorm on Thursday - a bit of a disappointment to lose the beacon aspect of the project - but the shade structure portion held firm and provided a public shelter space that was utilized day and night by the city's citizens. Every evening at sunset I would create a new perimeter for the project using LED string lights arrayed in differing circular patterns. In addition to protecting the guy lines from errant art cars and bicycles the lights had the unexpected effect of creating an extremely chill and calm enclosure around the three benches surrounding the virtual fire pit of red and yellow LEDs at the tower's base. I really liked it!

I always seem to forget how difficult it is to work on the playa. It's hot, it's dry, it's dusty and it's windy. All at the same time. I brought 28 gallons of water to drink in the course of 12 days and ended up having to borrow another 5!

A brief timeline:

  • Thursday 1:30 a.m. - I arrive on the playa
  • Thursday daytime - set up camp and arrange for trenching power to the center of the plaza
  • Friday - project perimeter set and tower structure assembled
  • Saturday - tower lights installed, gin pole set up, guy lines rigged and lots of lights un-installed
  • Sunday - tower raised and shade structure set up
  • Monday - shade cloth installed
  • Tuesday - shade cloth struts and lighting completed

Once completed, I found it a little bit difficult to release the project to the city - eventually I was able to resign myself to the fact that the sculpture needed to stand on its own and trust that the people who passed by and through it would treat it with respect - which they did. The site stayed amazingly clean of MOOP and I only saw one person attempt to climb it.

Thursday afternoon we experienced and extremely powerful wind storm that swept directly up 3 o'clock toward the man - hitting the tower at its weakest point and ultimately breaking it at the midpoint of a three section span. We dis-assembled the top two sections during the storm and left the rest of the tower in place as a testament to the power of the playa. The shade performed extremely well in the wild weather - the articulating shade panels would automatically reconfigure themselves to create the least resistance to the wind.

This will probably be my last year working with bamboo on the playa. It cracks like mad in the dry environment and there's no way to predetermine the structural strength of a given pole other than bending it until it breaks. All in all I'm quite pleased with the way the project turned out. The biggest success I think was creating a habitable public space in the plaza. I've begun work on refining this idea for next year using wood and steel and adding an element of sound triggered by the wind.

More to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the next phase of the journey

The light fixture is finished

The truck is packed

All that's left is a good night's sleep and a long drive to the playa

Next stop: Black Rock City

Monday, August 20, 2007


Sunday's big loading session was a great success - the tower and all the associated gear and supplies fit nicely in my big F250 with all the poles, wood and ladders completely filling the lumber rack. I still need to finish the CCFL light fixture and finish packing clothes and food - I'm almost there!

I'll post once more on Tuesday evening before I depart for the desert.

Monday, August 13, 2007


The last of the tower parts have been re-lashed and bundled for travel. The shade cloth is cut, folded and packed in a large duffel bag. The benches are neatly stacked. The lights have been organized and packed into bags according to their placement. Miles of rope and cable have been neatly wound and sorted. There are duplicates of everything, and with the exception of a few small details - mainly the cold-cathode light fixture and my personal camping gear - all is ready for the playa.

Things left to do:
  • finalize time lapse photography rig (computer, camera, mounting pole, shade and dust protection)
  • gather camping gear
  • clean camp carpets
  • burn edges of new carpet
  • prepare tower assembly diagrams with important dimensions
  • repair bike electronics
  • repair hat electronics
  • purchase playa food and drink (Saturday)
  • finish and test CC light fixture (waiting on toroid)
  • purchase extension cord for tower power
  • trim extra shade cloth for big tent shade
The list goes on - but it all seems doable in the time I have left. My truck is taking another trip to the repair shop for a just discovered water leak somewhere around the engine . . . I'm hoping this will prove to be a minor thing! If not, I'll have to really scramble for some alternative transportation - like a 20' Pensky box truck.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I brought the tower down this weekend. I suppose it's a milestone in that the next time it stands assembled it will be on the playa.

By its very definition, a temporary sculpture/installation is meant to exist for a specified period of time and then disappear. This allows for the use of materials and methods that ordinarily wouldn't make sense in a large scale outdoor sculpture. The bamboo drys and cracks, the rubber inner tube lashings break down and fall apart. These qualities dominate the temporary nature of the piece and are a big part of what make the tower so challenging in an engineering sense.

It's a matter of time and scale. A stone column may seem a fairly permanent piece of structure, but travel around the world and you'll see stone columns that have crumbled to dust, the centuries of sun and wind, heat and cold, water and ice all working their magic to return them to the earth as nothing more than their base elements. Were a stone column is concerned this could take thousands of years. Bamboo and rubber, on the other hand, have a much shorter cycle. Once cut from their source of nutrients, these materials immediately begin their march to decomposition. The cut bamboo poles that I'm using will be reduced to fibers after a few years exposure to the elements. The rubber inner tubes even quicker. Much, much quicker as it turns out. In the month that the tower has stood on my property, the lashings have deteriorated to such a degree that they will have to be re-wrapped before I leave for the playa.

My plan is to install the fresh lashing over the top of the existing - keeping them from unraveling and harvesting what compressive strength remains. They'll last through the event - but not much longer. More temporary than I imagined.

I also managed to contract some sort of cold/flu bug that had me on my back all day Thursday and Friday. It wasn't until late Saturday afternoon that I felt my physical energy return. I tend to take my good health for granted. All it takes is a small bout with the flu to remind me that my health and physical vigor are gifts of limited duration. I strive to make the best of my impermanent condition.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The benches are done and ready for the trip to the playa! There will be three of these surrounding the base of the tower.


With some help from David, I was able to to finalize the details for the shade cloth cover on the base. Pulling the cloth tight from tip to wide base allowed it to stretch out nicely between the cables. I added bamboo struts to spread the cables apart and used an 18" long piece to provide the articulation between the sections. The struts nock into the cable like an arrow into a bow string - then they're wrapped with inner-tube to keep them from slipping.

My to-do list is getting shorter! Now, on to those benches!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

shade cloth

I was able to cut all the shade cloth for the main structure this weekend and begin to wrestle with the problem of attaching it.

I took the giant pieces of cloth (18' x 34') to my son's elementary school where they have a covered exterior basketball court. I stretched out the pieces and taped them to the floor - marked out the triangles using a single piece of rope with each side of the triangle marked out on it - then used a chalk line to snap a line that I could cut with a pair of scissors. With the help of my wife and son the whole thing was accomplished in a few hours.

I'm working with mounting a couple of the sections to the cables now, and as is usually the case when I'm treading new ground, something unexpected occurred - when I attached the shade cloth to the cables - the cables bowed. You can see it very clearly in the photo below. I've got an idea for bowing it back out that would utilize bamboo poles in compression using a tension connection of cord linked back to the cable. The cables need to be more or less straight for the panels to be articulating the way I imagined them. As it turns out - I think the poles may help the articulating panels work better. More as that progresses.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

shade structure

I made good progress on the shade structure this weekend. The support poles and cables are basically finished. Figuring out how to get the non- triangulated lines accurately located is the next problem to solve. I have an idea which also ties in to the problem of accurately cutting the triangular sections of shade cloth - the next big task.

I going to try using a low tech approach. I'll take a single piece of para-chord and mark off each leg of the triangle with a bit of tape - then all I need are two friends the hold the other corners and we'll have a precise outline of our triangle. At least that's the way I'm hoping it will work.

Instead of single poles and double guy wires I'm using double poles and a single guy wire. I really like the way the geometry relates to that of the tower - it seems to connect them together. The cool thing is, they actually don't touch at all - but pass through one another at the center and the perimeter.

I'm excited to see the affect adding the shade cloth will have although I'm not certain if I will be adding any to the top of the tower. I'm a little concerned about the wind resistance it will create.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

tower up II

I raised the tower last night after adjusting the guy wire lengths and will leave it up for a week or so and let the strong winds we've been seeing lately have their way with it. It wasn't nearly as scary this time and all went smoothly.

My back yard is proving to be a great place to work but a lousy place for photography! I apologize for the quality of the video - however it does give you a good sense of how well the gin pole is working.

Shade structure work begins tonite!

Monday, July 9, 2007

independence day part II

I'm calling Thursday, July 5th my personal independence day. I generally don't consider myself an independent person. I tend to want to do things in groups and rarely strike out solo for any adventure. One of the 10 guiding principles of Burning Man is "Radical Self-reliance" and I've somehow found myself getting pushed and pulled into this new area of self-development. It's not a bad thing but it is kind of scary.

By Thursday the 5th I'd managed to re-assemble the tower and gin pole with what I was hoping would be the final structural changes - the tower was ready for another raising attempt. So without much notice, I tried to gather a few friends and campmates to help with the task. Nearly everyone had prior commitments and I found myself alone at 7 p.m. waiting for the one person who was able to help. 7 turned into 7:30 and finally at 8 o'clock I realized I was on my own for this one.

I was torn - I really needed to find out if the modifications I'd made were going to work. I was leaving for a weekend on Orcas Island the next morning. Raising the tower is probably the most nerve-racking part of the process. The tower is under a severe amount of stress and having a few hands available to guide it up really helps. The new gin pole design incorporated a block and tackle that makes it physically possible for one person to raise the tower - but I would be risking a disaster if things started going sideways.

I decided to raise the tower just a little and see how it responded. With the end about seven feet off the ground I tied off the rope and walked around the tower giving it a thorough examination. The tower was pulling slightly to the right - but I wasn't able to find any loose connections - it just seemed to be a function of the tower's flexibility and the slight sloping angle of the base connection. There was no popping or cracking and besides the slight rightward bending everything seemed solid and stable. So I untied the rope and hoisted away. At a certain point the tower became very light and balanced and I was able to gently set it into its full upright position.

I stood there looking at the tower, my heart hammering in my chest, trying to detect any buckling or swaying - there was none. The tower was stable without the guy wires even in the light breeze of the evening. Eventually, as I became more confident that it wasn't going to come crashing down, I was able to get my camera out and take a few pictures.

When I went to attach the guy wires to their rebar stakes I discovered they were about three feet to long - I'd made the mistake of calculating their length from the 3d model. I hadn't planned on leaving the tower up while I was out of town anyway so with a little more calmness than during the raising I began to lower the tower back down. Immediately as I began, the gin pole base popped out of its pivot. After getting it back into place I lashed the gin pole feet to the pivot bolts and began again. This time the poles stayed in place and the tower lowered gently and silently back to the ground.

So the tower is now resting on its side in the back yard, awaiting the guy wire modifications and the next raising. I'm happy I was able to manage by myself - overcoming my fears of failure and disaster, being independent and self-reliant and all that - and I hope I don't have to do it that way again.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

independence day

Pictures from my independence day.

I'll talk about it later.

Monday, July 2, 2007


I was able to test some improvements to the structure this week that so far seem to be working out as expected. I reworked the connection between the vertical sections to take some of the strain off of the horizontal triangles and added an internal guy line that really helps support the tower during the lifting process.

I was also able to build and test the gin pole idea using the bottom 3 sections of the tower. It worked great as you will see in the video. No pops or cracks or undue bending - just smooth lifting force.

I'm hoping to get the top portions of the tower rebuilt this week and have another go at raising the full tower on the 4th or 5th.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

gin pole

This is the plan for the gin pole we'll use for the next raising. The "A" frame will pivot on a couple of simple brackets made from 2 x 6's and a long 3/4" bolt pinned to the playa with re-bar staples.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Saturday afternoon, 4 of my camp mates joined me for the first raising of the full tower. We succeeded in standing the tower up but not without breaking a stave and then breaking a few more on the trip down. I learned a lot about the forces being applied during erection and have a few modifications to make before the next attempt.

The first point of failure was a stave on the horizontal triangle connecting the first and second section. When the tower is in its upright position these triangles are in tension - but when the tower is being raised they were subjected to compression forces that proved to be too much for these thin members. In addition, the contact points of the vertical sections apply an eccentric loading to the triangles that ultimately caused the stalks to crush and fail when loaded in compression. I have an idea about how to correct the problem that I will implement in the next build.

Another aspect of the raising that needs some improvement is the gin pole. We opted for a single pole this time instead of the intended "A" frame, not surprisingly it turned out to be a little unstable. I'll make sure the "A" frame model is ready for the next raising.

A big thank you to David, Mark, Brad, Matt and my wife Jenny for helping move this process forward.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

tower in the yard

I've finally figured out that I have just enough room in my yard to erect the tower. So last night after dinner I began assembling the pieces - and much to my surprised delight - I was able to put the entire thing together in about an hour. I guess I learned a thing or two from last year's project! I have a bit more work to do on guy wires and the gin pole before we'll be able to raise the tower - I'm shooting for Saturday.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

pistil light test

Pistil - like in a flower. In addition to the L.E.D. lights - I've been working on this cylindrical array of cold cathodes that will reside in the center of the top section of the tower. The array consists of 16 - 12 inch long cold cathode tubes controlled by a 10 channel sequencer I built. Currently it's set to cycle through 10 different patterns.

Monday, June 4, 2007

weekend progress

It was a productive weekend. With the help of my camp mate Magpie, I was able to get the bottom half of the tower into a standing position - it's very stable and solid. I've completed all the sections now and have begun experimenting with some configurations for the top. I'm really liking the curvy look. I'd like to erect the entire tower next weekend in the big field and let it stand in the elements for a while. It's looking like the tower will be around 75' tall with the top in the current configuration!

Monday, May 21, 2007

whiskey tango foxtrot leaves of grass

An idea for the camp of the tower builders in the 3 o'clock plaza.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

shade idea

Here's idea of what I'm thinking about for the shade structure - the tower will ascend through the aperture in the center. This idea is based on a triangular plan.


the bamboo
The bamboo has arrived! On Monday, I unloaded my bamboo shipment from a large shipping container at Andy Royer's warehouse space on Harbor Island. The poles are now resting in my carport awaiting the arrival of the weekend when they'll be unwrapped and welcomed to the Pacific Northwest with a little ceremony. Then I'll start building!

structural experiments
On Saturday I experimented with a couple of connection ideas - both were somewhat of a failure but not without benefit. The first idea was to use 1" flat nylon webbing straps with ladderlocks to connect the vertical sections with the horizontal frames. The webbing is extremely strong but the ladderlocks were not up to the test. It was annoyingly easy to break the plastic connectors when they were cinched down tight enough to do their job. Dang! So instead of webbing straps I'll use 1/2" black poly rope with a trucker's hitch to cinch it down. I've used that rope on the Playa for a couple of years and it's never let me down.

The second experiment was with the cross sections that bow the verticals. I was unhappy with the double curve that was generated when two poles were lashed to one another at their crossing point. I thought I could brace them with a short length of bamboo that would allow the gentle curve from their compression to remain. It probably would have worked but I never got that far. As I removed the cross sections to reorient them I discovered an inherent instability in the structure: if the vertical sections are not restrained at their mid-point where the cross sections connect, the entire structure is free to twist and loses all its rigidity! Fortunately the problem is easy to overcome by first lashing the verticals together where they cross at the midpoint and placing the cross sections at the end of the assembly process.

I've dis-assembled the mock-up in anticipation of some new building this weekend.

basic geometry
So all this got me thinking about the viability of using a four sided geometry for this tower. It's much more difficult to create a rigid structure from this geometry and it relies on many more connection points than a three sided structure, which by its nature is already triangulated. I've decided to build a couple of sections of the three sided version and see how it looks. It should have no problem reaching the same height as the four sided geometry and will certainly be more structurally efficient - I'm hoping it will be just as beautiful!

I'm planning to light the project with LED string lights and I've been searching the web for a few months looking for a good supplier. Prices vary wildly on these lights, anywhere from $8 to $30 for the exact same product! For the last few weeks I've been trading email with a company that looked like a promising source. They were very helpful in supplying me with information on power consumption and brightness levels for the different lenses configurations. Apparently the smaller the lens cover the brighter the light. I'll be using strings of 70 LEDs at a 4" spacing with a G12 lens (the G12 lens is a 1/2" round shape). On Monday I placed the order for 62 of these strings - the majority of them green. About an hour later I received an email explaining that after actually looking at their inventory, they realized they don't have any green and won't until after summer. Shit! Off to search the Internet again. The company who manufactures these lights had a long list of dealers, many with websites that I began wading through in search of inventory and a good price. Most were out of green. That evening I sent out a few emails requesting quotes from the most promising vendors and was pleasantly surprised by the quick response I received the following morning. I found someone with all the lights I needed for about 30 percent less than I would have payed the first company. Hooray! The lights are ordered and should arrive by this weekend.

shade cloth
I'm considering using knitted shade cloth instead of Aluminet on the base shade structure. I don't have access to a large industrial sewing machine that would allow me to bind the edges of the Aluminet and I'm a little worried about the the edges on the diagonally cut portions. The knitted shade cloth will not unravel and has the additional benefit of coming in different colors. I'm thinking of using a combination of black, tan and white. I may also incorporate some of the white shade cloth in the tower and top in hopes that it will give the tower a little more presence during the day and catch the light from the LEDs in the evening.

Monday, May 7, 2007

waiting for bamboo . . .

Not much work has been done since my last post - I'm expecting the shipment of bamboo to arrive in the next couple of weeks or so then the serious construction can begin! I haven't been entirely idle however. I've had a couple of new ideas for the connection details I'll try out next weekend.

The first involves how the vertical sections are connected together with the horizontal frames. In the current mock-up I used bicycle innertubes for this connection - it seems to work but makes me a little nervous because of all the forces this connection needs to resist. As an alternative I'm going to try using flat 1" nylon webbing with a ladderlock buckle that I can crank down nice and tight - the buckle will be the weak point.

The second involves the compression cross members. Currently the cross members pass above the vertical "X" intersections in one direction and below in the other direction. This causes the cross members to bow away from each other creating a 4"-6" gap between them. I then use paracord lashing to pull them together and bind them - this causes them to push out a little more and deform into a sign wave shape which looks really stressed and not as beautiful as the single sweeping curve they exhibit before binding. What I'd like to try is bracing the cross members in their initial bowed state using a short length of bamboo (4" - 6") between the bowed pieces right at their crossing point and then lashing over that, binding it all together.

Pictures and a better explanation to follow once I complete the experiment.

Monday, April 23, 2007

2 sections tall

I was able to assemble a second section to the tower mock-up this weekend as well as implement a few of the structural recommendations made by my friend Dihong Shao.

The inner tube lashing technique continues to look promising - it has the marvelous ability to keep the connection tight even while being wrenched around. I'll probably end up doubling the tubes where they connect the vertical sections together - just for the redundancy. I've added two tension lines to each of the square plan sections. These prevent the squares from deforming into diamonds. I also realized that these tension lines can be added to all the squares before the trip to the Playa - greatly reducing the amount of work that will have to be done upon arrival!

I managed to break one of the vertical poles while attaching the second section - this was before any tensioning and bowing. The pole broke right on one of the nodal ridges - which makes me think it must have been rotten or already cracked. Now I test each pole for structural flaws before I use it!

The second image is a view from the bottom of the first section as it lays on its side. I love the graphic geometry of this point of view.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a sunny weekend!

I finally had a sunny weekend on Vashon! Just in time for a visit from my good friend John Boylan, writer, editor, community activist and occasional fire and piro whirler, and Christine Kristen, aka LadyBee, curator of art for Burning Man. Christine was in town for a lecture on the Art of Burning Man at the Youngstown Cultural Center and was able to stop by Vashon Island for a visit. I attended the lecture last evening and was wowed by images of Burning Man art projects from 1995 to present. Very inspiring stuff!

On the construction front I was able to do a little more experimentation on the compression detail as well as getting a good start on another section for the tower mock up. I've figured out an easy way of building the vertical sections. I build the geometry unfolded on the ground, then stand the assembly up, moving the corners into the proper position and tying the last two connections.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

compression in tension

I built an idea for the compression strut connection today that bows the vertical struts quite nicely! It has the added benefits of being easy to install and very resource efficient.

The end in the picture is a simple loop of rope lashed to the end of the compression strut with 1/8th inch paracord. There's a little friction tape on the bamboo end to keep things from slipping around. This end is tied on first. The other side uses a similar arrangement of rope lashed to the pole end but instead of a loop I use a trucker's hitch that bows the verticals as it's tightened.

The poles were relatively easy to bend even though they're a couple of feet shorter than they'll be in the final version. They're pushed out about 6" on each side.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I'd like to have some benches for people to sit on around the base of the tower. Here are a couple of ideas I've generated. They'd be very easy to build from tam vong - I could use screws to attach the pieces. They're about 2 feet wide and 6 or 7 feet long. I'll need to make 4 of them. The curving members are slats, everything else is made from poles.

Monday, April 2, 2007

next year . . .

I had this idea for an enclosed womb-like structure built of vertical bamboo poles lashed together with split bamboo horizontals. Large enough for a dozen people or so to fit inside.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

10 foot poles

I finally had a little time this afternoon to work on the tower. Andy Royer supplied me with a bundle of 10' long x 1 1/4' diameter poles and I've begun assembling them into the basic geometry for one of the tower sections. The proportions are all off but the basic connections are valid. I used pieces of road bike inner tubes {from my friends at the bike shop) to lash all the connections. Its seems to be working well so far - they're easy to put on but a little hard on the hands - I'll have to find some thin leather gloves, I'll probably end up wrapping the connection points with friction tape like last year. It will make it a lot easier to keep the joints aligned. It's funny how this looks so much like the wooden dowel model!

I'm working on another compression detail that is all bamboo. The end will be shaped like a fork that would fit over the crossing point of the verticals. Images to come, then I'll mock it up full size on the built section.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm working on a detail for the connection between the cross sections and the vertical struts. Markus gave me the idea of looking at a compression type detail and I've been playing with it a bit. The idea is that the force generated by the bowed verticals will be strong enough to hold the connection together.

This idea shows a 3/8" length of rebar bent into a functional/fanciful form - planted in the end of the pole and lashed firmly.

I'd need 20 of them. I think I could probably make them with an anvil, a big hammer and a torch . . .

I gave my bamboo order to Andy today. I'm getting about 150 poles in a few different sizes in the hope that it will allow a little more creativity during the first construction. It'll be 6 to 8 weeks before that bamboo arrives - I'll have plenty to keep me busy until then.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tonkin Cane Bamboo

This weekend I took a trip out to Marcus McNabb's place to talk about the project and see some of the bamboo poles he has used in his work. His property is magical - it reminds of the forest of the Gods in Spirited Away. The Tonkin poles Marcus had on hand were very different from the ones I used last year - much thicker walls, very springy and still light in weight. After handling these poles I'm convinced that they would be a good choice for the tower. So tonite I'll be picking up a bundle of these from Andy Royer's wherehouse on my way home. Andy imports Tonkin for builders of fine fly fishing rods:


Bicycle inner tubes! A friend of mine, Rusty Knorr, works in the bicycle department of REI which happens to be right across the street from my office. Rusty is going to start saving road bike inner tubes for me to use on the project.

Friday, March 23, 2007

bamboo connections

A friend of mine on the island, Brad Roter, introduced me to two of his island friends who have a lot of experience working with bamboo: Andy Royer who imports bamboo and Marcus McNabb who builds with it. These guys have a lot of advice to offer and I'm sure I'll be consulting them as the project develops.

I'm going to explore a lashing technique that may allow me to abandon the bolted connections and still allow the sections to be pre-built and collapsed for travel to the Playa. It's somewhat based off the rubber band technique used by Antoon Versteegde on his sculptures. My first idea was to use Thera-band strips - I can get them in 50 yard rolls in my favorite color: black. The color of the band indicates its strength, black being one of the stronger versions. Another material possibility is recycled bicycle innertubes - although I think they may have a shorter life span under the sun. Experiments to commence soon.

I'm also exploring the idea of eliminating the 4 inner poles of the shade structure and running the guy lines from a floating ring that would be hung just below the top of the first tower section. I believe this technique will impart very little horizontal stress on the tower, instead pressing it down into the earth. Experiments required . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

dowel model

I finished building my G.I. Joe scale dowel model and made a few discoveries about the connections. The basic idea seems to work but I'll need to lengthen the overlap on the vertical sections, especially on the upper levels where the pieces are more vertical. The bolts holes work just right being opposed 90 degrees. I may need to add tension lines to triangulate the square plan sections. I won't know until I have two or three of the full sections stacked up - there may be a stabilizing effect from the compression and connection of the sections.

I hope to meet with a few folks on the Island tonight about sources for bamboo. I think I'm ready to start some full scale experiments!

My contract interview is scheduled for the 2nd of April.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

the commute

We had an amazing sunrise this morning! I captured a few images as the ferry made its way from Vashon to the mainland. Commuting to the office isn't all bad . . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

creeping forward . . .

While waiting to procure some bamboo, I'm working on a wooden dowel model of one of the tower sections. I hope to discover the correct angles I'll need to drill for the connection holes on the bamboo poles. My gut feeling is that the ends are 90 degrees opposed, so that's where I'll begin. I won't get to that part until the weekend.

I think I may have located some LED lite strings at a reasonable price - the place is called Animated Lighting: http://www.animatedlighting.com/default.asp - they also have a lot on lighting control boxes designed for creating big animated light displays. More investigation required!

Monday, March 12, 2007

07 Projects Email list

The BMORG has created an email list to facilitate communication to and among this year's funded project teams. The first order of business is the contract. I'll have a teleconference with LadyBee and Crimson Rose regarding details like payment plans, tickets, early arrivals, fuel, etc. Then I sign on the dotted line!

Also, an announcement will be made in the email newsletter "Jack Rabbit Speaks" listing the funded projects with links to their websites. I'll use my proposal site with a few modifications.

I've found out about a few folks working with bamboo on Vashon Island and hope to meet and discuss my project with them in the next few weeks. I'll need to start purchasing some poles soon - maybe one of these folks can point me in the direction of a good resource. If not, I'll be heading over to Bamboo Hardwoods in Seattle. They have a plethora of bamboo products including the Tam Vong timber bamboo poles I'm considering for the tower.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Tall Grass - a 65' tall bamboo tower and shade structure designed for Burning Man 2007 has been awarded a grant from the BMORG! I'll be using this blog site to document the process of taking the design from ideas and computer renderings to the actual physical object installed in Black Rock City.