frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Article published in the Worcester Pulse, a Worcester area culture/entertainment magazine.

They did a writeup about my aerial studio, Flying Squirrel Consortium. Yay Press! Clicky Clicky!
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
It's almost summer, and it's time to put the Steel Behemoth back up in the yard!

As usual, we'll provide a backyard BBQ in exchange for your able bodies ability to help move, assemble, and lift Steel Partz into the air. And of course, anyone who wants to play around on the rig once up is welcome to do so.

So, either this coming Sunday, the 7th, or next one, the 14th; shooting for the usual 1pm lift-off. Chime in if you can make either of those two dates.

Thanks!

-phil
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (duo_silks)
OK, assembled readers, we've got a question for you all. [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady and I are in need of a name to use for our duo silks performances. Some recent photos of same appear in the following lj entries: here and here

We used "The Fabulous Flying Frobozzniks" once, but while that was OK for the first duo routine we did a ways back, it is totally not suitable for what we are doing now. Since I'm not very good at coming up with such things, i'm going to ask the time honored LJ Friends Oracle for suggestions.

What should we call ourselves?
frobzwiththingz: (bridgeport)
The first aerial rig i built for someone *else* has just left my hands and entered the customers hands. It was taken home this afternoon after an orientation session with the new owners.

It has 19 foot high mount points, and breaks down into pieces 6 feet 8.5 inches long. Total weight about 230lbs. Can be set up to a lower height of 14.5. Goes up and down quickly and easily with 3 people.

It's the 4-legged structure on the right here )

Now to start hunting down prospects for more orders...
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
continuing this journals recent theme of "all aerials, all the time"...

taken by canongrrl at [livejournal.com profile] goat and [livejournal.com profile] tcbs wedding this weekend; [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady and myself during our fabric duet.

frobzwiththingz: (bridgeport)
So, i'm currently in the process of building Aerial Rig number 3. It's another aluminum rig, that will be capable of being set up in either a 4-leg 19-foot height, or a three-leg 24-foot height. The 4-leg configuration will be able to be set up by three or four people in less than 15 minutes. the 3-leg configuration should be able to be set up with only 2 people, in about the same time. Possibly single-handedly with a special tool i'm thinking about. The 4-leg configuration will have much more open space at the top. [a full construction writeup will eventually appear on this LJ...]

Anyhow, the most recent thing i needed to do was to do a *lot* of plug-welds, to join tubes to internal sleeves. 96 plug welds, in 11/16ths holes, joining an inner .375 thickness sleeve to the outer .25 thickness tube.

Doing this in aluminum requires a pretty hefty arc voltage, and produces copious amounts of nasty welding fumes. I've got a pretty decent exhaust fan located a few feet above my welding table, that is sufficient for most things, but in this case i would need to be welding on the floor, much farther away from it. Especially since my plan is to attempt to sell rigs of this design to aerialists far and wide, i decided i really want to have a better system for dealing with the welding fumes. Professional welding shops can spend enormous amounts of money on air handling equipment to move the nasty gases out quickly. But I've been in shops with really good exhaust systems, and still, your head is *right next to* the arc. You're still going to get bathed in some nastiness no matter how good that fan system above you in the ceiling is.

I decided to attack the problem from a different angle entirely. I thought about SCUBA divers, and then did this: )
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Mischief in the Machine has come and gone. It went very well, and i find myself disappointed that i won't be shlepping myself into Boston tonight to do the next performance. Wow, it's been a *long* time since i've last felt "Post-Show-Letdown". Off to the Basement Machine Shop and Circus Hardware Lab to distract myself.

Thanks to all who were involved, and to everyone who came out to support us! Looking forward to the next one!
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Warm thanks to everyone who dropped by to raise the Steel Behemoth! There was much bolting, rigging, lifting, winching, BBQ and hot tub, and the Steel behemoth is now up and running with the new pulley system installed )

Thanks again peeps, and don't be shy about coming out our way to play on it!
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Subject says it all; as things in LJ-land tend to drop out of view, here's another announcement.

Due to the backyard not being underwater this year, we are raising the rig! Anyone willing to help out in the early afternoon would be most appreciated- in fact we will appreciate you with hugs, drinks, barbecue, the hottub, and cake!

Our Spring Rig raising will be taking place this Saturday, May 10th. We're shooting for an early afternoon raising;
assembly starting at 1:00 PM and an afternoon BBQ occuring after it's hoisted into the air. [the whole process takes about 2-2.5 hours] Comment here if you can make it; Hope to see you on the 10th!

Having this up also means people (especially them what helped) can come over and use it... if you are one of those circus freaks, don't wait for an engraved invite- poke us on nice summer days and say "hey can i come over?"

frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Subject says it all; the masses have spoken, and May 10th seems to win out.

We'll shoot for an early afternoon raising, as that seems to be better for some.
See you then; i'll post a reminder email closer to the date.

Thanks, all!
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
I'm getting fooled, but more importantly, the backyard is *not* under water this year. In fact, it's drying out pretty well.

So, it's time to put up the Aerial Rig for the 2008 season. As usual, we'll provide a backyard BBQ in exchange for your able bodies ability to help move, assemble, and lift Steel Partz into the air. And of course, anyone who wants to play around on the rig once up is welcome to do so.

I'm proposing two dates for this: either Sunday May 4th, or Saturday, May 10th. Chime in if you can make either of those two dates.
Thanks!

-phil

Edit: Yep, May 4th is Somerville open studios, but i figured i'd toss it out anyway.
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
A small load no longer on my back; i finished and sent off the aerial rigging description/diagrams for the upcoming ENSMB/MadCapRumpusSociety show to the manager of the BU Dance Theater.

Documenting something can take almost as long as *doing* it sometimes. And boy, am i being Posty McPostyPants lately.
frobzwiththingz: (bridgeport)
Let it be publicly known, that on September 21, Year of Our Lord 2007, 12:53 PM, that [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady opined that it would be a good idea if we had a kitchen trebuchet, for launching compost into the compost pile in the back yard.

So if/when it gets built, she ASKED for it.
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
[[livejournal.com profile] siderea posts a nice review Here.]

Thank you all for attending!

The ENSMB show yesterday went off wonderfully! It sold out, which unfortunately left a few later-arrivals disappointed. But it Sold Out! Uncle Shoe and the roving clowns had the audience well worked up by the time ENSMB started to play. The number of people turned out to be perfect; the room was crowded, but there was still plenty of space to move them around as needed to open up the floor areas underneath the various aerial apparatii as needed.

The band was loud, energetic, and really tight.

My doubles silk act with [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady was the second act of the show. We had worked in another 2 days of practice sessions over the friday/saturday, and they really paid off. Everything went well during the perfomance, we managed to sync up perfectly with the different tonal sections of the piece we were performimg to (Flight of the Winged Serpent), and all of the parts of the doubles section of the routine that needed to be oriented in certain directions for best results lined up in good orientations! (this can be hard to get on a swiveling apparatus). About the only thing i can really complain about was that i set the fabric a bit too low on my initial flamenco-hand-twist-and-pike-over, which made removing the suit-jacket while hanging there a bit more tenuous than i would have liked. Everything else went like clockwork.

ENSMBs music is so energetic, and bouncy, that all of the usual pre-perfomance jitters just evaporated as soon as we were walking up toward the fabric.

From what i could see of the other acts, and hear from the audience when outside of the floor view, everyone else was having just as good a time.

Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] whale_girl for taking on the stage-manager role and herding all the cats, [livejournal.com profile] starphire for bringing in nifty lighting at the last minute, and scores of others for all the help they gave. Dead Aerialist [livejournal.com profile] doze_e_fish and Grave-digger Marty, Spinny Aerialist [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady, Drunken Aerialist [livejournal.com profile] clara_girl, Clowny Aerialist Teresa, and Strappy Aerialist BJ, HulaHoop, Poi, Tricycle, Bellydance, People-On-Strings, and banjo-and-ukelele folk, we all put together one excellent show. Thank you [livejournal.com profile] chillguru, and all other ENSMB members, for making this happen. Looking forward to another one of these in the fall.

For anyone who missed this, ENSMB will be playing a short set, aerials included, on May 5, at the Wake Up The Earth Festival, We'll be at the Sun Stage, around 3:30, after Copal.
frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
Today we broke some rock climbing slings.

Cut to spare folk who aren't aerialists or rock climbers, and who probably don't care much. If you're interested, clicky for details )

Conclusions: These things are still quite strong, even after a lot of use.
frobzwiththingz: (bridgeport)
So i finally got around to upgrading my trapeze. The previous one i had built did not have bar ends, and i eventually decided that i really wanted them. So finally one night i went down into the shop with the intention of cutting and grooving a new replacement bar, and then disassembling my trapeze and swapping the new bar in. But the original trapeze had been a prototype design to begin with, and in the time since i had built it i had come up with several design improvements. Plus, the original bar was 1-1/8th inch, and was pretty darned heavy already. So instead of simply swapping the bar out on the original trap, i decided to do a complete do-over and produce Trapeze Design Rev 3, with a 1 inch diameter bar. (Rev 2 was only on paper, and never built.)

The new trapeze is a cable core design, which uses a two-part donut-like assembly which acts as both a rope thimble and a captive collar for the wire rope core. The cable passes through this assembly, around a groove in the bar, and back out again. The rope is then passed around the thimble part of the donut and backspliced into itself, about 6 inches away from the thimble (so you can undo it and inspect the cabling without needing to undo the splice). Rope eye is then lashed together and down to the bar. Cable is 3/16ths 7x19 construction, vinyl coated. Rope is 3/4 nylon 3-strand laid.

Much of this process i took photos of. So, much like the recent entry about the hoop, here is a photo log of its fabrication. Some of the assembly was done at craft nights at other folks houses, which is why there are so many different backgrounds in these shots :-)

Construction log follows )

Assembly )

Finished product here:

frobzwiththingz: (bridgeport)
this weekend saw significant progress on a recent project, and a decent amount of progress on an ongoing one. The recent project is a hoop trapeze, aka lyra, aka circeaux. It's not an apparatus that i expect to ever be any good at, as it seems to be made for much more bendy folk than I. But we have a few of those made-of-string folk at our aerials practice group, some of whom have expressed interest in hoop, and i'd like to play around with it as well. At some point i had planned to send mail off to Jackie Tan and see if she had any hoops in stock.

but then a couple of weeks ago that rolling cheap tools outfit Cummins showed up nearby for a day. They are a company that sends trucks full of cheap Chinese tools (think Harbor Freight) around the country for one-day stops at hotel ballrooms, and hawk their wares. Most of what they sell is total garbage. Dont even think of buying power tools there, or anything you need to be sharp, or precise. But if what you want is a cheap set of welding clamps, or a hydraulic jack, or whatnot, you can outfit yourself with something that will do the job but doesn't look very pretty. Such as this hydraulic pipe bender. 12 tons of bendy goodness; came with dies for up to to 2 inch pipe. I looked at that, and it's $99 price tag, and decided to purchase it, and build my own hoop.

Gory Project Details for the Tool Oriented. Step 1: materials and additional useful tools )
Step 2: make two half-circles )
Step 3: weld 'em into a circle. )
Step 4: making hanging tabs )
Step 5: weld tabs on )
OK, it's done. Would i actually trust this thing? Enter 'The Machine That Breaks Things' )
Pull Test )

Here's [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady on the final result:

frobzwiththingz: duo fabric shot (silk_firefly_vt)
So, for the past 2.5 months or so i've hermitting in the machine shop, barely seeing anyone and occasionally emitting streams of expletives from the depths of the basement. I feel intimately familiar with all of radioIO AMBIENT, and have pulled enough all-nighters in the machine shop to have heard their entire inventory. I've been working on Aerial Rig Mark 2, a rig of a very different design as the one that has been in my yard. Object was to design a rig that needed much less people to erect, could be transported using the two vehicles we own (both scion xBs), requiring minimal extra support tools to erect, and most importantly, require *NO* external guy wires and be able to be put up somewhere without any ground anchors needed. I wanted to bring this new rig, if ready, out to Burning Man, and guy wires are a danger to the public at night. And this one should be lighter, and made of aluminum instead of steel. And i wanted a swiveling mount point integrated into the rig, so that we could make our silk rigging simpler.

Anyhow, this project has eaten all of my spare time since early May. I thought it would be much easier than the last rig. I mean, what could be so hard about building an equilateral pyramid, with a tension cable network at the bottom to keep it in place?

Of course, as it turns out, the devil is in the details. And boy were there details. I won't describe them here; ask me in person if you have any interest. And as the deadline for having things ready for packing onto the Boston Burning Truck approached, i began to think that i had bitten off way more than i could chew in time. Thats when the weekend all-nighters started. And then the stints in the shop on a work night until 3am. At some point last week i crawled into bed around 3 and said to [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady, "I don't know how much more of this i have in me."

Today, however, all of the work has seen fruition, as we did a successful full-height test raising of the not-final, but good-enough to be functional rig. It only took 4 people to raise and lower, as opposed to the 8 or so the square rig requires (or the *30* you need to raise the square one in an open field)

I was sort of dreading the test today, worried that we'd find *some* fatal problem in either the design or raising method. But everything worked! Lots of thanks to [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady, [livejournal.com profile] sensesurfer, and [livejournal.com profile] doze_e_fish for their help in the project today. More thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sensesurfer for the use of the Multicam 1500 CNC Machine Of Doom. Onward to the Playa! much much much thanks and love to [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady, who has put up with me during this long episode of hyperfocus. Hoping to relax a bit now.

More details and pictures behind the cut )
frobzwiththingz: (Default)
It's somewhat insane, given the infinitesimal preparation timeframe, and there are plenty of reasons why it could fall through, but there is a measurable chance that myself and a few other Silkworms are going to get the chance to do an aerials performance at the Orpheum as one of the openers for the upcoming Dresden Dolls show. Cross fingers.

The Orpheum seats 2800, and i cant imagine the Dolls not filling it. Eep!
frobzwiththingz: (Default)
after a ridiculous streak of absolutely crappy weekend weather for most of october, we've finally gotten a couple of nice fall weekends. this last Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady and I took advantage of the perfect day to take the kayaks out on the Nashua river. Most of the leaves had fallen already, but what were left had some nice color to them. We had to turn around by 3 in order to get back to the put-in before the temperature dropped too far down, but while the sun was out it was nice and warm, we didn't even need the skirts.

we thought that most of the bird population would have been long gone, but we saw 2 pairs of swans and a heron still hanging around.

Some pictures behind the cut )

Sunday wasn't as good, as it had already rained Saturday night. It was not actually raining, though, and i really wanted to try out what i had figured out about the triple-rotation drop on the silk. There weren't going to be many more opportunities to use the 24' rig before i need to take it down for the winter...

[livejournal.com profile] sensesurfer came over, and we put the silk up in the fine mist. I tried out the 3, then the 3-1/4 rotation drops. They worked exactly as i had figured out. We practiced this and the Anton Drop, then took the silk down. The bottom of it was getting soaked. Ewww. Video of 3-1/4 drop, with commentary. (26 MB MPEG2)

Then we headed out to see the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobat Troupe, who were performing in Lowell. The announcer made a point of saying how long these folk have trained, and of course, that you should not attempt these things at home. Which of course had me, [livejournal.com profile] klingonlandlady, [livejournal.com profile] dilletante, and [livejournal.com profile] theevilgosling thinking "Yeah, right." The performance was good, and had the side effect of me realizing that it's been almost 10 years since i've done anything with my rolling globe, so out it came to aerials practice this Monday. Yep, i'm kind of rusty at it, but i was able to free mount, walk around a bit and do a small amount of club juggling on it. I'd like to work on some two-person formations on it.

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