This is where I create.

The studio has been located in many places over the years.  At this time I’ve got a really good situation located in the third bay of a three car garage.  Here in Southern California that means that I can work in the studio almost year round with the door open.

The primary power tools are a drill press, band saw, scroll saw, 8″ disc sander, shop vac, planer, and a router.  Many many hand tools.  I am finding myself working with tools some of which I’ve owned more than fifty years…and even a couple that my father has passed on to me.  Good tools are a good investment.

I’ve got a rack of perhaps 50 bar clamps…you can never have enough clamps.  I could go on and on about the tools…however the important thing about the work that I do is not the tools, though they are important.  The really important thing is “attitude”.  

  • Do I really care about what I am doing?
  • Am I angry…or calm?
  • Am I in a rush…or is there plenty of time to do it right?
  • Do I have a clear vision of what I am doing?
  • Do I love what I am doing?

I practice Tai Chi for an hour each morning…a good way to start the day…and an indicator to you about my outlook on life.  I design my creations myself.  Frequently I build a design two or three times before I create “the first one”.  Keeping the studio neat and picked-up comes naturally.  Keeping tools in good repair is important.

Here is a YouTube video tour of my studio.  Enjoy.

It takes some of us longer to catch on to certain things.  Me, for example.  I used to think that 1″ marbles (called 1″ Shooters) were all alike…all the same.  When I constructed Scissor Lift #1 I designed and created for 1″ diameter marbles.  And what I found was that some of my marbles would not roll properly…they were too large or, most often, simply not round.

As Scissor Lift #2 is nearing completion my wife and I spent an hour or two exploring and purchasing a variety of 1″ Shooters.  We do this on eBay and have a good time.  The world of marbles is colorful and interesting.  In this case we were wanting to purchase marbles that would go with the color scheme of Scissor Lift #2.

The marbles arrived (faster than expected) and were wonderful.  Of the four different varieties three would work well from the perspective of color.  I started rolling them through Scissor Lift #2 and found that about 80% of the marbles would get hung up and would stop rolling.  As I pondered this situation I realized that I had already known it, but had not realized it.  

The first batch of marbles that I bought were all from one source.  About 80% of them would not run through Scissor Lift #1.  I assumed that it was simply the batch…the manufacturer.  Now what I realize is that it is apparently all marbles that vary a bit in size and that are perhaps a bit out of round.

My conclusion is that if I want 1″ Shooters to properly roll through my machines I need to be designing for 1-1/8″ marbles.  So…I’ve been modifying and at times rebuilding portions of Scissor Lift #2 so that all 1″ Shooters will roll through.  It’s a good thing that I enjoy what I do…else this would be work.

Since Scissor Lift #2 was entirely painted this is a set back in terms of time.  After I modify/reconstruct I’ll need to paint.  Will add about a week to the creation of Scissor Lift #2.  

Life offers many paths.  I believe that at this time I am on my “last” artistic path…the creation of kinetic art in the form of street organs and automata.  I hope to still be creating automata twenty years from now.  Kinetic art has been a passion for me over the years…and now I have the opportunity to focus and create.

The automata that I’m creating at the moment are in a series I call “Jim’s Gym”.  These are rolling marble machines that are designed in the form of gym equipment.  There is a gym club member operating each machine.  These machines will each be a numbered machine in an unlimited series.  These machines begin life in my mind (I design all my automata) and come to life through my hands in my studio.  I am assisted by my wife Cheryl and our golden retriever Cami.

As I write this post I am in the final moments of the creation of Scissor Lift #2.  You see it over my left shoulder.  The biggest problem that I am trying to solve right now is ‘how to market my automata’.  Ideally I would find a gallery that believes in my creations…a gallery that would like to represent me exclusively.  Least desirable but most probable is that I will be marketing my automata myself.  Not a bad thing…not a good thing.  Rather than marketing I would rather be creating.