Make: Crate and Barrel!

I’ve had a 3d printer for a while now and, for the most part, I’ve been printing other people’s designs and models.  I’ve learned a bit about how to print a model (it’s still a bit of a roll of the dice, frankly) and I’ve printed some things to use at our Game Night, but one of the main reasons I wanted a 3d printer (in addition to simply learning about a new thing and thinking they’re cool) is that I wanted to create my own models.  I’ve toyed with it a bit, but I still have a lot to learn.

Part of it is the software.  I’m using a free piece of software called Blender and, it does rock, especially for the price, but the learning curve is … impressive.  I have spent a great deal of time trolling through YouTube to find tutorials by people demonstrating how to use the software.  I’ve been more than a little chagrined how often when that video starts, it’s being taught by what sounds like a 14 year old boy whose voice has yet to change.  Sigh.  They are the teacher, I am the student.  Acceptance…

In any case, between persistence, stubbornness and some better resources, I’m finally making some progress.  My goal on this front, I kid you not, was simply to make a barrel.  Just something that looked like a barrel.  This sounds trivial, but it’s not.  I could list the lessons I learned about modeling and using deformation cages/lattices, the rigor that has to be applied to a model so that it is printable (learned a new use of the word manifold).  I had to rebuild this barrel no fewer than three times, from scratch, before I was ready to let it go and saved a dozen versions.  Even with that, I am also discovering the limitations of (my) consumer grade 3d printer which is demonstrated by the loss of detail at this small scale.  That barrel on the left is about 2cm tall, roughly 2/3rds the height of a mini and appropriately sized for a game.  But it also means the wood grain I lovingly sculpted in to the staves is largely lost and you can see the individual strands that make up the plastic which is melted to form the top.  Granted, by the time I paint it, it’ll less obvious, but it was a lesson.

Oh!  The Crate, you ask?

Well, two things:

  1. If you are in a game where barrels exist, odds are you’re going to need some crates to hide behind or block hallways or stack or generally fill space.  And,
  2. I thought titling this Crate and Barrel was funny.  You know, like the store.  Ha!  See, it’s even funnier when I point it out.

Make: Ancient Obelisks!

Original Inspiration

I was perusing images on Google looking for something that I might make which wasn’t too large.  The idea is it should be something I might use when next I GM our role playing group.  I wanted something that you might put on a table, might advance/enhance a story, might have more than one use.  And, I saw this image and thought it was kind of cool.  Looked like it was something ancient, something that had seen the passage of time.  Best of all, I thought it was simple enough that I might do my own version.

The material of choice for something like this (according to what I’ve learned) is XPS foam or eXpanded PolyStyrene.  It’s found in big box hardware stores and is usually either Pink or Blue and comes in various thicknesses and usually in very large sheets.  I’ve been learning how to make with this stuff and I’m getting better.  It does have its limits.  For example, in the original image you’ll note the very detailed runes on the two surfaces.  I think this is just a rendering because I’ve not clue how to get that much detail, but the detail isn’t the most important part.

Basic construction (of mine) involved a couple of thin squares scribed with fake bricks topped with a thinner, smaller piece to form the base.  Then I cut a roughly 1″ square piece that was longer and cut eight pieces a few inches long.  I cut the tops by hand and the angles on the top of mine are a bit closer to 45 degrees than the original pic.

I glued the bases together and inserted a toothpick vertically to provide some additional support and then inserted the vertical pieces on the toothpick and added some glue.  That’s the basic construction.  From there, it’s making them look old.  I did multiple things: I sanded down some edges to simulate smoothing over time, I nipped out pieces with a small needle-nose pliers, I cut cracks.  Basically I attempted to abuse them till they didn’t look new any more.  Oh, and I made some big, old runes in them because it looked good.

Then comes the painting.  After an initial coat of a primer/strengthener (called Mod Podge), I gave my obelisks a medium coat of a brownish color.  Then I added some lighter accents via dry brushing.  Finally, I put on a dark wash to provide some additional aging and put some darker tones in cracks and crevices.  Finally, I tried some flocking for the first time to simulate the moss.  They still need a final coat of a satin polyurethane to seal and strengthen them, but I’ll have to wait for warmer weather to do that.  I will probably also put them on a 3d printed base with a washer underneath for additional ballast as they are very light on their own.

I like how they turned out.  This wasn’t a big project, but as I only have spare time to work on them, it still took a while to complete.  And, the next time I’m in need of an obelisk or eight, I’m ready!

 

New Coat of Paint!

So, that was a year, wasn’t it?

I’m not going to make any excuses, but 2017 was quite a year on many fronts.  Folks far more able to describe it clearly talked about how everything going on with our country and our politics and in the world made it nigh impossible for them to focus on, well, much of anything.  And so it was for me.  Updating here or writing or much of anything else besides just getting by got pushed to the background.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

But, it’s a new year and time to start looking forward and pulling myself out of the hole I’ve been living in for much of the last year (and occasionally wanting a blanket and a great deal of comfort), brushing myself off and getting moving forward again.

I suspect the new year will be better, at least in some ways.

Personally, there are changes for me as I’ve started a new job which is much closer to where I live.  Alone, this frees up more than an hour a day of additional time.  I don’t loathe climbing in to a car to drive 2-2.5 hours per day.  You can only listen to so many podcasts and I have listened to many.

I have found time to do some Making of stuff, and I’ll post at least the results of some of those.

I updated the front page of the site from something arguably artisanal (in the non-mechanized sense) and bespoke (in the made to order sense) while at the same time being of questionable quality and definitely showing it’s age to something that at least looks like it was made in the last few years.  That gave me a chance to look in to some more modern libraries like Bootstrap, so that’s good.

 

Goals 2017: April Update

This update takes place at least in the first week of April, so I’ll give myself a small pat on the back for that.

Goal 1: Health

March continues the theme of challenging on the health front.  I continue to fight wanting to stick 100% to the eating plan and, as a result, more carbs sneak in and before I know it, five pounds have climbed back on.  I’m hopeful that the return of better weather will provide me more opportunities to get out and walk and that will help because staying active has to be a part of this, so fingers crossed.

Grade: C (Little improvement month-over-month)

Goal 2: Tech Refresh
I’m going to cut myself a bit of a break here and acknowledge two small things:

1. I worked on a cool, little Arduino project which required some wiring and some programming of a NeoPixel LED strip.  I got it working and programmed a couple of patterns (starting, of course, with a sweeping, red Cylon eye pattern which you can watch here.

I hope to add more scenarios, make it controllable remotely (it’s a tiny microcontroller that actually has a web interface) and possibly wire in a light sensor and/or a motion sensor.
2. I also did some woodworking, electronics wiring and general Making.

Grade: B

Goal 3: Read some non-Fiction
I’m going to coast on being ahead of my goal and knowing that I’ve got a book on Mindfulness that I’m reading next called “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)

Grade: A

Goal 4: Document some Projects
I’ve got one on some lamps I’ve been working on for a while ready to go today or tomorrow.  On track for the goal.  (Still need to do some level of writeup on the leather working).

Grade: A

Goal 5: Volunteer
I was asked by a friend if I would mentor his Senior through his Senior Project because he wants to manage projects and do software.  I’ll have my final meeting with him this week to review the results, but that was a fun little side project that I enjoyed.

Extra Credit: A

The aggregate score gives me a 3.4 or a B/B+ with the extra credit.  I think I should have weighted the grades a bit as my primary goal’s reasonably low grade it being pulled up by the other goals.  Not sure I’m okay with that or not.  Oh, well, moving on.

Note: Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darts_in_a_dartboard.jpg and is a Public Domain photo.

Make: Lamps!

 

Some time ago, roughly four months ago, I was watching a show called The Librarians.  I enjoy it because it’s silly and escapist and it’s filmed in Portland.  In the past they have used many familiar landmarks including the sub at OMSI (and OMSI) and their secret lair is under the base of the St. Johns Bridge.  So, it’s always fun to watch and spot landmarks.  Give it a shot if you’re in the mood.

As I was watching one episode, I spotted a lamp which I thought was kind of cool.  I have noticed the show likes to fill the background with lots of stuff which is kind of Steampunk-ish or maybe Retro or Urban or something which I’m sure has a name that I don’t know.  In any case, the lamp caught my eye.  Enough so that I took a few screenshots of the television.

Here’s the best:

I liked the wood, I liked that I could identify that most of it was built from industrial pipe, I liked the bulbs, which I would later identify as Edison Bulbs.

Later, in another scene, I spotted a single bulb version which was similar, but had a glass shade.  

After that I went to Google and started searching for similar lamps and finally ran across this one off a link on Pinterest.  I won’t link to it since the Pinterest link dead ends and the domain is for sale, but here is the lamp which the ad copy says was “heavily featured on The Librarians”:

So, again, nice wood, rustic pipe, cool bulb.  I wasn’t as jazzed about the glass shade, but I liked the concept.

That sent me down a rabbit hole of Googling, but mostly around how to build DIY lamps using pipe, looking at fixtures, bulbs, lamp shades or cages.

I thought I could figure out how to do everything except I had no clue how to build the base.  I haven’t done any woodworking since woodshop in junior high (shout out to Mr. Janke who had lost a few fingers to things with blades, was a bad-ass with the industrial vacuum and taught us to taunt folks from Sweden with “Ten Thousand Swedes, running through the weeds, chased by one Norwegian!”).  

Fortunately, I know my own bad-ass woodworker and he has all his fingers and is a friend, so I was able to ask him some questions and he was very, very helpful in pointing me in the right direction and steering me away from a couple nasty potholes.  Thank you Larry!

The first problem I had was how was the base constructed?  To those with more knowledge than me, it is probably obvious, but I didn’t know.  Larry told me that this is done by gluing the right sequence of strips of wood together after you cut them on a table saw.  Easy Peasy!  Yeah, right.  

Well, I followed up with, what kind of crazy rare wood is that likely to be?  He again put me on the right path: “Those look like fairly common species that aren’t terribly rare and expensive.  I’d say mostly walnut, maple, and a couple of others.

In the end, after a trip to the wood store, examining the options and spending an hour talking with the very helpful wood salesmen, I settled on the pretty common White Oak for the light, Black Walnut for the dark and Cherry for the warm brown color.

I will not take you down the odyssey that that process became but I learned how to use my table saw (correctly), I learned how to plane (and how not to plane) wood.  I learned that it’s far better to do it correctly the first time than try and sand out the mistakes later.  I followed the woodworkers path of turning larger pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood with the application of power tools and elbow grease and the production of copious amount of sawdust.  Like “fill up my wet/dry vac” volumes of sawdust.

Then came the lengthy process of gluing, which was terrifying only because it seemed like it would be hard to undo if I did it wrong.  Then there was routing to round over the edges for the smooth look in the image above.  Then came the sanding.  And more sanding.  And then there was some sanding in there somewhere.  

Eventually I had a base and it was time to drill the holes for the legs and the hole the electrical cord would go through.  I managed to scratch my wood (stupid mistake) which necessitated more sanding to fix my error.

We had some really awesome winter weather this year in Portland, so that killed nearly a month of time I might have worked in my shed, but I didn’t want to because it was really, really cold and breathing in a shed where you are producing sawdust without sufficient ventilation is really unpleasant.

Finally, about a month ago, the weather turned sufficiently and I put in the time to get the bases close to done.  Then it was time to turn them from a dry looking piece of wood into something nice and once again Larry steered me in the right direction: “For projects like that I prefer a rub on finish.  I finished one of my first woodworking projects with Watco Tung Oil.  Like boiled linseed oil but penetrates better and leaves a warmer tone.  Boiled linseed oil is ok, but not what I think of as a satisfying finish.”  It was his next piece of advice when we talked about how many layers to apply that cemented the realization that woodworkers are nuts: “Just wipe on, let sit for a half hour, wipe off – then wait a day.  They say a coat an hour for a day, a coat a day for a week, a coat a week for a month, and a coat a month for a year, and yearly thereafter.”  Yeah, nuts.  I gave up after a dozen coats.  They looked nice.  I was happy with them.

In parallel with this i acquired the pipe fittings.  I figured (correctly) that they were ½” pipe and fittings.  I did some quick figuring for parts and made a trip to my local big box hardware store and bought the basic pipe bits.  Unfortunately, they’re pipes.  From a hardware store.  So, they were greasy and kind of gross and I wouldn’t want them in my house, so I had to do some cleaning.

As I was putting together parts and looking at what I wanted to do, I started to notice that a lot of Steampunk uses brass or copper.  And some of the shades and lamps that I found were kind of cool looking with brass accents.  So, I decided that instead of strictly industrial, I was going to class mine up a bit and I would use brass bits (technically termed ‘nipples’) to connect the pipe parts.  And, I would paint my pipe black so I’d have the wood and black pipes and brass accents and old-timey bulbs.

I wanted to find some nice sockets but I didn’t want the standard pull cords or knobs to turn them on/off because I planned on using a switch on the cord.  That resulted in me exploring a very cool store my wife and I happened upon one weekend in Portland called Sunlan Lighting.  They source any number of cool bulbs, sockets, wiring, lights, lamps, hardware and various bits and bobs.  It’s a very cool and very Portland store and everyone in there was very nice and very helpful.

Here I found several difficult to find things:

  • Exactly the right lamp base I wanted – though it had a ⅛” threaded base
  • ⅛” threaded bit
  • ¼” threaded bit
  • ⅛” to ¼” coupler

This combination allowed me to thread the bulb base directly into the pipe fitting which ended with a ½” to ¼” reducer, which was a big deal and solved several problems!

Finally, after searching through options, I settled on these “Vintage Edison Bulbs 60W Squirrel Cage Filament Incandescent Antique Light Bulbs”:

And these covers, “Metal Lamp Guard, Industrial Wire Iron Bird Cage”, mostly because I liked the black and brass:

I found some cool cord, “Black Twisted Vintage Cotton Cloth Covered Cord”:

and some classic looking plugs:

And, finally, some inline rotary dimming switches.

After months since I’d started with “Hey, those are cool, I wonder if I could make something like that”, I was able to start assembling the results this last weekend to see how they would look.

Here are the results.

Now, they’re not 100% done.  I still need to paint the silver screws attaching the Black Iron Floor Flange Fitting to the lamp base.

I’m trying to decide if they’re too short relative to the base, but I think I’m good with that.  Additionally, I wonder if they need some aging to make them look less like something that was completed last weekend, but those are details.  Oh, and the caps that will sit on a table need something to protect whatever they will sit on or they will scrape the heck out of whatever surface that will be.  And, frankly, these are likely just going to end up in my office, anyway.  I won’t impose these on the rest of the house.

Looking back at the images that started me down this path roughly four months ago, my result definitely turned in to my own thing versus recreating an existing prop, but slavishly copying an existing thing wasn’t my goal (this time).

I learned a bucket load about woodworking and the bases certainly wouldn’t have turned out as nice as they did without the help of my friend Larry.  Having said that, I could point out half a dozen mistakes in the base that will likely only ever irritate me, but I also know that I would probably only have half as many of them if I ever do something like this again.

If I apply any reasonable value on my time, then these are ridiculously expensive, one-of-a-kind lamps, so I have once again failed to stumble on some money-making second career, but that was truly never my goal.  I simply wanted to make something cool based on something else cool that I saw one day while watching television.  I’m happy with the results, so I’ll call that a success!

Here are some links to pages I found that were helpful or gave me inspiration

How About Orange : How to Make an Industrial Floor Lamp http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2014/04/how-to-make-industrial-pipe-floor-lamp.html
Home Depot Blog: DIY Industribal Lamp: Cool Desk Lamp Made From Pipe

http://blog.homedepot.com/diy-industrial-lamp-cool-desk-lamp-made-from-pipe/
Steampunk Lamp: Dan is building cool things and blogging out what he did and how he’s doing it.  Excellent read and answered a question from me, which was appreciated. http://www.dplivingston.com/steampunk/steampunk-lamp-1

Goals 2017: March Update

I’m roughly a half month late in reviewing February, but it’s still fresh enough to allow me to rate my progress. It wasn’t a great month for progress on some personal fronts, but still, I need to hold myself accountable.

Goal 1: Health
February was tough. I reached my initial goal and celebrated by loosening the restraints a bit and SURPRISE (Not), the weight wants to come back! The takeaway for me is probably that the diet I was on works, but it’s awfully restrictive and my body is quick to return to it’s default state. Additionally, the weather around here has been uniformly ugly, so since most of my exercise is outside walking and that wasn’t happening, I shouldn’t be surprised I struggled.

Grade: C (It was, at best, an average performance)

Goal 2: Tech Refresh
I got side-tracked and have not been as focused as I’d like to be on this goal so I’m going to be hard on myself and say I didn’t really meet my expectations.

Grade: C

Goal 3: Read some non-Fiction
Read a book on questions to think about as you approach retirement. I won’t mention the specific book because I don’t think it was great and was really focused on a specific sub-section of potential retirees and much/most of the content didn’t really apply to me well, but I still take credit for the read.

Grade: A

Goal 4: Document some Projects
I’ve got one queued up (Leatherworking), but I need to sit down and write it. I can’t take much credit since all I’ve done is prep pictures, but I’m still on track for the goal for the year.

Grade: B

Goal 5: Volunteer
I volunteered at an work-sponsored event at the Children’s Book Bank which was great.
Additionally I gave blood this month.

Extra Credit: A

The aggregate score gives me a B-, but I’ll allow the Extra Credit Goal 5 to nudge myself up to a B. A generous B. Don’t let it happen again, me, okay?

Note
Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darts_in_a_dartboard.jpg and is a Public Domain photo.

Goals 2017: February Update

If you’re going to publicly post your goals, you ought to remain publicly accountable. At least that’s what I read. On the Interwebs. Somewhere.

So, how am I doing? I’ll use a classic US letter grading scheme and see how that goes.

Goal 1: Health
I had a very good January. I picked an eating plan (the DASH diet) and have stuck to it reasonably well and I got a really good jump towards my goal weight. I’m cautiously optimistic because the diet is not easy and is based on dramatically cutting back on carbs which I still love and crave and occasionally dream about. While I’m happy I was able to stick to it for the last three weeks, the real test is staying on it, hitting my goal and sticking with it.

I haven’t been as successful on the exercise component. In part due to some spectacularly bad weather where I live in January in to February, but that’s just an excuse if I were really committed.

Grade: A- (knocked down for the lack of exercise)

Goal 2: Tech Refresh
I’ve put off working through more directly applicable tech refreshing (eg Java) in favor of learning a reasonably complicated piece of 3D software called Blender. I love CG (Computer Graphics) animation and modeling and Blender can be used to create 3D models which I can then print on my 3D Printer, which has been a goal for some time. So, this is where I’m spending that time.

My results so far are roughly akin to a six year old with a box of crayons and more colors than they know what to do with, but I’m having fun.

Grade: B+

Goal 3: Read some non-Fiction
Read a DASH Diet book which sort of served multiple goals, but that’s totally okay.

Grade: A

Goal 4: Document some Projects
Did two in January (Vancouver Rocks and 3D Risers) and I’ve got at least one planned for February, so I’m on track for this goal.

Grade: A

Goal 5: Volunteer
I’ve signed up for a Volunteer opportunity at work and I’m donating blood, both in February, so I’m doing well on this.

Extra Credit: A

Using my advanced math skills, that’s an aggregate grade of 3.75, so a solid A-. I’ll take it!

Note
Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darts_in_a_dartboard.jpg and is a Public Domain photo.

Make: 3D Printed Stackable Height Risers for RPG Minis

One of my goals for the year is to document some of my projects. Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame is credited with saying “Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down”. Side note: according to Adam, it was actually Alex Jason, a ballistics expert working with them on one of the episodes. In any case, my head variation is “The only difference between actually doing something and fooling around is writing it down”. To that end, I’ll do some little after-project write-ups from some of my little side projects by way of differentiating between fooling around and whatever results I get, good or bad.

In this case, I was talking with the GM (Game Master) from our weekly Game Night and we were chatting about things including my 3D printing and I was lamenting that I hadn’t done much with it lately. He noted that if I was looking for a project, he would like small, stackable elements that he could use to differentiate players or non-players and the various elevations. This comes up because it’s easy to forget something was up in the air or how much versus a simple 2D position.

The conversation stuck and I started noodling and thinking about designs. So, step 1 was sketch and this is what I came up with:

As I started to think about how a 3D printer works (think of squeezing out a tube of toothpaste with a very narrow mouth, but instead with melted plastic and in 3 dimensions), it turns out it’s kind of tough to make something flat like the sketch standing on legs, because the printer prints in layers from the bottom up and going from legs to the platform will not work easily. I then realized I could flip it over and print the top surface first and the legs last and suddenly I had a plan.

The next step in prototyping is building a model. In this case the easiest and quickest solution was to build it using TinkerCAD. TinkerCAD is free, online CAD software that has enough functionality to do what I needed. So, after coming up to speed on the UI and how it worked, I started knocking out the design. In a CAD program, what you’re building is a series of shapes/solids and other shapes that act as holes which you use to cut, well, holes or shave pieces off the solids.

Here is what that looks like:

Or, rendered as a solid:

Now, with that, I can export that information in a file format that the 3D printer understands (typically a .STL or .OBJ). Next I import that file in to the software which communicates with the 3D Printer (in this case, Cura). Cura is used as a way to set up the print, describe options like quality and other obscure things like infill, whether to use support structures, etc. Once I was happy with those, I hit Print and wait 20 minutes for the results (and hope the 3D print doesn’t come loose and waste 20 minutes and the associated material).

Even with that, there’s a difference between what you picture in your head and what works in reality. In this case, what I determined after iterating on the design a few (like, six) times is that what I really wanted were legs that were narrower than the holes they fit in to to allow easy stacking that felt connected and wasn’t sloppy but you also didn’t have to force. So, yeah, only six or seven tries.

Before I offer the end result, I’ll show what I’ll call my Pile of Sadness. This is a combination of failed iterations and failed prints. This is what the middle bits between idea/inspiration and a working prototype look like:

The result, though, was pretty good. I was happy with it and will print up a number of them for our GM to use (or not) in our game. Because, in the end, it was really about making something that didn’t exist before as much as it was about solving the problem. But, solving the problem (satisfying my customer) also feels good.

And, as an additional bonus for lasting this long, here is a print I did just for fun of Baby Groot. (Design credit to Tom Davis and the model found on MyMiniFoundry)
Note: This will only be cool if you know the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and its sequel.

 

Thanks!

Goals: 2017

Rather than make resolutions, which tend to be a bit trite and are typically abandoned soon after making them, I thought this year I’d try to make some specific and concrete goals for 2017. I’ve also read that one way to make yourself more accountable for those goals is to share them since it add accountability, even if it’s imagined accountability.

In my experience, goals benefit from being SMART. Variations exist, but for my purposes: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Trackable. The last, T, could have been Time-based but since these goals are for 2017 and therefore time-based or time-bound isn’t relevant, but trackable is.

That means there should be some sort of regular check in for progress. I’m choosing monthly as a period because it’s enough to show progress but not so much that I lose focus.

Goal 1: Health
What: Get my weight down to my target goal and keep it there on my scale and maintain for at least three months.
How: Adjust diet, get more consistent exercise, maybe add in some resistance regimen.
When: By 7/1/16
Measurements: Weight (Withings Scale/App), Blood Pressure (Cuff/Manual Entry), Data from phone/app
Specifics:

  • Walk 10000 steps 3x weekly (Q1)
  • Walk 10000 steps 4x weekly (Q2)
  • Maintain (Q3/Q4)

Goal 2: Tech Refresh
What: Pick something to refresh and take a(n online) course.
How: Set aside a chunk of time weekly to work through this. Maybe a few nights a week or four hours a week on the weekend.
When: By 7/1/17
Tracking: Completion of the Courses

Goal 3: Read some non-Fiction
What: Read 6 non-Fiction books this year. Any subject, any (reasonable) length.
When: By 12/31/17
Tracking: Addition to Books:Reading Log

Goal 4: Document some Projects
What: Document some Projects that I work on. Painting minis, lamps, leather cases, whatever. Blog post is fine.
What: Document 4-6 Projects this year with pics and text.
When: By 12/31/2017

Goal 5: Volunteer
This is a stretch goal and I won’t hold it against me if I don’t do it, but it seems like a good thing to have as a goal for the year. This one will not be tracked monthly

That’s it! Let’s see how it goes.

Note
Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darts_in_a_dartboard.jpg and is a Public Domain photo.

Vancouver Rocks! And It’s Spreading…

Have you heard about Vancouver Rocks? Here’s a story from the local paper. Here’s the Facebook page which describes and shares some of the creations.

Basically folks have been painting, hiding and finding rocks up in Vancouver where I live. My wife told me about it after she became aware of it. One weekend morning a few weeks ago we wandered Orchards Community Park for my first time and looked for rocks. We each found a couple and had a really nice walk exploring a new park. Also met a couple of other rock hunters who were thoroughly friendly and enjoying the hunt.

We had so much fun with it we even painted a some rocks ourselves to hide when we get a chance. Christina already hid a few of them. Here are a few we have left and one of the rocks I found on my first adventure. (I painted the Princess Leia. It’s my favorite.)

This last week, as I was exiting my parking garage in downtown Portland, some color caught my eye and I spotted the rock up in the cover photo. And with such a simple message: Love.

I’ll probably hide this somewhere else downtown just to spread the fun.

I feel it’s this kind of act of creation coupled with the serendipitous and unexpected joy of discovery that can offset many of the realities of life that may get me down about current events and helps offset some of the fear I have of the future.

Here is something that is a purely positive event which takes place in the real world. You find a rock, you celebrate. You paint a rock and someone finds it. One person gets the joy in the act of creation, another the joy in discovery and maybe the pleasure that comes with re-hiding and hoping someone finds it as everyone moves forward putting that positive energy back out in the world. From one small act, many ripples can occur.

There’s no great reason for it, there’s no message or goal, it seems, other than to create moments out in the real world between people who will never meet but still find a way to communicate with each other.

How wonderful is that?