All posts by BradO

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Pine 10 inch drum

03.03.2017 – Pine and Cedar drums

I’ve been making more and more drums over the winter – I have 7 or 8 now under my belt.  I’m making them because I want to become great at making them – tone, playability, looks, pitch, toughness, beauty, record-ability – all of that – but also because I am doing R&D for Hexagon Craftworks, trying to ramp up to being able to sell a very nice set of items that people will love having in their set of instruments.  I also enjoy the creative process of doing it.  I have made a few improvements with these two, and every time I do one, it gets better.

P I N E   D E C A G O N   D R U M

First, I made a pine-based decagon with 10 sides.  It’s about 10″ wide by 11″ deep.  I have always loved the knots and grain of pine, and it’s look when it’s stained dark.  Before stain, the drum shell was almost white!  Very light.  Pine gets “fluffy”, too – it takes stain deeply and I had to sand the hell out of it, with 60, 150, up to 400, and it came out great!  The reddish stain sank in and gave it a super-awesome look after the clear.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Pine 10 inch drum

The tone of this drum has the best tone from any drum I have made so far!  And, it’s light.  Maybe the shell resonates more?  I don’t know.  An oak drum that has half the dimensions still weighs twice as much as this (roughly).  The oak ones have their own kind of tone, but this one just came out great with a thicker goat skin.

As I said, the wood is softer, and that comes with advantages and disadvantages.  The advantage is that it’s easy to sculpt, and part of the disadvantage is that… it’s easy to sculpt!  Make one mistake trying to carve that logo in there and it’s very hard to overcome, so I had to be extremely careful carving detail this wood.  But, using the router and sanders to shape it was a great experience.

C E D A R   D E C A G O N   D R U M

I made another 10-sided drum from cedar, but this time I went crazy and made the width 4″ and gave it a foot height.  This thing “pops”!  I love this drum, too!  An added benefit with this one is that it just matches my arm length with my fingers on the head, so I can get my upper arm behind the drum and use it to bend the pitch when I need to without using an extra hand – nice advantage.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Cedar 4 inch drum

The wood is of course darker in color so the added stain on top makes it darker than the reference.  I used a charcoal-like stain on this one and it came out great!  I did the straps differently on this one and I really like it.  It’s a better “system” for keeping the skin tight, plus managing the exposed strap.  I will do this more.

Now I know what seems to be the limit of a medium-thickness head – I’d say about a 4-inch diameter.  I think it would have been better to use a lighter gauge head on it as the tone is a bit muted, but still has some good overtones – actually probably pretty useful for mic’ing it up, but I do enjoy a small drum that is rather spilling out with higher harmonics.  I also made the bearing edge more rounded, so that affects it.  It still sounds really good and unique and I love playing it.

I N   T H E   E N D

After it’s all said and done, these drums are my favorites, and they’ve gotten great response from the initial groups I have shown them to – from both players and collectors, and including general art and music enthusiasts.  I try to get the most honest feedback from people as possible to help me identify what people are liking and what they would like to see better.  That’s for the market research, but I also just take them to jam sessions to actually play and have fun, as well. 🙂

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Drum Clamps

I have a few more drums I’ll do in March, one with more exotic wood, one with a thinner oak, and another with pine.  And, I’d love to do one with birch!  I’ll do some lighter tints and experiment with mixing paint with some of the stain to get a vingette effect around the borders.  Also, I will do at least one with more carving detail around the sides, like a plant sprouting out or hanging from the top.  And, there’s even the idea of making a drum from a geometric platonic solid – that would be super awesome cool!  Still working on that one…  Lots of ideas, I just gotta keep on making and making!

Cabbage Brad Ormand Garden 2016

12.08.2016 – Garden (Part Two)

So, it’s days before our first freeze (estimated) here in Central Texas, and it’s a good time to do a wrap-up on the garden I started in the Summer.  I’m really loving my little place in the country, out of the way of things where I can relax, be creative, and get some work done.

Sidenote:  I outlined what I was going to grow and the build in Part One – a wrap up of actually building it and starting off.

I think the kale, cabbage and cauliflower, and some other leafys will survive through our cold, but I’m preparing for most of the other plants to be lost.  I’ll plant a new arrangement this coming March.  However, that’s what I’m going to test, as well – to see how different variants do in the cold.

Although I didn’t get much fruit in this short, off-season time, I did get some good cucumbers!  The squash, however, all died before fruiting – I replanted several times and I had a lot of trouble with them.  After the 3rd planting, I planted radish and spinach where the squash was, instead.  The radishes are doing great, as are the fledgling spinach.  The garlic did so, so well!  Huge and healthy – I’ll have some this weekend!  All of the peppers grew very slowly, though – it’s almost like they were dormant from October to now.  My other ones grew twice as fast from April to June (2016, at my other garden) than these did from August to December – so something learned there.

Brad Ormand Garden Cucumber 2016

Cauliflower Brad Ormand Garden 2016

Cauliflower ^ (new radishes and spinach in the BG)

The best performers are probably the lettuce, cauliflower, and kale.  They all look very healthy and continue to grow every day.  While they aren’t ready yet, I expect them to survive the freezes and come through to continue their growth in the Spring.  The lettuce is ready to eat, while the other still need time. The corn and wheat did kind of okay – I do have a corn ear coming out.  The tomatoes are still growing strong but with no fruit – I think the winter will kill all of them like it did last year.  And, sadly, the strawberries and onion hardly did anything at all but sprout…  They’re still alive, though.  We’ll see what the Spring will do to them if they survive the freezes.

Cabbage Brad Ormand Garden 2016

Cabbage^

Brad Ormand Baby Cucumber 2016

Baby cucumber^ with volunteer Jalapenos in the BG

So, I learned quite a lot from this experiment.  I watered them twice a day without missing a beat and watched success in the off-season with my own eyes.  But, I also saw several failures.  It adds to the grower I want to be 5 years from now, this knowledge.  The pH’s, temperatures, and moisture levels were paid attention to, and I managed the caterpillars and bugs pretty well, all with zero pesticides – that’s part of the test as well.  Flowers were pollinated and fruit was made.

In hindsight, I really put that first bed too close to the workshop shed because the sun doesn’t hit it as often as some plants need, even after I put the clear roof on – the sun just is not as high in the sky during these winter days.  The back wall is the South wall.  I’ll take that into account for the Spring.  About the outdoor workshop, though…

Brad Ormand Garden Tool Shed

I put up this little station next to the garden to hold some of my garden and wood tools, and some of the stuff that can stay outside – shovels, hammers, clamps, saws, levels, bolt and screw collection, etc.  They stay dry.  Also, to do sheltered woodworking in.  I have already built 3 tables and several drums, sanded, stained, glossed, and finished in this little shed.  It leaves me more storage room inside the house for things that don’t need to go inside.  For instance, I have a small storage area for my power tools, electronic stuff, paints, and main toolbox inside the house, but not shovels, etc – they stay outside.

With the help of my father, I moved the building into place, roofed it, and put tin up on some of the sides.  The frame is metal with a heavy-duty plate floor, built by him for another purpose that fell through.  I have learned a lot from him.  It’s a great little platform.  I built a tool rack, refurb’d a table, and put up a few flourishes.  It’s nice to have it right next to the garden and the field.  I love doing work out there next to the green plants and in the sunlight and breeze where I can sand and cut wood and really position and move large planks of wood around.

Brad Ormand Wood Shop Jig 2016

I also have this metal table on the other side of the garden where I can build jigs and clamp stuff to.  This one’s an angle ripping jig for 1×4 lumber.  It’s so nice to have something like this to lay stuff out on – about 4’x4′ for the whole metal table.  It’s my main work table.  It makes me very happy as a craftsman – amazingly sturdy and heavy and takes plenty of abuse – hammers banging, cutting wood and hide, hundreds of Newtons of downward force, and it doesn’t sway a bit – solid bit of kit, there.

Anyway, that’s it.  Just a quick wrap-up of the garden stuff and a few views of the outdoor workshop in the country.  Love this stuff.

Native Stave Drum 8 Inch Rawhide

11.25.2016 – New Hand Drums

I’ve been making drums in anticipation of releasing a few lines of instruments through Hexagon Craftworks.  I’m doing a little R&D, making different kinds and proving different techniques.  I’ve built 5 so far and modified a few more that I had built in the past, and I have several upcoming.

I used to work in a drum shop and I’ve been a drummer since school, so making them to play them is a good combination – a great way to spend my time and fulfilling as well.  My academic background is in both audio and computer engineering, so that also helps me tune the sound because afterwards, I can record them to the machine and analyze what sound properties each building technique has produced, and where to go from there.

The goal for me now is to have 10 or so varying kinds that I can take out with me and have musicians play them, collectors look at them and hold them and to see what people like or don’t like about them, in general.  Of course, my vote counts as well.  I’ll be seeing what features I consistently like in them.  Then, once I have the feedback, I can go on to produce more of the drums and features that make the most sense to do.

Hopefully, I’ll be releasing this line of drums to my web store ( https://www.hexagoncraftworks.com ) sometime during the Spring of 2017.  I also have other things I’m making to sell in the store so I will have to determine priorities at the time, such as the Snub Dodecahedron model and the wood tools.

Native Stave Drum 18 Inch Rawhide

 

This one (above) is a big one – an 18″ hexadecagonal stave drum made out of oak.  It’s got a thick cow rawhide head.  The properties, of course, change with moisture and temperature, but at about 75 degrees F and 50% humidity (comfortable indoors), it’s fundamental tone is somewhere around 38Hertz, with a loud overtone around 100Hz.  Perfect little boom and punch combo.

 

Native Stave Drum 10 Inch Rawhide

This next one is about 10″ in diameter and it started out as an octagon.  It’s also made out of oak.  The thin rawhide is very transparent and was a pleasure to work with.  I really like the sound of it, too.  It’s got lots of overtones and resonance.

Native Stave Drum 8 Inch Rawhide

And, this one is another oak drum (I love working with oak, but have some made out of cedar and pine, as well).  It’s smaller – about 8 inches OD and is rounded octagonal as well.  It’s got a very high, tight, pingy tone – perfect for a slap or backbeat with ghost notes.  Also, it has a carved logo right in the front, and I took some creative liberties with the lacing and forming.

I have a few more not shown on this post, but these 3 are my finest examples.  All in all, they were all made from hardwood lumber that I cut and processed, and I’m still refining my methodologies, but I have a solid hold on the techniques I’ve used to make these.  After a few more, I’ll have decided on a good base set of techniques to call my “style”.

There were a few challenges along the way – cutting and forming wet wood, getting the router to stay in place and not damage the sides when it binds, the notches becoming to small to twist the leather lace around, sanding across the grain, ripping various angles along a long piece, and of course, heads tearing and popping from excessive tension.  I got those worked out and look forward to doing this again!

Brad's Garden Plan 2016

10.24.2016 – Garden (Part One)

I built a raised-bed garden 2 months ago.  I am excited about growing my own food.  I buy an awful lot of fruits and veggies from the grocery store, and I want to experiment with having my own source.  Plus, I like watching the miracle of plants growing.  And, I like eating different varieties and studying them – all very interesting to me.

So, I grow.  These are my “test beds”, quite literally.  I made 3 beds to study how things will grow (even in this late part of the season – I just moved here).  Later, I will expand it 10-fold when I acquire some larger acreage.  This is a great pre-cursor experiment to see what mistakes I make or what problems I encounter here so that I can learn from them when I scale up – or if it just does really well, I’ll replicate.  I also want to see what dies in the frost and what survives and why.  Come Springtime, I’ll have a better understanding of what needs to be done for each plant I’m interested in when I plan the next layout.

So, here’s what I’ve got growing:  Corn, wheat, cucumbers, garlic, strawberries, tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, Chinese peppers, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, squash, onions, kale, radish, swiss chard, basil, parsley, cilantro, aloe vera, cacti, and probably a few more that I’m not remembering.  And, I have several varieties of some of them.  Let’s see what happens!

I planned the whole thing out before I started growing.  Here’s the chart:

Brad's Garden Plan 2016

So, I started the build in the late summer.  I used as much reclaimed wood (untreated) as I could find.  For instance I found some great 20′ 2×8’s used previously as roof rafters to use and had plenty of standard 2×4’s.  I bought the rest and went to work.

Brad Garden Pickaxe 2016

Muddy Garden Build

To make a long story short, I initially intended to drop them into the existing soil, but I decided to change halfway through to do raised beds as a more controlled experiment – like growing in huge containers with known, looser soil.  And, I ended up matching the building width of 7′ for alignment, so these are 4′ by 7′, and there are 3 of them.

That’s the old deconstructed, broken-down pyramid vocal booth that I built for my old home, in the background.  I broke it down to use the wood.  I found another sound booth solution for this place.  As you can see, the frames came up nicely – it was much easier after it stopped raining so much!  It was a pleasure to design and build these things – there’s great fulfillment that comes from it.  And, the garden area has remnant parts of that vocal booth and another climbing wall that I harvested wood from.  So, there’s some memories in there, as well.  🙂

Garden Under Construction

 

Brad's Bed Design - Close Up

And, finally, the finished product (below) with a few plants growing. 🙂  It took me about a month of evenings and weekends, after trial and error and design changes to finish it.  I used all untreated lumber for contact with the soil and plants.  For the treated 4×4’s, they are lined with plastic all the way up on the inside.  There are cons to using untreated lumber, too – they rot with extended water contact.  But with the chemically treated wood, I fear that they’d leech into the soil.  Cedar was overly expensive for my budget, so I went with what I had.  It’ll be fine for a few years.  It’s looking good!

Brad's Finished Garden with Rainbow

I am really enjoying my new location and being able to build stuff – having a great place to work out of.  I’ll be here for about a year while I save up and scout for a more permanent, larger acreage that I can live at for 10+ years.  The structures are transportable, so I can re-use them if need be.  My workshop is just adjacent to the garden, so I work wood and paint and carve stuff just right there nearby with the scenery – very inspiring to me!  I have a saw station, an “assembly” station, and a covered tool rack and deck that I’ll show more of with the 2nd garden update.  A fun, relaxing place for me to be.

In the evenings, like in this pic, the plants do go out of sunlight, but they get full sun from the time it comes up until about 6 or 7pm, in the Summer and Fall.  I specially prepared the soil with carefully-measured, all organic compost, vermiculite, peat moss, and other “dirt” to serve as an experiment to see what happens, built also of course, I made the soil rich and organic to grow good plants to eat, too.

 

Brad Ormand - early player front

9.26.2016 – Game Character Pre-Pro

A while ago, I created a low-poly game character and used it in a game engine demo to get jobs in software development in Austin and LA (in-game, pictured just below).  That helped my overall portfolio.  But, I thought, “One day I’m going to spend the resources do a real product with this“.  And, when that time came around to do it, I wanted to be ready.  I didn’t want to license a character or the props.  I decided to take the time back then to learn the discipline.

Fast forward to now… I’m not sure why I stopped doing it.  I miss it.  I want to get back to that work.  I have great memories of that time period in LA a few years ago.  I loved making models and texturing and animating them.  I mean, the whole 3D rendering pipeline has always fascinated me.  I build a 3D software wireframe/fill renderer for new platforms whenever I encounter them – browser, standalone, embedded display, in ActionScript, JS, and C/C++, etc. because it’s interesting.  I have a sincere passion for everything about 3D software that just hasn’t died out over time.  It’s persistent, and I kinda have to pay attention to it. 🙂  And now, I want to make a game of my own, all the way through to ship.  So, I decided to revamp that guy as my main character and move on with my former plans.

Brad Ormand - Agent 218

A   F U L L   S A I L   S T O R Y

Ever since I graduated from Full Sail (Recording Arts) for audio engineering stuff, I have had my eye on 3D animation and game design/dev.  I was friends with a lot of Game Design and Game Development program students there, and on the weekends and in the evenings and they showed me the stuff they were doing.  And, although I wanted to do audio stuff primarily, I really, really, looked up to the game creation discipline.  We learned audio concepts, big mixing consoles, and Pro Tools.  They learned game concepts, Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, etc. – all that kinda stuff.  And, that’s what I have been up to too, lately.  I’m learning Maya end-to-end, trying to get my polygon topology right and stuff like that.

Back in school, us audio guys were playing video games, too, between classes – it was almost a “club” between a certain group of us.  “How far did you get in that game this weekend?“,  “Did you get to the place where you have to…“, “What did you think about the gameplay?“, “Are you using 5.1 surround?“, etc, etc.  It added to my enthusiasm for games.  And, plus, we worked with the game department in the studio all the time – mixing music, making stems, doing foley, and processing voiceovers.  And, I did that in Hollywood, too.  I have kind of been hooked on game dev since back then – the whole, entire process is fascinating to me.

Brad Ormand - early player back

The newly revamped character (above).  I’ll have a few different kinds of hats he can wear.

A   H O L L Y W O O D   S T O R Y

Even when I moved to Hollywood, after a few years of audio/music studio stuff, I dropped out of that career track professionally (basically.  But, I continued to use the skills for my music releases and personal projects) and went back to school for Computer Engineering in LA.  But, my sole purpose, or let’s say, “ulterior motive”, was to go back to engineering school to learn math down solid so that I could develop games!  That’s for real.  I was pumped.  So, it’s been a long time coming for me to decide to build a full game and get it out.  I’m deciding to now.

I went through the entire math track in school from algebra to trigonometry to calculus to physics and vector math.  I’ve been enthused with it for the last 8 years since I got that education.  I have used the knowledge throughout the years in my career, developing lots of 2D games and puzzles and stuff in Flash for my employers.  And, now I have the chops to do a 3D game and not be scared to the enormity of it, with these pieces filled in.  And, like I said, the interest in it never died for me, so…  I gotta create a 3D game in 2016 and 2017.  🙂

B A C K   T O   T H E   G A M E 

So, I got back into Maya last month and got my old game demo character revamped.  I’m guessing to took me about 80 hours or so to get everything right, and it’s still not done – the textures are just in a prototype state still, and it requires rigging and animating.  I have a smoothed version here with a medium poly count, but it will be optimized for the game when I’m through.  When I was considering my options concerning models, the way I really felt was that I didn’t want to be “robbed” of the fun of the creation of the assets.  It would save me time to get them made elsewhere, but didn’t want to trade the experience.  So, I didn’t license or base it off anything, I just started from the first poly and went from there – not even a reference photo.  It’s similar to drawing human faces and carving wood faces like I have been doing, but virtually.  It’s a great tie-in art for me and I’m having fun.

As for the programming part, I have that part under control.  And, I’ve got the music and SFX part down, too.  So, as soon as I get all of the assets, textures, rigging, and animation ready, created and collected, I’m ready to do some programming to tie the “game part” together.

Brad Ormand - early player front

I am really loving creating the models though – tires, rocks, trees, walls, floors, the kits, taking texture photography, and animating the different takes.  My goal is to come out with a real, tested, quality game that can be truly enjoyed by people (and myself), with my own art style.  I will see this project through (while I’m also doing the Hexagon Craftworks stuff and the audio applications, too).  Luckily, I’m a good planner (almost to a fault), when I decide on something..  I can’t do a heavy bench press or fight fire or play basketball or manage teams that well, but I can do computer science as it relates to art pretty well.  My target for this game is XBox One.  Mobile versions might come through, too.  PC might come through.  I don’t know.  I’ll get a good game going first.  Mid-2017?

J U S T   F U L F I L L I N G,  T H O U G H

I’ll report more about the progress here in my project log and meanwhile continue iterating through my various projects.  I’m motivated.  I’m getting better on every front.  That’s all I can ask of myself – just incremental progress every day on my key skills.  Like some of my heroes : Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Abrash, John von Neumann, Albert Einstein,  Steve Wozniak, James Maxwell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Feynman, Joseph Fourier, etc…  They kept going.  They had passion.  I have it too.  I do appreciate the position that they put themselves in – where they could use their disciplines for fulfillment as well – gotten regularly by busting through barriers, achieving milestones in the fields of study that they loved.  Their time and energy spent was worth it, I’m sure of it.  It’s satisfying to be engaged and actually make good progress in something – even if it’s hard and takes a long time.

Well, time to go.  I’ve been making a new garden.  A big one.  I’ll post about that next time.

 

Brad Ormand Ibanez 8-String RG Prestige

07.11.2016 – New Ibanez Prestige 8-String Guitar

Yep, that’s right!  I got a new guitar.  It’s beautiful!  Now I have a USA Stratocaster and an Ibanez RG on hand to work with (Plus the Precision Bass and my acoustic, a Fender Del Mar).  This Ibanez has 8 strings (with a low B and an F# below the standard open E).  Some of you already know about this kind of guitar.  It’s an RG Prestige model with a  Hazelnut Ale finish.  It has EMG 808 pickups, and I really like them, actually – I don’t plan on changing them.  Very “woody”, and with lots of grain.

But, yeah – I was looking for more strings to play than the standard 6.  And, I at least I knew I wanted the 7th string for a lower appeal.  I wanted to continue the scale down and was looking to be able to play some lower accompanying notes with my chords and double-stops as well.  Muting has been a challenge, though.  When you wanna play, for instance, the regular E major shape, you can’t just pick the bottom 2 strings as well, you have to either mute them or skip them on the fly before the strum.  Ha – I’m still getting used to that, but actually, it’s helping my technique.  But, other than that, I have no other problem at all navigating the vertical direction.

Brad Ormand - Ibanez RG Prestige 8-String

Coming from 6 strings, the “targeting” is different.  Usually, you’d just either do it by feel or count strings from either top or bottom, from either E, to find out where to fret/pick in the moment.  But, with the 2 additional strings there, if you need to get to the low E, you have to be able to quickly count from the high point: 1 (F#), 2(B), to 3 (the low E string) to get the quick targeting right.  Or, you could just think in terms of F#.  It takes a while to get used to it – just like if you get a new tool belt with more slots on it, it takes a bit of practice to become familiar with it to where you can just reach, grab, and go.  But, it’s no problem, it’s fun to learn.

In the horizontal direction, lengthwise along the fretboard, the scale length is 27″ – an inch and a half longer than my Strat than I’m used to.  But, actually…  I find it even more comfortable!  Especially past the 15th fret.  I’m excited to pick it up every time.

F# to B is a fourth, B to E is a fourth, as E to A is a fourth, and so on…  So, I can continue scale patterns right down the strings and the patterns are the same.  And, believe me, it’s awesomely fun to rip through an extended scale or lick from the lowest to the highest string, doing all 8 in a row – great fun!

I have experimented with tuning on this thing.  As I said, the standard tuning is: F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E, (although Ibanez, I think, ships them all with a step lower) and I tried to turn the B down to an A, like F#, A, E, A, D, G, B, E, so I could have and extra “fundamental” tone when I play in Am or Cmaj.  And, it allowed me to do similar dropped-D-style  playing in the middle there.  However, it just was awkward and I felt like I’d be better off using standard tuning and just reaching when I need the dropped stuff.  I also experimented with dropping the F# to E, but man, that low string gets floppy fast when you deviate too much, but it’s possibly workable.  Maybe one day, I will write something specifically for that, but for now, I like the standard fourths.

Brad Ormand Ibanez 8-String RG Prestige

So, I recored a demo of it – take a listen if you want.  I think it sounds rad!

http://www.bradormand.com/audio/music/crusher_inst.mp3

I look forward to writing more and more songs in the rock and metal genre this Summer and Fall.  Also, I am learning how I can incorporate the lower strings to standard chords to get really full ring-outs.  And, lastly, I’m really enjoying the Ibanez RG Prestige “sound”.  There’s so much tone to explore, just by holding notes, bending them, pinching harmonics, and the pickup positions – You can make this guitar “talk” – it’s really a great experience!

 

 

 

 

Hexagon Craftworks Label 3x2 Black

06.04.2016 – Hexagon Craftworks

I’ve started a business!  I’ve been writing about my ideas in this blog for months about it, and the time has finally come.  I took care of all of the logistics and legal stuff, got set up with a great online platform, got some business partners / affiliates, and I did a lot of designing, coding, and talking.  It’s live.  I named it: Hexagon Craftworks, because of my love for geometry and also because of the geometrical usage in my artwork.

All of my in-progress projects will now be part of Hexagon Craftworks R&D, except for the software and music portions.  I’m dead serious about delivering great-quality and dead cool stuff – well, my idea of cool (which I think is very cool, of course 🙂 ).  And, there’s a market out there for that.  I’m serious about making this my full-time career – to put everything into it.  I have a Phase 1 (which we’re in now), a Phase 2 (about 6 months from now), and a Phase 3 (about a year from now) in my business plan, which will each mark new product lines, new buildings / moving / tooling, and revenue numbers to keep us afloat.  Once I get to that Phase 3, I’ll try to keep that rolling for at least 5 years, then reevaluate.

But, anyway, Hexagon Craftworks is an art and wood shop, predominately.  I’m the sole creator and innovator.  The art is formatted and sold at an online storefront as framed prints, on shirts, bags, accessories, and the wood art is also sold, packaged and, shipped.  Wood art is a phase 2 thing to be launched as soon as I develop the business system / procedure down for it.

Anyway, that’s a short writeup on what’s been going on with Hexagon, project-wise.  There are sooo many more projects to come now that this is set up.  And, this project log helped me come to many conclusions about what was possible.  Of course, structuring the business itself is a project on it’s own, but it’s also a formal outlet for the result of my physical projects.  I’m really excited about it and will make it succeed.

Hexagon Craftworks Label 3x2 Black

Hexagon Craftworks

In other news, just to resolve some of the other project threads I’ve had out in the past, since this is my personal blog…  The Audio Granulator has had some progress on it, but took the back seat while I formed this biz.  The Apple WWDC came and went – watched it, loved it…  Can’t wait to get back to it once things have settled down.

And, the guitar practice is staying constant and consistent into June.  I’m a far better player than I ever was.  I can run scales up and down the neck at 100bpm, sixteenth notes, no problem for every major and minor scale, these days – it just took 90 days of practice, though.  Haha.  But, the real marker of success would just be my ability to now improvise in a much better and more smooth fashion – over most keys.  I could already strum and knew chords (of course – listen to my recordings) before I started these 2016 practice sessions, but the goal of 2016 was to be able to solo and make riffs easier so that I could pull out whatever I needed when I needed it – it’s going well.  On to July with that!

And, lastly, it’s growing season again – I got more cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, ginger, greens, and a lot more going this year.  Can’t wait to see how they do, and even plan more for 2017.

Sheet Music Unfolded

04.07.2016 – Guitar Practice and Crafts

I just spent the month of March on an initiative to improve my music theory and guitar playing skills.  I worked on other projects, too during this time, but haven’t finished anything to show.  The results of the practice are pretty amazing, though.  I’m doing it again for April.  I wanted to be able to take my existing guitar skills and augment them to be able to play all of my Major and Minor scale shapes, plus the Blues scale, clean, in every key, all up and down the neck at 90 BPM, sixteenth notes.  I couldn’t do it March 1st – it was too fast, but by April 1st, I was able to do it!

I’m not primarily a guitar player, but I knew the keyboard and a lot of theory, so I could visualize the intervals and know what each sounds like on the keys, but to use my left hand fingers to do it was hard.  I have been playing guitar at a casual level for a long time, and have come up with the parts and recorded guitar on all of my songs, but wanted the ability to express my ideas with more ease.  And, I’m getting into using the guitar as a MIDI instrument and harmonic EFX generator, too.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  I’ve practiced every day for at least 30 minutes for 30 days – getting these left hand fingers and picking hand stronger!  It’s a lot like working out (and speaking of, I have been exercising for 30 days straight, too, but that’s beside the point).  For May 1st, I’m trying for that group of scales and positions, up and down, at 100BPM, sixteenths.  120 in July.

After I get to a good technical point, then I can start creating patterns and phrases and learning the songs I had previously written in a new light and see where I want to take them.  New stuff, old stuff, and stuff yet to be laid down.  And, re-create these ideas in a way that inspires the greatest of good-feeling emotions.  That is the goal for that.

Brad Ormand - Guitar Practice Left Hand

TENDENCIES

My other projects, like the audio granulator, woodcarving, and drum construction, are in a holding pattern.  I notice my tendency to “cycle” through each discipline every few months.  But, actually, I’m fine with that.  I noticed last night when I came across some code for my audio apps while backing up my drive, that I actually held myself back from working on it, as if to say, “No, not now – I’m practicing guitar and I have green paint waiting to be used on the canvas before I can get back to you, audio app“.  And, that’s fine.  Why not?  I think…

I’m inspired more to explore ideas that are just surfacing and “hot” right now so I can “lock them in”, and then get back to them on the next cycle.  But… the downside is that I lose some momentum.  But, I capture the “hot” ideas in the stream of consciousness.  Just an observation.  Evens out, I guess.  And, this project log shows me what I come back to and what I don’t.  Most I cycle back to.  I sure do have a lot of interests, though – that’s for sure.

However, I do think about the different categories of projects I have active every day – and I always have a base level of inspiration for them all that never leaves.  And, it’s more exciting to get back to them after a bit of a break and after a large success in another field.  Rationalization or not, it is what it is right now, and until I get to the point to where I do them as my primary business, I can continue to operate in this way.

THE GOAL

My job takes up most of my time (as does driving to and from it).  I’m okay with it because it funds my projects.  However, I would rather my PROJECTS fund my PROJECTS.  haha – I mean that makes the most sense, right?  I’d be hard at work all day on them if I didn’t have these other responsibilities.  On the flip side – my career is in Software Development right now, I’ve worked hard on it,  and they need me and I need them and it’s a good “handshake”.

So, for now, I’m happy.  But, fueling my choices, somewhat, when I decide how to spend my project time is definitely motivated by what I can come up with that #1) I love to do, and #2) that will provide me a profit to put back into the skills that created it.  The audio app and drum construction ideas are the hottest right now, as far as crafting.  And the idea of making excellent music that does well in the marketplace and licenses well (and that I really like!) is an inspiration for my theory and guitar practice right now – to really bump up my ability to produce well-made songs.  Better than before.

Sheet Music Unfolded

Sometimes, I just want to paint for relaxation and sometimes, I just want to play music for enjoyment, so it’s both – a desire to make worthy “products”, mixed with a desire to enjoy my skills.

Either way, I’m getting better skills in the process.  And, that leads to being better able to express my vision, which would be the ultimate goal – To be able to express myself in the most powerful ways possible.

Brad Ormand - Renegade Rambler Audio UI idea

2016.03.01 – Audio Granulator Progress

While in the process of writing an audio program for the ARM chip and another display, I began to also write code for Mac OS 10 and iOS.  I hit some good vibes and continued going forward with the Mac app and left the ARM system on the bench, as is, to come back to later after I finish this Mac app.  I switched gears, as I normally do, but I now have the pieces together to make this app, and it’s multiplying my motivation…

I have been studying DSP and audio algorithms in C++ quite a bit lately (and I had already made great progress with the DFT and FFT in 2015), and am having a great deal of fun analyzing and manipulating sound.  My degree and background are from this area, but I have never had to actually code a chorus or reverb or EQ (although I’ve built hardware analog EQ’s and compressors).  So… I decided to go through making this higher-level abstraction app to beef up more of my real-time digital audio knowledge.  I’m using Core Audio and Audio Units.  Then, after one or two of these apps, I can come back to the bare ARM system, with which I’ll have to write these “units” from scratch (and I can’t wait – looking forward to it.  Just need a quick win first, ‘cuz I’m gon spend some time on it – like a year).  It’ll also help me decide how I’m going to organize the higher-level abstractions from my low-level C++ code once I get back to coding the embedded ARM system.

ARM Breadboard Circuit 1 Brad Ormand

I’ll have the fast FFT implementations and FIR and IIR filters in the CMSIS DSP lib, etc, and I’ll at least have a fast sine and cosine routine, but it’s a lowest-level implementation that I’ll have to “hand” assemble to be a 4-pole LPF or a phaser or even a simple notch, etc.  I’ll have to make my post-DAC “Nyquist” filter at 22kHz and all of that stuff on the ARM system in hardware, etc.  It’ll be at least 44.1kHz at 16-bit – I want (people) to be able to actually use the audio generated by it – some really killer and sonicall-pleasing sounds.  So, that’s coming up…

Brad Ormand's Second Fourier Transform - Noise

It’s kind of a tall order for me.  I have some work to do before I can write a digital audio system from scratch at the chip/embedded level – from Math to code to electrical components. I can’t wait to do it and spend time on it, but I must prepare.  So, I did a few mathematics problems this weekend dealing with impulse response and the summation of the FIR filter to get to know what I’m dealing with.  So, I’m going to do it all step-by-step in my free time until I’m able to grasp it and code good implementations.

M A C   A U D I O   A P P

I have been successful at building a Core-Audio-based sampler for iOS in C++ and Swift.  I have a functional demo that starts and ends the time window at particular points along the audio clip using touch – all real-time.  My next step is to draw the waveform out into a SpriteKit view and to get the app to respond to the touch drags to resize the play window to the visual waveform on the UI.  Just that part itself has been a bit tedious, not-to-mention any zooming of the waveform, which hasn’t even been considered, yet.  Then, of course, I’ll need to render out the playhead rolling along as the samples get played.  There’s a lot of interpolation that has to be done since there aren’t enough pixels to show every sample, and I’m trying to get that stuff out to it’s own thread and to see if I can somehow pre-calculate it all when it first comes in.  I made a pencil sketch of the UI to come – it’s the initial view, but I’ll have a keyboard or sample pad view of sorts.

Brad Ormand - Renegade Rambler Audio UI idea

As for the audio source, right now I have it playing from a file.  But, I don’t think I’ll let the user bring in files with  it.  It’s just too weird on the legal side since I’ll let the user save it back to disk, and I have to detect and convert what type of files they attempt to load in and stuff (mp3, ogg, AAC, which wav, etc), and well…  I really just want the user to be able to press record and mess with the stuff that gets recorded, and probably with a 15-second limit – focus – kind of like Twitter’s 140 char limit.  That audio will then be recorded into and played from a file of course, but I can count on it being a 32-bit float PCM format, and just run with it.

In the end, I want the thing to act as a granulator, where you bring in audio and are able to loop sections of audio at really tight intervals, or even with randomized time and pitch parameters, where it acts as a sound design tool.  I do this in Pro Tools all the time by hand and cut samples like 1000 at a time and shift them incrementally and copy and paste them offset next to each other for effect, but it’s definitely time-consuming.  I’ll probably still do that because I have ultimate control, but I’d like to be able to go into the app environment and get sounds from machines or birds or rubber bands or my voice or even the wind and allow the user to really fuck with them to make them something else entirely.  Of course, they’ll be able to save the original tracks and save the performance.  And, I’ll offer a few time-based effects and definitely some distortion and crush on there, too.

So…  that’s what I’ve been getting into.  It’s after-work stuff, so it’s kind of slow-going after a day of already programming for hours at the day job, but I’m making definite progress and can’t wait to circle back to the embedded system, as well.  I have many, many things to look forward to on this front.

 

 

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

2016.01.26 – Woodcarving Pieces – Nickel and Horses

I finished two relief woodcarvings over the last month or so – a Nickel coin and two Palomino horses making a heart.  I gifted the horse one to my aunt and I still have the nickel.  I think they look really good.  I’m getting better and better at this as I go along, and as I gain more inspiration.  There are still quirks in my crafting process to be worked out of course, but it’s definitely rolling.  Can’t wait to keep it going and do some other ideas.

Brad Ormand Woodcarving Palomino Horses

Both are hand-carved with knives and chisels, using my homemade hammer (I love that hammer, I’ll be making some more of those soon, as well).  And, I used various grains of sandpaper to smooth it all out.  At the end, I used a Dremel tool to sand the inside of the smaller crevices.  I think I could have gone deeper and made the edges smoother with my chisels, but I will need to form new techniques, and perhaps use more precise tools – or just make the medium bigger.  Keeping the tools sharp was a constant challenge as well, but I kept the stones and oil on hand and sharpened them every day.  The wood is Basswood – usually pretty soft, but these were actually pretty tough cuts – I have had an easier time carving in Cedar and Mahogany.  And, the areas near the pith were really hard to keep smooth.  But, I adapted.

//  P A L O M I N O _ H O R S E S

Brad Ormand Holding Horses Carving

The horses came out of a Thanksgiving conversation with my aunt.  She collects horse-related artwork of different kinds.  I was chatting with her and some people around the dinner table about what I had been doing lately, about my recent carvings (the old man, the lion, the other faces), and she mentioned she liked Palomino horses, and I said that I’d love to try to do some Palomino horses in wood, with that long hair, one of these days.  I thought it would go great on wood.  That night, I sketched something up, got excited about it and decided to do the challenge!  The carving itself took me about 50 hours or so altogether over the holidays.  I gave it to her for Christmas.

//  N I C K E L

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

I was sitting at my desk at work one day and was about to buy a soda from the machine around the corner.  I noticed an especially shiny nickel from my pocket and was drawn in by the relief of the Monticello.  I had just bought a few wood rounds to experiment with, and right then [pow], I decided to map that nickel out onto the wood round and carve a huge nickel cuz it seemed like a fun idea.

I got a little caliper and measured the fine detail on the nickel coin, and with a little algebra, mapped it onto the wood.  I started with the Monticello, got it placed right, and then filled in the lettering and borders.  After I carved the letters and windows, I burned them in to be dark.  I did some more rounding, detailing, and cut deeper, over 10 or so sessions a few days apart.  I’d guess the whole thing took me about 75 hours of work.  It was a great experience – just ridin’ in the zone and implementing ideas over and over, havin’ fun.

I plan to do more relief carving in those Basswood rounds.  Lots of fun, but also pretty painstaking, so I want to do the “right” ideas – ones that I feel excited about.  I want to do faces, like a dog or a lion, but I’m having a good time with coins and seals.  I’ll be starting on another soon.

 

Simple Analog Synth Brad Ormand

2016.01.22 – ARM Cortex M4F System Running Great

There’s so much going on in my research and experiments, it’s just hard to explain everything right now.  But, in a nutshell, I have been patiently (but consistently) ramping up knowledge of building some awesome applications for the ARM Cortex M4 – both hardware and software.  I have a lot of audio processing, lighting, and graphics ideas to start on so my first step is to become well-versed in their operation.

In the last month or so, I have been drawing faces, drawing UI, painting, making headway on the ARM stuff, woodcarving, working on music, running over my budget for the new year (like multiple times with complicated, categorical spreadsheets), doing some behavior modification (like stopping drinking sodas and exercise regularly and others), working on this site, and so much more that I don’t write about.  Sometimes, it does seem like I have too many things going on, but like I say – “I just follow my interest” – and, where it leads, that’s where I go- just enjoying life as it comes, working with what I have.  I definitely try to wisely balance it all by not getting into “comfort-only” scenarios, like spending gobs of time on stuff that doesn’t require any hard thinking or sweat from the brow.  Rather, all of my “hobbies” require actual work and are investments in my future and have the additional benefit of brightening my days when I do them.  The fulfillment factor is high.  That’s what I’m feeling right now.  But, I also have to take it one step at a time as to not get burned out – going for a good balance.  It’s a great start to the new year.

// A R M

As for the ARM stuff, though…  Lately, I have been deeply involved in trying to find a great toolchain and chipset that would work well with Mac OS X and my limited PCB fab opportunities here.  I heavily explored the Atmel SAM4S for a while, and then the Silicon Labs EFM32 (I do like Simplicity Studio), and even experimented more with PIC24’s and PIC32’s (I like MPLABX, too), but I have been heavily preferring the NXP / Freescale Kinetis K series Cortex chips and their KDS (surprised, but happy about their merger 🙂 ).  I have everything I need to program and debug them,  and I think Freescale and NXP have a lot of support around their products these days.

ARM Breadboard Circuit 1 Brad Ormand

And, whichever ARM Cortex M4F I choose, I feel future-safety coming off this because of the CMSIS rallying and the ARM standards and it’s growth.  And, the IoT revolution is really just beginning, and I want on the train, and I’m digging my own tunnel with these research shovels.  This is certainly a new career path for me, but as I am already “dug in” to, and known, in the software industry I am currently employed in, I will continue that for a few more years.  It’s stable.  But, as I get more and more skilled at producing hit ARM apps with CMSIS, C/C++, and assembly, and as I refine my architecture ideas (both HW+SW), I’ll be closer to being able to switch my day-to-day doings over to full time by about 2020, I believe.

// G O O D _ M I L E S T O N E

So, that’s what I’m thinking for that…  It was a huge milestone to get the Kinetis rolling with some of my former code written for the PIC24.  I ported some stuff over and after a few nights, I finally got it rolling!  It was really nice to see it running as expected.  Many things are different – interrupts, 32-bit vs 16-bit, registers, SysTick, NVIC, etc., so being able to rely on this setup as my “go-to” platform gives me a lot of leeway to design stuff from now on.  It’s huge because it finally allows me to have a string of product design and code architecture sessions over the next months that won’t be interrupted by changing platforms or technical difficulties.

Also, I’m using the Segger J-Link now with a bare, exposed, Kinetis K22 ARM LQFP 64 chip that I soldered to a little plain break-out board (with filter caps and custom programming header and stuff).  I’m going direct to bare chip without a dev kit, which was what one of my requirements were all along to getting this train started.  I wanna design the board, power, regulation, routing, logic levels, inverters, amplification, communication, interfacing, headers, electro-mechanicals, etc. – the entire system.  Cuz, I think that stuff is fun, too.  More work, but I wouldn’t wanna give up that phase.  And, so I’m saying, that now that I’ve got that innovation complete with something stable in the lab, I feel like I have a platform to jump off of to design an endless amount of other applications, unrestrained.  But, boy did it take a few months of setup time and sifting through the cruft of what would work best for me and my setup.  Now, all good.

// T H E   _  F U T U R E

Simple Analog Synth Brad Ormand

I think, first, I’ll get the previous project I wrote about last month all set up with this new “drive train” and then move on back to the FFT application I developed last year, perhaps with my DisplayTech color TFT with cap touch.  Maybe a pinch zoom for FFT window resolution?  Maybe a custom, level-switchable analog front end?  Maybe build a touch, animated GUI lib to apply to all my new designs.   Maybe a digital version of my old “Audio Tool” with selectable synthesis?  Who knows..  I’m ready to get things going and move on though.  Seems like I just got to the point to where I can finally get to the product design phase.  Ready to go.

 

 

Hex Light Prototype1 - Brad Ormand

12.15.2015 – Hex Light and Animation Controller

Recently, I have been making a light animation controller.  The prototype is on a breadboard and combined with a separate little 2 x 3 RGB LED matrix module I built last month.  I have the system running on 3.3v with a few test animations programmed in C on a 16-bit Pic24.

I’m excited about this project and I’m continually making it better – both in features and in the kinds of animations I’m writing.  It’s pretty wonderful to see it all come together!

I still need to mount the pieces together and stain them, but it’s taking shape.  I’m also going to carve the pieces with some more detail and perhaps put in some metal inlays – I’m still messin’ with it.  In the end, it’ll all be one piece, but I just have it sitting on the BB for the time being, to get a bearing.

Got some stills here:

Hex Light Prototype - Brad Ormand

Hex Light Prototype - Brad Ormand

I cut and sanded some wood last night and put a cut sheet of coated mylar underneath to let the colors diffuse and shine through a bit.  I thought of this design while falling asleep a few nights ago and got back up to draw it out on the wood.  So, it was nice to see it come to life.

Mainly, my workstation has been my pool table (lol), and it’s a pretty awesome little surface.  I clean it off and play pool in between projects, but yeah, it’s central and in the main room and it’s a great place to work.  Also, I have some of my other in-progress projects in the background there that I brought out to be inspired by 🙂  This captures the scene for the end of 2015, for me to look back on…

Hex Light Circuit - Brad Ormand

Hex Light Breadboard - Brad Ormand

The pins talk to multiplexer-inverter chip pairs that gives each anode and cathode of the matrix a 3-bit address that I take advantage of when I control the sequence in code.  I like this way of doing things – the complexity has been offloaded to the hardware.  I handle the current load by never having two or more LEDs on at the same time – it’s just very fast switching that makes it look “on”.  I have a rotary encoder switching the animations, properly debounced, feels great, and integrated into the user event loop to provide more features.

As I go along this month, I’ll be closer to deciding on an arrangement for a reproducible product.  I’m currently investigating putting in an OLED or Chip-on-Glass display to show the current animation and battery state, etc.  Some smaller products won’t have this, but I want other, larger ones, to have that visual piece in there.

All-in-all, I have been busy with software engineering at my day job, but when I have the time, I like to work most on this project – it’s an offshoot, or simplification, of the honeycomb light I worked on earlier this year.

I have been doing a little painting lately using a “crackle” technique, and I have been drawing and carving more human faces, too – gettin’ better with both.  One day, I’ll integrate all of them into my professional projects as well.  The practice in those other disciplines, though, also helps me come up with designs like this to do this project:

Hex Light Prototype1 - Brad Ormand

And, the next step on this Hex Light project is to design the SMD boards and get those etched and tested.  Once they work and I have the kinks worked out, I’ll send off for some properly solder-masked, dark green and gold boards (fancy), and drop my logo on it for a real nice-looking internal product.  And, yeah, I’m going to make the board a hex shape, too. 🙂   Until next time…

Brad Ormand Books - Cortex BN Oct

10.06.2015 – New Books came in and ARM CortexM4F

BOOK ORDER

Books again!  I really love getting used books from Barnes and Noble.  The most expensive book I wanted, bought new, went for $120+, and I literally got it for $5 at a used textbook bookstore affiliate of B&N.  Two of ’em, I got for less than $3.  I just share the occurrence because I get really excited about getting them in! (like I did the last time I did this) They’re beautiful.  Analog.  Books.  Also, they pertain to my current projects, as well.

I ordered 6 books this time – 5 electronics-related and one about architecture / building construction.  I got a  book on Digital Logic from the 70’s!  Haha – I just wanted to see what it was like back then, plus there’s actually good logic education content in there.  I even sometimes fantasize about living at the age I am now back when transistorized computers were just getting started.  I have a great love of computer history.

And, I got 2 books about power supply design – One for Linear supplies and one for Switched-Mode.  Can’t wait to see if I can beef up my design capabilities and understanding with these.  I would like to have a more versatile palette of production possibilities for providing power. 😉 a P alliteration, why not…  And, I got another one about different ways to build analog audio amplifiers – circa 1980.  Much love!

I got an ARM Cortex M-series book, as well, which was the main one I went to the site for.  I started reading it yesterday outside in the cool Fall weather on my comfy chair out near the garden and wood pile.  What a nice experience.  I’m really looking forward to using the DSP/floating-point features of this chip to drive displays (with FFT, etc) and my electronic art.  I wrote an 8-bit, integer FFT after this linked post a year ago.  Now, I want to bump it up a bit.  I want to get a complete, comprehensive understanding of this chip so I’ll know just what all I can do with it when it comes to design time.  I don’t want any surprises come firmware time – I wanna be caught up completely, so I’m reading it front to back.  Made it to page 71 out of 800 so far… 🙂

Brad Ormand Books - Cortex BN Oct

And, it’s been since last Spring that I have been immersed in embedded stuff.  It good to have the time to focus on it again.  Recently, I had been focusing on the album release (and also changed software jobs), and now I have a little more free time to get back on what I left off of. Very exciting.

ARM CORTEX M4F

I’m targeting the Silicon Labs (also headquartered in Austin) CortexM4F chip, EFM32WG942F256 in a QFP64 package, code-named the Wonder Gecko.  Awesome.  32-bit, 256K of flash, 32KB of SRAM, and runs at 48MHz, with a hardware FPU, and with SIMD that I will try to take advantage of for light and stereo sound applications.  That’ll do the trick.  Let’s start some work…

In September, I went on a river cruise with friends and family on the Austin “Town Lake”, and we floated by the main Silicon Labs building, downtown (right on the river).  I had been using the Atmel SAM4S ARM chips.  They were fine, but I had to use an open source toolchain, lots of dependencies and patches, and – I program using a Mac, and just..  well, there was no ported IDE or any integration at all and lots of complications.  So, that got me to thinking, “I wonder what Silicon Labs has in their portfolio”?  It was just a few minutes after I saw their suitable offerings that night online and that they had a Mac version of their IDE that triggered my interest right away!  And, now, I’m trying it out.  Boots up fine and with CMSIS support and support for my programmer/debugger.  And, energy efficient – I’m runnin’ it with a CR2032 as well, right now.  Awesome!  So, I’m doing that now, instead.  Plus *they frum Texas..  BTW, ARM also has an office in Austin.  I drive by it every day. 🙂

Brad Ormand - Austin Downtown Cruise

Brad Ormand - Family - Guys - Austin Downtown

There have been instances, in the past, of me deciding on a platform and going with it, Sam4 gcc, Pickit3, etc., but I wasn’t actually entirely satisfied with my toolchain.  I really hope I’ll be able to have a really smooth time with this setup – one where I can really work efficiently and creatively.  I’ll continue and report on my results later.

And, as a final thought…  I think it’s time that I finally settle down with the gear I am going to use and show what I can do with it besides flashing LEDs and running cool animations on displays.  I wanna show myself what I can do system-wise, mainly, and for the marketplace and for my future creative career.  I’m sincerely dedicated and interested in doing that just for the love of the game alone, and for the expanse of possibilities that I can produce (for IoT and light and sound) if I just had the right calm mindset and time to do it.  It’s coming up, I think.  I’ll batten down and see what I can do.

Cucumber Plant - Brad Ormand's Garden

09.25.2015 – Gardening & Land

In less than a year, I am planning on getting a big spread of land to build a homestead on.  I’ll have my wood workshop, my electronics lab, my recording studio, my tool shed, my camping areas, and my painting and crafting area all on the property.  I mean, that’s total paradise to me!  In my mind, I ask, “why spend more in the city for a quarter acre and close neighbors, when you could have your very own territory to expand and grow food out in the quiet country!”  That’s obvious to me (for my life).  There’s still excellent community out there…  But, there are different strokes for different folks, I realize.  I’m going to build a home there, put down some roots, and then get ready to start businesses and raise a family and all that.   Even if I had a billion dollars, I’d still be on this same path – I’d just buy more acreage and have more expensive tools, ha – and probably one or two of those Pro Tools | Avid S6 consoles, as well..  but I digress…

Seedling Garden 1

Anyway, at the land, I envision at least 200 sqft of outdoor farming to start off with.  I have been growing cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes.  That’s one of my projects, too.  There’s also basil and eggplant and cilantro, and more, too.  I started from seed (inside) and took care of them and now they are huge!  Well, none have bore fruit yet, but it’s almost time.  And – I wanted to test to see if I could do it in the summer.  It worked – even on 100 degree days as seedlings.  I gave them plenty of attention.  I’m glad I have done these tests/experiments with this right now to see what I have to do with a small sample size.  I’ll report about it some more when I get some fruit!  These 3 photos are about a month apart, each…

Seedling Garden 2

I’m really excited about these.  I might be moving to a new place sooner than later, but I’ll take what I can with me.  I also have about 20 other plants in other portable containers.  I’m not sure I can take the cucumber plant with me, since it has already vined, but I’ll grow another if it’s too “dug in”.  It’s really miraculous how the vines reach out for sturdy things to grab onto.  Incredible!

Cucumber Plant - Brad Ormand's Garden

 

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

09.14.2015 – The Music Journey

So, my album “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” was released this month on the 4th.  I wrote the songs, played the parts, sang, recorded, produced, edited, mixed, and mastered it.  And, now I have released what I made to the public.  I’m both excited and relieved!  Now, I can mature my style and move on to the next batch of songs.  I have lots of new things planned!

It’s out in all major outlets – iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, XBox Store, and a lot of other places.

Here it is on iTunes  &  Google Play  &  Amazon :

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It’s out for sale and stream, but it’s also simply a statement that “I’m out here, too” and “I want to have fun with music, too, and engage in business with it, too“.  And, I’ve been receiving some attention for it from players in the industry.  It helps to put me in place to do more and more and more of it.  And, I’ll only get better and better at it because I’m determined to do so and I just work all the time.

Brad Ormand Album on Google Play

This one was far better-sounding and more balanced than my last, and the product gets better with each release.  My plans are to keep continuing to release every year or so until I am coming up with hit records every time with Grammy potential.  I may or may not be capable, in the end, we’ll see, but I’m sure going to try. 🙂  I mean, if you examine a successful entrepreneur’s or artist’s or businessman’s early work, it was likely not his defining work.  But, when they do succeed in a big way, the lessons and potential came from practice and those earlier experiences and their grit.

I’m already inspired by other July and August releases, such as from Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, Astralwerks, and Skrillex’s labels that have forged my image of what better, more intricate touches the next album can contain.  I’m not saying the album I released this month is not strong work, because it is, but I am saying that I have even better-sounding stuff coming through the pipe, which is why I am somewhat relieved – it’s because now, I get to switch over to work on the new ones and prepare them for massiveness!  I’m going to keep doing this.

Brad Ormand Album on iTunes

In 2013, I completely re-vamped my production and engineering style.  I went back to basics and learned other ways to do many things, and then combined it with what I was already good at.  The process and practice paid off.  Now, in 2015, I am at that platform again.  I have dug deep into the interworkings of modern vocal synths and more advanced synth parameter automation with Pro Tools in the last few months, which was my 2015 goal – to do more with synthetic harmonics using formants and organic, voicebox sounds – both beautiful AND retched!  And, I can’t wait to take it to its depths in the next few months.  Also, I have a much better narrative and storytelling sense now, and I have an idea how I can improve my mastering approach.  I have so many ideas for sonic production that I can hardly stand it – from heavy songs to really chill, beautiful, warm songs.  A lot of good stuff is coming, I truly believe.

Anyway, I’m excited about Spirit of Adventure because it contains a few gems, some great choruses, and some powerful sub bass and kick drums (that I’m proud of) – all of that can garner attention and be licensed for broadcast, sustaining this.  I want this business to fund my writing and production process (and each upcoming album), and so the engine goes on and on, etc…  That’s all I ask.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

All this is part of my journey as a music producer.  The album had varied genres, and it can stand for what many things I am capable of doing up to 2015, my versatility.  I am an unknown artist, right now, but this album at least puts me on the map so that my next one comes through with people already paying attention.  I’m open for business, tho.

I’m dead set on making top-quality songs – songs that evoke real emotion and spread love and dazzle you and make you excited about life!  And, I already know where to go from here.

 

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

08.25.2015 – My music will be released!

I have been working on music every available moment that I have, trying to make a deadline to release on September 4th, 2015!  Of course, the songs have been close to ready for a long time, but I’m just tidying up the production touches around the landscape, here and there.  Still, there are a million little things that I’d like to have solid.

It’s gonna be good.  I really have something exciting to share this time!  I have decided on a tentative mastering order, but I’m still seeing where Tonight, I and Doing Fine will go….  The songs are my best effort… ever!  They are more than I could’ve ever dreamed of, but I know my skills are actively growing and I have new ideas all the time, so even better music is to come.  Blood, sweat, and tears went into the production of this.   This one marks 2015.

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

There’s so much left to do.  But, I am determined to get this music out to all avenues and to do it properly – the writing and recording work is done, just the lingering mix and master issues are left.  These songs mean a lot to me and have been re-worked to the bone, over and over, to get just the right aspect to them, over 2 years.  From the kicks to the hats to the vox to the production touches – everything paid attention to, time and time again – practicing parts relentlessly and overdubbing – listening countless times with maximum discretion and taking notes – listening on the phone, the tv system, the truck, in the studio…  Now, it’s time to set them free.  And, as with every album I release, it marks the time to start new music.

This one’s called: “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” .

May I have good luck with this album and may it bring with it the opportunity to make much, much more!

 

Brad Ormand Wood Snub Dodecahedron

08.05.2015 – Wood Snub Dodecahedron

I have been making and painting a wood snub dodecahedron – a geometrical shape made out of wood.  These things are so much fun when they are built!  I mean just holding them is interesting.  And, it adds a rustic feel with a modern twist to a room.

Of course, I built it from math and angles and defined the pieces myself out of birch wood – that’s the fun part – I wouldn’t *not* do that part.  Not made from internet plans or anything like that.  Haha.  Just saying…  I made it similar to how I made the Truncated Icosahedron and Regular Dodecahedron.

First, I calc’d the size of each piece and marked them on the flat wood.  It’s made from 12 pentagons and 80 equilateral triangles.  I cut 80, but for the final product, I left some select ones out so it’d be see-through.  Then, I sanded the parts, glued them together at specific angles and started forming the structure.

Snub Dodecahedron Parts

Snub Dodecahedron In Progress - Brad Ormand

There’s such nice grain in this birch wood – I use it for a lot of projects.  But…  it’s kind of expensive.

So, after I had a little bit put together, I’d assess where I was at and just try to correct for the upcoming pieces.  Closing the final piece wasn’t that bad because I took care of angles along the way, but it still was a pretty delicate matter.  And, I still had to paint the inside, so I couldn’t weld it shut just yet…

I chose colors based on another woodburning piece I did when I was a kid.  I made a sign with my name burned on to it.  First, I stained the wood a nice “pecan” color.  Then, I mixed the colors, did a test segment, adjusted, and painted the whole thing, highlighting the seams to be the “burnt” ends.  It was kind of painstaking work.  But, the end result came out looking fantastic.  I already have a few more in the works.

Wood Snub Dodecahedron by Brad Ormand

Brad Ormand Wood Snub Dodecahedron

Also, during that time, I made a pretty cool necklace out of leather, beads, and that cedar wood from my tree in the shape of teeth.  I’m wearing it in this pic. I had the materials, and I just felt like doing it.  I used to be a rock climber and it started by me tying double fisherman’s knots in leather string while watching a movie with a friend.  Came out pretty good, too.  Fun, as well.  If I do more of those, I’ll log some of that, too.

Brad Ormand Lion Woodcarving 1

07.26.2015 – Woodcarving

I have been doing lots and lots of stuff with wood lately – both structure-making and wood carving.  I miss my electronic and software endeavors, but as soon as I catch up with the wood skills and everything is turning out beautiful, I’ll get back to working on those projects.  I have been having dreams of circuit board routing and animated LED light ideas, too…

Again (a common theme in this blog), I’m just following my fancy and doing what I’m inspired to do by the week.  No pressure from any angle.  I have many interests, but I don’t have the time to do everything at once.  I’m okay with that.  Every discipline I mess with is important to me.  And, in the last few weeks, I have done a few halfway-decent woodcarvings.  I had planned to carve things in the drums I made and some of the other furniture / decorative pieces I did, but I lacked the carving confidence to do it.  So, I’m exploring what things can be done, right now – gaining more skill and confidence in the process – more faces, more animals, more borders, more letters, more depth, etc.   Every time I do one, I get better.

I drew a lion onto the wood, then carved a kind of “bookend” or stand-up desk piece.  My round gouge and V-Tool lacked a bit of edge when I did this – I was missing some ingredients for sharpening, but then took care of that for the next few by getting better sharpening equipment and knives.  It came out alright, though.  I went ahead and called it “good-to-go” when I took this pic.  Director’s cut.  I’m happy to have it around!  🙂

Brad Ormand Lion Woodcarving 1

And, then, I did a pair of eyes, modeled on myself.  I kept taking references from looking into a mirror and then went along carving out the face.  Also, the painting experience came in very handy for this type of carving.  (See the Etsy Store for one of the eye paintings)  Especially all the prep work I did on eyes in pencil and acrylic, long ago.  I had to keep carving so far down past the nose end that the wood was running out of depth to do the caves of the eyes and still stand up!  The compromise worked out though – it’s a great little solid standing piece that has that intensity – looking at good eyes in art always has a bit of “magnetism”.

Brad Ormand Face Drawing 3 Woodcarving

Brad Ormand Woodcarving 2 Eyes

And then, after that, I did a kind of a Tiki face.  That was a lot of fun. I have a few more ideas for faces.  For this one, I wanted a calm smile with rounded features and that had a totem pole look to it.  Maybe one day, I will do one that is actually totem-pole sized.  I would love to, with my chisels and hammer, one day.  I do like the way this one came out!  Nice and smooth, and friendly. 🙂

Brad Ormand Face Tiki Woodcarving 3

I find woodcarving a wonderful thing to do for fun and as a productive hobby to bite into.  I’d get lost for hours just refining and refining the different parts of it.  It never feels like “work”, and there’s always a stream of ideas coming up for what the next thing should be like.  This lead to that, that leads to this, leads to that, and so on.  Good time in the deep zone.  It’s good for me.

Brad Ormand 3 Faces Woodcarving

Anyway, I’m looking forward to including carvings into my other products.  As I get them further down the road, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to make the wood things I make look even more beautiful.  Like I said, it’s a wonderful endeavor and will be a great thing to add to any finishing phase.  Big ups to Deepwoods Ventures for providing a great carving blade to work with!  I bought the Big Detail carver and a strop set.  It’s been magic to work with. Razor sharp and good, shiny, durable metal!

 

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

07.17.2015 – I Love You

I put up a new version of “I Love You” this evening after working on it for a little bit, cleaning up the vox and adding a nice little melody.   I wanted to make the sub-bass kick hard with the bass drum, so I kind of “blended” the two with some cutting EQ for some tight interlacing.  There’s a lot of sub there, tied to the kick, and I want the typical car system driver to feel the bump in their chest and throat – and to feel the sub in their armrest, so I added a few freqs at different q’s to the kick to really cut through – like what an 6″ or 8″ sub is good for.  And, as for the sub, I decreased the 60 to 90 and accentuated the 30 and a half and 40 – like what a 12″ or 15″ would be good at.  Big bass!  But, with a tight kick – as I did in “What You Lookin’ For?”.  It really helps the chorus feel fat, too.

I also added a little melody line in a high synth hollow triangle sound that mirrors and accentuates the vocals pretty good.  It’s a bit funky, too – couldn’t help it.  Love that kind of stuff.  I have recorded these vocals like…  about 8 times to get the right feel.  Bout time it started to come together!

Also, I cut some parts out completely – a few parts that I sang that sounded really exotic and has good potential for dance.  While I’m sad about not using them in this song, I just can’t justify it for this song’s continuity.  It’s the nature of the biz.  I’ll revisit them later for a more appropriate song to tie them with.

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

And, lastly, the lead vocals needed a lot of tenderizing.  Like, I cut a lot of 2k-ish and took some 500 hertz honk out of them.  I increased around 8k and made them sizzle a bit, along with a little more doubling – on top of all the other past EQ.  I increased the level of the second harmony for a bit of solidarity and the whole stem is sounding pretty good.  I’m surprised, actually.  I never thought I could *really* get this cut to work.  But, it’s turning out ok.

The cymbals on the chorus I left pretty much as they were.  I played two takes of sticks on a bell of a 16″ Zildjian A from, like 1976 (or something) – it’s a really old school cymbal with the marks rubbed off that I hand-picked when it came in used to a drum shop I used to work at.  I used to go over there and test crashes for a prime non-standard-sounding candidate, and this is my favorite one.  I hardly gigged with it since I wanted to preserve it for the studio.  It’s bad, man.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m really excited about this song.  I think it has some good potential for the market, and well…  I really like listening to it – That’s the main part of all my songs – if I keep listening 🙂  Take care.

Woodcarving: Barbara

07.12.2015 – Wood Stuff, Tool Hanger & Garden Fence

During the last few weeks, I have been using the wood from the fallen Juniper tree to build all sorts of things.  First, I carved some raised letters into a thick, peeled branch to give to my Mom for her 60th birthday.  BARBARA.  Some of the smooth spots were hard to get into, like the inside of the “R”, and breakage did occur once or twice, but I glued the affected parts back.  In the end, it looks pretty nice.  It was a fun project that took a considerable amount of time, and I learned about where I wanna go next.  I worked on it nights and weekends, after my full-time job.  Perfect compliment to logic-heavy thinking all day…  I did lightly paint and finish parts of it, but here it is before all of that.

Woodcarving: Barbara

And, last week, I restored a raised garden and put up a fence around it.  I planted potatoes, tomatoes, and some herbs like Basil in there.  And…  when the tomatoes start to show, I’ll build a small frame out of the same wood.  I want to get my gardening skills up so that I can have a large garden one day on my own ranch land and eat my own organically grown food.  I had this particular garden going with many plants in the past (twice!), but never got to full harvest because the deer and rabbits and foxes ate them up every time!  They even ate the cactus in another pot.  Can you believe that?  Haha.  So, I had to do the fence this time.

Round  Raised  Garden

I had to dig 8-inch-deep holes down into the ground for the poles, and it was really tough going with this rocky soil where I live.  Believe me, I had to take a chisel and hammer to break up the Texas limestone rocks, a half inch at a time.  But, nonetheless, despite the work..  yes…  It was fun.

I made it a hexagon pattern, since I love hexagons, and it was a more round shape for the round garden container.  I used hexagonal plastic chicken “wire”, too.  Yep.  So, we’ll see if this is enough to keep the animals out.  Probably enough for the rabbits and foxes, but the deer can jump right over that.  However, we’ll see if they wanna put up the effort.  Let’s test it.

Garden Hexagonal Fence

And, finally, I made a tool hanger wall.  I cut a few posts off of the fell Juniper tree and skinned ’em to use as supports for the tool wall.  I sanded and shellac’d the posts and the backing board (made of birch) – they all have a nice, rich grain to them.  And, I started to lay out places to hang my tools.  It’s all securely hung up there.  I had a lot to hang and only a little space to hang them in, so it got a bit cramped.  However, this is a fAR better solution than putting them on the floor of my workshop – you know, “that place on the floor over there where all the hand tools go”…  So, yeah – the hanging system has been really awesome.

Brad Ormand's Tool Hanger

And, more importantly, the wood is from a tree that I chilled out under when it was alive.  So, it’s got that nice memory attached to it.  Below the tool hanger is a shelf that I just assembled this week, bought from the Home Depot (likely, my favorite place in the world).  Inside those crates, you’ll find sandpaper, drill and router bits, glues, knives, bolts and nuts, and many other things organized by type so I know right where they are.  Plus, the Sabre Saw, the Belt Sander, the Dremel Tool, and all of that have a home of their own.  I’m stating to get more organized and it feels good.

Brad Ormand's Etsy Shop

06.25.2015 – Etsy Store is Live!

***Update!! …  I have my own storefront now called Hexagon Craftworks .  My Etsy store is closed.  But, a lot of the same artwork is at my new store as prints and shirts and bags, etc!  I also stopped selling original paintings….

 

I’ve gone ahead and launched an Etsy shop with 12 of my paintings!  They are various sizes and go for various prices.  All originals on canvas – original paint and canvas texture and all.  I even got favorited, too.  Awesome.  I’m glad.  I had been wanting to launch a shop for a while now.

I have made drums and woodcarvings and hexagon lights that haven’t had a chance to mature to make an appearance up there, but, in time, more and more items will make their way to the storefront.  Lots of stuff to appeal to decorators and collectors alike.  The shop is still young.

The style, predominately, is geometric shapes, put together in a stylized fashion.  That’s where my heart is at right now.  Maybe one day I’ll do humans and dogs and lizards, but for now, I’m vibing off of the chained primitive shapes.  It’s a thing of it’s own.  Kinda like modern architecture – mostly straight lines and non-traditional.

Brad Ormand's Etsy Shop

Pick something out, and I’ll ship it to you.

That’s about all I had for now, but I’m working on some woodcarvings and plan to get the drums looking and sounding better.  So far, it’s still an adventure as I’m just going through living my life, enjoying it, getting inspired, and making things as I go.

9 Inch Log Drum - whole - Brad Ormand

06.14.2015 – Wood Drum, Mac Pro & WWDC

Every day after work this week, I carved just a little bit more out of the log for the large drum (about 9″) and finally finished it.  I used my wood mallet and 1-inch chisel for most of it, but I drilled some pilot holes with a 5/8’s bit, several times, on both sides to give me some tension relief so I wouldn’t just crack the outer shell as I hit it.  I had figured that I’d go to the hardware store to get a super long and fat bit later, but I was enjoying the chiseling, and I had already core’d it.

9 Inch Log Drum - whole - Brad Ormand

9 Inch Log Drum - cored - Brad Ormand

I set a flat rim up top, and sanded it down.  I went ahead and nailed a piece of mylar to the top opening and started seeing how it would sound.  It sounds awesome!  Like a real drum would.  I noticed that I was getting a lot of sub frequencies, too – like 30 to 50 hertz out of it.

Of course, the head isn’t tensioned really tightly like you could get with a commercial drum, but for now, I’d like to record some sounds off of it while it sounds low.  Earlier, I mentioned that I’d make a rim and lug system for it, but I didn’t have any large enough stock to go around it, and I wanted to just vibe with it and play it.  I think I’ll build a decagon rim (with 10 sides) or something like that to tension heads in the future, with some metal lugs bolted to the shell as I get a few more built.

(The pic was taken after a few days, and it got pret-ty flappy.  Moisture changes, etc.  on to plan B)

9 Inch Log Drum - temp head - Brad Ormand

And in other news…  my Mac Pro died again!  Welll..  actually either the display or the graphics card did.  Just in time for the Apple WWDC show!  It’s okay.  I looked at the diagnostic LEDs on the motherboard and they checked out – except when the display shuts down, the comp goes to standby..  Hmmm. Or maybe the comp goes to standby instantly and that’s what makes the display shut off.   I pulled the graphics card and reseated it,  I reset the PRAM, checked voltage on the backup batt, and reset the SMC.  Still nothing.

So, the next thing I’ll try is to rule out the display hardware itself.  This week, I’ll get some adapters to hook up to the female DVI ports on the graphics card and see if I can get any other monitor rolling.  I’m suspecting that the graphics card is fine, but that my monitor power supply blew.  Yeah, I’ve had that one since 2003.  so, yah – I just kept recycling it because it’s big and 1920 pix across, and new ones like that are expensive…  But, might be time.  I’ll test and find out.

And then…  The WWDC15 Apple developer conference was this week.  I spent a lot of time watching it.  I have an XCode project set up and waiting for me to start rendering objects to the screen.  I did a lot of Sprite Kit, SceneKit and Metal API research.  However, my 3D modeling package and toolkit is on my Mac Pro!  …So, gotta wait for the fix, there.  I have been brainstorming game ideas and have written and drawn out a few concepts.  I do love geometry and that kind of stuff, and I don’t do as much graphics programming as I did in the old days (5 years ago, etc).  So…  I’d really like to try to commit to some graphical software project and finish it and publish it.  I think I can do it, and the project log is helping me see where the bottlenecks are.

 

Brad Ormand - Music Player

06.08.2015 – What You Lookin’ For?

I’ve turned over a new leaf in my music production style, recently.  I branched out a bit.  During the production of my other song, “The Crew’s in the Kitchen“, I thought of some stuff that I had been meaning to develop.  So, I spent considerable time this weekend (including time in which I should have been sleeping) tweaking production techniques and synth instruments to use for that idea.  And, then I applied them to “What You Lookin’ For?“.  It sounds considerably different.  It’s the next step in the evolution of my maturity as a producer.

A few months ago, I wrote about the sub bass parts I generated for the chorus, and it has been a thrill to listen to, but I had been wanting more out of the entire stack.  I kept running into problems with too much presence when using screech sounds and high formants.  So, that’s what I focused on – getting a majorly dynamic instrument that fills up the frequency gaps in my chorus, that cuts, sounds dope, but that doesn’t squeal too much at around 2 to 4k.

A new chorus lead part was written, along with accompanying strings.  Also, I tweaked the verse parts to be much more interesting by adding a melodic arp and honking lead chops.  I really like the result – the chorus is actually kind of sexy and laid back, but with an aggressive vibe.  The resulting bends and wah effects just hit the spot for what I was thinking about doing.  So, I was pretty excited to have finished something like this.

I feel like it was all done through just natural inspiration and rawness.  The point had come to where the idea had matured in my head.  There was a wakefulness I felt while programming that track during that time.  I showed up with an intention…  and it all just happened, in session.  I can learn from that.  Don’t have to have a solid idea beforehand – just have a direction and walk up to the canvas and paint, so to speak.  See what happens.  I still want to make it less abrasive in places, but while retaining some aggressiveness.  I’ll work on that as I continue through my listening tests and analysis.

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

06.05.2015 – Woodworking & Drum

So, I took care of cutting the fallen tree down in my yard from the storm.  There’s plenty of wood to work with, and I made some things with it. I did a woodworking mallet for chisels, and a drum.  It was awesome fun.  I’m getting to know the anatomy of Cedar (or Ashe Juniper) pretty well – and, it smells wonderful!  The wood is fresh and green, and although, for some things, I could better use it dried, I’m trying things right now while it’s green, and I’ll learn the lessons from it, directly.

Brad Ormand - Fallen Tree Progress

First, I wanted to build a drum.  But, I needed chisels and I got some new solid chisels to work with – I only had some blunt ones that had chips and heavy use.  Also, I only had steel hammers, and I wanted to hit them with a heavy wood mallet to not mar them up.  So, I built the hammer first, and then the drum, over the weekend.  If I had a lathe, I’d utilize it, but actually I’d like to hold off on that for now, and keep doing stuff by hand until I get the basics down.  Plus, it’s really fulfilling.  I want to record a song later using only instruments from this tree.  Jus’ Cuz.

Wood Mallet:

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

I have some inner bark that I kept intact that I am going to use as a veneer, and perhaps even a drum head / playing surface.  I have those drying out under weight on the patio…  Also, I talked to my brother about getting some rawhide to use as well.  But, I ended up buying some mylar sheets from the local hobby store, for now.  I used to work at a drum shop (with a drum factory next door), so I have lots of real, practical experience with drum stuff.  I’ll do a few different sizes and types of drums, and then see where it takes me. 🙂

Drum:

Brad Ormand - Using Mallet to Chisel Drum

The one I made this weekend was a small one, roughly a 4″ hollow.  At first, I put some dry 1/4″ plywood over the top of it with silicone, and well, it’s wasn’t very resonant at all…  at ALL. 🙁   It sounded more like a woodblock than a drum.  It’d be a good addition to a set, but not for a drum sound, and that’s really what I wanna make – a responsive hand or stick drum that has a bit of woooof to it.  Then, later, I made an edge and nailed on some mylar.  Much better!

Now, as I go along, I’m cutting another piece off the (fallen) tree this week (this time 8″), and I’ll make a little rim system for it (out of the same tree) to secure it nice and tight.  Should be a fun project.

All-in-all, I’m really feeling great doing this kind of work.  It’s stress-free, natural, challenging, and it’s real, man work.  After I finish this one, I’ll move on to the table…  But, I revolve from woodworking to software projects and research, to working on music, to electrical stuff, to painting – all at the same time.  And, when I get good updates, I post it here.  But, that’s the thing, everything is working in concert with each other by fulfilling a certain kind of creative interest with each discipline, by which I get ideas for the other stuff as I get my mind directly off of it, and so on.  Ok, until next time…

Shade Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

05.25.2015 – Austin Storm & Woodworking

It has been a combination of exciting, hectic, and sad during these last few days…  In our area of Southwest Austin, we had major floods and a tornado roll through here.  Hectic, because we were met with Nature’s strength which did damage that we are cleaning up, and exciting because of the awe-factor, the witnessing of what weather is capable of…  And, of course sad, because people lost property and were injured and a few died because of it…   I mean, I have never seen winds this forceful before, in person.  I was shaken out of my comfort zone and headed to cover in my “safe place” in my house.  Like, I started hearing trees fall over and structures blow away!  For real.

But, yeah…  I lost a good shade tree out back and the neighboring property lost a carport ( it did a 180 flip and moved 100 feet), and another tree, 50 feet from my shade tree, actually got uprooted and laid down on the ground!  The forces were incredible.  My primal system kicked in when it came through!

Uprooted Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

Shade Tree by Brad Ormand's Workshop

I was really sad to see that tree go.  I spent half the day today cutting it down / out.  I only got one third of the way through before another storm rolled in.  It became so dark at 3pm that the street lights switched on!  Lots of lightning, and lots of rain…  Again.   Anyway…

Although I was sad to see it go, I am going to build something with the wood.  Something nice to remember it by,  to commemorate this cedar tree’s time on the Earth and role in my life…  I sat under that tree with coffee, tea, girlfriends, the guitar, my phone, exercised under it, my Dad and I cut grass around it, and had many chill times there.  Today is Memorial Day after all…

I’ll make some lumber stock with it, and I want to do a nice workbench with it that accepts a vise.  Also, I want to build a few drums and a guitar out of it.  I have experience building workbenches and drums, but I have never tried a guitar.  My main workbench right now used to be a climbing wall I built that [ironically] got knocked down in another storm a while back.  I recycled it.

Anyway,  I took a photo and posted it here on my project log a while back.  Here’s a comparison with that photo… (The top photo shows the tree that fell (when it was still standing), but not pictured is another tree to the left of it.  That nearby tree is still standing, as pictured in the [bottom] photo of the fallen tree, from a similar angle)… [whew]

Mowed Grass at the Studio - Brad Ormand

Fell Shade Tree Outside Brad's Workshop

So, that’ll be another set of projects that I can get excited about.  Turning change into opportunity.  I think I like having more projects than I can do at one time because it gives me a selection of things to work on when I get the time to work on one.  I can cycle through the ones that are active and see which ones I feel most like doing at the time.  It’s a blessing and a curse because fewer projects get to completion that way.  This project log is helping me see that.  And, I’m adjusting accordingly.  I have several things to choose from, though, right now, and that’s still kind of exciting.

And..  a few more photos showing the force of the storm…

– The fence post by the fallen tree…  I was amazed to see the metal had bent like that!

Fence Post Storm Damage - Brad Ormand

– And, down the street, the bridge flooded over!  I thought this pic made a statement in itself for why to watch for water on the road. 🙂

Water on Road - Brad Ormand

Now, it’s time to clean up, help neighbors, and move on with what we’ve got.  I was fortunate, but others not too far away were not.  My thoughts go out to them.