Tag Archives: Woodcarving

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!

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.

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.

 

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 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!

 

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.