Custom Script Sign

A hand-lettered Lucy rendered in plywood and paint.

Three different designs for contrasting color designs
Sketches showing alternate two-color schemes.
An on-edge view of the finished sign showing the exposed laminations of the plywood on the edges.

“Fiesta Del Sol” Hanging Muraled Arches

Twelve-foot wide arch painted with doves and banners around a heart.

Three super lightweight twelve-foot-wide hanging backdrops with repositionable letters.

The initial brief was to create three twelve-foot panels to enliven a large space for an event occurring during Fiesta Del Sol. Each panel was to feature a phrase for the event including a motto, “Radiate Love.” Given as a point-of-inspiration-not-to be-taken-too-literally were the colorful garden boats of Xochimilco.

Conceptual drawing of two figures looking up at three large colorful arches.
My first concept shoes arches quite similar to the source material.

Early one morning after I submitted the initial concept, I was visited by the constraints fairy, that pernicious pixie who complicates concepts, restricts resources, and thieves time. The arches needed to presentable from both sides, I learned, safe to hang overhead, and be reusable. Then that imp of impediments revealed the budget to me; it was clear there would be no arches built as conceived.

Continue reading ““Fiesta Del Sol” Hanging Muraled Arches”

Zigzag Rope Suspended Pendleton Blanket Frames

Sometimes projects change in arbitrary ways. This isn't one of those projects.

All projects evolve during the journey from concept to completion. Some transform so completely that the initial sketches are of something completely different from what (if anything) gets built. Sometimes things change in arbitrary ways. This isn't one of those projects: this project changed in a few simple ways that reflect the constraints of time and budget.

This is the drawing I made after the initial discussion.

The original idea was to to use grommets in the blanket and u-bolts in the frame. We also planned to make the zigzag rope go around all four sides of the suspended blanket.

But the needs of the event, budget, and lead time conspired to bring about the following changes:

  1. Site plans changed such that the frames would need to be hung from hooks at the top instead of having legs and being a freestanding piece. A straightforward change.
  2. Because the fabric would not arrive until quite late in the production period, the grommets were replaced with a row of loops and matching dowels. I expected this method to work more reliably given the unknown qualities of the material I would end up with. The loop-and-dowel plan would spread the load enough to keep the fabric panel straight even if were too thin or stretchy to take grommets properly. It also meant the loops along the sides could be omitted, saving hardware budget and simplifying construction.
  3. No supplier could deliver the number of U-bolts within the available lead time, so with options and time dwindling I substituted screw-in eyelets. 
A cardboard
This is the template I made to mark out the openings between the loops. Along the bottom are notches I used to line the template up with tick marks I marked along the edge.

Jetpack Portfolio Extensions

A WordPress plugin that enhances Jetpack Portfolio with Isotope layout and live filtering, new shortcodes, support for excerpts, and more.

Find a git repository here:, or download the latest version.


Responsive Columns: By default the plugin will override the default layout for jetpack portfolio shortcodes. This means the columns option of the shortcode will be ignored. Projects will be displayed in responsive columns with the following breakpoints:

min-width:40em /* 2 columns */ 
min-width:60em /* 3 columns */
min-width:90em /* 4 columns */ 
min-width:120em /* 5 columns */

Masonry Layout: To enable a tiled, masonry-style layout, tick the Use Isotope box in the options. For live filtering, place a list_project_types shortcode right above your jetpack_portfolio shortcode.

The plugin also adds classes for Jetpack Project Tags to the project entry markup of the jetpack_portfolio shortcode.


Find in the Customizer -> Portfolio Options.

  • Show Excerpt on Single Project Pages: On single project pages, show the custom excerpt between the project title and content.
  • Use Isotope: Use jQuery Isotope for tiled portfolio layout and filtering. (Filterable when used with the list_project_types shortcode.)


This plugin adds two shortcodes that display jetpack project types and tags.

  • list_project_types Prints a list of all Jetpack ‘Project Types’. CSS .project-type-list.
  • the_project_tags Prints a list of Jetpack ‘Project Tags’ associated with a single portfolio item. CSS .project-tag-list.

Implementation and Customization Notes

The plugin is comprised of just three files and contains virtually no template code. It includes a minified version of Isotope via cdn.

Size Name
2.6k jetpack-portfolio-extensions.css
1.1k jetpack-portfolio-extensions.js
4.7k jetpack-portfolio-extensions.php

It’s meant to be very lightweight and flexible, and should work well with many different themes.

Note that this plugin is currently compatible with Jetpack’s Photon CDN but not the new Lazy Load images module. 

Let’s Explore 2½D Plywood Engraving

Covering the process of translating an existing piece of artwork into a multilayered laser engraving.

I drew this image a year or so ago while daydreaming about a spaceship made of a junkyard tilt-a-whirl bucket, take-off appliance doors, trash cans, old road signs, and various urban debris.  Of course, the critical functional component was an inertial damping field created with an alien-inspired but homemade circuit board, an Apple ][, and a swiped car battery.

The style of the drawing was intended to ape a woodcut. In this project I’ve set out to translate it to an engraving as a means of learning the ins-and-outs of the new tool in my kit: a laser cutter and engraver.

Continue reading “Let’s Explore 2½D Plywood Engraving”

Collapsible Fairy Forest Partitions

Three foldable partitions with locally-sourced organic tree branches and two hundred seventy feet of fairy wire.

Pop Out Cake

I refit and refrosted a too-tired two-tiered two-sided pop-up party prop.

A sketch I made to indicate my intentions for the project.

This prop has been in service around Portland for almost forty years. It had been recovered in a various materials over that time, and remnants of each iteration were inches thick in some places. During the process of removing the top tier I discovered that it has been surreptitiously signed by various inhabitants over the years. The earliest mark I could find reads 1980.

  • Replaced rotted, broken, and saggy frame components.
  • Replaced broken casters. Increased number of wheels to 10 and moved them closer to the edges for better stability.
  • Replaced top of first tier with 1/2″ plywood.
  • Fabricated new split top and installed with hinges.
  • Fabricated latch plates and installed red-handled lever latches in place of screw-and-hook gate hardware.
  • Covered cake in 1/2″ EVA foam “frosting” with lavender decorations.

I used EVA foam floor mats to form the base layer of frosting. Then caulk and an auto-body filler spreader create the frostingy texture.

Hand-Cut Acrylic LED Signs

A pair of matching, low-profile signs for Guerrilla Development and Brett Schulz Architect.

The mockup I made over a snapshot as we settled on placement and design.

I assembled patterns printed across several pages and attached them to acrylic sheets with spray adhesive.

Then I used a scroll saw and a spiral cut blade to remove most of the material inside the letterforms.

Next was a lot of filing, scraping, sanding and refining.


Plans called for mounting the controllers and power supplies on the wall beneath the signs. I made a small case to contain them.

Olympic Torch

A seven-foot tall prop with weathered metal and marble effects as well as a microcontroller-fueled flame effect.

Here’s the code for the fire effect. A little repetitive but easy to change as the prop develops, and there’s a one-to-one relationship between the structure of the code and the wiring of the prop.