“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.

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Horse and Shoes in Steel

Clydesdales in ¼" Steel Plate, Rusted and Weathered.

I traced a pattern for 1/4" steel from the same client-provided file I used in the Engraved Plywood "Big Jake" Horse and Shoes. I outsourced the cutting to Portland Waterjet, whose work was beautiful and crisp. Sadly I never took a photo of the pristine parts, and by the time I removed the pieces from the good ol' under-bench time-dilating corrosion pot, they already had a nice crusty patina.

This one didn't look quite old enough, so I put it back in for another 25-year cycle.

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.

Chrome Bar

A chrome bar in the 50's style with checkerboard pattern and LED lights.

This bar was designed as four pieces: the top, left and right ends, and the center panel. Pictured above is a rendering from SketchUp I made to verify my figures for general proportions and the corner radius.

The center and end pieces attach to each other with latches, so one person can assemble this bar in about three minutes.

Magnetic Delta Sign

Wrapped in aluminum and steel-clad on both sides. Metal pole mount sleeve and embedded fasteners for wall-hanging. Pinstriped with good ol‘ one-shot.

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. 

Eyeball Kid

Everybody wants to see the Eyeball Kid


This was made as a costume for my daughter. She said she wanted to be an eyeball. Shrugs. I cut strips cut from an old plastic barrel to define the basic sphere fixing them together with high-temperature hot glue. I removed center from a bucket-size lid to form the front of the eyeball. I covered it with sections from an old sheet, again using hot glue to hold the fabric in place.

Inside I glued a couple bats of packed-air shipping bubbles at either side of the head opening so the thing would sit comfortably on her shoulders.


I started by painting all the sheets with runny white acrylic paint. Then I mixed a dilute warm yellow and worked from the back to the front with a mouth atomizer to variate the surface a little and make it look fleshier and less like a cue ball. I went to cool blue, and then added red and worked through violet to purple red at the back. While that was still wet I used a marker to draw in some vascularity, and then I let it dry a while. I came back later with a dusting of white Krylon to even things out and tie it all together.


I drew the iris and pupil on a paper plate and taped in behind the bucket lid ring. I cut a circle from some clear vinyl and attached it to the front with double-sided tape.


For the optic nerve I used a few strands of blue- and red-insulated solid-core copper wire. I twisted them around each other and around the inner structure so they would stick out sturdily.


The video is like eleven seconds long and not to loud or obnoxious and you should definitely watch it to see how the optic nerve boinged around behind her.

Federation Workbee

In 1/350 scale. Resin body, photoetch manipulator arm, decals. and paint.

Laureled 45

Made of 2″ EPS Insulation foam.


Simple Gothic Windows

On order were gothic window props, five at three by five feet.

On order were gothic window props, five at three by five feet. I reviewed some reference material with the requirements and budget in mind, sketching ideas and making notes about materials.


I positioned the strip evenly front-to-back and ran a bead of wood glue all the way around.

Painted the with gold and copper spray paint, finished with metallic acrylic paint in a couple colors. I painted lines to suggest some of the detail that wan’t actually there in a muddy mix of purple and gold. I used a paintbrush I made with bristles I borrowed from the push broom, then I went home and ordered a set of sword stripers.

The medallion at the top was made from the pieces that were cut out of the window frames, a teardrop with a disc on top. I made a stencil and sprayed a little bit of red to finish each of them off.