posts tagged with the keyword ‘art’



I tend to make objects. Things. Pieces. Sometimes I think I can apply the word “sculpture” to them, mainly because sometimes there isn’t a better word to describe them (especially if they are to be considered “art”.)

Many of the things I make are “functional” in that they do a thing. But what is that thing? What does it mean to do a thing? They might make something happen, or move, or light up. The might be kinetic or reactive or interactive. They may solve a problem. They may make the world a better place. They might look pleasing.

And then there’s jewelry…

I’ve had a strange relationship with jewelry. I never really cared for jewelry. Beyond the relationship humans have with jewelry, and how it fits into society, I just never really cared about making jewelry. I think that some art instructors use jewelry making as a way to teach process and making, and maybe use it because many (most?) people like it and would like to have jewelry, or maybe because it’s such a personal thing. I mean, it’s work on the body. That’s personal, right?


I even ended up making a piece of jewelry for a class titled “Machines that Make”. I designed a hammer ring. I learned a bit more about Rhino, and I got a print made by Shapeways, which was a good experience, but as far as a piece of jewelry, I didn’t care about it. (I mean, It’s an interesting object, but I’m not going to wear it. Like many of the things I make, there’s humor somewhere deep inside of it. Or maybe on the surface. I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out.)

Much of my art & design background involved 2D work, which, let’s be honest, often hangs on a wall, or is just seen and doesn’t do a thing. But doesn’t it do a thing? Does it provoke thought or emotions? Does it instruct or inform? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you happy? Things do things.

I remember back in a high school art class we had to make a ring. I had zero interest in wearing a ring or making a ring, and I really dragged on the project. I think I eventually finished it (late) and I don’t even know what happened to it. It was a piece I just didn’t care about. I probably could have learned about etching metal, and creating different kinds of resists, but I just wasn’t invested. (I know, this is all a person thing.)

My daughter has started to make jewelry. I’m excited about it. Not because I like jewelry, but because she likes jewelry. Or, maybe she just likes making things. It seems therapeutic. She’s mostly doing wire wrapped jewelry. I use wire for electronics and for securing things. Making jewelry with it? I guess some people do that.


She also learned how to do metal casting, which is awesome. I know a little about metal casting, and it’s something I wish I knew more about (but there are only so many hours in the day.) I’m glad she has the opportunity to learn it.

Also, Daleks…

What? Daleks? Yeah, well, Jon H. at Milwaukee Makerspace is the Jewelry Area Champion, and besides helping people make Daleks, helps people make jewelry. Or, learn how to make jewelry. Jon is an interesting guy. I’ve heard him called a “Retired Magician” though maybe he still is a magician! He’s got a lot of skills and is willing to share them. So yeah, sometimes you see Dalek parts being made in the jewelry area, because, the process is similar, sort of. Right? I don’t know…

Where is all this going? I’m really not sure. As I said, I’ve had a complicated relationship with jewelry. I don’t wear it, I’m not a big fan. It’s a personal thing. I don’t really like drawing attention to myself. I mean, my self. My physical being. I don’t mind using words to make myself known, or sharing my work, but I don’t want the focus on my physical body. That’s just how I am. I’m weird. Maybe. I don’t know.


Well that turned into a rambling mess about art and objects and jewelry that I wasn’t fully expecting. Writing can be like that sometimes… What do you think?



As you may know, I’m occasionally an artist, and create weird things that I show in public. Sometimes my work appears in galleries. Typically though, my work is not in galleries in Milwaukee, so it’s a real pleasure to be in a show right in my own hometown.

Var Gallery currently has some of my work on display at the Art+Tech show, which runs until February 3rd, 2018. The majority of my work for this show (I have about nine pieces) are from my NoiseMakers series, which was also at Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2017.


I’ve also got my Hammer of Futility at the show. (Which needed some minor repairs. Kinetic sculptures that run for weeks on end can be a challenge. I had to replace a motor, and I still need to drop in a controller to slow things down.)


The show was curated by Becky Yoshikane and Christina Ossers, who did a great job selecting work from Milwaukee artists involved in the Art+Tech scene. (Both are artist in their own right as well.)

Thanks to Nathaniel Stern, who I borrowed a few photos from. Also check out what Kat Kneevers had to say about the show: The Medium Becomes the Message at Var Gallery’s ‘Art + Tech’ and Jessica Fenlon’s post: Art+Tech @ VAR Gallery [Milwaukee, WI], so at least if you don’t see it, you can read about it.

If you’re a fan of Art+Tech, keep an eye out for another show coming up this spring. I can’t share any details yet, but hopefully we can keep this Milwaukee Art+Tech train kinetic sculpture moving!



It’s been a while since Decagon Light (Part II), but we’re here with Part III! Thanks to Jason we (mainly he) finally got around to do the CNC work for this monstrosity. Becky then wired it up while I worked on the programming. (Thanks, Brinn Labs!)


Below is the small prototype again…

A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster) on

Besides adding some new patterns, I modified the code so you can use any consecutive pins. For the LEDs I use pins 1 through 10, but for the lamps we’re using 2 through 11. (Don’t ask why.) I also added an logic flipper, because LEDs and relays work opposite, HIGH is LOW and LOW is HIGH, depending on which you are using, so yeah, a lot of the code writing was just to deal with the differences between two version of this thing. Anyway, I squashed the last bug today, so it’s all good. (I think.)

And here’s a short video of it in operation. There’s still work to do, but we’ve made great progress in the last two weeks. (And yeah, I really wanted it done before Maker Faire, but didn’t quite hit that deadline.)

You’ll notice the design of the lines changed a bit. It’s still a decagon (a 10-sided polygon) but it’s no longer a 9-simplex. It’s almost a 5-orthoplex, but not quite. If you can figure out exactly what it is, let me know.


Claw Machine

Dr. Prodoehl was telling me about a colleague of hers that collects animal parts, and mentioned a claw from a pheasant, and I (sort of jokingly) said “Hey, I want a pheasant claw!” and then forgot about it until she brought one home for me! She also brought home a baculum, which is a raccoon penis bone, and while I haven’t found a use for that (yet) I did manage to use the pheasant claw. Obviously I built a Claw Machine.

Claw Machine

I often find weird little motors at Milwaukee Makerspace and keep them around for projects. This one had a strange gearbox and spring and belt. It also had some weird angles which made it difficult to mount, so I 3D printed a mount that worked well enough with it that I could screw it down into a piece of wood. There might also be some hot glue involved.

Claw Machine

I also ended up 3D printing a gear and some arms. Those are the sorts of parts that it makes a lot of sense to laser cut, but I wasn’t around a laser cutter at the time, so I just 3D printed them. I really do enjoy digital fabrication…

Claw Machine

There’s a few extra holes in the wood because I seemed to have a hard time finding the right position for the pivot point of the arm. I managed to find one that worked and left all the previous holes as a reminder than you don’t always get things right the first time. There’s also an abundance of nuts on bolts, because spacing is an issue best solved with washers, or nuts, or whatever is lying around.

Claw Machine

Speaking of first times, besides wood, I tend to not include natural materials (like, animal parts) into the things I make, so that was interesting. I attached the claw with the simplest of methods… zip ties. Also, this is called “Claw Machine Version 1″ because I intend(ed) to make some improvements, but I might never follow through with that idea.

Claw Machine

The claw is really interesting to look at. Is this piece some sort of cyborgian statement about the future where animals and machines are combined into some sort of terrifying nightmare? Probably not.

Claw Machine


Claw Machine


The Noisy 85s

I posted just a bit about the ATtinyNoisy boards I had made from OSH Park, but there’s plenty more to tell.

My original plan was to use CR2032 batteries with these, but I found it just didn’t have enough juice to make noise, so I tried using two CR2032 batteries and that didn’t work much better. I ended up grabbing a nearby 9 volt battery to test with, and that worked well, and since I had a bunch of 9 bolt battery connectors, I chose to use those ordered a bunch of new 9 volt batteries from Amazon.

When it came time to program and assemble all the boards, some of them worked, and some didn’t. I wondered if it was because some of the chips I got were from different vendors, including some on eBay that were probably counterfeit. I spent way too much time chasing the wrong problems until I figured it out. (Maybe you’ve already figured it out!)

When I originally tested with a 9 volt battery in the shop, it was an old 9 volt battery that was down around 7 volts. Do you know what the voltage rating for the ATtiny85 is? Well, it’s 2.7 V ~ 5.5 V. Yeah, I was trying to feed it too much voltage!

At this point I had soldered on the battery connectors and was staring at a dozen brand new 9 volt batteries. The board didn’t have room for a LM7805 voltage regulator and I didn’t have time to get new boards made. I ended up taking the 9 volt batteries and shorting them with jumper wires until the voltage dropped to about 7 volts, at which point they worked fine. Yeah, I just wasted lots of electricity to get them working properly. NBD.

Below is an example of what they sounded like.

The idea was to make a bunch of these, and put them in a space, and then interact with the space and experience the sound coming from different directions. You can’t really experience it through a video, as you need to be in the space and move through it to participate in the piece.

The code is dead simple, and just does an analogWrite to a PWM pin on the ATtiny to generate some noise.

// ATtinyNoisy

int piezoPin = 0;
int randomPin = 1;
int randomValLow = 0;
int randomValHigh = 255;
int interValLow = 1;
int interValHigh = 3000;

void setup() {
  pinMode(piezoPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  analogWrite(piezoPin, random(randomValLow, randomValHigh));
  delay(random(interValLow, interValHigh));

The Noisy 85s

Each ATtinyNoisy unit was placed in a paper bag, and hung from a piece of monofilament fishing line with a binder clip. (I had plenty of binder clips around!)

Here’s a few more photos from the installation that I did at UWM’s Kenilworth facility during SHiN|DiG on Friday, December 16, 2016. With many of my installations (and work in general) I focus on cheap things, often simply presented. I tend to go with the theory that if you can’t make something large, make a lot of little things.

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

Big thanks to (former) student Maks for helping with the install and uninstall of this piece.


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