You know something needs to be done when a bar and music venue has an area with a pool table that is directly visible from the moment you walk in, and is known by staff and patron alike as "Bummer Corner." Inspired by some vintage postcard art, we came up with a great hand-painted mural and elevated the corner tremendously.
After that, we realized something needed to be done about the Bummer Door on the way in. I scratch-built and installed a two-way swinging, porthole door that gives a perfect peep of the mural before you even get inside.
Working with artwork and a concept from Bethany Bauman and Katrina from Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, I was brought in to make this artwork installation a reality for the lobby at the new Highline 2100 apartments.
10 different wood panels created at various depths, which then had beautiful canvas artwork prints mounted to them. Hung on the wall piece-by-piece, and wrapped with a thin frame of hand-oiled walnut.
Final dimensions were just over 6' tall and 12' wide.
When the Omaha Chamber of Commerce needs something, it's just a given that they're going to need something cool, fun, and weird.
Here is a 12'x8' portable wooden mural I built a couple years ago, along with big shark and tornado sculptures!
Every piece of the mural was hand cut, painted, and assembled (the pattern created here was used throughout the We Don't Coast campaign, including the new WDC License Plates designed by SecretPenguin). It breaks down into 6 pieces for convenient'ish portability. It's always an adventure taking it somewhere.
The shark and tornado were created together as props for their Olympic Swim Trials photo booth. The shark utilized the new CNC in the shop, then was hand-assembled and finished. The tornado was milled and cut from 2x4's.
To help illustrate the SecretPenguin branding process, as well as decorate the studio, we decided to build this big, abstract iceberg sculpture.
This was built piece by piece, very organically, and required some really wild miter cuts. Dave (Owner/Director) insisted that every strut be doubled, and I couldn't have had it any other way.
Construction grade dimensional lumber, math, glue, and a nail gun. One of those projects where the extreme challenge of it all is actually the best part.
(Some photos by Dave Nelson)
This book shop was created for the Urban Outfitters store in Omaha, NE. Four floor fixtures (A table, two shelves, and a storage bench) rest on the floor, while framework versions of each fixture hang directly above, creating a “ghost” version of the bookshop in the ceiling. The upside-down room effect.
The fixtures were built from 3/4” birch plywood with 1/4” oak plywood accents. They each sit on an MDF floor panel. The ceiling pieces were built from dimensional pine, 1/4” oak plywood, wood dowels, and nylon string. They are carefully weighted and balanced so they would sway gently when the heating or air-conditioning would kick on.
Cigarettes are bad for you, but cassette tapes probably aren't. This is the one and only Burger Records Cassigarette Machine, and it's located in Omaha, NE.
Trey from the Brothers Lounge here in town was kind enough to donate an old cigarette machine. After some reverse engineering, cassette dispensing channels were custom fabricated by hand from both 1/2" birch plywood and simple sheet metal. Artwork and cassettes were provided by Burger Records.
I've always wanted to create a giant version of one of these wooden puzzles, but never really wanted to run a jigsaw for that many hours (or days). After adding a CNC router to the workshop, and eliminating the need for any hand-jigging, I knew what I had to do.
A few days to cut while getting the CNC dialed in, a day or two to assemble and seal it, dream fulfilled. It's nearly 6' tall and 16' long!
This simple, drywall ceiling was torn down to reveal the original joists, which had aged beautifully after being tucked away in the attic since 1957!
The existing walls were framed up to the roof, and then sheathed in white pine, which offered a nice contrast to the aged pine joists. Everything was sealed and finished, then carefully edged and trimmed.
It's quite a transformation! In addition to feeling cozy and lodge-like, opening up the ceiling improved acoustics in the room dramatically. No more harsh echoes, and there's nothing more relaxing than the sound of rain falling on the roof above.
If we can't work together on a project directly, perhaps you'll find some of the items in the Online Website Store helpful with a project you're working on.
Hand-made decorative items, small home furnishings, and the occasional odd object are reasonably priced and can be shipped right to your doorstep or place of employment.
It has been said that you should never trust someone who has decorated their house with their own art.
Here is a sampling of the art I have made to decorate my own house.
Repurposed scrap wood, splattered leftover paint over self-stretched canvas, and found photographs that have been blown up, edited, and pasted to plywood panels.
Seriously though, there's plenty of art made by others in there as well.
Originally envisioned by the client as a "Wave Wall" consisting of a single wave mounted on a wall, I took things a few steps further and created two waves that intersected and were actually suspended from the ceiling at the highest point in the store. One section of the wave actually dipped down into the first floor and could be walked beneath.
Simple construction-grade 2x4 lumber was ripped down into 2x2s and then cut to various lengths. One wave twists at a consistent 12 degrees, while the other was created completely free-form as it was installed. This installation was absolutely massive, and somewhat difficult to capture in a single photograph! Some fisheye lens shots seem to give a bit of sense of scope.
This was on display in the Urban Outfitters store in Omaha, NE for the better part of a year.
Being involved in local music and art, I have often been asked to create posters for shows and events, and have more often been required to create them for my own shows and events.
There was a period in 2008-09 where I designed quite a few posters for 1% Productions, a local music promoter. I typically tried to limit myself to a small, repetitive color pallet for intentional same'yness. Because I was designing these for free, I would also limit myself to 15-20 minutes per poster (with occasional exceptions). Many of those are included here, along with a few selections from other eras.
There's nothing quite as relaxing as having everyone over for a little bonfire in the backyard. With a backyard geo dome, you can invite everyone to the future, or the ancient past, or whatever scenario is going to make everyone come over and sit around a fire.
This dome was constructed entirely of wood. No expensive or unsightly hub connectors were used, just geometry and some complex miter cuts for the ends of every strut.
Canvas was then stretched over some of the panels, creating a little privacy, a little shelter, and a cozy little space to have a cool fire.
One day, I decided to paint a big mural in my living room.
I also made some cool wall art out of reclaimed wood, refinished a vintage coffee table, and sewed some pillows together.
It got a lot of likes on a corporate Instagram.
I own a small screen printing press and like to print short runs of things by simply hand-cutting paper stencils and sticking them to the bottom of a screen. The stencils generally fall apart within 25 prints or so, and sometimes after as few as 4 or 5.
Long runs with appropriately coated and exposed screens are entirely possibly too, but lack that danger element.
T-shirts, karate belts, mystical cloaks... the possibilities are sort of maybe limitless.
I made a large brontosaurus for my backyard out of cheap plywood. It will act more like a privacy fence than a dinosaur, but will look more like a dinosaur than a privacy fence.
Admittedly, I was a little sad when the neighbors loved it.
I built a weird custom Moog synthesizer once, and then a few years later, I rebuilt it.
I took a Moog Slim Phatty (Why Moog? Why?) and an Alesis Q25 controller and hard-wired them together. I had a few questions, and everyone at Moog was super nice and helpful in my quest to destroy one of their products.
I originally built it out of cheap plywood because I needed it quickly for live shows, but also because I wanted to have a basic template to work from before I attempted building it out of a nice hardwood. It remained cheap plywood painted aqua for several years.
While shopping for wood for another project, I came across some really nice dark walnut boards that I couldn't pass up. I inlaid an Ominoptra (a wood-burned pendant made from the falling limbs of the dying tree in my front yard) in the right cheek of the synth, and hand-oiled the walnut outside on the deck instead of watching TV.
I like to draw and doodle on everything, and I have several of those little hardcover sketchbooks floating around. When I can't think of anything to draw, sometimes I'll just scribble around randomly with a highlighter, or spill a nearby liquid on a page. I'll grab one of those Micron pens, which are my favorite, and try to make the little color blob into something.
It usually turns out pretty weird.