Federico Tobon’s Kinetic Sculptures

In honor of #MakeNovember, Federico Tobon (our guest on episode 108 of the Root Simple podcast) has challenged himself to make one kinetic sculpture every day and post the results in social media. For inspiration he’s using an 1868 book with the delightful title, Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements: all those which are most important in dynamics, hydraulics, hydrostatics, pneumatics, steam engines, mill and other gearing, presses, horology, and miscellaneous machinery, and including many movements never before published and several which have only recently come into use by Henry T. Brown. Follow the link for a website with all the movements (and even some that have been animated!).

A tip of the mechanical hat to Federico for both the amazing sculptures and for making Facebook, Instagram and Twitter worth looking at again. As Federico says:

For our US readers, we wish you all a happy #Makesgiving.

The Art of Sadeli Mosaic

I stumbled on a beautiful video by Sneha Sarang showing Indian craftsman creating the intricate decorative art called Sadeli mosaic. Used to adorn small boxes in India, the Middle East and Iran, the technique is similar to the way “slice and bake” cookies and European “rock” candy are made.

Narrow triangular strips of wood, metal or plastic are cut using a jig on a table saw:

The strips are gathered into bundles:


and applied to a wood backing:

It looks simple but I’m sure it takes many years of practice.

Saturday Tweets: Cockroach Donuts!

What Would William Morris Say?

Tidying prophetess Marie Kondo has her “spark joy” test. Hold an object, ask if it “sparks joy” and if not, send it to the thrift store to clutter some other person’s house. I’ve been working on another de-cluttering concept, currently in the beta testing stage, that will have us all ask, “what would William Morris say?”

William Morris, one of the most prominent members of the Arts and Crafts movement, took part in a last ditch effort to bring dignity back to work and stave off the horrors of an industrialized, consumer culture. His mantra, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” is a sentiment I feel the need to foreground in my own struggles with clutter and consumer culture. This is why I’m introducing the new William Morris Meme™.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re at Home Depot looking at patio furniture. As yourself, “what would William Morris say?” Then picture the William Morris Meme:

What if you’re arguing with your spouse over a certain Ikea impulse purchase:

Or you’re pondering a trip to Costco:

I know, the salmon is a bargain, but William Morris thinks you’ll end up with a basket full of pizza pockets and a Taco Bell hoodie.

How about spending some time on Facebook?

I think I’ve got the makings of a new anti-consumerist app. Unfortunately, I doubt that Zuck’s tech-bro pals will send over any venture capital.

Free Resources at the Public Library on Garden Fork Radio

At the risk of becoming the “president of an excuse factory” let’s just say that home remodeling has interfered with podcast guest booking. While there’s no Root Simple podcast this week, should you want to hear me blabbing you can head over to Garden Fork Radio. On the latest episode I talk to host Eric Rochow about my favorite place, the Los Angeles Central Library. In addition to the serendipity that comes from browsing the stacks, libraries also offer many digital resources for free such as: online classes via Lynda.com, magazines, the New York Times, downloadable music, the films of the Criterion Collection via a website called Kanopy and much more. Listen the the Garden Fork Podcast and then ask your local librarian to walk you through the digital resources offered by your library. And if you’re visiting LA, the Central Library is the most handsome building in the city.