Building the Arte

Ardesiel - 10th Mansion of the Moon on Flickr.Via Flickr:
Made with Paper

Ardesiel - 10th Mansion of the Moon on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Made with Paper

Happy Holidays from Gallifrey on Flickr.Via Flickr:
I discovered Loren Sherman’s take on the Circular Gallifreyan writing system recently, and, whenever I want to learn a new writing system, I try creating a complex text in it for an upcoming holiday.  This is a slight conflation from the birth narrative in the Gospel according to Luke, KJV:
“And the Angel of the lord said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
It seems like the sort of thing a Time Lord might say: Everything is going to be fine, and it’s going to be OK for everybody. This is one of those days when nobody dies.  I wish you all a blessed and happy holiday season, whatever your faith community might be: Sherlockian, Whovian, Supernaturalist, Jedi, whatever.

Happy Holidays from Gallifrey on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
I discovered Loren Sherman’s take on the Circular Gallifreyan writing system recently, and, whenever I want to learn a new writing system, I try creating a complex text in it for an upcoming holiday. This is a slight conflation from the birth narrative in the Gospel according to Luke, KJV:

“And the Angel of the lord said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

It seems like the sort of thing a Time Lord might say: Everything is going to be fine, and it’s going to be OK for everybody. This is one of those days when nobody dies. I wish you all a blessed and happy holiday season, whatever your faith community might be: Sherlockian, Whovian, Supernaturalist, Jedi, whatever.

Fifth Astrolabe Verso on Flickr.Via Flickr:
Here are two photos of my fifth astrolabe. And here’s what I’ve learned about building astrolabes. If you don’t start with the simplest one, you’ll never have the patience to build this most complex one.
The simplest one is the quadrant. It’s four parts: a straw, a string, a cardboard, and a weight. It can be built in 15 minutes and employed in 25, if you wait a little while for the glue to dry.
This one, I built out of foamcore. Wrong material, first of all. It cuts wrong and it’s unreliable. Heavy cardstock or light cardboard would have been better. The rete is a sheet of acetate; but again, a thin sheet of cardstock with some holes cut in it would have been a better choice. The rule and the alidade — again, heavier cardstock would have been fine. Easier to get a precise point.
On the other hand, this model is weightier than the others, befitting its more complex design. I can calculate the unequal hours of the day, also called the Chaldean hours or the Planetary Hours. I can calculate the position of the Sun if I know the date, or the position of major stars to tell the time at night, or the Mansions of the Moon, or the height of a tower or flagpole or tree.
And all this with the cruddy “first draft” of the model I made using the printouts from astrolabeproject.com
That said, there are some improvements I would like to make. I’d love to see the Mater verso and recto produced as an .stl file for a ShopBot to rout out. I’d love to see a rete produced the same way, that could “nest” inside the mater, and thin but rigid alidades and rules. Cardstock and cardboard may be ok in the next draft, but I’m really thinking metal or wood next time around.
My friend Daniel S. says it is critical to build your prototypes all the way to the end. Doing so has taught me a lot about materials and about cutting precision lines. I have a much better sense of how I’ll build these next time: thick cardboard mater; lighter cardboard rete, cardstock rule and alidade; sharp knife and scissors, smaller hand drill, steel ruler.
If and when I ever guide students through this process, build all five astrolabes… And build a compass and a model caravel, too.  Come to think of it.

Fifth Astrolabe Verso on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Here are two photos of my fifth astrolabe. And here’s what I’ve learned about building astrolabes. If you don’t start with the simplest one, you’ll never have the patience to build this most complex one.

The simplest one is the quadrant. It’s four parts: a straw, a string, a cardboard, and a weight. It can be built in 15 minutes and employed in 25, if you wait a little while for the glue to dry.

This one, I built out of foamcore. Wrong material, first of all. It cuts wrong and it’s unreliable. Heavy cardstock or light cardboard would have been better. The rete is a sheet of acetate; but again, a thin sheet of cardstock with some holes cut in it would have been a better choice. The rule and the alidade — again, heavier cardstock would have been fine. Easier to get a precise point.

On the other hand, this model is weightier than the others, befitting its more complex design. I can calculate the unequal hours of the day, also called the Chaldean hours or the Planetary Hours. I can calculate the position of the Sun if I know the date, or the position of major stars to tell the time at night, or the Mansions of the Moon, or the height of a tower or flagpole or tree.

And all this with the cruddy “first draft” of the model I made using the printouts from astrolabeproject.com

That said, there are some improvements I would like to make. I’d love to see the Mater verso and recto produced as an .stl file for a ShopBot to rout out. I’d love to see a rete produced the same way, that could “nest” inside the mater, and thin but rigid alidades and rules. Cardstock and cardboard may be ok in the next draft, but I’m really thinking metal or wood next time around.

My friend Daniel S. says it is critical to build your prototypes all the way to the end. Doing so has taught me a lot about materials and about cutting precision lines. I have a much better sense of how I’ll build these next time: thick cardboard mater; lighter cardboard rete, cardstock rule and alidade; sharp knife and scissors, smaller hand drill, steel ruler.

If and when I ever guide students through this process, build all five astrolabes… And build a compass and a model caravel, too. Come to think of it.

Fifth Astrolabe Recto

25th Mansion of the Moon on Flickr.Via Flickr:
My black whiteboard marker was starting to run out of steam toward the end of of my drawing session.  Sorry about that.  But here we have the “Sator qui serit arborem” — the planter who plants trees.
The Planter is an image for the preservation of trees, and for a good harvest.

25th Mansion of the Moon on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
My black whiteboard marker was starting to run out of steam toward the end of of my drawing session. Sorry about that. But here we have the “Sator qui serit arborem” — the planter who plants trees.

The Planter is an image for the preservation of trees, and for a good harvest.

Kavad 4.8 - Completed Mansions of the Moon on Flickr.Via Flickr:
Well, after months of fussing and learning, I’ve finally put the pictures of the Mansions of the Moon on the kavad. And I’ve learned a bunch of things from doing so.
1) some pictures are fairly easy to draw, while others are hard;
2) some pictures are fairly easy to imagine and others are hard;
3) the easy pictures, like the head of the lion, are associated with forces of good will and great fortune;
4) the hard pictures, like the snake, are associated with inauspicious forces;
5) the images are almost chosen with the positive and negative forces in mind — it’s easier to do good with these images than it is to do evil.
6) maintaining a single artistic style as a learning artist all te way through the images is incredibly difficult: kudos to Nigel Jackson for his work and his success at this.
7) figuring out how to depict people cross-legged, or on horseback, or seated on chairs, or fighting … Hard!
I reaffirm that all these images are a program to teach drawing or illumination skills, and secondarily to teach a kind of Palace of Memory technique for holding all this information in memory. I think my skills as an artist have improved from all this copying and drawing, but… I now have two challenges.
First, I’ve run out of magical lists to illustrate. Sure, there are plenty of seals and sigils I could add to the kavad. But frankly I don’t know of any more lists of images to be added to the box. And like it or not, theres still quite a bit of real estate inside. I could add the Goetics, but it feels like a bit much to add to a box covered in angels.
Second — and perhaps this seems like the bigger challenge — I’m left with two major areas to work in. These are the central shrine, which is effectively the Throne (or at least the Footstool) of God, since this kavad is in essence a shrine.  What do you put at the heart of a shrine to an unseen and unseeable God? The other piece of real estate is big — the insides of the outer walls — but if I divide it up for the seventy-two goes, there’s not enough room. If I divide it up for the tribes of Israel, or the prophets, or icons of great magicians… Then who? What? How many? Hmmm.
Things to consider moving forward.

Kavad 4.8 - Completed Mansions of the Moon on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Well, after months of fussing and learning, I’ve finally put the pictures of the Mansions of the Moon on the kavad. And I’ve learned a bunch of things from doing so.

1) some pictures are fairly easy to draw, while others are hard;
2) some pictures are fairly easy to imagine and others are hard;
3) the easy pictures, like the head of the lion, are associated with forces of good will and great fortune;
4) the hard pictures, like the snake, are associated with inauspicious forces;
5) the images are almost chosen with the positive and negative forces in mind — it’s easier to do good with these images than it is to do evil.
6) maintaining a single artistic style as a learning artist all te way through the images is incredibly difficult: kudos to Nigel Jackson for his work and his success at this.
7) figuring out how to depict people cross-legged, or on horseback, or seated on chairs, or fighting … Hard!

I reaffirm that all these images are a program to teach drawing or illumination skills, and secondarily to teach a kind of Palace of Memory technique for holding all this information in memory. I think my skills as an artist have improved from all this copying and drawing, but… I now have two challenges.

First, I’ve run out of magical lists to illustrate. Sure, there are plenty of seals and sigils I could add to the kavad. But frankly I don’t know of any more lists of images to be added to the box. And like it or not, theres still quite a bit of real estate inside. I could add the Goetics, but it feels like a bit much to add to a box covered in angels.

Second — and perhaps this seems like the bigger challenge — I’m left with two major areas to work in. These are the central shrine, which is effectively the Throne (or at least the Footstool) of God, since this kavad is in essence a shrine. What do you put at the heart of a shrine to an unseen and unseeable God? The other piece of real estate is big — the insides of the outer walls — but if I divide it up for the seventy-two goes, there’s not enough room. If I divide it up for the tribes of Israel, or the prophets, or icons of great magicians… Then who? What? How many? Hmmm.

Things to consider moving forward.

Kavad rear-side / open on Flickr.This is a digital model of the kavad that I built in SketchUp before I built it in foam-board. Via Flickr:
Another view of the backside of the kavad’s internal doors.  Here you can also see that the lid of the upper chamber is open, and that the internal drawer on the back side has been pulled out.

Kavad rear-side / open on Flickr.

This is a digital model of the kavad that I built in SketchUp before I built it in foam-board.
Via Flickr:
Another view of the backside of the kavad’s internal doors. Here you can also see that the lid of the upper chamber is open, and that the internal drawer on the back side has been pulled out.

Kavad 4.6 - west front on Flickr.This is the west front of the kavad, showing the twelve signs of the zodiac.
You can read more about the kavad project, on my blog

Kavad 4.6 - west front on Flickr.

This is the west front of the kavad, showing the twelve signs of the zodiac.

You can read more about the kavad project, on my blog

Kavad 4.6 - Geomancy signs on Flickr.Via Flickr:
The 16 signs of Geomancy are a largely forgotten oracular or divinatory system that possibly hails originally from West Africa. Adapted and absorbed into western magic, it’s always had a visual component, as the 4-bit binary figures or signs became translated into pictures that could tell a story. A whole lot of side information should included in these symbols, though - parts of body, stability or mobility of the figure, relationships to astrology, and more. Bears thinking on.

Kavad 4.6 - Geomancy signs on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
The 16 signs of Geomancy are a largely forgotten oracular or divinatory system that possibly hails originally from West Africa. Adapted and absorbed into western magic, it’s always had a visual component, as the 4-bit binary figures or signs became translated into pictures that could tell a story. A whole lot of side information should included in these symbols, though - parts of body, stability or mobility of the figure, relationships to astrology, and more. Bears thinking on.

Kavad 4.5 on Flickr.An image of the unfolded foam-board prototype of the Kavad I’m building.A Kavad is a storyteller’s box from northern India, from Rajasthan.  Instead of having drawers and compartments like a jewelry box, it has folding panels that tell a story.  My earlier experiments with the kavad’s design are here and here.Original inspiration/review for this project, from Suzanne Wind Gaskell’s Kavad of a Sacred Geometer project.  This is what I’m trying to build.

Kavad 4.5 on Flickr.

An image of the unfolded foam-board prototype of the Kavad I’m building.


A Kavad is a storyteller’s box from northern India, from Rajasthan.  Instead of having drawers and compartments like a jewelry box, it has folding panels that tell a story.  My earlier experiments with the kavad’s design are here and here.


Original inspiration/review for this project, from Suzanne Wind Gaskell’s Kavad of a Sacred Geometer project.  This is what I’m trying to build.