Meta: :/

This year, we sat down with 340 proposals and arrived at 190 we thought we’d like to fund. That meant we needed to let go of 117 artworks to arrive at the 70-some artworks we can fund with the resources we have.


TECH: Delrin? More like del-win!

Brad finished a test of the acetal bearings! I don’t have a lot of details yet, just a video, and since this platform can’t host video, all I can post is a few screenshots.

Looking forward to meeting with him in the next week or so and learning more.


VIZ: The Card Deck

Along the lines of Askeris being a fortune-telling implement, and also thinking of possible merch-types for a fundraiser, I’ve imagined creating a tarot-type deck with the various door faces.

There will be 28 murals, but 28 cards is a little small for a deck. At best, it’s maybe a half-deck. but I’m not keen on breaking it out into the 56 different depictions.

In the Tarot, there are the arcana cards, plus the suit cards. There are no obvious suits in my project… unless you go with Red/Blue(/Magenta). (Sticking a pin in this, because it’s useful, but didn’t come to me until I was typing it out just now.

Ignoring that epiphany… I was trying to stick to elements literally in the piece for the rest of the deck of cards, rather than trying to bring in new ideas. I like obvious and logical mythology/myth development. I briefly considered whether to incorporate the planets or constellations (or make up constellations), or somehow bring forward the labels I used in my early diagrams, but none of that felt quite right.

However! I’d been overlooking fortune-telling content that already existed in the piece: the door edges. I plan to paint overlapping questions on the non-hinge edge of each door using the same paint technique. That adds 14 more cards, and the final literal decorative element: what goes on the bridges that connects the two doors of each set.

So, there are seven of those, and if each was a particular symbol, it would bring the card count to 28+14+7… 49. That’s a good deck size. But how to theme the final seven? Angels? Natural elements? Phases of the Moon? Seasons? What about the seven gateways? Remember, these are bridges that somewhat frame the doors.


Good, good, transitional pairs so far. But one left over.

The breaking of silence.

{heart eyes emoji}

I don’t know how these will be visually represented, but I like the conceptual shapes.

At this point in my drive, I wasn’t close enough to home to be done brainstorming, so I went on to think about how this tripartite deck would be used in a fortune telling scenario.

  • 28 Aspect cards (dualities, usually animals)

  • 14 Question Cards

  • 7 Gateway Cards

The central idea is to read the journey between two gateway cards, and each question card would function as a pivot, changing the direction of the layout 90 degrees from that point onward.

  • shuffle deck

  • place deck face-up

  • Subject splits deck in two

  • if both cards showing are Aspect cards, Subject picks one to be the Guide

  • If only one showing card is an Aspect, that is the Guide

  • If no showing cards are an Aspect, Subject splits the deck until a Guide appears

  • Split parts of the deck are re-stacked so the Guide is on top.

  • Guide is placed to the North of the Deck

  • If the next visible card is NOT a Gateway, that card is discarded (Face down) to the West of the Deck. Repeat until a Gateway appears.

  • When a Gateway appears, the Reader picks up the Deck and replaces it with that Gateway

  • Subsequent cards are part of the Journey

  • The Journey continues until another Gateway appears.

  • The first Step of the Journey is played to the South of the first Gateway.

    • If the first Step is an Aspect, the second Step will be played to the South

    • if the first Step is a Question, the second Step shall be played to the East or the West of it.

  • Continue the Journey.

    • When the previous Step is an Aspect, the current Step continues the journey in the same direction

    • When the previous Step is a Question, the current Step turns the Journey in a new direction. North/South travel is changed to East or West. East/West travel is changed to North or South.

  • The Journey is concluded when the next Gateway is reached, no matter how quickly.


Now to write all the cards and test it out.

And develop a two-player game from it. ;D

NEWS: I defeated the spreadsheet boss

I finished a full draft of my grant proposal MORE THAN TWO DAYS EARLY.

Now I have a half day to breathe, then a day and a half to tidy it up and add new images.

META: ... or maybe I'm just hungry

Looking forward I see vastly different versions of 2019 based on the outcome of this grant process.

For the past few days I’ve been very hyped about it, forceful and forward thinking, planning to shape my life around this massive (for me) undertaking. I’ve been making plans, solving problems, imagining worst-case scenarios and laying the mental groundwork for back-up ideas so that setbacks don’t involve wholesale emotional collapse and defeat.

I’ve prepared myself for the possibility that I won’t be able to rely on skilled help for much of the fabrication and will do a lot of the menial metalwork myself. I’ve accepted that my illustration skills are not fantastic and started training my hands and eyes to be up to the task of painting 56 huge images on my own.

But as my hype grows, as my vision grows, as my grasp of the undertaking grows, my budget estimation doth also expand. Each time I clarify a detail, it clarifies at least one expense, and probably reveals one or two others. And then as those details become “locked in”, adjacent pieces come into focus, and I have to google how much those are going to cost me. And then I have more of the project mapped out and explain it to someone new and they ask intelligent questions and I explain other parts of the installation, and remember something else I need to add to my budget.

I’m not working with real money yet.

I’ve spent $20 here and there for test supplies. Brad has placed a couple orders for parts in the same range, and I’ve worked with similar quantities of dollars before, and even ten times as much, but now I’m looking at spreadsheets that have line items nearly 100 times those $20 personal investments. With hypothetical money.

But it’s more than hypothetical money, it’s potential money. The org deemed my initial application worthy of a more detailed look! There is a non-zero chance that I have a shot of being funded. Or maybe I had a non-zero chance at my initial price point, but my new, detailed, insightful math is less funder-friendly.

There’s a place in my mind where I’m confident I’m overreaching, that what I offer is no longer worth what I ask. When I visit that part of my mind, that potential future, there’s a sense of relief. Not in the sense that I was afraid of success and it’s safer and more comfortable to be rejected. I’m not the kid in class who’s unprepared and afraid to be called on to perform.

I’m proud of the work that I’m doing. I’m confident in my vision and feel I can rise to the challenge of taking it on. The feeling of potential relief at being passed over comes from the same place where I don’t care so much about dating anymore. I want romance, but I’m not going to compromise my values to get it. In both cases, I know who I am, and I’m speaking my truth, and being as realistic as possible about what I’m capable of and what I’m worth.

On small projects I have a habit of undervaluing my time and abilities in order to get the gig. So there’s a temptation to do it on a larger scale, too. I’m tempted to lowball my costs, price the scrap i hope I can get instead of the material I can find and rely on.

I want this grant. I want it bad. I might not get it. Part of my brain wants to close the door on this project after my application is submitted and live as though it’s a done deal, never to be. Another part wants to keep pushing as far as I can, planning and preparing so I don’t feel behind the ball if I get the green light at the end of February. Keep sourcing, quoting, networking, gathering resources.

Either future is possible. Either future is okay.

I am amused how on-theme this post is.

VIZ: testing lIght and paint


  • scrap of drywall

  • black tempra paint (cheap)

  • 2 colors red paint

  • 2 colors blue paint

  • Handful paint brushes

  • repurposed LED rainbow frame (reprogrammed for red and blue)

  • two hours spare time

  • 1 Ernie


These don’t quite capture the magic of seeing it in person. Other thoughts: how different will it look with dry paint/no glossy reflection, and maybe add magenta paint at the overlap points to reflect in both conditions.


TECH: solving for jupiter

Even though much of the work Brad and I did yesterday was testing (and rejecting) the intital idea for pivot mechanisms, most of the worry in his thought process was about the truss connecting the two poles.

Even with using a rectangular beam instead of a pipework bridge, he’s concerned about the caster under the orbit pole (Mimas) kicking out.

While I’m less concerned about the kick out, I am concerned that with a pressure-fit acetal pivot, there will be nothing structural fixing the bridge to the orbiting door, just physics and trust.

Deep down, I suppose this is a concern about Mimas kicking out, because why would I need to secure the bridge to the post otherwise? It’s not like gravity is going to reverse and pull the truss upward.

In any case. New design adds a stopper ring and capture plate between the pivots and the truss. The plate screws (bolts?) to the post surrounding the pipe.


As an added benefit, this has the ability to keep even more dust away from the pivots.

On the other hand, there’s also a risk that if Mimas kicks out under these circumstances, it could torque the entire structure and pull even the center pole out of joint.

Next steps: keep plugging numbers into the budget spreadsheet and try to convince myself they’re never going to fund me, so I should go ahead and fail bigger.

Edited to add: should we look into having more weight just above Mimas to make the orbiting pole behave in a less top-heavy way.

Big Ideas on Small Equipment

Brad said something along those lines today and it sounded spot-on for a Burning Man project.

The work we did today very much pushed up against the limits of what can be done in a home shop and clarified some constraints that might translate into design constraints.

Other constraints that were clarified today: TIME. Is six months a lot? A little? Who knows? I put together a stater project timeline to go along with my starter budget, and now that I’m getting quotes on actual material prices, I’m wondering if putting forward my budget at a reasonable price is going to scare off “investors” when I know I can do it cheaper, but not by how much.

Especially since I’m not sure I’ll be able to find build space in my budget. Not off the shelf, anyway. I haven’t tried tapping my local network, and if that’s a bust, it makes it more likely I’ll be looking for opportunities to take this to the Bay.

deep breaths

Also, I did a paint test back on Thursday that went super well. I have some video, timelapse, and stills of that to share. Sadly, as I create words on my computer and photos on my phone, there’s no streamlined way to get fresh content from both in the same post. Unless I save this as a draft and finalize it all in the app.


I am cold and ready for bed.

I have drawn nothing but diagrams today. :\

META: Catching Up

The holidays forced a bit of a hiatus with progress, but I’m getting back underway with just about a week to go.

Lighting quote has been requested, bearing have come in the mail, and I got a good pep-talk about the process.

A while back I met with Jon and we talked about constructing the bulk of the doors. He talked up using rigid foam for the bulk of each door and stabilizing it with an exoskeleton of plywood. It took me a while to come around to the wisdom of it, but it’s become my standard expectation.

Sourcing foam (1.25 sheets per door):

Foam Mart (LA) has styrene up to 6” thick. A sheet of 5” is 110 (retail), and a sheet of 6” is 125.

I found Foam Distributors in the bay area, and have requested a quote and/or if this is their kind of project.

R Tech (Home Depot) only comes up to 2” thick. doing the ply myself (with help) would be time consuming, but cheaper, and potentially have more tensile strength. Unsure about weight. 5” for $57, 6” for $66 (retail).

Extruded polystyrene - I could probably find this in 2.5 thickness for cheaper. 3” sheets for 40 each. (comparison price: $80)


It’s possible someone needs to talk me into reducing the door width from 54 (ish) inches to 48, for better plywood coverage. This would require trimming the foam by a comparable amount. Thinking about the reuse rate for excess plywood vs excess foam.

using back of the napkin pathfinder cutting

using back of the napkin pathfinder cutting

I did elect to use the full length of the bottom half of the sky blue piece to have a longest-possible piece for the pole edge, but, on further reflection, that will probably be unnecessary. Whatever lumber is showing on the pole edge will just be painted like the rest, no reason to face it with plywood.

remathing on the fly. And why did it take so long for squarespace to upload this 70k image.

remathing on the fly. And why did it take so long for squarespace to upload this 70k image.

None of the 4 large excess blocks are good for anything else within the door design. Except I can use them for the decorative elevation on the bridge. I could probably get a bridge decoration out of each individual piece, but there’s no reason to, since each bridge will have eight pieces of 48x42 plywood to service it.

This is also a hard sell, but saves me 14 whole pieces of plywood. :|

This is also a hard sell, but saves me 14 whole pieces of plywood. :|

Ok. Flagging for follow up:

  • cost/labor trade off for the benefits of plastering over the places where the plywood pieces meet.

  • benefit of using an extra piece of plywood to cut solid tops with slight overhangs for all the doors

tldr, need minimum 56 sheets of plywood.

MEtA: better or Worse?

i want to change the title to “ask Eris”

correction: “Askeris”

Also, there are already heresies developing


VIZ: Mural Content

Seven units, fourteen doors, twenty eight sides, fifty-six images.

I haven’t decided on a philosophy or theme for this part yet. I have some ideas for tone and function, but maybe too many ideas. Which ones will I be able to pull enough content from? Which will most properly express my intent (even to myself)?

Is it important to have full consistency through the entire piece, or can it be a mix of applications of the theme? Do I want the front and back of a door to be thematically linked? Do I want each unit to be thematically cohesive? Do I want a particular word or element (ie: anger) to show up in every unit? Do I want the central unit to be special?' When I’m working with feelings, how do I want to depict them? How literal/obvious do I want to be? How much do I want to use text?

I may end up having to make 6 different versions of the whole set and pick one of them. Or start out with that intent and say “good enough” after one. ':P

I want each panel to fit the message “not quite (not) opposites”.

An excerpt from the Notes file about this on my phone:

slow pace/regressive
too soon/never
too late/too much

META: Rising concern

Mostly because it’s the worry I woke up with.

First thing today, I was thinking about wind storms.

No matter how frictionless the junction between the orbit door and its track is, it will still be bearing the brunt of the weight, so the unit will act top heavy.

Powerful winds pushing on Jupiter will threaten to topple it, torquing the bridge. I may be thinking too rigidly (thanks to flat diagrams), but until i started writing this out, the thought was really stressful. Remembering that the door will rotate, not be a fixed wind-catcher helps.

Winds will play into the construction of the base, too. Surface level spokes will be easier to put up, (and allow off-playa display) but offer less stability.

I wonder if the tracks will be modular, or if I can make extra bases for dry land display. One for pre-playa testing, of course, but more for, say, decompression. Mmmm

Also: See that reference to Jupiter? I’ve started naming parts of the sculpture after things in the solar system (but don’t see how to add images on mobile). I’ve tried to use logical terminology in my descriptions, but this is more like having shorthand names for BEQs, except BEQs sometimes involve the interaction between bodies.

Still disappointed I can’t upload photos from the app.

Edited to add MEQ#1: how to add mild (2” max?) durable texture to the surface of the doors. Without too much weight



Brad and I had lunch today. Graziano’s. My salad was good, but could’ve used a little more dressing.

Our discussion touched on most of the BEQs, and reshaped things so maybe I have more hurdles for on-site build and fewer hurdles for offsite fabrication.


The orbiting pole and door seem decently simple. A fixed pole inside the door, with a pin/ball-bearing unit at the top and bottom.

The center pole/door is a little more complicated, since there need to be two independently rotating entities stacked on top of each other. So do they have a unifying pivot point like a chicken kebab, or are they stacked elements like an Oreo?


BEQ #2

This is possibly becoming linked with BEQ#4. (More on this below).

Brad’s brilliant solve for this is to have the hoop/track be convex and the wheel be concave. I like this! Less possibility to clog/trip on a convex track, and likely easier to fabricate.


The triangular truss is possibly unnecessary from a structural sense. Cool. Thinking about keeping a decorative element on top, but having it be a half-circle for there to be less obvious directionality, from an aesthetic standpoint.

The joint where the cross arm connects to the orbit pole, however, is greatly a source of concern. Brad is worried about a twisting that could create a pendulum effect (to the wheel). Adding a strut across that corner might be a good solution, but it would interfere with the corner of the central door.

In general, that connecting arm needs stability and isolation. What about putting decorative exterior elements to brace it from the outside? Instead of a support that cuts the corner (90 degrees), could it go outside the corner (270 degrees)? And in three dimensions? Like a cast for a broken bone. (Will sketch this in the coming days).



Suggested solution: connect the center pole to the ring track with 3-4 spokes, like a wheel.

Sounds great for helping the track keep its shape, and also adding a wide, splayed base for the central pole.

Initial suggestion was to trench and bury the spokes ~6 inches underground, so the combination of width and depth would keep the center pole aloft.

I’m considering adding more spokes (6 total) and/or having them be flat strips on the surface.

Other details:

These parts are sounding way more affordable than I expected.

Brad might be able to help with fabricating these. Ballpark of 1 week for the first unit, 1 day for each subsequent unit.

Wondering about the possibility of fabricating in Victorville. Space could be cheaper there, but it’s not local to prospective crew members. Or doing the wood/metalwork there, and shifting to LA/Bay/Reno for painting.

TECH: Big Engineering Questions (#1-4)

Each assembly includes:

  • Center door

  • Orbit door

  • Center pole

  • Orbit pole

  • Truss (connecting center to orbit)

  • Wheel(+track) kit

Budget per assembly: $500 (barf emoji)

#1: How To Hinge

Each door needs to rotate 360+ degrees along one long (upright) edge. (“Hinge” might not be the best word, but it’s the best I have so far).

The door will be about 4 inches thick, framed with wood and filled/stabilized with rigid foam.

Initial thoughts were to have the rotation happen external to the door structure, like a typical hinge (as seen in my early models). But now I’m considering having the rotation set into the frame of the door by a few inches, which would hide the pole, centralize the weight a tiny bit, and make everything slightly more mysterious.

New idea is worth a 10% increase in door cost.

Hinges should be very easy to operate. I like the idea of all the doors ending up pointing in the same direction during high winds.

#1b: How to Pole

This may be a separate question from #1, and may be question #0.

Is it hollow or solid? Is it the same for both the central pole (14-17-ish feet) and the orbit pole (11 ish feet)? Is this a core element that should be determined first, or can it be flexible based on other requirements?

#2: How to Wheel

At the bottom of the orbit pole is a wheel! I highly resisted this for a long time due to concerns about the evenness of the playa surface, plus surface erosion/deformation over the course of the event.

Part of why I eventually agreed was because someone mentioned that the wheel could be set in a ring track, which would give it more consistent support.

Maybe instead of a ring, there could be some kind of spring/shock that keeps the wheel in contact with the ground.

Overall, I want it to be very easy for the orbit pole to move.

#3: How to Truss (ie: the attacment and support of the orbit pole)

If decorative metalwork is too heavy and difficult, possibly a simpler metal brace, plus CNC wood decoration.

UPDATE: Initial contact with Brad lead me to believe this might be the most difficult part, engineering-wise.

#4: How to Support

Do we sink the center pole deep into the ground? Do we have a flat brace plate? or a buried brace plate?

ORG: Initial Thoughts For Grant App

I was informed about passing to round 2 of the application process, then I went to Tahoe for three days, and now I’m back and it’s time to dig in.

I did a lot of hand-waving about the engineering of this sculpture, despite building both physical and digital models (see the video below) for phase 1.

Project Narrative

This section is carried forward from the first round, and can be seen in the post before this one.

Safety & Engineering

I believe that the base design will be innately difficult to climb/ride. The tops of the doors will be 10-11 feet off the ground, and there won’t be a lot to hold on to or step on below that. Still, I do want the doors to each be able to support an extra 200# on their outside edges.

With a wood-and-rigid-foam construction (to be tested… soon?), each door will weigh ~180#. This might increase with trim/relief texture. Knob weight expected to be negligible.

Big Engineering Questions (BEQs) in next post.

Lighting plan

Lighting is one of the big effects! Also something I’d like to test before submitting the full proposal.

My initial plan involved buying LED shop lights and tinted acrylic (or gels), but one of my climbing buddies works as a lighting engineer and designer, and he brought up renting concert lighting might be an affordable option. Cool? (How) would that impact post-playa installs?

Placement Outside BRC?

The idea of taking FoD to other events touches on BEQ #4: how to support the pieces. Does the center pole sink into the ground (how much?), or is there a flat plate supporting it?


The good news is I’ve considered basically everything listed in the budget template, the bad news is some of my answers were baseless guesswork.


Other bad news, I don’t know what I’m worth on the crowdfunding market, but I suspect it’s not the handful of thousands I’d need. What to do if I can’t achieve full funding is the kind of worry that has the potential to keep me up at night.

Build Location

?? I’d be comfortable relocating for pre-build, and think I’d be okay for crew in the Bay, less so in Reno.


Interested hands are easy to find, but reliable? I don’t expect anything to be difficult on a technical level, but lots of moving heavy things, and lots of painting.

Project Timeline

Mural painting will be the most time consuming part of the process. I feel creatively possessive of this part, but I’m sure that once I have the designs ready, I’ll be happier to delegate/share. This is also the last step, so I’d need to determine a reasonable number of hours-per-mural and work backward from there.

ORG: Project Narrative (LOI extract)

How do you define a space made of transitions? This is a variant on the themes of doors to nowhere and displaced doorways. Fourteen oversized doors (seven pairs) swing freely and orbit each other. Each side is painted with nearly-conflicting messages of dichotomies and dualities.


Passive physical interaction: Wander through a fluctuating space with very few fully fixed elements. There are no rooms other than what is suggested by the implied location of the doors. The doors are big. Do you feel small?

Active physical interaction: Swing the doors around their axes, orient the pole of the orbiting door.

Psychological interaction: The Forest of Decisions is constructed to land in a space between oracle and self-exploration. Each door has multiple aspects that change based on how a visitor approaches and what the lighting conditions are. The symbols are chosen to raise questions about the false premise of duality and highlight the benefit of additional perspectives.


I am aiming to create a large-scale meditation on the decision-making process and provide visitors a sense of wonder, a toy for mental wandering, and a tool for processing their experiences on the playa. The ability to move and reposition the doors provides a sense of agency even when situations tower over us.


Doors and doorways are often used to symbolize decisions and turning points, but in truth our decisions are usually fluid, non-binary, and can often be unmade. While each door in this piece has two sides, and each mural has two messages, the environment in which they are experienced is more complicated. These doors don’t go to linear places, the decisions they offer are context-dependent, and generally just lead to more questions.

The list of messages for this piece is still in progress (a total of 56 ideas will be expressed), but will break away from typical dualisms to examine concepts and forces that exist together and act on each other but are neither synonyms or opposites, such as humility and anger, love and fear, beginning and hesitating, patience and chaos.