The Game(ing) Show needs you!

Let's face it, Moss Robot is a diverse universe. Just when you think you know what it is that we do, we throw something new at you. Falling into this realm of "who knew?" endeavors-is the hand we played in a recent, spunky production called 'The Game(ing) Show' by Urban Gardens Performing Arts.




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UGPA came up with an innovative concept that combines staged acting, improv, games, puzzles and "free beer" tokens with a fully, interactive audience. Bystanders draw cards to choose characters and plot devices, enter into competition and take on their hero's adventures and challenges, ultimately deciding their hero's fate by the way they play each game.


Our hideous dragon in piece.

 

Think 'Zelda' meets 'Who's Line Is It Anyway' and then goes on to meet "So I Survived a Japanese Game Show' and they all somehow combine to make a super love child, and you're getting warm... 


 Super love child?



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Anyways,
UGPA approached us about making some very "homemade looking" props and costumes that leaned toward minimalistic and the absurd. We were told the more ridiculous the better. We know ridiculous. (see above photos) They came to the right place.

 Game cards in-progess.



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Our involvement did not stop with the twenty-some props and official game-play cards they commissioned us to make. Oh no, kind friends, it gets better. We got this crazy idea that we would like to do LIVE sound effects for the show-just to add an extra level of absurdity. Even more crazy, UGPA let us do it!

NASA-esque command center.



Basically, we raided our six year old son's gear. We have his old water bottle for splashing, his trusty electronic toys for transition music and "Horribozo the clown" sounds. We used his kid instruments and harmonica to play interim music and to eventually play "taps." for one of the death scenes. Most of the time we made vocal sounds, and beat-boxed the mike. Very close to how we spend our evenings at home, mucking around, trying to make the other one laugh.


 Clown poison warnings... (non)Lethal spears... Wizard bits.



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Fun was had by all, the show was a rousing success, and well, they want to do it again. But in order to continue to do it around the Triangle here in NC, "The Game(ing) Show" needs a little backing.  They have a Kickstarter campaign to fund this possibility, so if you want to get behind some talented folk, and have a future opportunity to partake in the games, here's your chance.


Heinous Beasts... Tetris... Sweet abandon.



And while we are talking about support for the arts, let's give mention to the one venue in town that does this consistently. The Game(ing) Show was held at one of our favorite places in Raleigh, Kings Barcade. Kings not only houses excellent bands and music of all genres, but it opens it's doors to every kind of creative, cultural and community-enhancing event that it can place. Again and again the fantastic owners of Kings have donated or discounted their space for a charitable function, or a fledgling troop of performers, testing their wings.

Hats off to Kings and let's throw our coin to the coffers of these traveling players.



Lisa and Matt



Beans and the Dinosaur


two for one

Born one day, two families and hundreds of miles apart, our two nephews, Crosby and Brandon, were embarking on their first birthdays.  

We set out to create a gift design so delightful and ingenious that it would soften even the hardest of baby hearts, bringing countless hours of joy and laughter to all...


Instead, we came up with: 


BEAN BAGS!!!

Okay, a little off target, but come on. We're talkin' funky, homemade, Moss Robot bean bags! 





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the usual prerequisites:

So, let's back up. Knowing the entertainment needs of every one-year-old across the globe and their parents reasonable desire to maintain their wellness, we aimed for a present with these essential elements:
*safe and organic materials
*able to produce noise
*lightweight – for easy handling and damage control (babies like to throw)
*fun, soft (remember the throwing) shapes
*learning-aid device


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the true genius of the family

Our 6 year old son, Graham, who will no doubt surpass us in every creative and intelligent way possible, decided to spearhead the project. He chose a palette and drew on the first five bean bags using kid-safe, fabric markers.

...Just left the grunt work of sewing and assembly to yours truly.


 

Pretty sure Graham will be running our company and making six figures before he's a teenager. 



Let's hope he keeps us on the payroll.




After the "circle dudes" were finished for Crosby, we made dinosaur versions for Brandon because his new bedroom has brontosaurs painted on it's walls.






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Just the facts

Keeping with our list of wants, the bean bags were made with organic cotton canvas (bodies), scrap cotton and wool materials (feet), and loosely filled with organic black beans (noise) and organic lavender (dirty diaper combat!). 

Colored stars with corresponding number symbols and names ranging from one through five were written on each set (high-tech learning device). All inks were non-toxic kid-safe fabric markers.









Hope this inspires you to make your own fun, family projects.

As always, you can reach us here, follow our twitter link over to the right or leave us a comment below.
Matt and Lisa

Blue Bureau Biology

Dull, little caterpillar transforms into classy, vibrant butterfly.

The larva.


Seems this one just never made it into the chrysalis. And spent way too much time moving around from place to place hoping for some kind of metamorphosis.

Well, hope no more, you old worm. Beauty is right around the corner.


The blue morpho.


The wings, of course, are theoretical. But still, certainly dramatic. And it's got that look-at-me-now attitude about it. I'm a butterfly. A real, blue-bureau butterfly!


 And have a look at the zebrawood drawer pulls. Very zebrawoody, of course.





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Inside (outside) the chrysalis (at the workshop). First things first. There was a broken drawer to contend with. A small problem but important to fix.

So, we removed the side wall that was chipped, cracked and broken and made a new one. Then routed out a long recess for the drawer's bottom to slide into.






Here's some pictures of the... pupation.




The legs were recycled from an old side table that withered years ago. A bottom was added so that the legs would have somewhere to attach themselves to and we swapped out the existing hardboard back with a wood back that would look better as well as offer greater stability.


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Tip time. Here's an easy way to paint the legs. Attach the leg plates to a long board and face them upwards (and you really just need to use 2 of the 4 screws). Then, screw the hanger bolts in the legs into the plates.

You'll have all your legs standing in front of you ready for painting. And they can stay put to dry.


Easy-Peezy



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The perfect color. We had decided on the zebrawood for the drawer pulls, so, we wanted to choose a paint color to complement those well and make the zebrawood a strong focal point.

We did have some ready-to-use colors that would have worked reasonably well. But, they just weren't quite the right tones. There was a nice blue. A light blue. An aquamarine. And we decided on something sort of in between-ish.

So, our resident paint-mixer went about her magic science and created a color that both blows your mind and soothes your soul. ...I know. ...Magic, right?


 AHH!...ahhhhh




And here's one last look at this little miracle of nature before it takes flight for the first time. Off you go, you beautiful bug. Be free!






But watch out for birds. Cause you look delicious.

Want us to hurry along the metamorphosis of your wayward caterpillar? Send us a note.
Matt and Lisa

LONGBOARD Design/Build

Moss Robot gets into all kinds of projects. Some months ago we had the utmost pleasure to design and build a longboard for Geoff Wood Photography.

Fortunately, I had the prudence to snap some pictures along the way. And we're proud to be able to share the work with you now.


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We first decided on the bomber-style board or teardrop shape and went about creating a template out of some poster board. Or, half a template anyway. Traced the half-a-teardrop shape onto the wood (3/4" plywood). Flipped the template over. And traced the other half. Everything matches up. 

It's great when everything matches up. 
















Then it's out to the workshop for sawing and clouds of sawdust.


The rough shape.



Once that shape is released from the confines of the plywood sheet, it's time to round and smooth the edges. We used a vise and a planer. 

Matt's personal note: I love a planer. Really I do. And absolutely no workshop is complete without a vise. ...I have three. And they are all my best friends.















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Unfortunately, no pictures of the top design in-progress exist. But there is a nice shot of it laying down on top of fresh mulch.


Fresh mulch with deck.



Black, electrical tape was used to mask the colored stripes. Each stripe was painted individually with a wash of color so that the grain of the wood shows through.


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Then the tricky bit. Measuring and marking for the trucks. We tried a few different methods but the one that worked best used the riser pads that came with the trucks themselves. Riser pads allow you to increase the height of the deck a little. They fit right where the trucks meet the deck. Which means they share the same through holes. Which means they are a great template for measuring and marking placement.

Like so.


Just those riser pads and one long straight edge to align the risers and (with the help of another smaller ruler) to find the perfect center of the deck.

Eight pencil marks later and it's back to the workshop for drilling.
 

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It's very important that the holes go through absolutely perpendicular to the deck. Otherwise, you could have crooked trucks. Crooked trucks = crooked wheels. Crooked wheels = Anger, Frustration, Madness, Dejection and predominately a lengthy session of eye-flaring and an oh-this-&#!%-board! kind of afternoon.

We happen to have a leveling thingy on the back end of our battery-powered drill. So, you know, phew! Perpendicularity, achieved.



Another good idea is to widen the top of the hole using a countersink bit. This will let the bolts rest flush with the top of the deck. 


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Back inside, everything matches up.  Holes and bolts. Bolts and trucks. Trucks and nuts. Dons and Knots. 


White wheels!



And the finished bomber board...




A great project to have completed. A feather in our cap.
And we'll be making these to order for any of you enthusiasts out there.
Just send us a message.

Thanks for being around.
Matt and Lisa

Furniture Revamp

Moss Robot recently had the pleasure of designing and building some storage pieces for a private office/multi-purpose room. It was a very fun and rewarding project. We learned a lot of useful tips along the way and think we ended up producing a pretty sweet set of furniture, too.

We're so proud, in fact, that we'd like to share a little bit of the process with you.

First up is the armoire. We found this monster on Craigslist. Solid wood and in decent working order but just an aged mess and a little smelly, frankly. But, you know, perfect for a revamp.
Here it is after we lugged it home.

BEFORE
You can see that the drawers were already taken out. And that's because we knew we were chopping off the bottom section in order to put her up on legs. There was some molding around the top that we tore off by this point, too. The muck and such was sanded off and the holes and warpy bits were filled, glued and fixed. Then a couple coats of paint and this old monster gets a new life as a beautiful, brawny princess.

AFTER



























The shingle inspiration came from a pantry created by a company called Field Day. The turned legs, well, ...turned up... on Craigslist. We bought a few bundles and cut them into sections to be used on all three pieces we created. Handles and hinges came from the hardware store.

We love the shingles for the fairy-tale-cottage-look they give the armoire. Fun. A little mysterious. Feathery. Owlish.



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The second piece is a long, low cabinet. And we decided to make this out of a bookcase that was already being used in the room. The issue, of course, would be turning this thing on it's side and generally making it look like it was never a bookcase at all.

BEFORE
























This started as a very solid, well-built piece which made the process of transformation just that much easier. The legs would have to be sawed off. The top replaced. A new top added. Doors. Shelves. New legs. And customization, customization, customization.
Now, it's so happy as a low cabinet that you'd never know it could stand so tall.

AFTER
 
 

The back was cut out of the left side for a fully open display area. While two existing metal shelves, that were just begging to be useful, were installed into the enclosed cabinet side for storage. 

A really stylish, modern cabinet. And the converted horizontal arrangement strikes a much more warm and inviting figure than it's previous looming one. Makes you just want to touch it. ...But get permission first...


 

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Now to the third and final cabinet, which we are particularly proud of. This little piece has no "Before" picture because it was built from scratch using the leftover shelves and top from the bookcase. Let nothing go to waste, eh?


This small bureau will be a great place to store supplies. It has two drawers and two shelves with plenty of room for articles of various shapes and sizes. The counter top is the top to the old bookcase. And the sides, middle partition and left-sided shelf are made from the shelves of the old bookcase.

We added turned legs and gave the doors a more simplified take on the shingle design to set it apart just slightly from the others. It's a cute little guy, we gotta say.




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And if that wasn't enough, there is still one more component of the project to feature. Floating shelves. In addition to the metal shelves that were installed into the low cabinet, we were provided with 5 floating shelves to incorporate into the design. Three of the shelves were solid black and two were solid white. So, we've got to make them all work together, don't we?



Enter... The Stamp.
By using this stamp with white paint we added a unique and interesting pattern to the black shelves and connected the grouping of shelves together visually.
 

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This project was a great experience for us. And we hope to do a lot more of this kind of thing. So, please help us by spreading the word.

And thanks so much for reading about our process. We're glad you're here.

Special thanks to Geoff Wood (@_geoffwood, geoffwoodphotography.com) for the professional shots of the final pieces. And also to Summer Busto for the trust and the opportunity to impress.

Please comment below or email us.
Matt and Lisa


HBW 3

Stones. Gravel. Sand. Life? ...think about it.

At any rate, the walkway is essentially completed. I filled the holes with the river stones (those are the bigger ones you can see) and then went over those with the pea gravel (smaller things).

Once the holes were nice and loaded I spread paver sand over the whole walkway with a broom. And those little sand granules dive into any crevice they can find. They pack in by the thousands. Locking the bricks together. Holding the stones and peas in place. And generally keeping the world from falling apart. Although, that last bit is just speculation.

Certainly, though, any way you look at it, sand is vital. And I'm thankful. As we all should be. But, I digress.

So, at the end of the day this was a pretty simple process and, more importantly, a pretty cheap one, as well. The bricks were free. A bag of river stones, a bag of pea gravel and a bag of sand all cost about 4 dollars a piece. Labor was absorbed by my body and cost me some sore muscles, a few cuts and an abundance of sweat.

There was also a momentarily hair-raising experience with what may or may not have been a black widow spider. But, said spider was immediately flung, smushed and smeared, so we're left with only the anxiety and fear for another sudden encounter with something black, bulbous and leggy.

But I've got a new mantra now that goes: Shoes and Gloves are Good. Shoes and Gloves are Good. Shoes and Gloves are Good...

mw

Holey Brick Walkway 2

The laying down of the bricks is over! They've been placed upon the earth and the sun shone upon them and there was a little bit of rain there at the end, but all in all a fairly event-free operation.

And it's a pretty straight path, if I do say so. I had a few moments of panic (veering left) but nothing that couldn't be fixed. It can always be fixed. A 'tap, tap' here or there with the mallet and your back on track.

Once the bricks were down, the pavers needed to be dealt with. As you know from the previous post those pavers were anxious to get out there and show their stuff. And what a lovely job they've done.

On the one end closest to the house I just dug down a little, plopped in a paver sideways and brushed the dirt back towards it to secure it, nice and firm. then repeated that process three more times.

On the opposite end I wanted a little something different.

The pavers we had were left over from a different project. They were the rejects, in fact, from that project. Which is to say that they are not perfect squares or rectangles. They have angled edges from being cut. Cut by somebody else. These pavers were from the Reuse Center. So, cut by who knows who. you maybe. anybody.

Anyhow, using the angled edges to some advantage I was able to create a quick and easy pattern that will welcome one and all to this here brick walkway. And I'm happy with it.

Next up will be the river stones. Get them into all the holes. And then some sand to sweep around and fill the spaces. And then that pesky gravel business. And don't even get me started on that sidewalk! 

mw

Holey Brick Walkway!

With all my extra free time I decided to go ahead and face the task of installing a walkway linking the house (where we live) with the car (where we hope to not have to live). this area of transition is forever dusty, dirty, filthy, mucky, yucky, etc...you get the idea. It's not good. So, we'll go over the dust and dirt with bricks and hope to enjoy clean feet for generations. Or at least a generous number of years.

The bricks we had already. A "gift" from my dad who had them removed from his yard and replaced with something more fancy shmancy. One man's trash. Another man's treasure...

As you can see, they have holes. Yeah, those kinds of bricks. They had also been buried underground so those holes were filled with dirt and sand. Mostly sand actually and that dirt and sand has been reused as supplement to the existing dirt. The more whitish lane of ground you can see? Yep. That's the sand.


Obviously, there's much more to do. What's been laid down is only about half of the finished length. The walkway will be capped at the ends with pavers, which you can see waiting with anticipation there at the top right of picture one. Oh, those pavers are just itching to cap this walkway. And I like that enthusiasm.

Also, all those cavernous holes will be filled in with small river stones to create a completely level surface. I'll then get a bag of sand to sweep into the spaces between bricks so they'll be all tucked in and cozy.

There is also to be included a run-off ditch filled with gravel and a gravel patch that wraps around the front stoop. But, that's not until after I get a jackhammer and destroy my nemesis, the sidewalk. That's right. I said JACKHAMMER.

Updates to come.