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EnginArtists Myke Amend, Steve Brook, and Todd Cahill are building a massive wind, steam, and solar powered mechanical sculpture.
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Myke Amend

349 backers pledged $12,267 to help bring this project to life.

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Updates, Milestones, Answers

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When the project began, I spent my days doodling out designs, searching for resources, parts, looking into alternative power sources, technologies, tutorials on building this or that... some good, some bad, some less than feasible...

I spent my nights, packaging things up and shipping them out... and I was making fairly good progress, but we hit some roadblocks, or rather I hit some roadblocks.

$12,000 -$2000 in fees, $4500 for fulfillment of rewards - $4500 for posts and lumber and construction of the drum - $1000 long-distance transport of the wind collector and its creator... and at that point it was doable... so far, broken even and all was "go". But, the money sent out for the bulk of the project, yielded nothing - and I was back at square 1, not only needing to come up with the money for all of those things, but needing to do the construction myself.

I can't go too much into what went wrong there, except to say that when putting a project like this together, one should really do more than check qualifications of teammates and contractors, but do a full background and history check. I found myself in a situation where I had to choose between letting someone keep money they shouldn't, or having the entire project fail in a mess of bad press... and I chose the former. The person who created the situation, made out like a bandit - and we were left holding that bag - bad way to start.

So, June, $4500 deficit - and though I should have been painting by that point in time, instead I was needing to construct a very complex and difficult 7-sided 900 lb wooden drum in my garage... and do it perfectly because I wouldn't be able to get the lumber again if I failed.

I sold most everything I owned, put every cent of every dollar I earned on advertising design or sales of prints into finding, buying, and shipping lumber... plus an immense amount of wood glue and primer, and an OMG level of "I can't believe I am going back to the hardware store again!"

Weeks later, I had shipped 200-something out of nearly 300 rewards, and weeks had gone by since I shipped the last. I was at a warehouse far away from home, spending the night for days on end for lack of transportation and gas money - my kidneys were griping from all of the days "holding it in" 20+ hours at a time, waiting for local businesses to open again, and sometimes being so obsessed with work I missed that chance. I was going several days at a time without food, drinking water from melted ice in the cooler, washing my hands and face with rain water trickling from a downspout, or from the puddle below it.

Web sales also trickled, into drops, and then nothing... my "two Wendy's burgers a day" became "let's see how many days I can go", thankfully broken here or there by delivery of donuts or a bag of sandwiches here or there from some wonderful local people - or by one hell of a coworker, my bro-in law, whenever he was able to make it down.

My business: making new works of art, and selling prints, was pretty much dead. I had gone months without blog updates to my own site, without having new things to show or sell, and no advertising budget.... and with each day I was slipping further into anonymity... reputation failing for slow shipments on rewards and on items from my own store... 

I wasn't home - Down at the warehouse for several days at a time or longer, sleeping every 72 hours or so when I could no longer stand, home just long enough for the occasional nap and even more infrequent shower... short of breath and lungs stinging from inhaled sawdust and all the nicotine that kept me awake... fended off hunger and hunger pangs... most of my calories coming from "Mountain Dew" and chewed coffee grounds.

Months later, I was painting, finally - 36 hours of straight painting, 4 hours of sleep, repeat... Nan and Dave of Cogbots had since rescued the outer-structure part of the project, putting in at least $3,000 of their own money and insane hours of work to get the thing built and delivered in time...

And days after, I was standing in a week-straight of freezing rain, from 10AM till midnight, standing by the completed project - doing everything and everything I could to help the project to win the Artprize competition... in hopes that it would all pay off for my teammates and me...

Ending in a month's worth of being sick and near comotose... pnuemonia, kidney problems, widespread infection throughout my body, and I suppose a bit of fatigue.

I guess I became a bit consumed, there were many wonderful people who helped me along the way - and though I wanted to show a face of determination, I was a creature of frustration and anxiety most of that time...

All-in-all it was because I wanted to at-all-costs make sure the project came to be, to make all of everyone's donations count, to do what we set out to do.

One thing I have let slip... for a remaining 30-some of you now, is catching up on these rewards.

The project left me in financial, and physical ruin, and I haven't been able to think of much of anything except for clearing all of this up. I field emails and messages on "how soon?", and reply back optimistically... counting on a payment from a client or a sale to come in so I can knock out another several rewards and get them out in the mail.

This, is me, letting you know, honestly that things will come, slowly, but they will come - and that I have absolutely no intention of not slipping on this promise... though my "next week" becomes three weeks later and building. Every time I have a spare cent, it goes into catching up on this.

The most recent project has been the 11x17 prints of Bethalynne Bajema's work. I spent a week cutting wood and bonding joints, printing prints, gluing and varnishing... and sadly, the varnish caused the glue to pull free. So I have spent the week prior researching better ways to do this - and have re-cut and re-joined another 15 of these wood backings.

Tomorrow, since I had a sale come in this week, I'll be going to Michael's for some decoupage glue - heading down to the basement, and am pretty confident they'll all come out right this time.

I've also got all of the prints for the GD Falksen story done and hand-embellished, and the story printed out in 8 copies, and folders purchased for putting that all together.

In another few days, hopefully, a payment will come in from a client and I'll be using that all to do as many shipments as I can from it.

A few days later, I'll be buying some wood for the last 2 reliefs, and a few days after I hope to be picking up the LEDs and electronics I need to complete those.

In the haze and uncertainty, is getting what I need to make the 16x20 prints, but I am scanning images from the paintings on the Device for this purpose... and the printing will come out of whatever sales of contract work I manage, however soon that comes. I have scrapped the pencil drawing I did for this originally because I want to give people something wondrous and fantastical and actually *of* the device.... and then screen printing for those bandanas. I did this already, but don't much like what I made... need to make something better.

I'd like to have all these things done now. It is likely I won't even have them done *soon*. But I am writing to let you know it *will* be done, and I am doing everything I can to make sure that it is well worth the wait.

Thank you for reading, and I hope that I can thank you also for understanding. I *will* pull this all together, I just wish it could be sooner.

- Myke Amend

Yep, still here

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

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Artprize Recap

(photo: Rex Larsen | The Grand Rapids Press)

It has been a crazy six months, and all is finally calming down a little bit. Artprize isn't over, but we now know we aren't in the top 10, and can finally relax a little bit.

We didn't win the competition, and are now out of the running, but we gave it one hell of a serious try. The competition was, as you know, only the beginning - a maiden voyage.

I still go up to the museum install every day to do minor maintenance/checking, wiping the dirt and dust off of the paintings - and I spent the day today finishing cleanup at the warehouse build site at Van's Delivery Service... but these last two days were more calm than anything I have experienced in nearly half a year.

Nearly a week of standing out in the freezing rain from morning through night marks the end of 6 months of 16+ hours a day - and I celebrated by catching up on the first 2 Dr. Who Episodes of the past season.

The previous three weeks were more hectic than the rest: from painting for 35 hours at a time, with 4 hours rest in between, to the big build - nights and nights of pre-assembly and decorative touches in the Warehouse, to the big move - cranes, lowboy trucks and all... but not a day of these last 6 months has been anything short of insanely busy.

It isn't over, but the crazy and relentless hours are, for the most part done.

For the next few weeks, I'll be catching up on rewards, and for the next few months, I'll digging my home and business out as well, leading to the first dis-assembly, warehousing/storage, and looking for our next venue to appear at.

The machine has been working wonderfully thanks to David Braun of http://Cogbots.com - and to all the wonderful local people who have helped out on this huge project: Glen Swanson, Deana Swanson, David Baar, Stacy Baar, Thomas Birks, Alicia Vanheulen, Kelli Stakenas, George Komar, and Megan Brown - as well as great companies such as Four Elements Energy, Repcolite Paints, Van's Delivery, Bud's Wrecking Service, The Stone Zone, Andy Mark, Lohre and Associates, One Girl's Treasure, Kokomo Arts Association, and Dick Blick.

Until October 9th, we have it running from 10 AM till 11PM everyday, running completely on solar for this installation - and we have been storing a lot more energy than we have been using each and every day. You can see it at the Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids MI right now - but stay tuned: We hope to be appearing at Maker Faires and other such events as soon as we regroup - and will be adding more and more to the machine on each and every new setup.

Thank you so much for helping us to reach this point,

Myke Amend

Brief Update

Tomorrow is the first day of Artprize in Grand Rapids.

I've been painting in 35 hour shifts, pretty much back to back, with short naps in between,

I am exhausted, my left arm decided it was done with me, and has been asleep for three days now; I think there must have been some glass left in my foot from the tendon slicing incident, now trying to find its way out, and I am pretty sure I am at least 4 days without a shower... with out big meet and greet tonight and a lot of work between then and now.

I am finishing up the last of the seven paintings, have until 9 am to do so - and then I'll be going over the paintings with even more detail throughout Artprize.

When tonight is over, I am going to catch at least five showers, sleep an entire night, and watch a television show somewhere in there.

In 6 months, I have worked the amount of hours the average person puts in in a year and a half, and I think I've aged about five years.

... but there is something to be said for seeing your art carted to a museum by crane and by wide-bed lowboy truck.

Thank you everyone for making this happen.

When I am rested an showered, I'll be getting back at those rewards I haven't been able to get to these last weeks. I just wanted to let you know I am still thinking about you, and obsessing/worrying about how I am falling behind here.

If you would like to see pics of the device, please go to http://facebook.com/infernaldevice - and if you would like to see it in person - first chance is Grand Rapids Michigan's Artprize event - beginning tomorrow and ending October 9th. For those of you living further away... when this contest is over, we'll start planning trips. Right now we're calculating costs to travel to this region or that, hours involved for setup, etc... hammering out logistics. Please stay tuned for actual travel dates, beginning Spring of 2012.