First, let me say: "I'm neither dead, nor a thief."
With that out of the way. The last 6 weeks have been a balancing act of gut-wrenching and optimistic moments. I'm not talking about this project, either. I mean in the rest of my life. The fact is, being an individual, I don't have a second in command that can pick up the communicative slack for me when I'm sidelined. I don't know that every one of you would agree that the reasons I've been away are justified, but I also have 0 interest in laying out the details of the last 6 weeks of my and my families lives. Suffice it to say that I am back on solid ground.
Over the last few weeks I've received updates from some of my favorite projects, and it hit me, that at least 4 of them that I am very excited for are entering their second year without fulfillment. 3 of them were super-funded, as well. I'm not saying that other projects taking longer than expected justifies my taking longer than planned, and I can't imagine a day when I won't feel apologetic for the way this has gone. I expect that when I'm 40 I'll still occasionally think "man, remember when I very publicly took on a project that I screwed up badly? Yeesh." However, the big difference between those projects, which I continue to love and look forward to, and my own, is that even when they don't have a solid idea of when their projects will be done, the people making them update with good, optimistic news about other work that they are doing. Adjacent projects that further their expertise, enthusiasm, community, etc. Whereas I think I have generally been on the spiraling retreat.
So, while I don't know when the picks will be done, I have some good news on that front and on some others. Here we go:
1: My Grampa has a punch press. When I was home tending to some family stuff I got to spend time with my grampa, which was a treat. He has a big quonset hut full of engines, lathes, scales, and other machinery and spends a lot of time restoring old cars. He's been a lot of things in his life. As we were walking through I asked offhand if he had a punch press. I think the reply was "of course." Turns out his neighbor is a die maker, too. I'll be home for Christmas in a week and will be staying for a week or so after to try to get the machine up and running and punch out a few test pieces. If everything works OK we'll start making the dies of the actual picks. I'll probably work in simple to advanced order, that way if there is any delay in manufacture of dies, I can at least start punching 5 or 10 piece sets while we wait for the rest to get made.
I'll update on progress with that in the days after Christmas. I think that having this project come to it's conclusion with my mom making the cases & my grampa punching the picks would be a fairly remarkable story. I'm hopeful.
2: I'm writing a book. I was signed to a contract with O'Reilly. The book will be an Almanac of locks and lockpicking. It will cover history, engineering, various locks, from their simplest to most complex forms, lockpicking, of course, and a lot of bits and pieces in between.
3: I'm working on a new video series tentatively called "the breakdown." The idea is simple. I'll take interesting locks, pull them apart, explain how they work, get some good macro photo/video on the various components and, if I have it, provide info on the company, inventors, etc.
4: For several reasons, from providing better training material, to making illustrations for my book, to complementing the new videos, I've been teaching myself 3D modeling & animation. I'm far from great, but I'm getting the hang of it. Here's an early test showing the internals of an Abus 88/50:
I have more good on the horizon as well. Several small projects and trainings and so on.
Oh, and as it is said by some people everytime I update with a non-lockpick piece of news, let me say this as well: My working on other locksport-related things doesn't steal time from making lockpicks. If making the picks was merely an issue of time dedicated to the task, they would have been done a long time ago. I've screwed this project up. I didn't know what I was getting into or what I was doing once I got here, but I will make these picks.