To the Wire

Racing against the clock, painting like mad. 5 days to go, counting today.

It is 4 AM… my left eye has been twitching involuntarily for days, I suppose as a result of eyestrain; My shoulders and back and knees were sore a week ago… I have no idea what I would label them now, but something a bit more.

The painting I was supposed to have 4 months to paint.. began 8 days ago, and I have 5 days left. I worked day and night all these weeks prior to get the drum built and primed, while trying as best I can to coordinate everything else going on… all those intricacies from logistics to PR to just trying to get a few dollars here or there for another bucket of primer, another handful of bolts, seeking helpers for some of the two or three-person tasks like raising and lowering the roof on the central cylinder…

And now, finally, painting until 3 or 4 AM every night… counting down how many days I have/panels I have remaining, dividing one by the other to keep a loose plan.

I did a painting this week that previously would have taken me over a month, and at three times my usual working size, in just 2 days – and think it is amazing what a person can do when they set their mind to it. I suppose I always think this… as I am always putting myself to some new and semi-impossible test. I guess I am not happy if I am not putting my butt on the line to cover a check my daydreaming mind has written… by the seat of my pants, with all the unforeseen obstacles and stumbling blocks between…

My fiancee, also an artist, is thankfully, extremely patient in watching me do this, regularly – and given the size and scope of my  projects, or my obsession over trying to make it as an artist, is often made an art widow… for weeks, months… as I pour hundreds of hours and many sleepless weeks, into another new piece… a commission sold to pay down bills, or in hopes of buying some building materials for the “work in progress” : our eventual living space… with walls and wiring in place… waiting for things like a ceiling, flooring, fixtures… 3 years in, a box of screws where I can, a 2×4 or a sheet of drywall when able… very similar to how the building of the mural drum went.

On which: it is relieving, and frightening to finally be painting… time ticks down… and I think back to when this began… March… I’ve been at this project in some stage or another, 16 or more hours a day… since … March… over half of a whole year…

But there is good reason for this insanity. I really do feel we have a chance of winning this thing if we can pull it all together as planned.

To me, this is not just about exposure – I worked many months at planning this project – sat up 16 to 72 hours at a time online pushing our initial fundraiser, waited all night on April the 17th, waiting for Artprize registration to open so I could be the first in and first seeking venues, building on our site, sketching out plans and designs, spent months writing to my few choice venues trying to get our foot in the door, site building, making movies and animations, design mockups… seeking sponsorship…. into the months of building the drum to paint on, scrounging change for primer, wood, and and screws by the end of it… building away, until the drum was made and primer down, to where I could finally paint…

We are each thousands of hours into this thing, and for each of us thousands of dollars have gone away, one more board, another bucket of glue, primer, a pack of sandpaper, a box of screws, bolts, knobs… hundreds of days, documented in random snap shots of exhausted artists, each ending another 16 hour day… I don;t know what keeps them together, but for me… well…

I remind myself every hour of every day, that if we can possibly win this thing – I’ll be able to buy that ring for Bethalynne I have never been able to buy, organize a ceremony, take my first real vacation in the nearly 40 years I’ve been around… and finally make it back to my hometown to see my family, who I miss so much… maybe not being so tied up in work and finances that I can actually be a a good uncle to my nieces and nephews… sending cards, returning home for birthdays/Christmas/Thanksgiving… maybe even put a real roof over our heads and *finally* not be living out of boxes as we have these three years… dental work for myself and my mate… medical insurance maybe… in all, a life… a real chance at life… even if just one sunny day elsewhere not crammed behind my desk trying to make something work out for us, or spending the days behind a table at another convention.

I see, dream of, many good things on the horizon, but not if I, for even a second, shed the “do or die” state of mind I have been in for the past nearly 7 months…. just 5 days more… scary as all Hell… but I *will* make it.. I’ve pushed too hard for too long not to.

Please keep me, and mine, along with my team, and all those helping in your thoughts and prayers. We’ve done an incredible amount of work, and an incredible job – but could certainly take and appreciate some winds in our favor and at least a few days of smooth sailing.

Friday, the 16th – we’ll be unloading at the Gerald R Ford Museum. September 21st Artprize officially begins. I am torn between wishing for later dates and being relieved…. whatever the outcome, I do hope you are there with us for this incredible event.

Peace, love, and warm wishes

– Myke Amend


Team members and sponsors needed. Join the Infernal Crew!

We have 24 days to go before our set up for Artprize at the Gerald R Ford Museum, and we have a lot of work  to do. Just how big […]

We have 24 days to go before our set up for Artprize at the Gerald R Ford Museum, and we have a lot of work  to do.

Just how big this project is, from the wind collector built by Todd Cahill, to the structure being built in Kokomo Indiana by David Braun of Cogbots, to the huge drum being built to support the mural, to the mural itself is astounding – and then there are all of those less visible but equally important parts needed to keep this project going and to make it a success… transportation, shipping, supplies, extra hands to move the big parts around, lay down primer and paint, brushes, rollers, sprayers, and so many other things – and we would really love to have you on board for this project.

We could really use some added artists and painting help – people who can fill in color, or detail on the big drum – a 3 month project that will have 23 days from start to finish – and we need your help at whatever your comfort level is with painting. Myke would be happy to have you, and happy to lend pointers, tips, and insight where and when requested.

We also need painters on standby for when the outer structure arrives from Kokomo Indiana, as well as set/stage design enthusiasts to help us transform this thing into the Steampunk aesthetic with bits of slavaged brass, copper, and various vintage bits. We are incredibly fortunate to have paint donated by Repcolite paints, and more on the way from DickBlick – but people to help put the paints onto the exhibit would be an incredibly helpful part of this exhibit.

As much as any of these – added hands would be greatly appreciated. Myke has a three person job going down at the warehouse provided by Van’s Delivery Service. On the better days he has help, but there are many hours where an added hand to lift a big part or steady a beam would be incredibly helpful if not essential.

Street teamers, or just a person or two to man the art show/exhibit/merch table at the build site, meeters and greeters would be especially helpful also.

And we still have room for a few sponsors: This project turned out to be way more expensive than anticipated, and we have all been working out of pocket for over a month now. Myke has been scraping change for odd parts and supplies and gas on his end, and we are coming up on a point where we’ll need funds to move the huge structure from Indiana, as well as funds to get Todd Cahill and Amy Kinsch out here for Artprize, as well as finding a place to stay for all 4 of the out of town artists for their time here.

We could use sponsorship in the form of , of course, cash donations to keep the project going and on track, but also gift cards for building supplies and tools or tool rentals, gas, caffeine, red bull, ice, other odds and ends  – from travel agencies or airlines for getting Todd and Amy out here. Donations are being taken by the Kokomo Arts Association (a 501(c)3)  for “the infernal device project”

Purchases of T-shirts, coloring books, prints, original artworks would be greatly appreciated; Some of these things are available here online – all are available at our warehouse – and open houses are every day from 5 to 10 PM for anyone who would like to see the project, grab some merch, lend some support, or lend a helping hand.

Our Warehouse is at 2474 Turner Avenue NW, a stone’s throw from the Deltaplex. Come in at the blue “Jarob” sign, go past the second ramp, and look for the orange buckets marking our lot. If the doors are closed, look for the Infernal Device sign on the door – if they are open, just look for the large wooden drum in the garage bay.


New Shirt Design

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some […]

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some graphical cleanup and decided it would be cooler if the shirts were two sided and had fancier text on them.

I’m catching up from the kickstarter – having sent out files and orders for all elated prints, the coloring books, the downloads and other rewards we offered – the limited edition tee shirts for the kickstarter were needing some rework before final printing, so I decided to go ahead and rework these as well – so I could order all of them at the same time.

If you have already ordered shirts, you might notice that the new price is a dollar more – don’t worry, you’ll be getting your shirts for the price you paid.

All shorts ordered up to now, or ordered now, should be ready to ship on or around the 15th of June. So, if you are reading this after then, they are already to ship.

These will be sold until this batch of 50 or so shirts sells out, and then we’ll be introducing a one-sided design using the device as the large image on the front.

purchase link: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/store/fundraising/infernal-tee/



front (closeup):

back (closeup):


Reclaim, Reuse, Rebirth

End of life for one thing can often be the beginning of life for another.

Among the Infernal Device crew, this has been an intentional thought in both design and execution. We are pleased to have been able to find many ways to put this in action.
In addition to the main structural beams, which I talked about in the Story of the Beams, there are many other stories built into the device.
The weight of the drum and the shaft is carried by a bearing at the bottom of the device. This bearing surfaced out of a farmer’s little red drawer of spare parts, once a bearing from the unload auger of a Combine. The Belt that drives the main gears and keeps the whole device turning came from the floor of an auto mechanic’s shop- destined for a trash can, but rescued and given a second life here. Some of the wood in the main drum was plywood that was left over and cast off from the set of “Thirty Minutes or Less”, a movie shot right here in Grand Rapids Michigan. The iron bars in the safety railing around the device were found dusty and abandoned in the back corner of an antique shop,we cleaned them up and gave them a new purpose. The Main shaft was a treasure located by one of our team mates in a metal scrapyard, discarded from unknown sources but impossible tucked into a minivan and driven back to the build site with great excitement. The Pulleys in the drive train were constructed from wood scraps saved in the Cogbots shop and repurposed here. The Scraps were created during the creation and cutting of gears for The Gear Lab, which will be visiting the Infernal Device site this weekend.
Of course, we dream of the device having a long life in a place where people can meet and gather around it for years to come- but we know that all good things will eventually come to an end. Just as important as the source of our parts, we know that most of the parts in the device will eventually move on to other lives and uses. The batteries and controller in the accumulator will be essential to the power system in a friend’s house. The demo Solar Panels on loan from Four Elements Energy will be used in future projects. The simplicity of the parts used to build the device means that it could be dis-assembled and the parts used to build other things- either purely functional, or functionally aesthetic like the device is today.


Sometimes an art installation is more than just a nail in the wall….

Laying down the body of the device.. from YouTube
This may look like the demise of the device, but it was just the beginning of the install at the museum.
When you have a vision this large, it takes large equipment to get it moved. The Body had to be laid on its side in order to fit through the streets of Grand Rapids.
We were all proud that the device was able to be lifted by crane, laid on its side, driven 12 miles, lifted back up by crane and set down still square.


Steampunk and Surrealism.. just go together

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on […]

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on the news, or just stumbled upon this page – and you may not quite know what “steampunk” is.

In a nutshell, Steampunk is a return to the days when people were familiar with the technology they used, nearly intimate… but not in any sort of naughty or profane way… I am sure there is another name for that…

… but what I am talking about: Those times when something broke, the owner knew how to fix it. If the part was broken, they knew who to go to to have the part made, if they didn’t make it themselves. Everything was quality: quality materials, quality craftsmanship; The things you owned, if they broke (which was far less likely), you fixed them, because they were just that awesome… nice wood, bits of brass or steel… every part, every gear, every cog, crafted with pride and often decorative for no good reason other than to say “I made this, and I did a fantastic job of it”.

On the flip side of using old technologies, familiarizing ourselves with them, revisiting old inventions and designs that were unsuccessful perhaps due to a lack of the proper materials or support technologies – is familiarizing ourselves with the technologies of today, on the same level that people were once familiar with the technologies of their day.

We splice, we cut, we reprogram e-proms, we wire in computers or computer parts for controls… maybe powered by a sterling engine, or an 1800’s-style solar energy, or a gasinator, or whatever the heck we can make out of a bucket of discarded scrap and some broken antiques… we use, and re-use *everything*. Ours is a culture of reliability, sustainability, eco-conscious, and an opposite to the modern day way of throwing away what is broken or discarding anything that is more than three weeks old for the next new thing… another piece of plastic, old the day it is unboxed.

But again, it is about quality, pride, and ingenuity…

Which is much like any good painting or other artwork…

Art should focus is on quality and craftsmanship… like the paintings of our  beloved eras, where people actually cared about what they were doing: from the canvas chose, the gesso layered, into the pigments picked and mixed by hand – with great attention to detail and every detail about the details.

… That sort of realism and attention to detail one would expect of John Singer Sargent – and other proud artisans- from those days before everyone grew up expecting to be a celebrity or famous… without any required effort or skill… the age of entitlement, and this “the Emperor Has No Clothes” mode of assessing and promoting art in order to satisfy the sort of fast-food way that has filtered into every aspect of life and business.

No paint dumps here, no splotchy works painted with various unspeakable body parts, no sob story, or heartwarming tale, or intriguing title to make up for lack of work or imagination… skill, and attention to quality are  essential.

In this, there is something incredible quite about seeing a real-world object recreated perfectly with pen or pencil or in paint – yet… quite incredible considering that such images used to be done entirely from eye or from memory… but we live in the age of cameras and scans and enlargements – which not only renders realism tedious and completely unnecessary, but somewhat lackluster and less than special these days. These days, there isn’t much point in having a perfect pencil drawing of en existing object, when it could be photographed, and likely was photographed before the drawing.

Surrealism, is applying the actual skills of old, while going above and beyond to create images of things that do not, did not, might not ever exist, and pushing one step further towards “cannot” for those who apply themselves. In effort, and application, it excels to be something beyond mere abstract and beyond realism.

There is that exciting spirit of inventiveness and imagination, combined with the traditional dedication to hard work that was once the mark of artisans, artists, and craftsmen – seeking to make the unreal real, or at least seemingly likely if only in its own self-contained and self-made world. For this reason alone I feel it fits remarkably well with the genre, which based in speculative fiction, both requires and inspires these sorts of works.

Steampunk, craftsmanship and pride in work aside, is about imagining and re-imagining – looking at the future through the eyes of the past, and vise-versa – to create something bold and new, plausible, perhaps even possible – mixed with a wonderful touch of impossibility and improbability – the subculture in itself is a sort of surrealism – more than merely fantasy, bound to science, history, practical knowledge, self-reliability, and sustainability- it ties the real to the unreal, tangible and intangible – and inspires us to dream the impossible, while exploring the very fringe of possibility.

Our project, is in the spirit of steampunk and in the spirit of surrealism. Fantastical in nature, and tedious in its crafting. Bordering on impossible and improbable from the very beginning stages… yet certain to happen. do or die. Everything from the painting itself, to the structure it is painted on, to the structure surrounding it, and the engines powering it, embodies this spirit… the best woods, the best primers, the best paints, and painstaking effort in every detail from the planning up…

I am very proud to be a part of this project, and do hope you come out to see it between the 21st and the 28th. I also ask you to take the time to register to vote (at a number of official Artprize hubs throughout downtown), and vote for our project. Voting is highly important to this contest – and the beauty of this contest is that it allows the people to decide what is art, what isn’t what is good, and what they would like to see more of.

Hopefully ours is a project that leaves you wanting to see more from us. I feel it will be, we’ve worked very hard to make it so.

Thank you for supporting us, and for your interest and participation, this has been a wonderful experience already,

Myke Amend


The story of the Beams

The main structural support for the Device is a set of four 10 foot tall wooden beams. These are not just pieces of wood we found, the beams have a history and a tell a story of generations of a family.

The corner beams were originally structural beams in a building in David’s grandfather’s local lumber store.
When David was a teenager, the buildings were torn down and the beams were saved for a future building project. David spent an entire weekend side by side with his grandfather, pulling nails from the beams by hand. Now, the beams have returned to David’s hands- spending many hours being transformed into the strength of the Infernal Device.

David Braun applies detail glaze to the beams in the Infernal Warehouse.

When a section of the outer railing is removed, there is a juncture point where the many lives of the beams come together. The rough, creosote beam still exposed in one small section, contrasting with the Tin cladding, lovingly formed oak trim and the many brass buttons that finish the look of the machine.

We know that if David’s grandfather were still with us, he would stand as we do.. in amazement, staring up at the re-born beams and into a universe of possibilities….


News, Helpers Wanted, Sponsorships available

We’re back from our guest showing at this year’s Maker Faire Detroit, and it was a blast, of heat and relentless Sun… but we also had a blast there.

Infernal Team - Myke Amend, Todd Cahill, Dave Braun

The Infernal Crew - Myke Amend, Todd Cahill, Dave Braun - Photo taken by our friends at The Steampig Experiment

Maker Faire made for the perfect opportunity for we artists to meet up in person, exchange parts, take measurements, and make pans for the final build – and we met a lot of wonderful people there; Many which were about as enamored as we were with Todd’s beautiful work on his wind capturing device.

Todd Cahill's Wondrous Wind Device

Todd Cahill's Wondrous Wind Device at Maker Faire Detroit

I brought the outer shell the drum with me, and the early prototype, so as show the general scale of this thing to onlookers and teammates alike, but with the high winds and without the proper frame built yet. Plans to piece it together temporarily were set aside in order to avoid damaging it.

We saw hulking fire breathing mechanical dragons, bikes disguised as giant cupcakes, the beautiful stage setup  of Theater Bizarre, antique traction motors and other farm machinery, and so many wonderful gadgets and inventions – many of which being piloted around the event.

Below: Todd Cahill talks some about the Wind Device, which will be at the very top of our huge kinetic sculpture. Sorry about all the wind in the microphone, but if you can’t hear Todd, you can still follow his hand movements…

Now we are back into full swing preparing for Artprize. Dave has the base structure completed in Kokomo Indiana, we have the wind device safely tucked away  at Van’s Delivery Service, and I have the drum *mostly* assembled – another day or so and the building part of it should be *mostly* done.


Dave - Framing the base structure

Dave - Framing the base structure

We will however need urgently to start fund raising again in order to stay on target, this will include fund-raising parties and picnics, selling more wares here on our store, and maybe a little bit of passing around the hat in order to get those last little things we need, and to ensure that all of our team members and parts will be able to converge on Grand Rapids over the following weeks to meet at Van’s Delivery Service for the pre-build, and to bring the machine finally to its Artprize venue: The Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum.

We will also need a *lot* of help – from street  teamers, to event organizers, to helpers with painting – and hopefully some of those things that will make this come together a *lot* more smoothly.

Supports for Drum

The Supports for the drum which will be the 21-foot spinning mural.

We would *really* like to find some great companies or teams who do:

– Painting on large scale… auto painting companies to repaint the wind devce all nice and new, outdoor painting contractors to do the base painting on the drum and the structure

– Paint suppliers to help us with the incredible amount and assortment of paint that this will take

– Suppliers of art supplies, for the art paints needed and brushes and other assorted supplies

– Hardware stores for all the extra bits and pieces, and to ensure we have what we need on hand at build time.

– Lumber suppliers for those last little bits of lumber we will need – and some carpentry help on hand would be greatly appreciated.

– Metal fabricators to help us with the two 8 foot diameter and 1 foot tall cylinders we will need for the footer and cap of the mural.

– PR help to keep our press and momentum going, and to help us regain what slipped when we were in such heavy work mode.

– Artists – student or professional – Yep. I wanted to be painting this thing in June, but having to cover the last month’s worth of work and parts and travel out of our own pockets, and being the only person wrangling this huge 7-sided construction job… the drum is only just now reaching completion. I can finish it by September… but with some skilled painters to help out, we can finish it even better, make more out of it.

The Kokomo Arts Association, a 501(c)3, is helping us and there to collect whatever gift cards, supplies, parts, or donations of cash we can get. If your company is interested in partnering with us in this way, or if you know someone who might be  – please contact us via our contact page: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/contact/ – in return we can offer your logo on our banners, our web site, and our promotional materials – as well as inclusion in our postings, tweets, facebook updates, and elsewhere – PLUS the opportunity to be a part of something huge and positive.



Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter […]

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter successful.

We are beyond dedicated to making this happen… so much so that I stayed up all day and night putting this special drawing together (image below), which will be available in printable PDF format exclusively to everyone who donates $1 or more though our Kickstarter.

A $2 purchase of a good piece of fine art paper from your local craft store, plus this download, and you’ll have this silly piece of my steampunk storybook for your wall… $3 total investment, and no shipping.

We’ve also received an unpublished text by G.D. Falksen to add to our kickstarter offers: An Original Never-before Published Exclusive Short Story by award winning author G.D Falksen; You get a hard copy of the short story in a binder, decorated with exclusive print by Myke Amend (an illustration of the story within) – each illustrated cover HAND EMBELLISHED, numbered, and signed… making for a *very unique* work of literature and art combined.

Other offers include everything from exclusive prints from me, the Airships and Tentacles Coloring Book, the Airships and Tentacles Scrapbooking kit, Original Paintings, and other incredible offers as *much* less than regular price…

We’ve had some good fortune this week, blogged by Warren Ellis, tweeted by Neil Gaiman and Kyle Cassidy, you may have seen us mentioned by Vernian Process, Abney Park, Nancy Overbury, and other greats… who we will be sure to mention more in depth when we compile our big list of People Last Against the Wall…

Please help us to keep this momentum going. 7 days remain, and we are nearly 30% there. Your donation of $1, retweeting, reblogging, or otherwise spreading the word of this project can put us over that hill.

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter (click to enlarge)


Coloring Book

So, I’ve been trying to think of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in […]

So, I’ve been trying to think of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in staying up all night making a new engraving – it came to me…

This coloring book.

When I was a kid, Advanced Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster manual, and their Dieties and Demigods, had some rather awesome illustrations in them: All black and white. I loved those illustrations, but I loved them even more when I caught a Glimpse of my friend Brian’s book… which he had taken colored pencils to for each and every illustration. I thought it pretty amazing how with some simple color over the black and white of the pages, those illustrations really came to life. They were simple to color, because the shading was already there – which made for a basic coloring level, with lots of room for improvisation, and advanced looking results.

I thought to myself this AM, “Hey… all these engravings I’ve been doing would be perfect for this”,and so I set to gathering up pages for a coloring book… and with all the engraving that I do, I have a *lot* of them.

Here are the images that will be in this coloring book… which will for the time being, only be available through our kickstarter for an $11 donation (which includes Shipping and Handling). The coloring book is 26 full pages, and ready to color.

You’ll notice that some of the images below are colored, because I copied really quick from my gallery. These images will be uncolored in the coloring book version.

You can get this coloring book by donating $11 through our Kickstarter. Like all donations, no credit cards are charged until the Kickstarter has ended (11 days from now) so if you are waiting till payday… please feel free to go ahead and pledge now.