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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Rube Goldbergisms' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
9:39 pm
Rolling ball sculpture: Flying Hulls
I created this commission as a Christmas present from a wife to her husband. They both share a love of sailing, and the piece is to be displayed in their boathouse where they often entertain. I used a photo of their own catamaran to build a frame that reflected its major details. Even though it is not as complex as my larger pieces, I still was able to bring plenty of life to it, especially with the ball jump!
Thursday, April 10th, 2014
7:13 pm
New rolling ball sculpture: Dropping In
I've kept at it. There are a few sculptures between my previous post and this one, but I figured I'd at least post where I'm at currently.

This one was a challenge - no curves! None! I used absolutely straight and flat sections of track positioned at angles to each other and sloped just slightly to create movement in the desired directions. It took quite a bit of work to get it right, but it turned out very well.

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
4:44 pm
New kinetic sculpture with video!
I've been hard at work making some smaller pieces, and I finally got a chance to get some video done. This one, like the larger works, is made from 1/8" stainless steel and uses a 1" marble. It's a fun little piece that is good for an office desktop or a side table. Hope you like it, and I do have more in the pipeline that I'll have video for soon!

Monday, December 9th, 2013
9:13 pm
New rolling ball sculpture with video! Title: Meer-col
So, been busy! Got a last-minute notification on a call for subs for the freakin' mayor's office! I've never tried for anything like that, but any exposure for me is good stuff. Plus, I only had a few days to produce something, and I knew that I had to test myself and see what I could (or could not?) do in only a few days. The short story is that I did manage to finish it on time, and it got accepted!

It is TIG welded and uses 1" marbles and is all of stainless steel. This piece is unique, because for its size the ONLY moving parts on it are the marbles. The track switch doesn't even have any moving parts! It's the first time I've tried one of those, and it turned out nicely.


Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
6:54 pm
New Rube Goldberg machine completed! Title: #30 Molar
This one has more loops than anything I've previously created! It's super cool! (I dig it, anyway.) It's made entirely of stainless steel and has actual dental instruments welded into it! The frame is a giant tooth, containing nice wavy, gently sloping bends and quick curves, two tracks, a track splitter switch and two big spirals. I hope you like it.

As an aside, it's too bad we don't have more sculptors posting here, or at least some links to fun videos that fans have found.
Friday, June 21st, 2013
9:24 pm
"Opportunity" Rube Goldberg machine completed
I took on a commission for this piece about a year and a half ago. It was a major undertaking, one not even I fully realized at the outset (isn't that always the way?). It has been worth every minute of it, however. I am very proud to present this fantastically entertaining rolling ball sculpture that is all of welded steel, over four feet tall and has a motorized chain lift that carries the 1-inch marbles to the top so you can just sit back and enjoy the fun! I hope you all like it. Any comments or questions are appreciated. More of my work can be found at www.tomharold.com.

Friday, November 16th, 2012
1:43 pm
New kinetic sculpture vid
I've completed another wacky marble machine, also called rolling ball sculptures or, of course, Rube Goldberg devices. This one is made out of plain steel and uses a several pieces of steel scrap fished out of the scrap heap at work. It also has a fun sound element to it, altogether a cool piece and fun, especially given its size. The steel has been specially coated with a clear coat so that it will never rust, yet the ring still comes through just great! I plan on doing a series of these and offering them at a price around $175.

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, August 18th, 2012
8:05 pm
Rolling Ball Sculpture video
Below is the video of the sculpture I made that I had posted about previously. Much more fun to watch it in action!

Current Mood: accomplished
Thursday, August 9th, 2012
1:35 am
Stainless steel rolling ball sculpture completed
Here is a photo of a rolling ball sculpture that I recently completed. It uses one-inch marbles. Most of it is 1/8" rod, but there is some perforated stainless on there as you can see, and the pyramid that forms the frame is something like 3/16" or 3/8". There is a hand-operated starting gate, one spiral, a loop-the-loop, and there are actually two tracks, the initial track being split into two using a tipper-style splitter. This is obviously a big change from the pieces I was doing formerly that were of copper wire. It has taken a lot of practice to get my welding skills together well enough to make a piece of this quality.

I will have a good quality video of this one to post in the near future, which should be much more fun for everyone than just the static pic, but you can get an idea of what it looks like at least for now.

Triangle Twist rolling ball sculpture

Current Mood: accomplished
Monday, January 16th, 2012
10:09 pm
One more copper piece with video
I did this piece for my nephews and put together a video of it as well. The video is not the highest quality, but it will give you an idea of how it operates. As with my other pieces, this one is copper and brass, soldered. It uses standard-sized marbles.

Current Mood: good
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
2:33 pm
Rube Goldberg - Rolling ball sculpture, copper and brass
Here are a couple of photos of some kinetic sculpture I completed recently. The little stair-step portion at the end is something I've not tried previously. It was a challenge to get everything lined up properly, but it turned out very well. I'm getting to the point where I could really use some more specific metal working tools like a press, brake and a punch, but there aren't funds for those yet, so everything is still being worked by hand tools. It takes more time, but the results are still very nice.

Pics behind the cutCollapse )

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
10:18 am
Rolling ball sculpture

Here is another piece I created for a client. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until after I'd shipped it off that I didn't take a nicer photo of it. One of these days I hope to get some video of these pieces as I make them. As with the others, this one was done with 10ga copper wire, soldered.
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
11:44 am
Rolling Ball Sculpture: Make Stuff #3
One more rolling ball sculpture, completed! Schweet!


This one was fun. This is the first time I've done a loop-the-loop on a sculpture, and I have to say it turned out pretty nicely. The ball is still moving at a good clip when it reaches the end, but I formed the catch well, so it just drops down in the pocket even though it's still spinning. Kinda cool.


This one was a little tough because it was tall. The supports were a bit of a challenge. If it weren't mounted to the wood base it would be very wobbly. It's kind of a spindly thing, but that's exactly what I like about it.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
11:36 am
Rolling Ball Sculpture: "Make Stuff #2"
So this one was supposed to be pretty simple and quick, and I suppose, compared to the 30-day builds that I've done in the past, this one WAS pretty quick, but not as fast as I'd planned, and, well, really...not as simple. Concept, yes. Execution, no!

Basically there's a spiral that dumps onto this backwards-facing incline, and then the marble gets carried to the top by inertia where it stops, rolls back again, passes the point where it fell from the spiral, and then continues on through the rest of the sculpture. At its most basic it's just a spiral and about a foot or so of track. In the real world, not so simple.

But enough of that! Check out the results!


Above you can see the unique aspect to this particular sculpture, the brass ramp. Said ramp is made out of the reed plate of a Hohner harmonica. I removed all the reeds and bent it into a shallow U-shaped channel. The track that it mounts to extends for quite some distance before it is anchored to the base. For this reason, when the marble lands on it, it vibrates a lot and looks like it's about to fall off at any number of points. It also sounds kind of cool, because it's brass, which gives it a nice little clanky, rattley sound. It is at this point that I *really* wish I had a video camera to post some of it for y'all. I had an idea that if I could sell several of these maybe I could get a video camera to start shooting some action stuff. This one is especially worth it, because you just can't quite get the idea of how it functions with just photos. For now that's all I can provide, however.

Here you can see the extension of the ramp a little better:


To the lower left of the above photo you can see some more brass. This is where the non-spiral portion of the track is finally anchored. I'm guessing it has about ten inches or so of free movement before the track reaches that point. By the way, getting that brass cut properly and soldered on there was a PAIN! That was an entire day of my life, and then it didn't work, and I had to clamp the entire assembly onto a 2x4 board *vertically* so I could get the solder to flow properly. (This is the part of the sculpture where things went from simple to "Hey, wait a minute! How did I end up doing all this work!" 'Twas totally worth it though, kids, as it turned out freakin' sweet!


Here's the final photo showing some more detail on the curved supports for the spiral. Those turned out kind of nice, though I was torn about them for a while. You also get a better look at the upswing on the end of the whole affair. It does a nice job of slowing the marble down and bring it to a more gentle stop where it just kind of settles into the curve and waits to be picked up again.

By the way, didn't my dad do another killer job on the base? He's pretty awesome.

So, fun, right? I thought so, anyway. I've never done anything active like that wiggling ramp. That was hip. I'm going to try something like that with the others, some different kind of element for each one, maybe throw in a little more brass while I'm at it. It's a bit of a pain to solder, but it looks nice when it's done.

Cross-posted to my LJ and the sculptors LJ with some edits here and there.

Current Mood: ecstatic
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
10:33 am
Solo Spiral Rolling Ball Sculpture
The idea for this series of small sculptures has been brewing for months now. My dad did some awesome bases for them with scraps from his woodshop, and that was over a month ago now. I bent up some initial forms for them probably two months back - a few spirals. Finally, however, I was able to get down to the business of actually assembling them.

Here is the first from a series of five that I will be doing:


As you can see, it's a rather simple design. Just a basic spiral. It's a little hard to add much more to something this small, but I tried to do something fun with the ending ramp. The path dips sharply coming out of the spiral, and by the time the marble reaches the end it has built up a good bit of speed. It reaches the upright portion and tries to climb right up it, runs out of steam, and falls back on itself where it comes to rest in the bottom of the "U."


Above is a fun view of things and kind of gives you an idea of the roller coaster feel it has when it finishes.


For a simple piece I think it turned out pretty well. After finishing it I immediately started on another one. I hope to have it completed by the end of the week!

Current Mood: accomplished
Monday, January 11th, 2010
1:11 pm
Senseless ball machine (rolling ball sculpture) Number Three!
I made this one for my nephew for Christmas. He's only five, and I suspect he may kill the poor thing eventually, but he loves playing with them so much I couldn't resist giving him one. I had my dad make the wood base for it out of spalted maple. This was a sort of rush job that I initiated during an art event challenge earlier in the year, but after taking it back to the shop and working out some bugs I think it has turned out quite nicely. Sorry, but I don't have a video camera for motion shots!

Drew's Rolling Ball Sculpture

Drew's Rolling Ball Sculpture

Current Mood: pleased
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
9:17 pm
Completed rolling ball sculpture the first!

As the title pretty obviously suggests, this is the first rolling ball sculpture I completed, back in October of 2008.  It took me nearly a month of free time to put together.  The design started out as me simply doing the giant spiral, that was the only element I really had in my head when I started.  The spiral itself took quite a while to stabilize.  The rest of it seemed to go a little more quickly, but that's probably not the case at all, it's just how I remember it.  I hope this image isn't too large.  If it is, let me know and I'll do whatever I have to to fix that.

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, July 17th, 2009
10:45 am
Rolling Ball Sculpture - Construction Photos

As requested, here are some photos of the construction of my latest rolling ball sculpture. 

Beginning supports  Joining the supframe pieces first spiral attached Three spirals mounted

It basically involves a lot of careful twisting and bending and some practice with a plumber's torch and some solder.  It's very basic stuff, but you need to be armed with some patience and a few tools.  Many times I will bend wire around an object with the arc or angle I want, such as a flower pot or a piece of PVC pipe.  I use a selection of pliers, and seems that I keep wantint to purchase more and different kinds of those, but for now it's basically needle nose, channel lock (without teeth!), and lineman's pliers.  I bent all the spirals from coils I made by wrapping them around a piece of PVC pipe and then expanding or tightening the coil however I needed it for the final shape.  There's a lot of filing involved as well, filing of the ends of wire and the joints where things will be soldered.  I guess I like detail work, as this can add up to hours of the finished product's total time investment.  Sometimes it seems to move slowly, but the finished product is always worth it.

Current Mood: artistic
Monday, July 13th, 2009
1:37 pm
Rolling Ball Sculpture

Here's a type of Rube Goldberg machine that I've been working with for about a year.  I got into these in part from a very large work I saw displayed in a museum, a piece by George Rhodes called "Science in Motion" using billiard balls. 

I've completed two of these, and have a third, more involved one, in the works.  I use copper house wire, 10 gauge.  I buy it off the shelf and strip the insulation, which actually doesn't take all that long.  The wire is then hand-formed and soldered.  A friend of mine designed and created the base for this piece.  It has been cross-posted to the sculptors LJ.  I hope photos are okay here, and I hope cross-posting is all right.  Please let me know and I'll amend if necessary.

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, January 27th, 2008
10:15 pm
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