How to Maintain a Tradition and still Innovate Art.

This hexagonal structure is a furnace that gets rebuilt every couple of years.

It is the furnace where they melt the ingredients for Kokomo Opalescent Glass.  We are incredibly lucky, here in the City of Firsts to have the oldest remaining factory in the US who still makes old fashioned Stained Glass sheet glass.  They have been making art glass on this site since 1888.  The glass comes in a multitude of colors/color mixes and textures that are “printed” into the glass when it is rolled into a sheet.

This glass, that starts its life as what looks like a pile of sand, and gets carried by running men in giant metal ladles to go into the rollers, has ended up in many cathedrals around the world.

The results of combining up to 5 colors of glass at a time and a multitude of textures is a series of rooms of gorgeous sheet glass- each one slightly unique in all the world.

In addition to being shipped globally to repair old stained glass ( a series of batches went out to Japan this summer to assist with repair stained glass in cathedrals damaged in their recent catastrophes), this glass also ends up in new art, like that made locally by Little Town Glass and OgreWorkshop. Look Carefully at glass in the top cog- what do you see that was created by the mixing of the glass?

The KOG factory does tours all week. The day we were there, there were stained glass lovers from three different states and some local folks as well. It made a great Geek Family Outing for three generations of our family that day. You can see more pictures, including shots of the glass blowing section of the factory, in this album:


An Art and Technology Cocktail

What happens when you mix together Artists, Engineers and Scientists? A recent course at Purdue undertook this experiment and produced results that can be seen in the show “Images of Nature” which opened last Friday night and runs through April 29.

With installations as varied as dance routines with motion tracking that explore the effects of prosthetics and disabilities on movement, to a Greenhouse constructed of recycled windows, there is something in the show for everyone.

One of the interesting things about this show is that the blog from the class is public, so you can get insight into the influences and progress of the projects during conception and construction.

If you are in the Lafayette area over lunch or right before dinner in the next 10 days, be sure to stop by the Frontier building at 7th and Main and see what mixing together technology and art can produce. It is a result both sweet and intoxicating.

For more information on the class, see the overview video.  For more of the sights and sounds, you can click through on the slideshow to see my photo album.

Purdue Regional- FIRST Robotics

We have several family friends who are involved in FIRST robotics– either as students, parents or coaches. When the Purdue Regional was held a couple of weeks ago, it was close enough that it was the perfect opportunity to go by and catch a little of the action.

This year’s competition involved the FIRST robots being able to pick up and place giant inflated shapes onto target pegs on a wall. The program is an awesome one, with students actively involved in designing, building and maintaining the robots throughout the competitions.

The teams are given the challenge in January, then have exactly six weeks to design a solution, build and program the robot and get it in a box and shipped off to FIRST central. The teams do not see their robot again until the competitions. there is a large pit area at the competitions ( which generally run Thurs-Sat) where the teams can fine tune or repair their robots between matches.

By the time of the finals, only a few teams are still competing, but all the teams stay to watch. The stands are filled with high spirited groups overflowing with team spirit, choosing sides- Blue or Red as groups of three teams are brought together to compete against each other.

If you have a FIRST event near you, or you get the chance to hop over to St Louis for the National Competition in early May, this is a great Geek Family Outing.

Click through to see the complete set of pictures shot at the event.

FIRST Robotics                            

Video of the Final Championship Match: