Eric Freitas: Reanimating the mechanical heart

No. 5 by sculptor/clockmaker Eric Freitas.

In the past 12 months, I’ve seen more clock bits glued in places where they shouldn’t be than I think I’ll ever see for the rest of my life. So when I received an email this morning from a stranger named Eric about “steampunk clocks,” I was skeptical. “Really? Steampunk? Clocks?” is what I said as I clicked on the link, expecting to see nothing new and believing that nothing could beat those mysterious rugged watches from Japan.

And you know what? It’s nice to be completely, delightfully wrong sometimes. Eric Freitas’ clocks completely Shocked and Awed. Every part of the clock is handmade, and they’re not just elaborate static sculptures; they actually tell time. The clocks employ calligraphy as a stylistic method, and no two clocks that are the same. On his Etsy store, Freitas describes the intensive process of creating a clock: “all of the pieces were cut out with a handheld jewelers saw, ground to shape with a flex-shaft tool, and assembled with hand-machined screws. The dial was inked by hand, then was ripped, weathered, and aged.” He’s made five mechanical clocks from scratch so far (and two using a quartz motor), and each one is more complex than the one before.

Left: detail, No. 5. Right: No. 2.

To reiterate: to make these mechanical clocks, he didn’t go out and buy a clock at the store and embellish it. He made every gear by hand and put all the gears into a mechanism that actually worked. Something that looks so Ye Olde but from another timeline, a work of art that’s also a functional machine that was assembled from scratch… I can’t call it anything other than what it is, a term that’s being used by so many and deserved by so few, a term I thought I’d never apply so reverently to something I saw this year. But I’m humbled. So I’ll say it: it’s Steampunk Art.

The Furby Gurdy Man Comes Singing Songs of Love

Via Matrixsynth, the Furby Gurdy:

Inventor Nervous Squirrel explains:

Each furby has 4 controls: mute, crash, loop and reset. The handle turns 8 cams which operate corresponding microswitches to create interesting rhythmic patterns. Part of the ‘setting up’ section at the beginning has been fast forwarded. Please commission me to make lots more of these machines!

Hang in there ’til the furbies gets revved up. It’s actually rather beautiful.

Thanks for the heads up, Jhayne! (If you haven’t been over to Whitechapel’s filthy and absurd “Things That Should Not Exist” thread, go now. Bring wet naps.)

Andreas Hofer’s towering phantasms

Andreas Hofer is s German-born artist that specializes in nightmares. Unlike much of the spooky-cute stuff on the art scene today, Hofer’s bizarre work actually makes me uncomfortable the way I wish more art could.

While Hofer works with all types of media, of particular interest to me are his sculptures. Almost toy-like, their scale exaggerated and subject matter not without humor, they are remarkably imposing and unsettling. So much so that I’m tempted to actually pinch myself to ensure lucidity.

Part of “Reich”, Acrystal, silicone, 2006

Most perfectly innocent objects can be terrifying when magnified, but Andreas’ strongpoint is twisting recognizable imagery in simple, potent ways that make the viewer cringe. He distorts things as nightmares would. This doesn’t seem to curb my desire to have his various beasts guarding my future compound – their design is just that appealing!

Many thanks to Jerem for the tip. Click below for more from Andreas Hofer.

Adam Shepard Wants to Live Like Common People

Adam Shepard, this one’s for you:

(Song dedication inspired by Siege, thanks.)

Shepard is the author of Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, a book that’s getting an awful lot of buzz right now. From an article at the CSM:

Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter. He had a gym bag, $25, and little else. A former college athlete with a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with supportive parents in Raleigh, N.C. Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charles­ton, S.C. But Shepard’s descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents’ home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest even more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education. During his first 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps. He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.

Adam Shepard asks, who is John Galt? No, really… who is he? Why are you laughing? (photo by Nicole Hill)

I’ll preface my opinions by stating that I believe wholeheartedly in the power of self-perpetuating positivity, of elbow grease over idle hope. Self-pity is certainly one of the more corrosive emotions in the human canon, and I have to think that even in the most dire circumstances, one can improve a bad situation by somehow preserving their sense of self-worth. (Easier said than done, of course.) That being stated, Scratch Beginnings is a self-aggrandizing, dishonest account that does not deserve the hype.

A fresh-faced, educated young man in excellent mental and physical health who keeps an emergency credit card tucked into his back pocket isn’t starting from scratch. He’s starting from privilege. Shepard has had a lifetime of parental “you can be anything you want to be, sweetie” hand-holding to bolster him. It shows in every page of his solipsistic account.

Garfield Minus Garfield Equals Epic Lulz. Who Knew?!


Yeah, okay, I know. Everyone and their granny has already blogged about this, but I just gotta chime in to quickly say that Garfield Minus Garfield is the most unexpected laff riot this side of Cthulhu Family Circus. Some sage old fart once said something along the lines of “the greatest truths are the simplest, so likewise are the greatest men” and that tenet definitely applies here:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.


It’s a shame that any attempt to make a Garfield Minus Garfield day-to-day calendar would be cockblocked by copyright litigation. Hey, I freakin’ loathe day calendars. They’re pointless, inane, a waste of trees. But seriously, I’d consider running out and getting some soul-destroying cubicle day job just to have an excuse to purchase and read the paper version of Garfield Minus Garfield every gosh darn day. Suck it, Dilbert!

(Via Circle the Globe, thanks.)

Taunting touchscreen tattoo-phone

Her cell phone is ringing, but the display is turned off. She lightly pushes a small dot on the skin on her left forearm to suddenly reveal a two by four inch tattoo with the image of the cell phone’s digital display, directly in the skin of her arm. She answers the call by pushing a tattooed button on her arm. While she’s talking, the tattoo comes to life as a digital video of the caller. When she finishes, the tattoo disappears.

Now imagine yourself sipping something exotic and maybe reading on a rooftop. Suddenly, the face of a dear friend [presently in Shanghai, for instance] emerges through the skin on your forearm. A long-overdue conversation begins. Not a bad prospect, mm?

Body modification may be a somewhat neglected topic here at Coilhouse, but every once in a while something truly unique catches our collective eye. Take this render of a blood-fueled subcutaneous cell phone implant, for instance. Revealed by Jim Mielke at Greener Gadgets Design Competition, this is not an actual phone with keypad, earpiece and mic, but rather a thin touchscreen – a silicon and silicone pad which runs on your very own fuel! Myriads of tiny spheres change from clear to black during calls and can be seen through your skin, digital video of the caller coming into view once a call begins.

Only a concept at the moment, this is a mod I’ll be signing up for just as the option is available, provided there is a way to turn the thing off. Via Psyorg.

Modest Gloves for Modest Girls (and boys)


Check out these awesome gloves! Another brilliant find by our friends at Her Modesty. The website,, is like a SockDreams for your arms in terms of eye candy. Lots of great fashion images in the gallery. Alas, it’s all way overpriced.

The Sublime, Nihilistic Elegance of Assquatch Art

Occasionally, while exploring the wild untrammeled frontiers of the world wide interwub, you’ll stumble across something so revelatory, so mind-bogglingly exquisite, it knocks you back several feet, clutching your head and speaking in tongues. Today I had just such an experience. Like Nietzsche who gazed too long into the abyss or Icarus who flew too close to the sun, I shall never be the same, for I have seen the cruel, implacable face of G*d:

Three examples of finely crafted deer butt alien head taxidermy, a.k.a. “assquatch art.”

Via Redneck Craft Tips by Don Burleson (the web page that cracked my poor brain open like a pistachio nut):

For centuries, families have enjoyed the camaraderie and joy of making alien heads from deer butts. Join the fun! Once you know the secrets, it’s easy to transform an ordinary deer butt into a work of redneck fine art. Let’s take a closer look at this ancient and noble craft…

All you need to create your own deer art is a styrofoam mannequin head, a fresh deer butt, a sharp knife and some glue and you are ready to get started making your own deer masterpiece.

This is indeed a disturbing universe.

Many people say that the real red neck art is the shaping of the deer anus to look like a mouth. This is the true test of the artists loving hand.

The anus can be made very simple, or you can stretch the anus for realistic effects such as smiles and frowns. In general, the leading deer butt artists concentrate on the details of the mouth.

Thank you, Mr Burleson, for exposing an ignorant city mouse like me to this rustic art form. Not since 1996 –when I fished a homemade hunting video called Mostly Squirrels out of the bargain bin at Poughkeepsie Video Barn– have I known such divine ecstasy.

Laibach, Love Songs and Lego

Laibach takes over Legoland, found here, via Paul Komoda.

Fun fact! Laibach’s original concept for the Kapital record was that it would be a collection of love songs. The idea was to parody romantic pop melodies and how pathetic most of them are, but that album never happened. Instead, they ended up releasing the more enigmatic Kapital that we all know and love, which proclaimed that the economy is dead and memorably included a hip-hop song about astrophysics. Laibach released three different versions of the album, each with a different mixes of the songs; one on CD, one on tape and one on vinyl.

Buried deep within the vinyl and tape versions of Kapital, one song from the lost album of love ballads survived! That song is Steel Trust, and it’s performed by the beautiful Anja Rupel, who also sang Laibach’s cover of Across the Universe and performed in their subgroup, Germania.

And someone uploaded this song (no video) on YouTube. Here it is, in all its Euro-disco glory. Enjoy!

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Cat Le-Huy: Help Needed for Huge Legal Fees

How it happens in Dubai.

The Truth About Dubai has posted a critical update on the status of (Diz) Cat Le-Huy, my good friend and the boyfriend of Coilhouse co-editor Mil Von. Here’s the condensed version:

Cat Le-Huy as of the 22nd of February remains in Al Wathba Prison. Currently the decision rests with the Dubai Chief Prosecutor as to whether to charge him or drop the case entirely. It is almost like a pre-trial and the legal fees for this are are expected to be in the vicinity of £50,000. We have raised half this amount already thanks to your donations, and are now making an appeal for people to keep donating to reach the full amount. We have been advised that there is a 90% chance this case will be closed if we can raise the financial assistance in a timely manner.

Cat’s close friends and family have already given up everything that they could, and even his company, Endemol, has made a donation (though he was not there on business). That’s how we raised the first half of the legal fees. But now we need help from you guys. Please donate to the Cat Le-Huy Legal Fund to save Cat.

You don’t need PayPal to use the link below, just a credit card or check card. No amount is too small. Please circulate the donation link to as many people as possible. Thank you!