2015: Making Things

Camp Lehigh Flag: Captain America
Camp Lehigh Flag: Captain America

2014: A year of change

In 2014 I retired from the military, moved into an inner city apartment and generally disrupted almost every aspect of my life. At times the stress on me and my wife rose above our comfort level but we love our new life and the freedom it provides us to pursue old and new interests.

Making Things in 2015

I want to be a maker of things, and this year I plan to explore a variety of activities and make things to share with friends, family and the world. Last year I built a replica of Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber prop from Star Wars, and the Camp Lehigh flag (pictured above) from Captain America. I found turning the raw materials into these beautiful artifacts a deeply satisfying experience. I mean we have these dexterous hands for a reason right, and it’s not to play video games or channel surf the television.

Luke's Lightsaber: Replica Prop
Luke’s Lightsaber: Replica Prop

So I am going to make physical objects at least once or twice a month in 2015. I have several paper and metal model kits bought in Japan, and a growing list of prop replicas to fill out a year of making. I also have several home improvement projects to complete, starting with a sliding cabinet next to our refrigerator for some of Colleen’s craft materials.

Side Table made with found objects.
Side Table made with found objects.

Apartment living imposes limitations on the projects I can undertake without upsetting our neighbors. For example I need to keep the dust confined to our apartment, and noise to a minimum but this fits with my skill level and preference for hand tools.

Writing a book

I set out to write a memoir in 2014 but fell well short of my goal. Writing the 70 to 100 thousand words required to fill even a modest book is daunting for a novice writer. So this year I will focus on writing 2000 words each week, and see if I have a story worth publishing in 2016.

I tend to get bored with a single project so it’s important I create other publications in 2015. This blog provides me an outlet for writing on any topic I choose, and a place to experiment with style and content for my other projects. I also plan to write a few zines.

In 2015, I will release four limited edition zines with the first one available by March. Each zine will be handmade, individually numbered and signed by myself. The goal is to make a thing, not a perfect thing but an interesting thing and release it to the world. While I hope to make a little money, the main goal is to learn and grow from the experience.

Digital Things

I will release a digital copy of each zine for everyone to download, read and enjoy after the print edition is sold. I will leave it to you to determine their value. Your feedback is more important than your cash but feel free to send cash if you value the content.

Last week I listened to a reboot of Wil Wheaton’s Radio Free Burrito podcast. He wanted to make a thing (his words) and release it. He knew it contained content and production flaws but he thought it was more important to put it out there and then improve his thing with the audience.

It made me think about doing my own audio series, and I have an idea for a companion to my memoir. So I’ll do as Wil did, grab some tools make a podcast and put it out there for everyone. This is a new endevour for me, and digital things are no less challenging to make than physical things but the goal is to learn by making something.

Makers are never bored with life.

I wish I had a dollar for everyone who asked if I was bored in retirement. Most people think retirement is like putting a horse out to pasture. Your useful life must be over, and many retired people share this opinion. I have never been busier, and the list of projects grows every day.

I spend a couple of months a year in uniform to supplement our income but most of my time is spent making things. I didn’t really retire, I just transitioned to a new creative life, a maker’s life and the opportunities are endlessly interesting.

So, what are you going to make in 2015?