Scale model cockpit FPV

cool scale cockpit video

Funny Zoo Snap

man enjoys elephant My wife noticed this in the family archives.

RC Nitro motorcycle racing

rc motorcycle Motorcycle racing in Lilliput.

Manned RC Multicopter

manned multicopter
Here’s an RC multicopter big enough to ride on!

Make: Talk 004

make: Talk 004
I had a fun time talking to Mark Frauenfelder in episode 4 of his new podcast, Make: Talk!

One Man Basement Band

one man band
I feel like I could be getting more mileage out of my right foot.


liberty vintage motorcycles An Etsy portrait. Thanks, Danny.

Tequila Sleeve

tequila the champs
Champs sleeve

Wolf-Stelzer Book Lamp

Book Lamp
My friend Tess just made the cover of ReadyMade with her cool lamp design.

Tree Stump Bug

Can this be for real? The design is so awesomely Thunderbirds. Via

The Nothing Box

nothing box


Thunderbirds are go
Are Go!

Command Center

command center
Sweet assemblage spaceship’s bridge.

Four Drano’s

Watch the sink slowly, all but disappear from the design .

Toothpaste Aerosol

toothpaste aerosol
Aerosol toothpaste

Nelson-Lodefink Ball clock Phase 1

nelson ball clock

George Nelson recalled about the design of the Ball Clock:

“… there was one night when the ball clock got developed, which was one of the really funny evenings. Isamu Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by. I’d been seeing a lot of Bucky those days, and here was Irving and here was I, and Isamu, who can’t keep his hands off anything, you know- it is a marvelous, itchy thing he’s got- he saw we were working on clocks and he started making doodles. Then Bucky sort of brushed Isamu aside. He said, “This is a good way to do a clock,” and he made some utterly absurd thing. Everybody was taking a crack at this,…pushing each other aside and making scribbles.
At some point we left- we were suddenly all tired, and we’d had a little bit too much to drink- and the next morning I came back, and here was this roll (of drafting paper), and Irving and I looked at it, and somewhere in this roll there was a ball clock. I don’t know to this day who cooked it up. I know it wasn’t me. It might have been Irving, but he didn’t think so…(we) both guessed that Isamu had probably done it because (he) has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary…out of the combination….(or) it could have been an additive thing, but, anyway, we never knew.”

(George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design; pp 111).

Hmm… I wonder what it would have been like to be in that little scribble session with those guys…

George Nelson vaguely recalls:

“I remember that at some point Steve Lodefink came over, and he had this weakness for absynth you see, and we had all been hitting it pretty hard all night, anyway Steve grabbed the pencil from Isamu, and slurring something about radiation from the Atomic tests mutating everything into huge manifestations of what they had been or some such nonsense, I don’t know, nobody really remembers much about that night. When I brought the drawings to Herman Miller the next day they immediately pointed to the huge, 27 inch welded-steel version of Noguchi’s idea….

…huh? oh, hi.

So, I have great peeps. This year for Father’s day, Linda gave me a welding class. It was absolutlely the prefect thing. I have always wanted to weld. I have had so many great hair-brained ideas that I never got to make the mistake of beginning, because they called for welding. The barrier to entry always seemed so great, the learning curve too high. The whole welding thing seemed a little too exotic, or hot and difficult, or something. My lack of welding always loomed in the background, a gaping hole in my tinkering palette.

Learning to weld

It turns out that welding is really quite accessible. With today’s 115v wire-feed MIG Welders, welding is really not much more involved than using a hot-glue gun. If you use flux-cored wire, you don’t need any gas bottles or regulators or welding rod. The welding machine itself looks sort of like a big power suppply or something with a gun on a cable and big clip attached to it. You pretty much just hold the tip up to your work, pull the trigger and you’re welding!

nelson ball clock

There are only 2 adjustments that you make; voltage, and wire feed rate. All Mig welders have a little chart that suggests a feed rate and voltage setting based on the thikness of material that you are welding. When you pull the trigger, the wire shoots out and contacts your work piece, which is grounded to the machine. When the wire hits the work, the circuit is completed and it arcs like mad, which melts the metal, and bingo! Welded.

nelson ball clock
My clumpy first welds.

The class I took was a Discover U, 2-day intro to MIG welding class called “Garden Art Welding”, but I pretended it was called “Intro to welding for Industrial Design”.

The night before the class I thought about what I could make. We live in a 1955 split-entry house that has this big sandstone chimney that divides the entry from the living room and I thought I could make some kind of Astro sculpture to add a little atomic pinache to the space.

I e-mailed the instructor to get a clearer understanding of the scope of project that we would be able to tackle, and it turned out that we were not going to have access to a plasma-cutter, and would pretty much be limited to small rod, wire, and bar stock materials for our projects, so I had to scale down my plans a bit.

I had always admired the Nelson ball clocks, but at 14 inches in diameter, they are a bit small for the space that I had in mind. So I hatched a plan to weld up a frame for a jumbo ball clock 27 inches in diameter to adorn the back-side of the fireplace.

nelson ball clock

I went to Rockler and purchased a dozen 2.25 inch maple balls, a quartz clock movement, and a packet of clock hands. I plan to make the clock dial out of ebony, but I havn’t priced it out yet, we’ll see.

nelson ball clock

I don’t really have all of the design details worked out for the dial yet, but I think that I will remain fairly faithfull to the original, only super-sized. Or maybe I will invite a bunch of people over to get drunk and we can start sketching and see what emerges.

Oh, and I am deffinately going to have to set myself up with a MIG welder at home! If you are interested in welding, don’t be shy about trying MIG.

Completing the clock »

24 Responses to “Nelson-Lodefink Ball clock Phase 1”

  1. kaufman Says:

    I’m so jealous! I’ve been thinking about taking a welding class, as well – for the same reasons that you did. But I had no idea of where to start (arc welding vs. MIG vs. braze, etc). I’ve seen lots of MIG welders around, that looks like a good place to start.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. Steve Says:

    Gene -

    In retrospect, I would have put the money that the class cost toward the purchase of a MIG welder and self-taught. Or better yet watch a video about welding. That should provide you with plenty of instruction.


  3. Scott Says:

    Nice work Steve. Welding is an art I can no longer admire from afar. I have been itching to learn to weld for years. I love the Bertoia, Jere style of metal sculpture. For that I think I need a gas set up. I am always looking on craigslist for a good deal on welding equipment. I think I need to hit some pawn shops.

  4. Eli Says:

    Fun, fun, fun. Takes less time to learn to weld than it does to explain to wife why you spent $500 @ Industrial metal supply when all you went for was ten speed-rail fittings…….. I bought the Clarke 130EN from Northern Tool. You come up with the best projects!

  5. Phill Says:

    Wow, that’s gonna be clocktacular!

  6. vladimir kerchenko Says:

    hello clock-o-holics and welding junkies… george nelson actually did produce a larger ball clock, if you get the dimensions you can emulate it. see link: http://www.jetsetmodern.com/clocks.htm it is not being re-produced by vitra or anything, though they should re-produce it in my humble opinion. vitra is the only authorized and licensed mfg of the nelson clocks, so don’t be fooled by imitations, unless of course it is a handcrafted piece from finkbuilt. if you want the real-deal and don’t have your welding chops down you can purchase one hassle free here: (sorry steve) http://hivemodern.com/products/?cid=81&cid2=209

  7. hank Says:

    But do your research and wear an adequate respirator. Those who do not read epidemiology are the ones who contribute to the sample size for the later research.

    Results 1 – 10 of about 11,500 for welding manganese Parkinson’s. (0.41 seconds)

    Two welders from two different companies had the two highest manganese exposures.
    … Manganese as possible ecoetiologic factor in Parkinson’s disease. …

    Everyone I know who’s been welding for 20 or more years has shaky hands. This is just beginning to surface as a problem.

    steve says:


    That’s interesting, thanks.

    I’ll take precations.


  8. dave Says:

    sweet! it’s going to be fab when it’s done. you might need a heftier movement, though, if you’re going to be using large hunks of maple for the hands.

  9. Eric Says:

    Man, your welding needs work.

    I swear, this is not a troll. I’m just slightly drunk.

  10. Adam Says:

    I wanna wristwatch version.

  11. Darg Says:

    Adam, sounds cool. And if anyone gives you trouble, a detachable faceplate makes it a shuriken (throwing star)!

    Then again, it’ll catch on clothes and a thousand other things, the spokes will probably bend too easily, etc. And flex your wrist wrong and you jab yourself in the back of the hand. Not so cool.
    What is the rule… form follows function?

  12. Phill Says:

    The patent is going to be expired on this. You don’t need a license to build it (and sell it on ebay). FYI

  13. Gill Says:

    I like the clock. I wouldn’t mind one my self.

  14. Peter Says:

    Cool, keep up the good work. MIG is by far the easiest way for people to learn how to weld, even my girlfriend could lay down a half-decent bead with the right feed rate. Tell me when you make one out of aluminum and you TIG it, that’d be really beautiful :D

  15. Payday Says:

    I tried making a clock once- the face of the clock rotated instead of the hands. It turned out ok, and i used the exact same pre-made quartz doodad you’re using. The only problem was the little doodad that moves the hands didn’t have enough strength to move the posterboard circles (about the size of a dinner plate) used for the faces. Scaling up your ball clock to 27 inches would require larger hands, and i dont know if that little quartz doodad will work right. Cool idea though.

  16. martoon Says:

    if your going to weld like that, do yourself a favor. splurge an extra 3 dollars and buy yourself a a chipping hammer.

    steve says:


    Yeah, hopefully I won’t always weld like that.

  17. pjimmyb Says:

    Hey Martoon, he was welding with a flux core mig, don’t need a chipping hammer for those welds, the slag isn’t thick like that left by a stick, just wire brush the welds, the flux core have a tendency to spatter a lot but most of that can be knocked off with a hand brush or a cup brush in a grinder or drill.

  18. tom Says:


    wow cool clock.
    i have an original ball clock. i believe from 1947.
    says on the back trademark not registered so i guess it dates it

    love your wrk. did lots of welding in artschool in the 80′s

    stay with it.


  19. Greg Says:

    Good for you! Beautiful. A MIG welder is like a coffee grinder. A person shouldn’t go through life without one. Dad in law and I built what we like to consider as a small travel trailer with a 115 volt MIG. Fun project. Except when the mitre saw fitted with metal cutting blade caught fire and charred a good chunk of the lawn. Beware hot metal and plastic parts! Keep going.


  20. vladimer kerchenko Says:

    Peter Says: my girlfriend could lay down a half-decent bead with the right feed rate.

    WHAT! are you talking about??!!! sounds sexy.

  21. HairyMan Says:

    Not bad… Not bad.

  22. Welding Machines Says:

    I found informative as well as useful Blog here. As an industrial analyst, I would like to share about welder in Australia. They provide welding machines, welding helmets, mig/tig welding, equipments tools & accessories etc…

  23. seema Says:

    wow cool clock.

  24. Preeti Says:

    It is a Very Nice Blog