The CopperSteam Lab has been all over the place.
I started this crazy adventure back in 2008 when I was feeling especially in need of some artistic expression. At that point the “lab” was a couple of benches in the shed in the back yard of our house in Orlando. This hot, sweaty, claustrophobic little space was the womb of my first piece Occulus, as well as the beginning of The Dream, and some super early rumblings of the Model 42 Aether Reactor. Just as I started picking up steam and feeling my way around to an actual artistic direction, we picked up and moved from Orlando to Key West.
Turns out the book ain’t lying.. you SHOULD quit your job and move to Key West, but that’s a story for another time. While we were in Key West, I finished The Dream and the Model 42, set up this website, and started blogging about my adventures in soldering while drinking dark rum. We were in Key West for four years. By the time we left I’d built another large piece, the Dimensional Analysis Engine, and started down the path of building Valve Amplifiers. I built two of them there, the first was a small bookshelf stereo called the SteamAmp, and the second was a much larger, high-end piece called the DeuxAmp. This was the piece that really changed the way I thought about the whole CopperSteam thing.
Before the Deux, I was just building stuff and posting photos of the construction and blogging about the process and such, after the Deux, I started thinking a little larger. Like maybe I could have an actual line of equipment. But of course as fate would have it, almost the moment I finished that piece, we picked up and moved to St. Thomas to live on a tiny island called Water Island.
Photos of the Deux were migrating around on the internet, and at wasn’t long before I was approached by a gentleman back in the states who wanted me to build him an amplifier. I’d left all of my tools back in Florida, but it had been a while since I’d built anything, and I was feeling the itch, so I said yes. I had my tools shipped down to me, and I started the arduous task of rounding up the supplies I’d need to pull the job off.
I’m rambling, so I’ll try to make this short… don’t try to work with copper when you live on a cliff right over the ocean. What a nightmare. But… I finished the SteamAmp II and shipped it off, deciding right then and there that I would never build another thing until we got back to the mainland, if ever. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about that for long, as we left St. Thomas ahead of schedule after only two years, and moved back to the old homestead in Orlando.
Now I’m back in that tiny, hot shed again, and I’ve unpacked all the saws and drill presses and metal tools. This time around I have some workbenches in the back room of the house as well, and I’ve got plans to expand out of the tiny shed into the garage in the not too distant future.. yeah, it’s good to be back.
So… CopperSteam has come full-circle, and is situated back in the place of it’s conception. After a cleansing 6-year journey through the sandy beaches of the Florida Keys to St. Thomas and back, I feel mentally refreshed, the lab is now back up and fully functional, and I have grand designs on the future, so stay tuned…
Sept 22, 2015