Water Island USVI
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The CopperSteam Lab has been all over the place.

I started this crazy art 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. I also (in a fit of sleepless anxiety), set up this website, and started blogging about my adventures in soldering my way towards some sort of art career 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. I was really beginning to find my stride and direction for my art, but as fate would have it, almost the moment I finished the DeuxAmp, we picked up and moved to St. Thomas to live on a tiny island called Water Island. This derailed things for a bit while we floated in the sapphire water and cruised the island in our golf cart sipping rum drinks.

Life was hard.

Art took a back seat.

Nobody puts Art in a corner..

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 in Florida, but it had been a while since I’d built anything, and I was beginning to feel the itch again, so I said yes. I had what tools I needed shipped down to me, and I started the painful job of trying to figure out how to get the materials I needed on this third world island in the middle of nowhere.

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 on our porch overhanging the ocean facing St. John, and shipped it off. Despite the amazing view in my makeshift shop, I decided 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 the V.I.  after only two years, and moved back into our old home in Orlando that we’d been renting out to others for 6 years.

Now two years after that, (to the day in fact since I updated this ‘about’ page the last time) we’ve got renters in the Orlando house once again, and the Lab has been put together in the Garage of our new home in West Bradenton right next to Amelia Island. It’s good to be back near the beach! I’m hoping to find the beach-bum / evil scientist balance here that I wasn’t able to find in those other places. Key West was close, but it cost a fortune to live there. Water Island was amazing, but it’s impossible to get materials there. Orlando is a soulless, sprawling mess. Bradenton seems to be just enough of a small beach town while still maintaining the connections to the real world required to procure materials and ship things. I hope so, because there are a great many ideas in the sketch book that need to see the light of day!

Stay tuned, good things are on the horizon.

Cheers!
Mike
Sept 22, 2017