I'm building a mobile, open source, midi controlled pipe organ. I'm calling it the Anywhere Organ. This site is here to document my progress, acknowledge all the awesome people who are helping make it happen, and spread what I've learned in making this colossal instrument.
As some of you may have already heard, the Anywhere Organ made an appearance at Amanda Fucking Palmer’s absolutely stellar Kickstarter Countdown Webcast Party!
During the final hours of her Kickstarter, from about 7pm to midnight on May 31st, Amanda Palmer and her band of merry men shut down an entire street in Brooklyn to throw an epic block-party to celebrate her record breaking million dollar fundraiser. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to haul out the Anywhere Organ and make music.
I was invited to present because the party’s organizer, Miss Scorpio, had hosted the Anywhere Organ a few times before. She put out the call for all things big, loud, captivating, and pretty. I brought my sculpture out in the hopes of fitting the bill.
Not all the pipes made it, only the smaller ones that I could lift by myself, (the biggest pipes are absurdly heavy and made of lead), but enough to make a sizeable instrument. So I took it down, hauled it all the way from Jersey to the top secret party site near Gowanus, and assembled the pieces like IKEA furniture that doesn’t deserve to be tossed into a wood shipper.
The very, very beginning of the webcast and the beginning of the crowd:
Amanda Fucking Palmer (who shall further be referred to as AFP for short) and her crew dressed up in vintage swimsuits, hauled in a giant fish-tank like enclosure, hired a disco worth of DJ’s, and launched a full scale assault on the audience using basically every sort of bewitching performer possible.
Here’s a chunk of Fuse.TV’s account of the evening:
Palmer presided over her carnivalesque cabaret with her usual mix of punkish spontaneity and exacting control. She was surrounded by ecstatic fans, her band, author husband Neil Gaiman, people dressed like pirates, a fashion designer, a porn star friend (Stoya, who formerly dated Marilyn Manson) and a webcam which live streamed the whole fete for fans at home to watch.
She briefly serenaded the crowd with her trusty ukulele, then spent the next six hours emceeing the event. She introduced the entire cast of her cabaret to the crowd, from an organ player to magicians, a belly dancer to fire twirlers, whose short performances punctuated the focal point of the bash, which was an on-camera tribute to every one of the 24,883 people who donated to Palmer’s Kickstarter fund.
Inside a makeshift structure built from rusty pipes and see-through plastic film (it resembled a human aquarium—check it out below), Palmer and co. gathered stacks of telephone books with the name of every donor written out on each Yellow Page. While songs like Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” and the Beatles’ “Money (That’s What I Want)” blared in the background, Palmer, her band and a group of volunteers tore out the pages and plastered the donors’ names on the static-y plastic for the ever-present webcam to capture.
By the end of the night, the bubble/aquarium was so full of crumpled Yellow Pages that two kids successfully played hide-and-seek in the pile of donor names.
My part in the whole affair started modestly, set up so people could play The Anywhere Organ with a little breathing room away from the crowd as the main event gained momentum.
Later on towards the end of the night, though, the Organ was moved to center stage and things got considerably more sensational.
Being introduced to the crowd (note the laptop being held up for the webcast):
Saying hello to the internet. Hi internet!
AFP and The Grand Theft Orchestra fiddling with The Anywhere Organ:
I demonstrated the instrument for a bit, explaining what it was and how to play. After the preliminary introductions AFP and the Grand Theft Orchestra had at it.
And then, after a cute kid came out of the audience to try it..
I got to play one of my own songs!
It was really fun.
I had also near infinite help from Numidas Prasarn of Numi Empire. She helped set up, introduce people to the instrument, haul pipes, and was generally the awesomest thing imaginable. And thanks also to a friend of mine, W. Aaron Waychoff, a fabulous artist as well, who came in from Boston.
Click HERE for a complete three hour Livestream video of the AFP Countdown party. The Anywhere Organ starts at two hours and twenty minutes in.
Everyone who pledged $50 or more to the Anywhere Organ Kickstarter was sent either an exclusive steampunk story by G.D. Falksen (which I’ll cover in a future post) or a t-shirt screen-printed with the logo of the Anywhere Organ. $150 got you a laser engraved leather cuff with the same snazzy design as the tees.
Because I’ve illustrated a bunch of different logos over the years, I’ve built up a stupidly massive catalogue of design elements. So when it came to make the logo for the Anywhere Organ, I began by sifting through my library/pile, looking over all of the different things I’ve drawn, trying to get a feel for what an Anywhere Organ logo should look like. As a nod to the history of the instrument, I wanted the Anywhere Organ logo to seem a little old-fashioned, so I started putting together deco elements, things with some character and antique charm.
Once I decided on the underlying look of the design, the next step was figuring out how the pieces should fit together. This involved a lot of re-illustrating finicky details (like the angle of the shading on the pipes) and rearranging and replacing elements until everything resonated and it felt correct. Eventually the layout took shape, along with the larger context. This in-progress image shows some of the possibilities I explored while designing the final logo.
(You can also see a bit of the Anywhere Organ Pendant design in the upper left. I tend to try and keep related designs in the same document so I can keep them feeling consistent with one another.)
After the logo was finalized, I sent one of the finished image to be made into t-shirts. They were printed by an indie clothing printing company named Dogwig, the same establishment that screenprints the infamous Anonymous Bandanas for Sleek & Destroy.
The cuffs required a bit more work. I had to make certain the logo would scale well when etched into leather. This involved a little bit of tweaking and adjusting details. I also had to craft a pattern in Illustrator, like a sewing pattern, to determine the shape of the bracelet (not too far off from the techniques I used to make my Steampunk Goggles). The finished digital designs were then uploaded to Ponoko, a digital manufacturing site that prints 3D parts and laser-cuts designs into materials like leather, plastic, and felt. After about a month I recieved a batch of beautiful auburn leather pieces in the mail, all cut and etched, because this is the future and you can just do stuff like that now.
As soon the leather was delivered, I conditioned and oiled the cuffs, stitched them together, added the fastenings, and then mailed them off.
I’m really pleased with how both the t-shirts and the cuffs came out. It’s especially great to see them in the wild. If you’re one of the clever, discerning, and totally hot people with Anywhere Organ gear, I’d love if you’d send me a picture of yourself wearing it! I’d like to make a post showing everyone off.
I also have a few shirts remaining from the printing run. I might be bringing them along to the next spot I show off the Anywhere Organ.
The last time I posted to the tumblr, the Anywhere Organ Kickstarter still had four days to go. I’m thrilled to share, from the other side of November 14, 2011, that it was a wonderful success!
So I wanted to start with a huge thank you, from the top to the bottom of my mechanical heart, to the audience and everyone who donated. Not only did we reach our goal, it went over budget at the very last minute, so extra thanks to the person who tossed in the extra dollar that pushed it up from $3000 to $3001. You’re fantastic. And another massive thank you to everyone (like Kickstarter) who blogged about the project, adding to the momentum like little snowflakes building into an especially bad-ass avalanche.
Since then I’ve been busy making and sending out all of the rewards listed on the Kickstarter page:
These fanciful limited edition laser cut Anywhere Organ pendants from Sleek and Destroy.
An exclusive short story written by G.D. Falksen that I printed out, artificially aged, and then sealed into envelopes with a custom wax seal.
Anywhere Organ t-shirts, mad-scientist certified as A+ awesome.
Sexy laser engraved Anywhere Organ leather cuffs.
Super stylish 3D printed metal Pipe Organ themed bottle openers.
And, finally, a set of epic 3D printed bronze Anywhere Organ themed knuckle dusters!
(Expect a more in-depth post on the fabrication of these items later!)
Donating to the Kickstarter also added your name to the backers list on the blog, like so: THE ANYWHERE ORGAN BRILLIANT BACKERS LIST OF STIMULATING, DELICIOUS PEOPLE.
All the rewards have been sent out, so if you haven’t received yours yet, e-mail me and I’ll make sure that you get it ASAP.
Sending off a cornucopia of fabulous stuff isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing in the intervening months. I’ve also been spending your money! A chunk of change just went to purchasing a proper organ blower (silent, powerful, and easy to transport [almost entirely unlike a wolverine]) and two new sets of pipes. Once the pipes arrive in a short while, they will triple the Anywhere Organ’s prototype size. Plus I’ve been taking the Organ out on adventures with people like Amanda “Fucking” Palmer!
Stay tuned to read more about that, as well as posts about the blower, the new pipes, science, sound, the science of sound, and the what makes an organ pipe work.