Have you ever been trolling the internet, seen something awesome and thought “I wish I could talk to the person who made this”? I was lucky enough to stumble across a sculpture of a ray gun and got the chance to talk with the artist.
Hey Blake, let’s start with who you are and what you do.
My name is Blake and I operate under the name Blakemake for most projects. I have always taken things apart, my mom used to get me used VCRs and stereos on trash day so I wouldn’t take out working ones apart (after a couple hard lessons we both learned.) I work almost exclusively in sculpture, I make action figures, bobbleheads, metal castings and found art pieces like the ray guns or lamps.
From taking apart VCRs to building ray guns, what inspired the idea of making ray guns out of old tools?
The ray guns from tools idea came a long time ago, and it’s a pretty natural progression from pistol-shaped tools to ray guns. A broken drill may look interesting or beautiful as it is, but could often look a better with a little tinkering. It’s still a broken drill, but has a new life as a sculptural piece.
I completely agree they really are beautiful pieces. So beautiful in fact I dread to ask, how long does one take to make?
The pieces generally take a long time to complete, though I don’t spend that whole time working on them. The Henry V Boltcaster, for example, I have been working on for 3 years off and on. Realistically I probably spent 80 hours on it. Many only take 20 or so. I get sidetracked by other projects, or simply don’t have a part that will match what I want the piece to be, so I have to wait until I find it at a thrift store or the scrap yard. I have a collection of visually appealing parts that will all probably be used for something, but try to keep the hoarding to a minimum. Most of the parts come from complete but broken objects that can’t be fixed or aren’t worth fixing. I’ll some time on a slow day to break something down as far as I can, and categorize the objects for project use. Some things are obviously a lamp base, or gun barrel, or trigger mechanism. Then when I have a piece I don’t quite know what to do with I can dig through my parts pile and see if something fits, or just get some inspiration.
I enjoy the image of you at a thrift store with the most random assortment of things in your cart. What about steampunk inspires you?
Many of my pieces are closely related to steampunk, though strictly speaking many do not appear to be actuated by steam or have some of the other design factors. The mindset I am in when I make one of these is that energy in the future will be less limited in form, so I sort of imagine a tinkerer that builds weapons that can harness and release this energy in new and creative ways. They often use old tools because they were built more sturdily than modern ones, and already have the look and feel of a weapon. When I am making a piece, I like to make it a complete weapon system. It needs a targeting mechanism, an indicator of what ammunition or power it uses, and trigger, and generally some reference to a classic sci-fi or real weapon.
The old will always be sturdier than the new. Everything seems to be on a 2 year cycle of breakage. Where can we find your work?
Generally my work can be found on Etsy and Reddit as it’s completed. I also post to Facebook under Blakemake.
Last question, If you had unlimited resources and time what would you build?
If I had unlimited resources and time, I would probably have a fabrication shop that focused on bronze casting, woodworking, and sculpture. I have a series of projects I’m working on that are a little more fine art in concept but will resemble the work I am doing currently. I am planning a foundry for my workshop now, which will hopefully amend my found object sculptures, and plan on doing housewares like lamp sconces and cabinet pulls, mostly for the house I bought last year that is very old and has a lot of copper and bronze on the exterior. I want to be the house in the neighborhood all the kids think is haunted.
You will have to get in touch once you’ve got that going I would love to see what accents you could add to a house already covered in bronze and copper.