Designer of stuff…Maker of things

Things I Do

  An Introduction

Some years ago I decided that I wanted to learn how to do things…lots of things. I’ve always been artistically inclined (I blame my mother…it’s all her fault!) but one day I decided that pencil and paper wasn’t enough. This was the beginning of a long relationship with wood, metal, composites and, when needed, fire.

This page is a chance for me to share some of what I have created in the past, and offer any insight on what I have learned so far. This may include things that worked well for me, but don’t suit everyone else. It may also involve some practices that are not terribly safe or ‘wholesome’…so you have been warned!

Try what I do or follow what I say and your results will not just vary, they could be dangerous to you or others. Then again, they could be the coolest things you have ever done. It will be up to you to decide.

Enough with the disclaimers get on with the show!


Woodworking And Luthiery

I wanted a hammered dulcimer, really bad, but wasn’t up to shelling out a few hundred bucks for something I may never get the hang of playing. The solution? Build my own…really, how tough can it be? It turns out it wasn’t that tough but the attention to details required were a new experience for me. The next was a cello. Yeah, a cello. I just had to jump face first into the fire before even thinking about the walking and running thing. I got it built, but it wasn’t what I would call playable or worthy of showing off. The important part was that I was able to do this, maybe not really well, but I could do it. My endeavors have resulted in every- thing from a pair of electric upright basses to electric guitars and mountain (Appalachian) dulcimers.

When asked what it would cost to build something for someone I often see if it is for a child first. For a kid, I may ask for recoup of materials costs but never for labor. An instrument in the hands of a kid is payment enough. Who knows, may- be I’ll inspire the next great maestro.

For adults, it usually works out to the cost of the materials x2. This takes care of my time and effort as well as any bizarre material requests. If you want something made out of an exotic tree that only grows in some weird place and has to be polished with the scalp of a virgin aardvark, well…that is all part of materials and all on you.

Why so low? For me the build is a hobby and a passion for creation and design. I am also a bit too mod- est about how my stuff comes out. With acoustics I always warn folks that it will look really good, or sound really good but only rarely both. Electrics are usually as sweet to the ears as they are to the eyes. I avoid trying to get those showroom polished finishes because they can take 1-2 months just to cure fully. I don’t have the resources or space for that and still have a long way to go for the skills needed. A nice hand rubbed oil finish or no finish on request.



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I’ve expanded some into SteamPunk but try not to get too purist about it. There are some things that should not be done (I’ve seen some pretty horrid attempts at vintage looks) and I hope to avoid those as much as possible. I had a good time building the new bass amplifier housing and the cabinet for it.


I do think my laptops and kindle covers are pretty epic. The reason for two laptops was that some [unprintable expletive] stole the first one out of my truck just before the holidays last year. I was able to recover the laptop, but the custom cover was a goner. The new laptop was created because the display portion needed a new housing to replace the damage done by the previous owner, which was also the reason I got it so cheap.



Digital Art And Design

A few years ago it occurred to me that I should get out of my high-tech, computer geek career and move into the kind of stuff I like to do in my off time. Design, create and just imagine new things. The next step was school, since my hobbies don’t relate well to resume filler in the real world.

I have been a student at The Art Institute of Portland for a few years now, mostly going at night while doing the regular 8-5 thing. This spring will begin my day class focused efforts towards an Industrial Design degree.

School has given me a ton of chances to learn many things I didn’t know and the right way to do the things I was already savvy with. We have spent time in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and even 3dsMax. Add a touch of photography and digital matte painting and you have a pretty sweet recipe for cool images.

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Analog And Foundation Art

Mostly working with pencil on paper I’ve always been drawing and creating. I sometimes refer to it as babbling with a pencil, and often enough that is a good summation. I’ll mess with color once in a while, but prefer plain graphite, working with shading and highlights with a big influence from HR Giger.

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One response

  1. Pingback: And now…I get to talk about me! « MDollingerDesign

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