Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This is the model we are loosely basing your pallet play structure on. The latter images are ideas for the structure you had mentioned in our meeting of possible ad-on activities for the children, like:
...a table with a cutout hole for metal bowls to play in.
Small shelving can be added in the structure for toys and tools and so on.
This is a rather "large" example, but I can build a smaller version of this and use a part of the structure wall for hooks. And it would be fun to have the small table with multiple bowls of different sizes the children can play in.
We both liked the idea of having a space "under" a structure on stilts, but this is a cool idea to have a small lofted space for the children to climb a lookout tower.  This structure and how it's positioned to the brick wall is similar to where we're putting the structure next to the fence. Building a narrow step-ramp up to the lofted space would be cool! Just an idea!
This is just an added inspiration I thought was cool. But we can figure out these details after the structure is built.  I just think it's a cool way to store little items in tandem with it functioning as a little desk.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Little Green Schoolhouse

These are just a few examples of "pallet" playhouses.

This is a type of roofing material I like to work with. Whether galvanized steel or plastic, is easy to install and an excellent material for northwest weather. A gutter system can be attached to the structure as well if needed. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Archaeology Learning Box

Kids (and adults!) like to dig!
An Archaeology learning box can be a creative activity for children to learn about rocks, bones, and anything you choose to bury in the dirt. With proper tools and instructions, children can delicately expose little treasures.
For example: Maybe one lesson you can bury an assortment of rocks like agates, crystals, basalt rock, red jasper...etc. The teacher can provide a list of what is buried in the box. With every stone that's discovered, the children can try to match each stone to the list provided and learn about what each stone is made out of.
Each lesson can be simple, but fun!
You can bury small letters that the children can discover and then match the found letters to a list of words they are learning.
You can get inexpensive little dinosaur toys and they can learn about each dinosaur they find.
The creative options are endless and can be a great way for children to properly use small tools, brushes, little sifting trays and it's a great activity for children to work together as they discover the mystery lesson during each dig.

I can build a small box, sifting trays and provide fun tools.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


When I was younger my family lived in Germany. We were stationed there twice because my dad was a band director in the Army. What an oxymoron: an artist in the Military.  At that time in the late 70's there were countless Volkswagon beetles on the city streets. We had a daschund my sister named "lady bug" after the VW. Very fitting. But now, as an adult, I don't see VW Beetles as round lady-bugs. They're more like snails. Slow moving artifacts. A novel keepsake. An old design from recent past. An afterthought. Their motors sputter.  Engine powered from behind.  Tiny interior.  Maybe room for a small friend, perseco, and a picnic basket?  They can't compete with the cars of today. As my dad would say about the present automobile, "they all look the same... designed in a damn wind-tunnel".

VW was founded by the Socialist trade union German Labor Front. The name "volkswagon" literally means "peoples car" in German. It was a liberating concept to provide affordable vehicles at that time (1930/40's) for average citizens when automobiles were considered such an extreme luxury.

The beetle, lady bug, veedub etc. was what our i-touch, i-phone, i-tunes is to our generation today: providing "accessibility" at somewhat affordable prices. But our current world is dressed fast. In immediacy, real-time, "mach schnell"! My technical devices seem to be extensions of my body, like a hand I can't live without. Texting, surfing, facebooking, blogging my way through space and time. Feeling total panic when my cellphone battery dies because I forgot to plug it in for the last 6 days and I'm downtown trying to meet up with friends. At that point I'm completely incapable of doing anything. I become useless as the anxiety kicks in, realizing I don't have "access"... this faux life-line that connects me to my little world. I've only been introduced to this speed in the last 5 years. And now I can't remember what I did in the previous 30yrs without all my gadgets?

Reflecting back on my "youth"... the VW beetle isn't an afterthought.  It's still a reality.  It's a treasure.  A symbol.  An iconic vehicle that reminds us of the world that "had" existed.  And ultimately it reminds us of what still exists today?  I really like the snail. Versatile in it's mobility. House on it's back.  Traversing through Berlin eating a little Falafel Döner. Unfettered. Adaptable. Deliberate.  A true free-spirit.  I have to remind myself to take it slow.  Pay attention to detail.  Stop and smell the roses.  I make a point to find time for perseco and picnics... just as long as I remember to plug my phone in the night before.

Carving in progress with sketched city and kebab.
Creating background and frame.
New "water-based" sludgy stain I was worried about.  I made numerous "tests" before applying it to this carving.  I was still a bit nervous with a new stain.  But it seemed to work out well.
This is one step away (gloss finish, black oil paint)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

ALT/NEU is a concept

Alt/Neu is a concept. It means Old/New in the German language. It's a notion that holds no boundaries. It can present itself as timeless and enduring, or quite the opposite as ephemeral and transitory. I created this term while trying to define my woodcarving. It's quite fitting since I'm of German descent, my mentor is the prolific German woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider (1460 – 7 July 1531) and I happen to enjoy Brats and Beer. Alt/Neu can be perceived as the symbiosis of an OLD craft and NEW art. It can respect and celebrate old techniques, traditional rituals, crude tools, and redefine what was once know as a relic into a woven relationship with the modern world. My woodcarvings live and breathe in the world of Alt/Neu. This is certainly not your grandpa's woodcarving. I don't carve duck decoys, although I do think duck decoys are rather beautiful.

The birth of Alt/Neu came to me when I had a booth at the Portland Saturday Market. I decided to name my business "Alt/Neu". I thought it was clever. But it confused the patrons of the market and I experienced a lot of crooked eyebrows. Perhaps I should've named my booth "carvers corner" or "whimsical widdler"? I packed up my booth to meditate and take refuge in Alt/Neu. To take serious the versatile potential of bas-relief woodcarving in the 21st century. Portland has a gorgeous pool of Alt/Neu artists: weavers, quilters, knitters, fanzine publishers, book binders, woodblock print-makers, sculptors...  cross-stitchers?  Reinventors and rule breakers.  Guerrilla Craftsmen.  We have amazing pioneers blazing old craft mediums and reclaiming them in the modern world.

I've never had the desire to "blog" about my work, but recently I've been tongue-tied trying to explain what I do.  This site is dedicated to house my process for those who are interested in knowing more about this method and style of relief carving.  Although I use techniques identical to the old masters, such as carving in linden/lime wood (basswood) and I only use hand-tools, the content is certainly not what you would imagine in relief carving.  I finally decided to take the plunge becoming a woodcarving blogger to provide images and explanations of the prepping, carving, sanding, staining and finishing processes I use. And if the mood strikes me, I'll even explain the themes and intimacies of individual pieces.

Vielen Dank,
Nik Arnold

NEW SERIES: Deliberate Dwellings and Adaptation

She is the relationship between nature and modernity. The ever presence and persistence of the modern world nipping at her heels. The delicious vulnerability of her natural skin, body, and mind within the ever changing world around her. She is beauty. She stands tall in the seduction of the technical world.

Flowering Sun in the cosmos. Bedroom lights beg to be reborn as the blazing stars that light up the universe.

The hummingbird is a craftsman of spider webs, weaving tiny nests for their tiny eggs. Later as the babies start to grow, the nest expands.  Truly ingenious.  These brilliant architects are an inspiration.  They teach us how to do things right with what's simply provided by nature.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Turning 35 years old

Summer birthdays are fabulous!  We recently hosted a bbq celebrating my 35th birthday with some of my most beautiful, thoughtful, and crazy-wild friends!  I'm so privileged to be surrounded by such excellent people.   Later I walked through the house and it looked like someone had gotten married, all the amazing floral arrangements scattered around the house like priceless works of art.  Indeed, I am married to this year.  I made a loyal commitment to 35 and it's already brought richness and beauty into my life.

Being a host during this celebration, naturally I didn't get to spend a huge amount of time with each individual who showed up.  At one point in the night, between feeding the neighbor kids, hugging gorgeous Portuguese men longer than they expected (Kiki, your brother is "muito quente!") figuring out how to put Niko's transformer back into a truck, receiving kisses from neighbors, making sure everyone was eating and drinking enough... I sat down on the lawn to take a breather and looked around.  I thought to myself: every single one of these people are marvelous.  I felt overwhelmed with happiness seeing my parent-friends relaxed and carefree, the kids running around with sugar-highs, my neighbors chatting with my best pals I've known forever, Liz's smile lighting up the backyard while Mary-mac cracks her up, hearing the accents of Germany, Australia, Scotland, England, Eritrea, and Portugal floating through the air, witnessing a quick friendship between strangers as Val and Wayne became spontaneous grill-masters taking charge,  hearing Connie Wong by the fire-bowl proclaim, "you know, smores just bring people together!"

 This was one of my favorite birthdays to date... only because of the company.  I had to document my gifts and flowers everyone so generously brought.  I took photos of each arrangement and gift I received.   (I'm a carver not a photographer fyi!)  The personality in each bouquet is clearly apparent as a reflection of the person who methodically placed each stem in place.  Pure artistic beauty.  Thank you so much.  From the depths of my gratitude, I adore each and everyone you.

 (I suggest you click on the image to enlarge the details)