Who is Harley as a creator?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Who is Harley as a creator?


Who is Harley and why does he make things? Today at the House of Hacks, Harley shares a brief part of his biography as a creator. This is the second episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #VEDA2017).

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For a written transcript, go to Who is Harley as a creator?

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com


Who is Harley as a maker?

Today at the House of Hacks I try to answer that question.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

Who am I as a maker?

That's kind of the topic for today's VEDA

Well, I come by making pretty honestly. All of my grandparents and my Dad and Mom
are all involved in making things in one way or another.

My paternal grandfather was trained as a, at an early age, as a typographer and was involved in the printing industry. He started his own printshop and had that almost up to the day he died. He was also involved in making things. I have a lot of his tools around me in the workshop or tools that he had given me as I was growing up. He was involved in all sorts of different making things. Printing was his day job where he was making things as a craftsman producing printed material but then he also had a metal lathe and a wood lathe and all kinds of saws and tools. There were tools in his shop that nobody knew what they were because they were so specialized.

My paternal Grandmother also was involved in making things. She was more on the crafts side of things. I remember... I have some pieces of jewelry that she made and my Dad tells me stories that up until Granddad started the business and she was involved in that and didn't have time anymore, she made all the family's clothes. So she was very much a maker in the kind of homemaking side of things.

My maternal Grandfather was an engineer his whole working life and everybody thought of him as this kind of cut and dried numbers only kind of guy. Then he retired and kind of all those creative juices that had been somewhat suppressed probably through his working life kind of overflowed and in retirement he started out painting, spent a lot of time making models, ship models. He made some beautiful, beautiful ship models, was featured in the local newspaper and various local displays, heavily involved in the local ship building club and then moved on from shipbuilding to more casting and sculpture work and did some beautiful sculptures, particularly of my... two of my cousins who lived nearby them. They have some busts that he made of them that are beautiful. I also have a bust of a... he called it a sea captain and it's just kind of an anonymous person that he did a sculpture. This is one of his early sculptures. I'll put a picture of it that here in this video.

My maternal Grandmother was also very creative although I never really knew it. She had a piano in the house and I always thought it was more of a piece of decoration than anything else but I got the pleasure of hearing her play late in her life and I didn't realized it but she was a very fine pianist and involved in making music.

And then both my parents are also makers in one way or another.

My Dad is much like me in that he has a workshop and he does all kinds of projects. He always has a house project or shop project going on, doing something for the cars or his tractor or whatever. He's got projects going on.

Then my Mom's focus is kind of on landscape and home improvement. She always has some painting project or wall papering project or landscaping project going on. Something to improve the visual aspect of the house.

So I come by making naturally. I kind of go after my paternal side of the family with my Dad and my paternal Grandfather in terms of my personal interests, having a wide variety within the workshop environment. I also have these other influences from the other parts of the family.

I did start young.

One of the early stories that my Mom tells is she was working in the kitchen one day. This was before my brothers were born. I was still an infant, I wasn't yet walking. And she realized I was being too quiet. So she went looking for me. She found me in the hallway. I had pulled my Dad's tool chest out of the closet and had pulled the bathroom scale out of the bathroom and I had completely disassembled it. Like I said this was before I was walking. So I was interested in how things work, the mechanical aspects of things, from an incredibly young age.

I remember I was four or five years old and I remember one Christmas I got both a Tinkertoy set and also a Lincoln Log set and I just had a ball putting things together with those creative sets. A year or two later I was given an Erector set and again I just had a blast making things out of these mechanical sets.

Hand tools. I picked up hand tools and started using them at an early age too. Somewhere, I was either four or five and I remember hitting my finger with the hammer and I caused a blood blister underneath the nail and eventually the nail fell off. Of course it grew back, it was just a temporary thing. But I do remember that's a very vivid memory as a youngster. I haven't ever hit my hand that hard with a hammer since. A good learning experience.

But then I moved on to power tools too. I was probably second or third grade when I started using the jigsaw in my Dad's shop. He tells me the story that he showed me how to use it and then walked away and went in the kitchen to leave me on my own and was pretty nervous with me working that but he was talking with my Mom and said "well, if he's going to hurt himself, he's not going to hurt himself too badly with that particular saw. So it's a good starter saw for him." I've never hurt myself with a power saw now that I think about it. I think the hammer experience was a good learning experience to watch what I'm doing when working with tools.

Later in grade school I got interested in electronics and was given a 10-in-1 electronics set and went on from that to more Heathkit sets where you build things yourself, solder things together on PCBs and make things that way. Did a lot of Heathkit related electronics kits.

As I got older into high school I started working on cars. I did a bunch of engine swaps and transmission swaps. I even changed... swapped out a body on a chassis underneath a car. So I've played around with a lot of variety of different things.

In Junior High, my interest in electronics shifted over to the software and that's something that's been a constant through my whole life. That was 40 or so years ago when I started programming. I've been programming 35 years professionally full time. That's been kind of my day job. My career has been in software development. Software is in my opinion one of the... a great, great creative field. It combines aspects of both science and math along with the creative side of things and kind of melds them together and it really is a craft. It's not a science. It's not an art. It's a craft that melds the two together. I just really enjoy writing software.

But I enjoy doing other things as well. And that's really what this channel is about, is the wide variety that people can make things with. So that's a little bit about myself, about where I come from as a maker, my background.

Why don't you leave down in the comments below a little bit about yourself. About why you're interested in making things and what kinds of things you make.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!