Where it all began

First Mill

I’m very grateful to have grandparents which taught me crucial life lessons (although I can’t say I actually learned them until I was into my 20’s). When I was little my grandma taught me things like “If you love to sled, you gotta learn to pull the sled up the hill.” and I remember my grandma making a wooden airplane with me that would scare the moles away in the summer house in Russia. My dad was an engineer so I remember him always tinkering and building stuff. One time he made me a little box that sounded like a police siren that I hung on my trike that I would ride around the apartment in Moscow when I was just a couple years old. His car had a home made alarm and the wires that make it tick were all hanging out of the dashboard (it’s a shock the thing worked at all). Needless to say all those things, especially my dad’s ability to do things with his hands definitely rubbed off on me.

But until 2008, I had nothing. Although I’ve done some things like build/install speakers into cars and was pretty good with my hands, I didn’t know what it meant to produce art (aside from the art class I took in sixth grade). I just started producing music and opened the gates for a creative outlet. I learned that I could express what I was feeling in music and somehow when I felt bad, I felt better, and when I felt good, I could feel it in its perspective.

One day I had a strange idea. I read on the internet about guys building these machines (CNC routers) out of the most basic parts. I love working with computers and decided that I was going to try one.

After a couple months of work, some wood that I cut with a saw, some drawer slides, stepper motors and some Chinese ebay parts I had this:
First MillI didn’t know it at the time but this machine opened up a Pandora’s Box for my entire existence. At fist I had no idea what to do with it and eventually it self-destructed anyway, but not before I was able to create my first sculptures.  They were crude and poorly made but they planted a seed and started a dream which has not stopped since and developed into my unique art form.

l (5)    l (6)

And so it began. Since then I’ve built around five or six different versions of the machine and countless sculptures most of which I have scrapped, never to be seen again. Today the machine looks something like this:
DSCN2488 DSCN2493 DSCN2497

I named it Arkasha-Valusha-Masha 2013 as a dedication to my three all-inspiring grandparents: Arkadiy (Arkasha), Valentina (Valusha) and Maria (Masha). In case the inner geek is wondering what all those wires and hoses do, it has a spindle motor which  is liquid cooled with anti-freeze (yes the type you put in the car), it has a air jet nozzle which shoots wd40 onto the cutting surface to keep the tool cool and lubricate the cut and a home made light!

This is my primary tool and I’m very proud to have spend the last 8 years building it into what it is today because I use it for everything. I did the design, fabrication and machining all by myself. I will probably eventually write an article about the whole process and the different models I built but it’s sort of out of the scope of my art website.

Stay tuned for more. I’ll be writing more about all my other tools I’ve made to create my craft and walk you through the process of making some of my sculptures.

Thank for reading,

-Dmitri

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