“Andara Crystal” Recycled Glass Rock Spheres

I had acquired a bunch of recycled glass rock, some call by the made up name “Andara crystal” from an estate sale not too long ago. I wanted to do something with them and didn’t know what, until I walked by a demo display of a high gloss resin in Lowes. They had a display of this resin that had been poured over rocks to make a step. It is strong stuff and is commonly used for bar countertops. I had an idea to use the resin to glue these glass rocks together, and then put it through the sphering process, much like I do with my rocks. I had a 4 inch rubber mold that I used for my first one, then I made a larger mold out of a 6 x 6 inch cardboard box. It was a lot more work than I had expected, but they ended up pretty good. I had to soak them in alcohol to get some of the cerium oxide polish out of the cracks and pits which is just the nature of this material. I will probably make more of these in the future. The orange one was made with common glass beans you can buy at many common stores.

Michigan Blue Slag Glass Pendants

Since my sphere machine had been broken for months, I decided to grind out a few Michigan Blue Slag pendants to knock the rust off my bones. These are the results! One of them is available in my Esty shop if interested. The green one is from Escanaba, MI in the upper peninsula, the other three are from South Haven, MI in the lower south western part of Michigan.

Cool Cemetery Pictures Using iPhone Camera

It was an incredibly foggy day yesterday. It was perfect conditions to go into the cemetery and take advantage of the fog and daylight. I used my standard iphone 4 and stock lens. For post processing I used a great iphone app called Photoforge 2. I was happy with the results. The iphone really makes taking photographs fun and easy. What do you think?

Macro Photos of Recycled Cullet Glass

I am alive still. For those people who follow my blog (thanks, Mom), I just wanted to say after a long hiatus, that I plan to update this thing regularly once again. I took some time off, and my sphere machine broke. I put a bandaid on it for the time being, but I need to replace a motor. I plan on getting another machine going soon also. So stay tuned for more spheremaking on the way! In the meantime, I recently purchased a 3 in 1 lens kit for my iphone 4. I paid $15 but you can get it for under $10 at the moment here: http://www.amazon.com/180%C2%B0-Angle-Macro-Apple-iPhone/dp/B009UQR32I/ref=pd_sim_cps_5 It’s a knock off brand, but is quite great for the money. I took some shots of some cullet glass I had and thought I would share the results.

Rock Hunting and Beer Drinking In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

I got back last week from a little trip up north with my brother. My brother is a marathon runner and fitness buff. We brought his two kayaks and his two mountain bikes (apparently my Huffy did not make the grade for this trip!). Our goal: To get to the Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Now my brother is not much of a rockhound, but we can agree on one thing: beer. He brought with him a micro-brews of Michigan pamphlet and we used that as our guide.

We visited Elk Rapids (lower peninsula Michigan) the first day, as my brother is interested in buying a cottage on Elk Lake. We kayaked the lake for a number of miles, then hit a small bar/grill just west of there on our next stop, Big Twin Lake. We used to vacation there as kids and haven’t been there since. Big Twin Lake is a gorgeous spring fed lake with incredible clear water. We kayaked the entire lake (only 3 miles) and gawked at the beautiful cottages there. By then, it was getting late and we drove across the Mackinaw Bridge and got a hotel in St. Ignace. Of course, we had a few beers at a local pub. I tried some Keweenaw Brewing Pub Black Widow on tab…awesome.

We made it to Houghton the next day and stopped at Dayooper’s Rock Shop along the way where the nice lady there identified my infamous orange sphere as basalt and agate (a nice rare one at that). In Houghton, we ate (and drank) at the Library Brew Pub. Terrible name, but awesome brew and food! We tried to hit the Keweenaw Brew Pub but missed last call! It was a Sunday and all was dead.

On the way to Copper Harbor the next day, we stopped at an incredible rock shop called, Prospector’s Paradise. The place was huge and loaded with everything you can imagine. Highly recommended stop if you’re ever up that way. The kind owner there drew a map for me to find some mine dump piles as well as some beach areas on Lake Superior to look for agates. We hit a couple mine dumps and found plenty of cool looking rocks. I brought home a couple five gallon buckets full and about half had copper in them. Now, I have no experience in identifying the good ones, but I imagine if you knew specifically what you were looking for you could find some great finds. We didn’t stay too long as I didn’t want to bore my brother too long and we had beer drinking to do, but I could have stayed there all day!

In Copper Harbor we mountain biked and kayaked the harbor. Lake Superior was incredibly calm and clear. We had no luck looking for agates on the beach and didn’t try long, unfortunately. We did make it in to the local brew pub called, The Brickside. Once again, great beer. I limit my micro-brew intake to two pints (per visit/two visit limit per day), however my brother does not… We had a great time and the hotel we stayed at was a mere stumbling distance from the brewery. My brother tried to urinate in the drapes later that night…it was awesome.

Our final stop was Escanaba. We ate/drank at Hereford and Hops Brewery. I think that may have been the first meal I had on the trip that didn’t have any white fish in it (if you’ve ever been to the U.P. you might understand…white fish/pasties/jerky are not hard too find)! I did stop at the beach on Lake Michigan near the mouth of the river. The entire beach was covered with slag. Of course I loaded up on it. It was mostly green/grey/black. I did find a couple small pieces of brilliant blue and imagine there are more of those to find if you look hard enough. I’ll be making a few spheres from this stuff.

Along the entire way, I also made several beautiful sound recordings (waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, fans, air conditioners) to add to the next update of my iphone app “AtmoSpheres“. If you haven’t checked that out yet and have an IOS device, I’d love for you to give it a try!

Overall it was an awesome trip. Great weather, beer, food, and the scenery was incredible. Check some of the pictures!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I like the slogan, but something’s not quite right! I don’t think they’re referencing rock spheres here.

My iPhone App Is Now Available!

I’m happy to say after months and months of development, my iphone app, “AtmoSpheres” is now available in the app store!  Please take a minute to check it out if you have an iphone/ipod touch/or ipad.  It can be found in the app store here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/atmospheres/id522852282?ls=1&mt=8

If you download it and like it, be sure to leave a positive review!  I’d really appreciate that!I’m on a trip up in northern Michigan on the Keewenaw Peninsula.  It’s beautiful up here and I’m hoping to find a few nice rocks.  I’m also recording a ton of great sounds for the next AtmoSpheres update.

Here’s my press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Playgrind Publishing Company Releases AtmoSpheres for iPhone/iPod Touch

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – September 9, 2012 – Playgrind Publishing Company announced today that their first app title, AtmoSpheres is now available exclusively for iPhone and iPod Touch.  AtmoSpheres is a multi-track full stereo sleep-aid, relaxation, and meditation tool.  It allows you to blend up to four tracks of sound to create your own customized mix using a unique sphere-based mixer.

In AtmoSpheres, the user can mix up to four sounds and save them as a preset for later recall.  All live sounds were recorded using up to five microphones enabling stunning simulated 3-D sound.  The sphere-based mixer provides one control for volume, stereo panning, pause, play, and delete.  It also includes a timer feature with audio fade out.  “It’s beautifully simple and sounds phenomenal”, said Jim Meeker, sole proprietor of Playgrind Publishing Company.

“I’m very happy with Atmospheres; I wanted to combine my love of audio recording with my hobby of stone sphere making.  As silly as that may sound, this is the result” said Meeker.  “I worked extremely hard on delivering superior sound quality and seamless looping with an innovative mixer that really takes advantage of the IOS gesture based platform.”

AtmoSpheres is now available for $1.99 in the U.S. and is priced accordingly in other regions.  AtmoSpheres is available world-wide from Apple’s App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch, or by visiting:  www.atmospheresapp.com

Please visit www.atmospheresapp.com for more AtmoSpheres information, including videos and screenshots of the application, and www.playgrind.com for more company information.

Playgrind Publishing Company, an independent music publisher based out of Grand Rapids, MI, was formed by Jim Meeker for the purpose of promoting his musical works.

If you would like further information on AtmoSpheres or Playgrind Publishing Company, or you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:
Jim Meeker, Owner, Playgrind Publishing Company
Phone:  (616) 834-5117
email:  jim(at)playgrind.com

Does It Make Me A Braggart When I Proclaim “I have the shiniest balls on the internet!”?

In addition to stone, I really love the look of glass. Its amazing material and can look incredibly beautiful as a sphere. I collect as much of it as I can get and recently purchased over 100 pounds of recycled glass (cullet, slag) chunks (mostly blue and green colored ones but some purple and reds as well) at a great price. As beautiful as it is, it can be difficult to work. I should probably wear gloves when working with it because I always end up slicing a finger tip or something. I had actually made it through the entire process with no injuries on this one…until clean up. Then, I sliced the tip of my finger on a chunk of scrap. No guitar playing for a week or so. But it was worth it. I love how this sphere turned out. The hardest part after cutting it for me is the final polish to remove scratches. I use my custom made leather cups with cerium oxide polish. After running it wet, I let it dry out some and heat up a bit to seal up any scratches. So theres my secret. And here are the pics:

My next stickers: “Shiniest Balls Online”

Do I Make Art or Restore It?

Is spheremaking is an art, a craft, a mind numbing test of my patience? I like to think, God made the art, and I am just restoring it. Here are a few pics of my latest restorations:

The Greatest Sphere App of All Time!

It’s been well established I have some sort of ADD, OCD or some other acronym self diagnosis to be involved with sphere making. I always have to be doing something towards making my dreams of world sphere domination complete. So I combined my love for sphere making, recording audio and pretty much everything Apple makes into one product. Over the past four months I’ve been recording the audio and exhausted all of my business savings on an iphone app called “AtmoSpheres”. The AtmoSpheres app is a multi-track relaxation and meditation tool. It allows you to blend up to four tracks of sound to build your own customized mix. Each mix can be named and saved for later recall as a customized preset. All sounds were recorded by me, either using synthesis or recording live with two to five microphones per recording. Sounds were then mixed down to stereo. You’d be hard pressed to find an app with better quality sounds. The unique sphere based mixer provides one control for volume, stereo panning, play, pause and delete. Simple. It will be submitted to the IOS app store very soon. It is the first app from my Playgrind Publishing Company.

Please check out the video and manual stills, share with your friends, and download the free version when it finally hits the App Store, hopefully within the next couple weeks.

UPDATE:  The app has been approved and now available in the Apple App Store here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/atmospheres/id522852282?ls=1&mt=8