Hmmm…What to do with those pesky cords and cables? Of course! Whip up a creepy-cool USB monster! At least that was Ed Lewis’ plan. Not content with just making pop-up pyramids, oobleck, a paperclip bow and q-tip arrows, or causing havoc around Squid Labs, Ed turned his creative juices to the ever-present problem of tangled USB cables. And now the world is a better place for it. He told me a few things about his creative process, his next project, and what he missed at Burning Man – Interview by Arwen O’Reilly Staff Editor.
How would you describe yourself?
Restless and a bit messy. After spending a lot of time writing about other people doing things as a journalist, I decided to start doing more things myself. Instead of letting ideas get backed up, I’m determined to get them out as fast as possible. It’s a bit of a dangerous road and I find myself wanting more tools to play with and more tools to use them on, but that’s just how it goes. I’m also a big believer in interaction and I find myself attracted to projects that make people want to pick them up and play with them.
How on earth did you come up with the idea to make that bizarre USB spider monster?
There are so many USB devices out there and a tiny amount of ports to plug them into, eh? I figured that a hub would be the ticket, but then there’s the problem of jamming them all the devices into a tiny space. Extension cables were the next logical step and with some armature wire laying around from another project and I figured that putting the two together would allow for several ports to be accessible and separate. So I had an idea to create a USB squid that would be plopped onto a desk. But I didn’t have the patience to try to find some rubber squid to destroy so it turned into a spider. And once that happened it had to get some glowing red eyes. They just tie the whole thing together, really.
After making it I realized that I had gone and made something so completely against the clean and sterile nature of boring computer parts. The only downside is that I now feel kinda bad about bending the poor guy’s leg up to patch in a flash drive or card reader. I now spend more time just putting him in different poses than using him for his hub qualities.
What interesting projects are you working on right now?
There will be another hub monster, that’s for sure. The spider’s getting lonely and a cerberus desk lamp creature will be along in a little while to keep him company. I’m just waiting for the packages from eBay and newegg to roll in before that happens. Other than that: an international analog clock, a modified Rubik’s Cube, and some experiments with fabric and magnets on a scale that will hopefully become massive.
I’ve also become fascinated with mailing pieces through the mail and seeing if they make it. A wooden postcard with the addresses burned out arrived in two pieces and an acrylic variation of that is now on its way to Brooklyn. Another will have an oil and water wave box which hopefully won’t explode en route. And then there’s a low tech mass mailing of stenciled pieces of wood than I’m planning. I’m still looking for volunteers to receive them. Preferably on the east coast and with a decent digital camera. Any takers?
What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
I’m not sure what field I’m in exactly. I do love cool uses of bamboo and the Starry Bamboo Mandala that I saw pictures of from Burning Man this year was pretty brilliant and was the only thing that made me wish I’d gone this year.
What’s one tip you’d give to other makers or users of Instructables?
Make lives better with the cool stuff you bring into the world. There’s already plenty of suck.