Anthony Harris - The Epsilon Eridani Skitter archive

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Anthony Harris shares this unique piece all the way from outer space which also includes a hidden box

The Epsilon Eridani Skitter, giant palm nut, African blackwood and African porcupine quills, 405mm tall x 150mm dia. (PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTHONY HARRIS)

This is the second of the animals recently discovered on the inner-most planet circling the Epsilon Eridani star. You may not know of the recent return of the first probes to this star system and the cargo that they brought back. An uncle's brother-in-law snuck it out to me and I have been taking care of it.

I lost this critter briefly when it first arrived at my house through carelessness in handling the transport container's lid. Zip! This thing was quick! It came out of its box faster than I could blink. It used ceilings and walls just like they were flat ground.

One of only three examples of extra-terrestrial life, that I was responsible for, was loose in my front room. I chased after it, but it just vanished. I kept hearing something moving around in the house. The cat was pretty freaked out. I hoped that this guy would show itself, but I could not find it for anything.

I put out some live traps but all I caught was a couple of mice. Finally, I glued a thick piece of polystyrene to a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood and then spread some raspberry jelly and peanut butter on the foam. The next morning I found this guy with his legs stuck in the foam.

The cat was watching it from a couple of feet away. They must have reached some kind of a detente because neither one of them was moving. The Skitter turned irate when it saw me, though. It started whipping that tail around, and I was afraid to pick it up. I tried to stick the cat on it; he wasn't having any of that. I finally made a net out of a mesh bag.

I got the Skitter into a cardboard box, but it kept running around and poking holes in the sides. A couple of minutes of that and I started seeing daylight through the box.

Quick as I could, I slipped some crackers with raspberry jelly and peanut butter on them into the box. I guess it gorged itself. It calmed down enough, at any rate, that I was able to get it into a wire cage.

There is a group in my local turning club who goes on binges where they will make variations on a given object for a few weeks or months and show them off at gatherings. They started making ants at one point. So, I figured if we are going to be making bugs, let's make some BUGS! I made three variations: the Strider, Skitter, and the Flame-ended Scroot.

My bugs didn't look like anything from around where I lived, so I figured that they must be immigrants. Epsilon Eridani, at the time I made the bugs, was the closest star which it was considered might have a planet with an earth-like environment.

Have you ever heard of the saying, “To a man holding a hammer, the world looks like a nail.†Well, I am a box maker. If you carefully reach in between the Skitter's legs, and you best be real careful, you can unscrew its belly. I am a thread chaser. The Skitter can be disassembled into eight pieces and fits into a pretty small box. It is great fun, for me, at least, to dump its components out of a box and put it together in front of someone.

The Skitter is made of a giant palm nut, African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) and African porcupine quills. The quills are just amazing objects. They are very light, but oh so strong due to their inner structure. They are made out of keratin; the same stuff as fingernails and hair. There is no way they would take a thread. The quills are glued into small African blackwood sockets which then thread into the palm nut. 20tpi threads on the quill sockets and 16 on the box's lid. I boiled the tail and then used a heat gun to bend it.

Woodworkers Institute

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