If you have spent any time exploring the woodworking, metalworking or outdoors sections of Instructables, you have probably seen bricobart's unique and creative projects. From his early start making and birdhouses to put in the woods near his house, his skills and projects have increased to include everything from custom knives to dream catchers, although some things never change. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with him about his daily life, favorite projects and plans for the apocalypse.
When did you first start making things? What was your first project?
When I was a kid I was a great LEGO fan, like all kids I guess, but one of the first projects I can remember was that mass-production of nest boxes for birds. I went to the store with my bike, and with my pocket money I bought rough planks, glue, nails, screws, hinges etc and went loaded as a yak back home many times! With a self made ladder I dispersed the boxes in a small forest near my parents house. Even now, some 25 years later, some of my early boxes are still there, and in use! In fact, first I was a birder, then I became also a maker.
Do you have a day job? What does a typical day of your life look like?
Actually I'm starting my own business right now. For five years I worked as a professional handyman in a small company but now time has come to mount my own. A typical day would start with opening my list of appointments I made the days before. Going to place A to repair a leaking flush, to place B to adjust a wooden entrance door, to C to take measurements to make a quotation for a kitchen that the clients would like to change, meanwhile the phone would ring "Bart could you to D because someone broke his key in the door lock" - so I'll speed to D to repair if possible and change if necessary, etc. In short I'm running all day, doing what I like, managing my own planning and trying to make people happy.
How did you find Instructables and what made you start posting projects?
I discovered the site while doing some research to build a kayak. I think one of the first I'bles I saw was "How to build a Greenland kayak." In the beginning I was a kind of passive member, discovering every day more cool projects and being more & more amazed by the huge diversity on the site. Since we lived in Southern France at that time and I planned to make a boomerang from olive wood, I thought "Maybe this might be good enough to be published on the site." This natural elbow boomerang became my first I'ble. And apparently many more followed...
You seem very dedicated to your various physical projects but you also clearly put a lot of time into your documentation and write ups here on Instructables. Why share your projects here?
This must be a result from my former career as a geology teacher in high school. I always liked to explain things, and one of the most important skills for a teacher is being able to transmit his enthusiasm to the others. You can't motivate someone if you don't believe in it yourself. So I see Instructables as a huge platform to share knowledge and skills, and it's a form of respect to your readers to give it the best you can - just like a teacher in the classroom. Instructables is by far one of the best media for this. Motivate people, they'll be motivated. When I see all those young members on the site it makes me very happy.
It seems like a lot of your projects are inspired by your natural surroundings, what else do you draw on for inspiration?
Necessity, for example. Many of my projects started with a personal need. Got a problem? Solve it. Got a lot of used sanding discs? Find a way to upcycle them. Got heavy toolboxes? Find a way to carry stuff on your back. There's also the fact that I like challenges "wouldn't it be nice to try this?"- my viking beer mug is a good example for this, or that harpoon drill I made once. Experimenting is a good way to learn. If it doesn't work, at least you learned something. If it does, you've got an Instructable!
What has been your favorite project and why?
The Tree-Nex-project, definitely, since this is really something of myself. It's hearth-based woodworking, not tool-based. It's simple, respectful, creative, pure, almost therapeutic and really satisfying. In this concept you're controlling the whole process, from the harvest to the use of what you made, which makes it something really unique. It's not often that I'm kind of proud of something, but I am totally proud of this project!
You have a website, yak-proof where your tagline is "resistant artwork." What is resistant artwork?
Well, artwork that kind of resists. The idea is that the best way to know if something you made will serve well under severe circumstances is to leave it in a small room with a big yak. If the next day your piece is still intact, it's yak-proof. This site - it's even not a "real" site - started as a kind of dropbox I used to show some of my artwork, before I knew Instructables. After time I'll transform the site to a small store to sell a few items like boomerangs, kuksas and zombie stoppers. Tested on animals, of course...
What ideas and projects do you have in the works?
That's kind of top secret, you know. But I can reveal it's something with sharp knives and kittens.
What's the best feedback you've ever gotten?
One of the most touching comments came in a hot discussion in the calumet-I'ble. This calumet was a present I made for my best friends wedding, and since his nickname is "Crazy Horse" - I'm "Crazy Bull" - I had named this I'ble "Crazy Horses Calumet." But, I didn't realize at all that this would generate a storm of comments on the site, since to me there was no link to the well known Native American. Pure coincidence, to me. Of course, I should have known better, but besides the negative comments there was also a lot of positive feedback, from people who understood the spiritual message of the gift. That was one of those moments I felt that Instructables was acting as a real community. It was simply beautiful.
What's your apocalypse plan, zombie or otherwise?
I believe that in case of the apocalypse - when that Yellowstone-caldera reactivates, for example, or in case there's no more water available in Belgium, preventing us to make beer and forcing us to import stuff, a real catastrophe I mean – there will be three possibilities. Or we'll be instantly dead, or we'll be forced to stay where we are, or we'll be forced to hike over the country. First scenario: nothing doesn't matter anymore so why care about it. Second: food will be crucial. Third: food will be crucial. For the second: those who have gardens should start to cultivate right now to be self- sustained when it happens. Those who haven't will have to do the same as those in the third scenario: gather what you find. Eat when you're not hungry, drink when you're not thirsty. One good advice for those: start guerrilla gardening now. The more seed bombs you'll launch now, the more you'll have to eat later. I'm making a garden, and I'm launching bombs. The future is bright!
Got your own questions for bricobart? Ask them here!