Frugal Film Challenge 2023

Molly Kate is a photographer and writer with a small but fun YouTube channel (Eclectachrome), and this week she announced joining the Frugal Film Project in 2023.

The project started in 2019 when a group of photographers decided to shoot a roll of film every month with a cheap camera (under US$50). The original participants all shot the same film stocks but I’m following Molly’s lead to shoot the cheapest available film.

I bought six rolls of Fomapan 400 (120) today (€33) and plan to shoot a roll with my Holga 120SF (a Berlin flea market €10 purchase) every month. In July, I will switch to an affordable colour film for the second half of the project.

To add a personal wrinkle to the project, each month I will focus on a single concept or subject. For example, photographing a single building from multiple perspectives or a series of subjects with a common theme like classic motorcycles.

I will post the photographs from each roll on Instagram (@stevemadsen13), and create a small zine for myself.

The first roll of Fomapan 400 is loaded in the Holga, so let the fun begin.


Buy Nothing New in 2023

In 2020 I resolved to buy nothing new and met my goal with substantial help from the imposed constrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So I plan to revisit this goal in 2023. With the following exceptions I will not buy any new items this year:

  1. Under garments (I like vintage clothing but there are limits.)
  2. Essential safety equipment
  3. Consumables (film, materials etc)

While most things I may need can be found in the secondhand markets, I will try to make do with my current possessions before buying anything else. It also gives me an opportunity to determine which of my many items are truly useful in my life. Items I no longer need will be sold or donated to someone who can use them.

Could you go a year without shopping for new things?


My Art Assignment #3 – Make a Thing

In 2014, Sarah Urist Green and John Green created The Art Assignment to explore art and art history. The channel initially featured established and emerging artists who created art assignments for anyone to complete as a path to understanding their art practice. The site expanded to explore art through a variety of different forms but it is the Art Assignments that inspire me to dig into my tool boxes and make something.

My next art assignment is to:

  1. Take something from the virtual world.
  2. Make it physical.
  3. Upload a photo of your physical object using #theartassignment.
My Facebook Header

In early 2019 I decided to suspend my Facebook account, and after a year I realised I had no use for Facebook or their corporate practices. As I set about downloading my data I realised this would be a perfect digital archive to turn in to a real artefact.

I created a series of books to capture my Facebook posts, messages, photographs and personal data – seven books in total. Then using Blurb, I printed them as trade books, and they produced very good prints.

The books needed a suitable container, and after trialling several options I settled on a wooden briefcase.

Wooden Briefcase

I built this briefcase in my high school shop class over 45 years ago, and it served numerous functions throughout its life. I replaced the hinge, catches and handle with brass fittings and gave the wood a new coat of lacquer before adding a foam insert covered in black velvet.

It took almost a year to realise this project because I did not anticipate how much time is required to turn a website into a physical object. However, the piece is a great addition to my personal art collection and wonderful way to peruse my down deleted Facebook timeline.


Hogan’s Heroes Coffee Pot – Prop Replica

Hogan’s Heroes is one of the television shows that dominated my childhood viewing, and I still enjoy it immensely today. Making and repurposing objects figured prominently in the show, and the most iconic prop is the coffee pot.

The coffee pot contained a speaker connected to a microphone in Col. Klink’s office that allowed the prisoners to eavesdrop on the Germans. It’s a simple prop made from a few common items:

  1. A Universal Model D655 coffee pot made by Landers, Frary &Clark
  2. Altec Lansing grill cloth
  3. Dialco 1/2″ pilot light
  4. a length of wire

I found a model E956 coffee pot on Etsy that is indistinguishable from the original prop, and set about my build. I wanted the replica to actually play audio clips from the show, so I added a small bluetooth speaker in the basket. As I cannot find the correct grill cloth, I was pleasantly surprised to see the speaker’s face formed a reasonable approximation.

After drilling the hole for the pilot light, I needed to replace the bulb with a LED but did not have the right materials here. I found a pen in my desk that had a small LED torch in it, and dismantled it to recover the needed parts. The entire torch unit fitted into the pilot light perfectly and is held in place with a little hot glue. The back end of the pilot light was removed to allow access to the LED switch.

This is a great temporary solution but I plan to rewire it so the light comes on when the power cord is connected to the coffee pot. I also need to fix the light into the base with JB Weld to replicate the original look of the prop but I’ll leave that until I complete the rewire.

I waited almost a year to start this build and yet it was relatively simple one to complete. I often find myself intimidated by the thought of cutting into expensive material or rare items crucial to a successful outcome. Once completed they are amongst my favourite items in my collection, and this one will have a place of honour in my Curiosity Cabinet.

Sound check

My Art Assignment #2 – Sorted Books

In 2014, Sarah Urist Green and John Green created The Art Assignment to explore art and art history. The channel initially featured established and emerging artists who created art assignments for anyone to complete as a path to understanding their art practice. The site expanded to explore art through a variety of different forms but it is the Art Assignments that inspire me to dig into my tool boxes and make something.

My next art assignment is to:

  1. Choose a person I know or would like to know better.
  2. Take a look at/through their library
  3. Make 3 stacks of books to develop a portrait of the person.

Set by artist Nina Katchadourian I modified my response to a self-portrait as we’re currently following strict social distancing protocols to reduce the impact of the COVID:19 pandemic.

My personal library is quite small in keeping with our minimalistic lifestyle but I found the volumes I’ve kept all speak to directly to my life story and philosophy. This first photo is a complete self-portrait in one stack of books, and I like the concise encapsulation of how I see myself today.


But the assignment is to create three stacks, the three constants in adult life are the Royal Australian Air Force, motorcycles and travel. The common thread running through these three elements is my family who to varying degrees inherited my love of them. So created the following three stacks of books.

I did not expect the first two art assignments to be so introspective but I’m enjoying the self-discovery.


Over Bed Table Refurbishment

A table in need of a little love and elbow grease.

Two close family members recently returned from an overseas trip in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdowns, and went into mandatory self-isolation for two weeks. One is on paid leave but the other is working from home and asked us to buy find a secondhand over bed table.

After a fruitless search of secondhand stores I remembered they had an old one in their garage I might be able to resurrect.

I schlepped the table home and stripped it completely before cleaning all the parts and checking the mechanisms. It was actually in pretty good shape but in disparate need of a refresh.

I stripped and repainted the metal parts with a Rust-Loeum grey primer, and cleaned all the plastic end-caps and wheels. My wife cleaned the tabletop, and I used a liberal amount of cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) to reseat the rubber edging in place. I changed two old replacement screws that were too long with new and appropriately sized replacements, and reassembled the table.

Refurbished table.

I had fun bringing the old table back to life for them, and it cost less than $10. Now I need to get on with my on projects.


My Art Assignment #1

In 2014, Sarah Urist Green and John Green created The Art Assignment to explore art and art history. The channel initially featured established and emerging artists who created art assignments for anyone to complete as a path to understanding their art practice. The site expanded to explore art through a variety of different forms but it is the Art Assignments that inspire me to dig into my tool boxes and make something.

I plan to complete each of the 68 assignments, in no particular order, and I started with this one.

Become Someone Else

That’s Me on the left, and Him on the right. Me, I’m the creative type, I just want to make things and travel. I’m drawn to the weird and strange things in life, and care very little about other people’s opinion.

Not Him, he’s punctual, dependable, hard-working and just a little old-fashioned in his views and opinions. He’s also the bloke who finances Me in my life.

Thing is, six years ago I was Him and he was Me. I enjoyed his life, and the unique experiences and opportunities his career provided me. But now I prefer to just be Me, I earn less money but I’m richer for time and freedom I have to be Me. Oh, occasionally I pull on the old uniform and head off to be Him again and raise a few extra dollars. He’s good like that, self-sacrificing to fund my travel dreams.

I like Him, I’d just rather be Me these days.


My Manifesto Review

As we entered the last year of this decade, my social networks lit up with people posting their best of 2019 and decade reviews. Instead of reviewing the past year I reviewed the manifesto I wrote in 2015 (see above).

Amazingly I found each item continues to resonate with the person I am and where I want to continue developing my life. That’s not to say I always fulfilled the spirit of the manifesto in recent years. In particular I struggle to not accumulate things, and definitely own more not fewer things than I did when I wrote it five years ago.

Colleen and I continue to buck convention. In 2019 we attended our first Steampunk events in Australia and New Zealand, making new friends with like-minded makers and dreamers. I follow a lot of cosplayers on social media but never really understood the excitement until we got involved with Steampunk.

Buoyed by our success we made Star Lord and Captain Marvel costumes for OzComicon in Sydney. We had a lot of fun, and I see cosplay being a big part of our future adventures.

We travel extensively every year but in 2019 we took shorter trips within Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. This allowed us to be more reactive and visit family or attend events at short notice rather than planning one big travel adventure. It also brought into sharp focus our preference for cooler climates, and longer stays in each place (minimum 1-4 weeks).

Longer stays allow us to take a breath and just enjoy the view from a quiet cafe or park bench instead of rushing from sight to sight. It also allows us to discover local events and learn more about local culture and lives. Often these adventures result in small adjustments to the way we live our lives and the way we view the world around us.

My creative outlets have been sporadic, long fallow periods followed by intensely creative weeks. My mind tends to create new projects constantly, and seems to create a roadblock in my head that stalls all progress on current projects. This year I am using The Art Assignments as a creative muse to keep me moving forward and provide the momentum to complete my fallow projects.

Ok, that’s enough self reflection, time I started making things.


Making Indy’s Satchel

Indiana Jones' Satchel
My replica of Indiana Jones’ satchel.

Scrolling through Market Place listings on Facebook I found two old army bags that looked similar to Indiana Jones’ satchel in the films. Without further research I grabbed them both for $20 (Australian dollars), and drove across town to pick them up.

Although similar neither matched the Mark VII screen used prop, one is a Mark V and the other a Mark VI (pictured above). A Mark VI is used in one scene in Temple of Doom but both are similar enough to use for cosplay or display purposes.

I removed the original shoulder strap, and replaced it with a 25mm (one inch) leather bridle strap cut to a length of 1625mm (65 inches). Each end is secured by a Chicago screw (also known as screw or binding posts). A slide, in this case an altered buckle, is used to adjust the strap length to get the bag sitting right on the wearer’s body.

That’s it, I will probably weather the strap to match the well-worn bag and I am looking a for a more screen accurate slide. A quick but satisfying build to get me back into making stuff after a few months of procrastination.

I gifted the Mark V satchel to my Replica Prop Forum Secret Santa recipient, and the Mark VI is for my personal collection. Now what items do I need to put in it?


FG8 Tiger Moth: Paper craft Model

Procrastination is a beast to master, and this project has been hiding in a drawer for nearly four years. I bought several model kits in Tokyo but I had only completed one small kit before this week.

Miyazaki’s film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, is a classic and this model of the Red Pirates ship captures the beauty of his art and cinematography. 

I had set everything up to film the whole build but a focus error left me with a few hours of unusable footage. So I’ll just leave at this short fly-around of the finished model.