DOOP’s KickStarter is up and running

Please visit where you can view video of DOOP’s story and DOOP himself.   In addition to the main video, there are at least a couple of others under the “updates” tab, including one showing DOOP’s first turn on the runners of the sled, parts of the build and lots more.


DOOP – Dog Out Of Place

It wasn’t long after I found and named DOOP that I knew he would be coming back to Burning Man in the future, I just wasn’t sure when and in what form.  For a while it looked as if he would return as a camp dog, hanging out in hammocks and feigning some type of attitude (although quite what type was hard to imagine, which you would understand if you had met him back then – he was a rather pathetic pup).

Sledding on Hudson Bay, 2012.









I’m also not sure when I came up with the idea of having him drive a sled with people dragging him around, but it must have been while on the runners, staring at the rear ends of a team of dogs, on one of my annual winter sledding trips. It was probably at one of those points when,  lost in the mesmerizing rhythm of fast dogs on fast snow, I am snapped back into reality by a dog glaring at me over its shoulder reminding me that we are now on a steady incline and it’s high time I jump off and help by pushing.

So now I find myself building an art car, I mean sled, that rolls on wheels and is pulled by three bicycles and driven by a 4’ 10” tall, soft, toy dog with a mechanical right rear leg.

The idea……

Why do this?  Why not.  As with all such whimsical projects the reasoning behind it is difficult to explain, and if it doesn’t strike you as justifiable by its sheer silliness and absurdity, then maybe this is not the project for you.

Who will pull the sled?  Anyone who wants to jump on a bike and peddle.  Using passing persons is actually a cost saving device as utilizing stray people means I don’t have to maintain a series of kennels, or a people yard, and at least for a short time it will keep them off the streets and out of trouble..

Besides just being fun and an enjoyable, interactive machine, it is also another opportunity for us – the ArtifexGroup – to create the second in our series of projects through which we cooperatively build art and teach others design and fabrication skills (the first project being our flagship – literally – the C.S. Tere, check out the “Supported Projects” tab above for more information).   ArtifexGroup was founded on the idea that when people are given the right tools, materials, and education they can create a better world. We are a volunteer group of beginner to experienced Metal Artists who intend to help people with their individual art, as well as bring large and small collaborations to life.

Besides Burning Man, I intend to take DOOP to other art and maker events to represent the work of ArtifexGroup.  Being a much smaller and more manageable size he will be invaluable as a demonstration of our work and purpose.

Most pressing right now is how this build will be funded?  I will soon be launching a KickStarter campaign to raise $1,972.

Why $1,972?  This is the basic amount of cash needed to create the sled as envisioned – sled, bikes, miscellaneous hardware, lights, fire….. The sub frame needed to strengthen the sled and to which the wheels are attached is being made from off cuts of steel.  As many recycled/upcycled/repurposed materials as possible are being used in this build.

Any additional money raised over and above $1,972 will be applied to the cost of transporting DOOP to and from events; he needs a trailer (rented, bought or built),  as he has no desire to ride the sled from venue to venue, even if he could round up enough stray people willing to drag him around.  Then there are other items not included in the basic build budget, such as spare parts, bike repair supplies, propane for the fire, and so forth.

Why a sledding Pennant?  Why are you using “sled” and not “sledge”?  What does Scott of the Antarctic have to do with this anyway? All great questions which I intend to answer here in the near future.

So please, consider throwing DOOP a bone, so to speak, once the KickStarter goes live – I’ll post here when this occurs.  Even $1 would be a much appreciated treat.  Thanks.


DOOP sledding pennant (left) on it’s first outing, Hudson Bay, 2012.


Resources and Suppliers

Many individuals have already helped get this project off the ground and I would like to thank them here for two main reasons; first, I simply owe them oodles of thanks for their help and/or materials they have supplied, and second I hope you will consider supporting those of them that are hard at work running small businesses.  I will continue to add to this list as the project progresses.


As of today, July 9th, the following has been accomplished:

  • The Kickstarter is underway and is slowly growing – please help out by letting all of your friends know about this silly project.
  • The sled is built.
  • The metal subframe for the sled is built and the wheels have been attached, including the crank in the back axle that will provide the motion for DOOP’s right leg.
  • The bikes are here too.
  • DOOP’s armature is in the process of being constructed – this past weekend we started with his right leg which is articulated at the knee and hip.  Once the foot is   connected to the crank on the back axle of the sled, it will move back and forth just as if he is “peddling” the sled as it moves forward.  ”Peddling” is when the musher steps off one of the runners and helps move the sled along by pushing with one foot, just like a skateboarder getting his speed up on his board.  We also have both legs constructed and welded to his feet (two steel plates that will be inserted into his boots).  The left boot will then attach to the left sled runner and the right one to the crank. (See photo below).
  • Potential fire effects have been tested on a demo rig and we have some of the parts to make that happen on the sled.
  • We have done the first real design work for the “gang-line” (more like a “gang-triangle” in reality) that will link the bikes to each other and the sled, allowing them to steer and generally function as bikes do while letting folks ride them without clipping their heels and knees.
  • Lighting is also in its final design phase right now – as long as we don’t make too many changes to the configuration of the gang-line and bikes.

Here are DOOP’s lower legs and feet in production. They form the lower part of the armature that will hold DOOP upright. The flat metal feet will slide into his sledding boots and will then be attached to the sled. The leg on the left of the picture is DOOP’s right leg and the round fittings are the bearings that form his knee and hip joints allowing the right leg to move.













No bones about it………………

July 12th, 2012

The armature is now well underway with shoulders, hips and spine. Yesterday we bolted it together and then clamped it in place to the sled so that we could position it correctly. We really want to avoid it looking as if DOOP is about to bail, or worse. In the process we realized that we needed to stiffen up the sled a bit more, specifically the handle bar to which DOOP’s hands will be fixed. It is really important that we have a firm base on which to fix his hands, because with only one foot attached to the runners (the right one will be moving back and forth, as you probably know by now), he needs all the support we can give him. So we have added a steel bar to the underside of the handlebar, and this will be welded to the main steel sub-frame.

Dog sleds are deliberately built to have a certain amount of inherent flexibility in order to allow them to move, corner and generally bounce about without breaking. DOOP’s sled is being built around just such a real, wooden, racing, dog sled (a “Seeley Slider” to be exact – for a photo of an unadulterated Seeley Slider take a look at , the source for DOOP’s chariot). However, for us the Slider’s natural flexibility is not an asset considering the type of motion it will have to withstand, as well as the load it will carry once the fire apparatus and other bits and pieces are installed in the basket or front of the sled (the part usually used to carry a few race supplies, spare clothing, first aid kit and if necessary a sick or injured dog). This is why we have had to build the steel sub-fame. Indeed, the wooden sled is now really a slipcover – and a very finely built slipcover, if I do say so myself – for the steel frame underneath.

For video of the armature on the sled and other advances, please go to:

Meanwhile, please consider asking any dog lover you know if they might be able to throw DOOP some change via the Kickstarter page at  Thanks for all your help!

Boot modification in progress.


July 15th, 2012

Evidence of early design for DOOP discovered.

This recently acquired image is of an early design concept for DOOP, apparently generated when DOOP was a pup and owned by some little tike called “Dean Priddy” living in “Canada”.  Judging by its age, it could also be a photo of one of DOOP’s ancestors – either way, he’s not letting on.

Recently discovered early design concept for DOOP.


Big steps this weekend.

July 17th, 2012

Lots of things have happened over the last few days, including lighting updates, bike saddle goings on, etc. But first…… the BIG step.

DOOP finally got to ride his sled on Sunday evening – check out the very brief video (below) of his launch out of Andy’s driveway (my camera battery died just as DOOP and I made it onto the street – sorry). I can now get to work on sculpting his stuffing and he will soon be back up to fighting weight and stature.

And for detailed footage of how the foot works, see

I have decided to use mini hurricane lamps on the fronts of the bikes, instead of the predictable LED bike lights, or similar, and they arrived on Friday. They will be painted and some other adaptations made to them so that they can ride safely on the front of each bike. I am also planning other lighting, including ground effects lights under the sled, rear bike lights and some form of illumination of DOOP himself.

These are the lamps that will be attached to the front of the bikes.  They are 8″ tall and will  be painted what we are referring to as “DOOP blue” – a darkish, slightly green-grey colour.



Work has begun on remaking the saddles for the bikes – the existing ones are pretty ugly and badly need reupholstering.

Now is when I need your help. As I post this update (July, 2012) I have broken the 50% mark on the Kickstarter and I have a week left to raise the other half. Please consider helping out in any way you can – no amount is too small, believe me.

Yup, clearly stuff has been bought or we could not have got this far, but cash didn’t change hands, plastic did, and you know what that means. If you can’t kick in a few bucks I understand. But whether you can or cannot donate, please tell your friends, enemies, co-workers, ex-employees, neighbors, UPS delivery person, dog walker, dog groomer, anyone you can think of, about this project. If it makes them smile I will be very happy. If it makes them throw me the cost of a box of Milk Bones (DOOP loves Milk Bones) I and DOOP will be delirious.


So what’s with this “pennants” thing?

July 20th, 2012

Sledging flags, or pennants, have been part of polar exploration since the 1820s.  They are a particular quirk of British exploratory sledding.  The first pennants used to identify expeditions, sleds, and eventually individual team members were flags originally created for other purposes, such as ensigns, depot flags and of course, the Union Jack.

Until recently polar exploration has been dominated by men of high class, wealth and with a military background – usually an officer of significant rank.  As the first expeditions took place long before aircraft took to the skies, and the army’s skills didn’t run to marching to the launching points, there was a close affiliation between naval flags and the first sledding pennants.

The sleds (or “sledges” as they are called in the UK) were not pulled by dogs as the UK has no tradition of using dogs with sleds.  Instead the individual expedition members pulled their sled behind them, in effect a huge backpack on sliders. The sled flag would serve as a means to quickly visually identify each sled and as their designs developed the flag might include the name of the sled and the badge of the officer pulling it.

The sledding flag of Cecil Meares, the designated dog-handler of the ill-fated 1910 Scott Expedition to the South Pole. The flag is now in the collections of the Royal BC Museum. (Photo credit: © Royal BC Museum.)

In 1850 Captain Horatio Austin led a Royal Navy expedition to look for Sir John Franklin’s missing expedition of 1845 and he insisted on rectangular sledding flags for expedition members “to retain, esprit de corps, and a naval atmosphere”.  One of those members was midshipman Clements Markham who later, as Sir Clements Markham, Honorary Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, and an enthusiastic genealogist, insisted that the Society’s 1875 expedition to the North Pole include sledding pennants.  Among the most ornate pennants ever designed, he insisted that they resemble medieval standards and bear the heraldry of each officer. All of the flags had the cross of St. George at the hoist to denote that the owner was “first and foremost an Englishman”.  The parallels with medieval chivalry didn’t stop at heraldic design and jingoism , but extended to needlecraft. Typically hand sewn from coloured silk, most sledding pennants were made by sweethearts, wives, mothers and sisters, a practice that mirrored the tradition of medieval knights carrying hand embroidered tokens from female admirers into battle.

Captain Scott’s sledding pennant from his 1910 and last polar expedition.







And all of this has what to do with DOOP?  Well, as DOOP’s primary sponsor, yours truly, is a Brit, it is only appropriate that he follow in the fine tradition of Austin, Markham, Shackleton, Scott and others, and have his own sledding pennant, and here it is.

The design for DOOP’s personal sledding pennant.

Taking a cue from Markham’s taste for elaborate flags, at the hoist are two cantons, the upper one the Union Jack (acknowledging the British tradition of sled pennants and the nationality of the primary sponsor – yours truly), the lower the Stars and Stripes (the home country of DOOP and the project as a whole). The rest of the fly is  bi-coloured (red and black) with a swallow tailed fly end.  Decorating the main field is DOOP’s personal heraldic device, a dog paw print with crossed anchors (it’s actually his late friend Ruby’s paw print – see the video on the main page of the Kickstarter page for the full story (  The crossed anchors are the emblem of the boatswain, a position I hold as a member of the crew of the C.S. Tere, the Artifex Group flagship and primary project.  Lastly, the DOOP pennants (there are two of them, one of heavy fabric for strong winds and one in silk for light winds), are further in keeping with the historic tradition of sledding pennants in that I have hand sewn both of them. 

 DOOP’s pennant is featured in several of the rewards available in acknowledgment of your donation to the fund raising effort.


July 23rd, 2012

Feed the dog…..please

So in the last few days more progress has been made with DOOP.  His skin is now on the armature and the process of getting his innards right is under way.  He needs shoulder surgery, which Andy will take care of later today – right now he looks like he has borrowed Michael Phelps’ shoulders, which really doesn’t work with the rest of his physique.  Also, the bottle being used for his head has been filled with expanding foam to give it more stability and strength – the process resulted in a weird out-growth which will be utilized to help shape the back of his head (see photos below)

DOOP with the beginnings of his innards in place.

DOOP a la Michael Phelps

DOOP’s bum.

DOOP’s head filling with foam. As viewed here, his head is upside down – the metal fittings are the means to attach his head to the neck of the armature. The growth on the back of his head will be carved to help fill out that part of his skin.



























As I type there is still $500 to raise for this Kickstarter to be successful and only 24 hours or so to do it in.  DOOP and I are getting a little nervous.  I am very well aware that many of you are being hit up for other Kickstarter projects,  so I hate to be a pest about this, but please, if you can think of even one person who might get the project a little closer to success, share this page with them.

For those of you not familiar with fundraising through Kickstarter you may not realize that if the project does not raise the goal of $1,972 by 3pm (pacific time), tomorrow (Tuesday July 24th) we receive none of the funds pledged.  Kickstarter is an “all-or-nothing” form of fundraising.  So, please, we are 75% there and making this goal will mean being able to complete  DOOP this summer.  Nuf said.   Thanks.


October 17th, 2012

Autumn is here….and so is news about DOOP 

So much has happened since I last posted to this page.  In summary……

The Kickstarter was successful and we pressed on with the build fueled by the support of our friends old and new, and by the excitement of leaving for Burning Man with DOOP.

“The Adventures of DOOP” Facebook page was established by one of his biggest fans, Sarah Taylor.

We managed to get the four bikes (yup, the bike team increased from three to four) working together and DOOP drove us round the block a couple of times. Check out “The Adventures of DOOP” for pictures and video of the inaugural runs

The oil lanterns for the bikes were painted, as were the bike fenders and chain guards, even the bike seats were reupholstered.

Then unexpectedly my plans to head to Burning Man had to be set aside due to my dad suddenly taking very seriously ill. I returned home to England to be with my family.

I am happy to say that as I type dad is slowly making a recovery and I have returned to the Pacific northwest.  Right now I am working in the field near Lewiston, Idaho, and picking up plans to get DOOP back on track and ready for his first event outing with the sled.

During the months I was in the UK, I was able to do a few things for DOOP.  Chief among them was making his new sledding hat.  Based on one of my own, it has a classic cut with ear flaps, is lined with sheepskin and has been adapted to accommodate DOOP’s ample ears.  For a silly video of it being modeled visit “The Adventures of DOOP” Facebook page and look for the entry “New Sledding Hat” dated 20th September, or better yet check out the photos below of DOOP trying it on for the first time.

DOOP wearing his new sledding hat for the first time




…..and the side view















I also almost finished a pure silk, lightweight version of the DOOP sledding pennant   This one is for use in light winds and for fancy, special occasions.

But this was not enough for DOOP…………………..

Feeling a little abandoned by my sudden departure, DOOP decided that, like Cinderella going to the ball, he would go to Burning Man after all. Unbeknownst to me until a couple of weeks ago, DOOP hitched a ride to Burning Man 2012 (assisted by Andy Tibbetts and Alysia Crissman) and returned to the place where he was abandoned in 2009, but this time with attitude and determined to have fun, something he appears to have amply accomplished if the photo-evidence is anything to go by.  His adventures even included hanging out with a bunch of British Burners.  The sled and bikes? Well, they stayed in Portland but DOOP’s reconnaissance trip means that he is now well prepared to get his team harnessed and ready to pull him around the playa next year.

Andy, DOOP and the Lost Penguin











DOOP and Andy share a drink with the Brighton Burners








DOOP chills out in true burner style