20,000 Leagues Above the Sea

The final carving of my dobstuff rocker box

When I was a kid I read Orson Well’s classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sometime between 2nd and 4th grade. It was not an easy read… and It made an impression to say the least. A mad captain, driven there by the depravity of MAN. That’s a lot to digest as a 3rd grader. Needless to say- I focused on the Monster… I distinctly remember the summer of my 3rd grade year being infatuated with the giant octopus that grips the Nautilus. First understanding from an outsiders perspective that a “beast” prayed upon what I thought was the civilized world to grasping that very beast was the captains revenge. And then, we come to the giant octopus. I would have vivid dreams of these giant red tentacles reaching out to me. Later that Fall I would travel to a Boy Scout camp and look through my first telescope. For whatever reason the image of the tentacles pressed forward in my mind as I looked into the black of night. The pin point light from stars resembling the tiny particles you see when looking up through a snorkel mask under the water. An image that I never really forgot.

Yes, I had… HAVE, a vivid imagination. In the back of my mind I had wanted a way to bring that summer in the 80s into my astronomy outreach. A great way to talk about the merits of reading, paired with the discipline of astronomy. So the recent addition of a dobstuff rocker box provided me with the canvas to tie it all together. I present to you, the culmination of a childhood imagination with the passion of reading, learning, and questioning all that comes my way.

Top Left to Right- The Rocker box, The sketch,
Bottom Left to Right- The initial carving, The staining
Center- After the first coats of stain


As I read “Leagues” for the third time this summer, I understood some of the heavier social context, and the octopus still got my attention. I often think of the tentacles reaching towards me. I see now that it was the telescope, astronomy, and science fiction writing discovered that summer that would lead me to a lifetime passion for science. Now, my telescope can start others on that same journey with a part of my experience etched into the fabric.

Say, do you want to look at a planet, galaxy, or nebula through my telescope? Forgive the flood of posts, I’m just catching up after a busy summer!



-matt

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