Archive for the 'General' Category


New Bots in 3…2…1…

2017salegroupJust a reminder that the Fobot Store will be reopening at 3pm Eastern Time today, November 11. This year we have 127 Fobots available (well, 136 if you include the ones sold in sets, including TWO Wizard of Oz quartets)! Not to mention 19 babybots, and the new 2018 Fobot calendar. So many, in fact, that they won’t all, at first, fit on the front page of the website. So you’ll want to click on one of the “Categories” buttons on the right side of the page to see them all. A few other things you should know:

–There’s a coupon code FABOO for 10% off all Fobot purchases (does not apply to Babybots or calendars).

–My shopping cart website no longer allows buyers to “hold” items in their cart. So, Fobots won’t be considered sold until payment has gone through.

–Bots have been arranged alphabetically, to help you find them more easily if you’ve already made your shopping list by perusing the Facebook Fobot Preview Album, which now has everything listed.
–I would prefer not to ship out of the USA and Canada, but if you have a compelling case, let me know. PayPal will not calculate foreign shipping costs, so be aware that postage and customs can be a huge additional expense.
–Items ordered today will ship out on Monday or Tuesday. I will refund extra shipping costs if you place more than one order and they can be combined. And do consider having them shipped to a business address or FedEx Office for pickup, so they won’t be sitting on your doorstep all day. If you’d like someone to sign for your package (pretty much guaranteeing you won’t be home, right?), let me know at . Packages over $750 must be signed for.


–And don’t forget–if the one you had your heart set on is sold before you can get to it, just contact me, and I’ll see if I can make you something similar. Thanks, and enjoy!

FOBOTS is a Registered Trademark


People sometimes ask me what was the most difficult bot I’ve ever created. I tell them that the bots are easy–coming up with the name “FOBOTS”, and then trademarking it–THAT was difficult.

If I had it to do over again, I’d probably have hired a lawyer. But when you’re on the US Patent and Trademark Office website, you have no idea how long it’s going to take. So you start filling out forms. And it’s complicated and might as well be written in Klingon, but you persevere and finally you get to the bottom of the page where there’s a button that says “next”, and you think you’re done. But you’re not. “Next” takes you to a whole different set of hoops to jump through. So you jump through THOSE hoops, researching everything along the way so you hope you’re making the right choices. More “Nexts”, more hoops. At some point, you think “Maybe I should just turn this over to an attorney”. But you don’t, because you think “I’ve just spent hours on this, and I MIGHT be just one click away from being finished, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to turn this over to a lawyer who will just push that final “Next” button. And, of course, you’re not even close, but you have no freakin’ way of knowing that.

So finally, I get it all done, and send it off (along with a sizable check) and wait to be able to add that precious little circle with an “r” inside to my business name. Months pass. Finally, a letter from the trademark office, stating that the description of my product as “robot sculptures made primarily from found objects” is not valid, as “found objects” is not a term they recognize, and–incredibly long story short–we’re now “robot sculptures made primarily from non-precious metals”.

I’m telling you this now for two reasons. One, I recently had to go through this all over again to renew my trademark. The guvmint doesn’t tell you it’s up for renewal, but you receive multiple letters from patent and trademark attorneys saying “Hey! You don’t want to go through all THAT again, do you?” But this time was easier, and I did it myself. Buh-bye $300, and we’re good for another six to ten years. I’m not sure. I’ll wait for the lawyer letters to appear again.

The other reason I’m sharing this is that the word I made up eight years ago has become a part of the English language. Which is kinda cool. I go to Pinterest, and there are hundreds of boards labeled “Fobots”–some of the work on them is mine, most is not. And that’s OK. But I’ve had to explain to a few artists lately that they simply can’t use my name for their business. Let me put it this way–you can start a soda company, but you can’t call your beverage “Coke” or “CocaCola”. You can sell facial tissues, but even if “Kleenex” is a standard part of the English language now, you’re gong to have to think of a different name. In conclusion, I encourage you all to go forth and make robots. But please don’t call them Fobots. That name is taken.


Fobots on Ice!

“Tragedy + Time = Comedy”
—Somebody smarter than me

When all this went down, I was devastated. I thought, “Never in a million years am I going to find this humorous”. I was wrong.

Funny thing happened on the way to our first show of the year–Coconut Grove in Miami. I’d been working my fingers to the bone–literally–all winter long, and I was itching to get to a show. Any show. The fact that the first one was in Miami, during a Raleigh winter that had been long, icy, and cold, and that Miami had been posting the same BORING forecast for weeks (74 and sunny, every frikkin’ day), made it a matter of LIFE AND DEATH that we get the hell outta town soon or something was gonna blow. So when yet another ice storm was scheduled to arrive on the day before we were supposed to leave for Florida, I was having none of it. Ice storms in Raleigh tend to bring traffic on most of the streets to a standstill. People abandon their cars, packs of wolves roam the deserted roads, there’s cannibalism…OK, just the first one. Anyway, I told Phil “Hop in the van, Sweetie, and let’s get out of here before the Storm of the Century of the Week hits”.

Coincidentally, this was Phil’s last day of work before retirement. The going away party had already been cancelled due to impending Snowmageddon, so he figured he’d just work on his laptop while I drove. We calculated that if we made it to the highway before the storm hit, we’d be golden. The highways in North Carolina are pretty well-maintained during ice storms, even if the side streets become Winter Olympic events.

At first, the plan seemed a good one. It was Wednesday. We’d get to warmer climates, maybe stop in Savannah for a mini-vacation, and get to Miami on Friday. We headed south, and missed the ice in North Carolina entirely.

Trouble is, we caught up with it in South Carolina. As the snow got heavier, we went slower and slower. Visibility was poor. And eventually, I ended up behind a huge semi, that was spitting even more slush up onto our windshield. Cautiously, I attempted to pass the rig on it’s left, and that’s when all hell broke loose. I must have caught a draft from the truck, and the van started fishtailing wildly. I hit the truck with the right rear end of the van, which spun it around so that I’d have the opportunity to hit it with the front end as well, sending us spinning like a top on the ice. After pirouetting gracefully around a mercifully empty highway a few times, we came to a halt in the fast lane, facing the wrong way. Fortunately, the van had enough spirit left to restart and drag its sorry carcass over to the median, where it breathed its last. Phil stopped working on his computer. Happy last day of work, honey!IMG_0350

(BTW, these photos were taken days later, after the storm blew over and the sun came out).

The police came quickly, and called a tow truck. The driver of the semi stopped his rig hundreds of yards away and came over to see if we were OK. As I sobbed “I’m so SORRY” to him, over and over, he just smiled and said, “Well, I THOUGHT I heard a thump!” Evidently, the truck had little or no damage. Not so our van–the passenger side was inoperable, chunks of the front end had been pulled off, and some red fluid was leaking from the engine. It looked like blood on the snow. But we were fine, as was everything in the van. No Fobots were harmed in the making of this adventure.

Enter Tommy Jr., our rescue angel and tow truck driver. Phil could not exit the demolished passenger door, and his double knee replacement in September had him even less mobile than usual. Tommy Jr.–all 5”4” and maybe 120 pounds of him–commenced to pull Phil backwards towards the driver side door and probably would have pulled him all the way out if Phil hadn’t stopped him in time. As we waited in the warm tow truck, Tommy Jr. finished things up with the Highway Patrol, and we called our insurance agent, who instructed us to bring the van to a collision center in Florence, SC.  Tommy Jr. cut off some of the dangling bits from the van and we were on our way. IMG_0348

Trouble is, the storm had knocked out the power to most of Florence SC, and the collision center was closed. I started crying again, since all my work was in the van, which couldn’t be locked as the passenger side window was gone. And the collision center–as collision centers are wont to be–was not exactly in the ritzy part of town. No problem, says Tommy Jr.–I’ll bring it to my house, lock it in the yard, put a tarp over it, and my dog won’t let anyone near it. Good dog. Good dog.

Our luck continued to improve. We got one of the last two hotel rooms in Florence, in one of the only parts of town that had power. Tommy Jr. helped us bring as much as we could into the hotel, and after settling up with him, he asked us if there was ANYTHING else he could do for us. Anything at all. Phil, observing that I was still shaking like a leaf, jokingly asked if he knew where we could get a bottle of tequila. “I’m on it!”, says Tommy Jr. But even our resourceful tow truck driver could not find an open liquor store in a town that was almost completely closed. But that’s OK. The front desk informed us that the only two options for food were a convenience store across the highway from the hotel, or either Papa John’s or Domino’s could deliver. We called up Domino’s (I mean, we’re desperate, but we’re not monsters, right?) and they took our order, but apologized that there would be a 2 1/2 hour delay. Seemed reasonable.

And so we settled in for a day of pizza and Winter Olympics. Around 10pm, my cell phone rang. It was Tommy Jr. “You still want that bottle of tequila?” I’d stopped shaking by then, but I believe the response was still “OH HELL YEAH”. This dear man drove it to our hotel and met Phil downstairs. Phil asked him in wonderment, how he’d managed to find an open liquor store under these conditions. “Well, it’s like this”, replied Tommy.  “I’d just given a guy a tow, and when we went inside to settle up, I noticed all these big bottles of liquor on his counter. I asked him how much he wanted for the Cuervo, and when he said forty bucks, I said, let me call someone…”

Thursday brought another day of pizza, tequila, Winter Olympics (I am now an expert on luge and curling, though the luge was difficult to watch after our incident) and hourly calls to the still unopened collision center and car rental places. The Miami weather reports continued to taunt us. Finally, around 6pm, the power came back on at Enterprise, long enough for them to leave a message on their answering machine that they would reopen Friday at 8am. I immediately booked a cargo van online, and arranged for Tommy Jr. to meet us there to transfer all our stuff from the wreck to the rental. Things are looking up. We may have to set up in Miami in the middle of the night, but we just might make it…

Not so fast. We arrived at Enterprise just before they opened, and were first in line to collect our reserved cargo van. The guy behind the counter looked stricken. “I’m sorry”, he said, “but there isn’t a cargo van to be had anywhere in the state”. HOW CAN THIS BE????!! Note to future self–do not attempt to rent a van on Valentine’s Day. Those greedy florists have booked every last one for extra deliveries. At this point, I uttered a sentence that has never before left my lips.

”OK. I’ll take two minivans”.

The collision center had also reopened that morning, and Tommy Jr. met us there with his son, who we will always think of as Tommy Jr. Jr.. They helped us transfer our cargo, and it miraculously all fit in one van. The Dodge Caravan with the Stow and Go seats is like Hermione’s handbag (Harry Potter reference, for all you geeks out there). We were able to return the spare van, and were finally on our way south by noon.

We weren’t the only ones setting up at midnight in Miami–others had been caught by the storm as well, though not as spectacularly as we’d been. The only other problem we encountered was trying to get everything out of the minivan, whose back door was too low to slide the display cases straight out. I don’t know how the Tommies did it, but when I attempted to do it in reverse, I tore the meniscus in my right knee trying to heave a seventy pound case sideways out the back. When the show opened the next morning, we were ready to go, and all the other artists, having heard of our adventure, thought I’d messed it up in the crash. Nope, just not as agile as the Tommies. I turned out to be a really good show for us (can you imagine how soul-crushing it would be to have a bad show after going through all that?) and we even won an award.IMG_0353

So there you have it. On the way back home, we got confirmation from the collision center that the van was, indeed, totaled (duh), so I got on the phone with some Ford dealers and informed them that whoever calls me with the best price on a 2013 Ford Transit Connect in the next few hours gets a cashier’s check the next morning and the easiest sale they’ve ever made. Sure enough, we pick up our new van, “The Botmobile”, the next morning, and are off to our next show in Baltimore that day.

PS–If you ever crash your car in Florence SC, call O’Dad’s Towing.  Ask for Tommy Jr. Oh–and I made him a Fobot with angel wings, out of a tin that held sealant for cracked radiators.  Seemed appropriate.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


Results of the Second Annual Shame-A-Thon

…and here we are, 24 hours later, with a studio that, if not exactly clinical in its cleanliness and order, at least won’t get me on an episode of “Hoarders”. And to all the people yesterday who said it didn’t look THAT bad, and I should just revel in the chaos, let me say that  disorder can be a good thing, but when it gets in the way of productivity and moves into the realm of health hazard, it’s time to clean.

Now–time to mess it up…



The Second Annual Shame-A-Thon

Hey kids!  iIt’s time for the second annual Studio Shame-A-Thon! Here’s how it works: I’m posting pictures of the current state of disaster in the Fobotorium, and in 24 hours, I will have to post pictures of it all cleaned up and organized or be FOREVER SHAMED.

A few tips if you want to conduct your own Shame-A-Thon:

1. Do it on a dreary, rainy, cold day, so you won’t have all of Mother nature distracting you. CHECK.

2. Get a good recorded book to listen to to make the time past more quickly. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain, about Hemingway and his first wife during the Paris years. CHECK.

3. Have an even worse task in mind that you really should be doing, so that this will seem like fun in comparison. Deciphering all the mailing list names and email addresses from the last two shows and entering them into the database. CHECK.

If you don’t hear from me by noon tomorrow, send out a search party, ’cause I’m buried under an avalanche of junk. Oh, and don’t let the patches of bare wood floor fool you–the wide angle lens makes them seem bigger than they are.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


Deck the Halls With Bots of Folly

The extent of my Christmas decorating this year. Peace and joy to you all—Amy2012 Christmas Mantelpiece



You wouldn’t believe how much time artists spend discussing the issue of what to call themselves. Try calling certain art fair artists a “vendor” and then sit back and watch their creative little heads explode. For others, the issue is more along the lines of artist vs. craftsman. Or, God forbid, crafter. Their point being that only a supremely talented few have earned the right to call themselves “artists”, and that merely being a skilled artisan or having a good idea does not allow you the privilege of assuming the lofty mantle of “artist”.

So the issue had been on my mind lately when, at a monthly luncheon of self-employed neighbors, someone inquired as to what I did for a living, and then asked what I called myself. I was prepared to give some flippant answer, but the word that leapt from my mouth surprised both of us.


That’s it. I’m happy. I love what I do. I wake up in the morning excited to go to my workshop and create new things. I adore traveling the country with Phil and meeting all you lovely people at art fairs. I am thrilled beyond repair that people seem to like what I do and are willing to give me money for it. So call me an artist or a craftsperson or an artisan or a vendor, or “that damn trinket maker”. I really don’t give a rat’s ass. I’m happy. I am, quite possibly, the luckiest person in the world.

Of course, on my income tax forms, I’m putting down “artist”. No sense trying to explain “happy” to the IRS.


Scenes of Carnage and Devastation From the Great East Coast Earthquake

Before you scroll down to observe a photo revealing the cruel power of Mother Nature once again unleashed against some poor, defenseless Fobots, let me set the stage for you.

It was nearly 2pm yesterday afternoon, and I was hard at work in the Fobotorium. What little of my brain that was not focused on the task at hand–namely, drilling holes into a “Ben Hur” cayenne pepper tin–was thinking about the approaching hurricane. Hurricanes are a fact of life here in North Carolina, and with the exception of Hurricane Fran 15 years ago, have little effect on those of us living so far inland. Unless you count the swarms of people at the grocery store depleting the shelves of bread, milk, and eggs. What is it about natural disasters that makes North Carolinians crave French toast? But I digress. The house started to shake. First thought–the washing machine is off balance. Second thought–I’m not doing laundry. Third thought–I’ve left the bench grinder on. That always makes the room shake. Fourth thought–no, it’s off, and anyway, even though it’s powerful enough to make Mongo flee the room in terror when it’s on, it’s not this bad. Fifth thought–this feels a lot like the earthquakes I grew up with in California. Sixth thought–oh my god, California’s having an earthquake, and it’s so big we’re feeling it all the way out here.

It took the local news media several minutes to respond to the breaking story, but when they did, they obsessed about it like…well, like Mongo trying to pull every last bit of stuffing out of Squeaky Skunk. I mean, a slim chance of a hurricane hitting us AND an earthquake in the same day? Local newscasters were wetting themselves.

I bring you now to the scene of devastation I found when I searched for damage:

Mongo didn’t even wake up.


Fobotologists at Play

Many of you have met us at one of the eight art fairs we exhibited at last year.  Us being Amy (Senior Fobotologist), and the lovely and talented Phil (Cheap Fobotics Officer, Butt-Tag Maker, member of the Union of Unpaid Artist’s Assistants, and Awesome Husband).  And the chances are annoyingly good that we were exhausted, sweaty, cold, wet, or any combination of those.  If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard about our misadventures, and know that the art fair biz is not for the faint of heart. So you’re forgiven if you don’t recognize the lady in the picture.
Yup, that’s me.
You may not realize this, but acting in community theatre productions is our favorite hobby.  It was even one of the factors that brought the two of us together, over 20 years ago.  We haven’t had much opportunity to indulge this pastime, since the little robots took over our lives a few years ago.  But when the chance arose to BOTH be in the same play at the same time, we jumped at it. Even though it meant canceling plans to exhibit in Florida this winter.  So, sorry Miami and Winter Park, but we’re wintering in Mesalia Ohio, fictional setting of George Kaufman and Moss Hart’s classic comedy, “The Man Who Came to Dinner”. Phil is playing Mr. Stanley, the long-suffering head of a household that has been plunged into HELL when famous critic, wit, and radio personality Sheridan Whiteside slips on the ice on their doorstep and is forced to recuperate at the Stanley house.  As a parade of famous people come to visit the invalid, Whiteside’s secretary, Maggie, falls in love with a young man of the town.   So Whiteside enlists Lorraine Sheldon, glamorous actress and diva bitch, to break up the budding romance.  That’s me as Lorraine, feeling a bit too old to be playing the vamp, and definitely more fatale than femme.  But the costumes are pretty, the cast is fabulous, and once I got a decent wig (the first one looked like someone had scalped Little Orphan Annie and made a yarmulke out of it) it’s been non-stop fun.  My favorite part of the play—toward the end, when all are desperate to get rid of Lorraine, they finally lock her in a mummy case.  Where I finally have four uninterrupted minutes of peace until I’m wheeled off.  During one of the previews, a friend in the audience was texting me all through the show.  So, I hid my phone in my pantyhose and texted her back from inside the sarcophagus.  Now I’ll be updating my Facebook status from in there every night. Until I run out of things to say.
So, folks, do not be surprised if the next time you see me, I look NOTHING like the sexpot in the picture. Unless, of course, the next time you see me is at the theatre…

Ninja Stone

First of all, many many thanks for all of you who have expressed their concern for Phil and his Big Summer (and Fall) of Mystery Ailments.  I’ve been delaying posting anything because I’ve been waiting for some kind of closure.  Nope, no closure yet, but there is a weird little kink at the end…

Let’s recap a little.  Phil Crone (Cheap Fobotics Officer, Butt-Tag Maker, husband) had a horrible MRSA infection this summer, and just when it was clearing up, was laid low with a kidney stone.  Scans to pinpoint the stone turned up another surprise–a tumor in the other kidney.  After waiting a day for the stone to pass, a search party was sent in (ow) after it, and discovered…nothing.  It just vanished.  But that’s good, right?

So jump ahead 4 weeks, and another expedition goes in after the tumor kidney, with the goal of removing just the cancerous part laparoscopically.  Unfortunately, after two sections were removed and biopsied (Phil being on the table this whole time) results were not what the docs wanted, and the whole kidney went bye-bye.  But really, the only complication was that coming out of an extended stay in anesthesiaville, Phil bit his tongue so hard he was speaking Welsh for a week.

So on Monday last week, we came home from the hospital, certain that we were done for the near future and under warranty for at least a year. HAH! Wednesday morning, 5am, a day and a half later, Phil wakes up with–get this–a freaking kidney stone.  And CT scans show it’s the same stone, stuck in the same place.  Back we go to the ER, in they go with another expeditionary force, and….nothing.  Can’t find it AGAIN.  A very cranky Phil was discharged the next day (Thanksgiving, if you’re keeping score) and has been recuperating nicely since then, aided by the fact that football has been broadcast during every single moment of his recovery.  Here’s a picture of Phil recovering:

Jump ahead to a week later, when the finest medical imaging technology available takes high-res, 3-d pictures of Phil’s abdomen and, amazingly, burns them on to a CD for him to bring to his doctor.  (In retrospect, we should have burned a copy for ourselves and used one as a Facebook profile picture–suck it, cute baby ultrasounds!)  So FINALLY, we get to the doctor’s office Monday to have them interpreted, and they find…wait for it….NOTHING!  Either the stone has magically disappeared, or it’s a sentient, ninja-like being, taunting us with it’s ability to vanish at will. OK, I’m grateful for it’s initial appearance, leading us to the discovery of the tumor, but listen up, stone, the encore performance was just showboating.  This kind of behavior is not winning you any friends.  If you’re still in there, in some kind of witness protection program for tumor snitches, you better stay out of Phil’s ureter.  We’re on to you.

Phil went back to work today, and though he’s not 100% yet, he’s at a firm 82% and climbing.  So, of course—my turn to break down.  Seriously.  Had to go to a hand specialist today, who diagnosed a condition called “trigger finger” in my right thumb, and loaded it up with enough lidocaine and steroids to get it a tryout with the Carolina Panthers.  Trigger finger—what an ironic thing for a pacifistic, weenie liberal do-gooder to get.  I’ll be out of the workshop for at least a few days–can’t bend the thumb without outside assistance from the other hand.  But I’m not complaining–at least I’ve had time to write to you, my workshop is getting a little cleaner, and unlike Phil’s stone, I know where my thumb is at all times.

July 2021

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