Our Police Box Fridge – Refrigerate! Refrigerate!

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   Posted by: BJ Johnson in studio

This Artist's Refrigerator Does It Superlatively

All work and no play dulls the mind. For Halloween, Joy thought that it would be a great idea to dress up our refrigerator as a parody on a certain police box. Our fridge is nice looking in it's own right, but the doors are non-magnetic stainless. The fun we used to have populating the fridge with odd stuff held on with magnets of all kinds (some of the magnets we have are really cool) was no longer possible. It'd have to be all taped on. Inelegant, and spur of the moment additions are out the window if ya gotta go searching for the tape dispenser.

Our fridge sits at the end of our galley kitchen and is already the focal point. As long as we can't cover it with bits of stuff, may as well cover it, period, with something really fun and inspiring. We're artists. Inspiration is essential.

It's a French Door, bottom roll-out freezer style, so the double door design of a Police Public Call Box fits right in and the proportions are right, too. How to make it happen?

Good question.

Joy originally started working on the idea and then ran into a snag. Looked good in her head but when it came down to doing it in reality, stuff didn't quite line up with the fridge parts. Figuring out how to place what, where became a hurdle. The refrigerator still needs to be functional after the makeover. Getting everything integrated, so that it looks great and works well was paramount, and it took some finesse. Tall order but not outside of our capability, by any means. After all, We Build Cool Stuff! & that ain't easy.

She had trepidations about asking me about anything to do with this, as she thought I'd nix the whole thing. As if... In addition to the many things I am, you may readily gather that I'm a horologist. Always have been fascinated with time and timekeeping devices. You could say that H.G. Wells and I grew up in different times together. There are a few clocks in my collection that are over 150 years old; as testified by the Kitchen Clock sitting on the counter, along with a face from an Ansonia Dew Drop that needed some TLC.

The sharp-eyed will spot the cow-spotted device on the south counter; it's my Italian espresso machine. There's a TARDIS cookie jar on the north counter near the vintage Kitchen Clock. The cookie jar gets triggered as I leave the kitchen with my espresso and a cup of cocoa for Joy each morning. Gotta have as much fun whenever you can, while you can. Keeps you sane or, in my case, crazy. Anyhoos, a time travel refrigerator is right up my pit lane. What's not to like!?

Our Police Box FridgeCompounding the problem, not to make a pun, the front stainless steel surface is a compound curve; not flat like a Police Box. Not so simple. Then there's the top. In order to make it really complete, the Police Box roof had to be devised that would mount on the top of the fridge, overhang the sides, clear the doors, hold the beacon sitting on the apex and still allow access to the cupboard above. Then there's the ice maker and control panel to be able to access. Still, it was clear that it's something that somehow needed to happen, so it was time for a bit of "Johnsonizing".

Interleaving this with a large and intense commission that has been consuming the studio for some months, during times when we were waiting for epoxy to cure or just taking a break to let the mind relax, we'd advance the design to the point where a prototype was finally in order. Once that was a success, then the rest would follow. The brain began percolating and I thought it would be great to hear the de-materialization sound when the doors opened. Processed a couple of sound files and got that working, then moved on to the beacon for the roof.

In its completed form, the telephone door provides access to the ice maker and control panel. The sound plays every time the big doors are opened and the rechargeable beacon on the roof is the icing on the Police Box cake.

Police Call Box Telephone DoorOnce I settled upon the "ADVICE & ASSISTANCE OBTAINABLE IMMEDIATELY" I knew what I had to do. The "ICE" in "ADVICE" was just too ripe. We're also thinking of highlighting the "ICE" in "POLICE". After all, it is an Ice Box.

Now, if we only could get it to go back in time to when food was less expensive and stock up. Of course, when it came forward, we'd have to ignore the stale dates. Makes me smile every time I see it and laugh when I open it for some refreshment. All refrigerators should be this happy. You can have one of your very own to light up your kitchen.

police-box-websiteSince I took this shot and shared it, my photo had started it's journey into Viraldom and history. Huge sites like ThinkGeek and their Facebook page, I F***ing Love Science, Doctor Who and the T.A.R.D.I.S., ThatsNerdalicious, GeekAlerts, Reddit, ZDNet, The Huffington Post, United Kingdom and even a little blurb on IMDb. Our fridge has also been spotlighted on InnerSpace TV show in Canada and a newspaper article in Australia.

Who knew? (Get it?)

We've been trying to negotiate with The BBC for a license to use their logo and produce official high end, short run items (we have quite a few designed and they're killer) so that people can have something of value that isn't assembly line stamped out. We have found that there is a large market for this higher level of creations; a very large market that has been left wanting.

Seems the only way we're going to be interesting to them, though, is to produce boring t-shirts and socks, because that is all that the BBC America guy knows. Anything else goes right past him. That's why we're trying to work with BBC Worldwide. There are PLENTY of short run products out there already. What's wrong with these? Don't want free money? We've been trying to do the Right Thing for quite a while. In fact, WE contacted THEM right off, thereby putting ourselves squarely on the radar. It'd be great if that were acknowledged, at least, and appreciated at best.

Of course, some time later a different arm of the organization contacted us. They were being a bit obtuse about it and tried to make the case that we're counterfeiting. Ummm, no, not selling anything with the logo on it. Not producing anything that competes in any way with, or is a rip-off of, any of your products, so it's not counterfeiting. It's parody. Besides, since when can something long in the public domain be Borged by a corporate/government giant and then trademarked after the fact? Police Call boxes have been around since shortly after the telephone was invented in the 1800's and the first ones were in the United States!

Perhaps it's time to get public opinion to weigh in on the matter. Fans can be pretty powerful in their own right. If we just let it drop, big corporate tactics, culture and power win over top of the small guy... again. As long as we don't use the "T" word, which is trademarked, in connection with it, they've left us alone; but it would be better to be able to produce these other products we have waiting in the wings.

Ever hear of a win-win situation? Here's one staring you in the face, BBC. Wake up and smell the tea.


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