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Mousetrap cars

I lead a 4-H club that is mostly devoted to hiking, kayaking and general outdoorsy stuff, but we sometime dabble in some kid-size engineering projects. In the past we’ve built pop-pop boats and a pumpkin-hurling trebuchet. This week I built a prototype mousetrap car.  The kids tested and critiqued the design and will have a month to build their own version and race them when we meet again.

I’ll get some video of the race next month.  I was able to get the still shot on the right because my duct tape construction method was failing and so the boom arm was no longer exerting enough force to move the rear wheels.

Back in 2002 I was backing up my computer to CD – this seems like a good use for that stack of old backups.

#18/365

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A Forest in the Making

I made another tree with a more oak-tree shape than my first. The ferns are present, plus a few of the little ferns that grow on the trunks of trees in the rainforest.  This oak had a large horizontal branch that needed some owls.

 

The first owls were based off a movie – but I wanted to draw my own version this time.   As it turned out the cartoon owls looked the way they did for a good reason: this is just what owls look like.  My own owls are very similar. If I change anything it will to make the eye edges more distinct from the white face and perhaps to make the feet more fuzzy.

#16-17/365

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The Good and the Ugly

I made two new soaps this weekend. One was a new fragrance and a refinement of a previous recipe.

The new fragrance was “Dragon’s Blood”.  I’m intrigued by the name and had a lot of fun making the label but having actual soap to go with it would be nice. I wanted to make a red soap, but the notes say that the fragrance has a high vanilla content and will discolor to a dark brown.  My red might not show up, so I thought “ah… I will make a red diagonal stripe with a little copper sparkle in some unscented soap.  It shouldn’t take too long.”

Speed was a factor because I know that this recipe moves quickly.  Now, if I’d stopped thinking here, I believe all would have been well, but I went farther, “if I surround the red strip with white on either side, it will POP more”

The result:

It set up faster than I wanted so the colors were a bit gloppy and didn’t flow in smooth and evenly.  The result is that I created soap that looks like it has a slice of bacon down the middle.

I’m going to need to reconsider my design for this fragrance!

To redeem myself I made a cedarwood-lime soap today. This one sets up very quickly so I had to unmold and cut all within a few hours and I didn’t have time to get my lights up, but here it is on my cutting table.

This one turned out quite nicely.

Ugly or not, they both count towards my 365, and I’m now at 10!

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New soap labels

I’ve been making soap for about 10 years now, and selling in a local shop for close to one year.   I’ve decided to step it up a little and next month I’d like to open an Etsy shop.   Clearly this calls for new labels.

I’ve created 4 so far, two using the ginkgo pattern.

 My original labels were all vertical like this.  And my first ginkgo label was too.  But I’ve since decided to go horizontal.  The handmade soap tops can be uneven and by going horizontal I can still get a fairly crisp wrap around the soap edges.

Much better!   And I don’t have to look at my ingredients upside down.  But I’m still playing with Inkscape, what else can I do?

I can make star mandalas.  I will talk more about these later because they were just fun to make and I want to make some in glorious rainbow colors just because I can.

And I’m going to make a Dragon’s Blood soap; this requires a special label. (No dragons will be harmed).

This one was fun.  I took the dragons and text from the 19th C Japanese print by Utagawa Kunisada II.

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Photography 2018

Last summer I upgraded from a point and shoot camera to my first DSLR. The camera made its maiden voyage overseas on our trip to Scotland and to justify the expense (and the fancy extra lens I bought myself for Christmas)  I’ve been reading up on how to take better photos.

Anything I like from 2017 will go up in the Photography portfolio, but pictures I take this year get to count towards my 365 challenge.

picnic point root

This is an overturned tree stump on the shore.  I thought it looked better in black and white.

And for something completely different, this is one of my kids falling off a sled

Sledding 360

I’m a newbie at photography so I’ve been relying a lot on preset functions and full auto mode, but for this one I had to take more control.  I knew that the camera sensors would try to make the snow gray, so I bumped up the exposure and after a few tries at panning with the motion of the kids and not liking the result, I also set the shutter speed to 1/1000.

This brings my creative collection up to 6!

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Inkscape Art: First Attempts

I’ve been using GIMP for some time now, mostly for work purposes, but I stumbled upon Inkscape. I thought it might be better suited for the kinds of illustration work I like to do and so I decided to give it a try.  These are my first attempts.

First, I found a free-use photo of a gingko leaf and turned it into a bitmap line drawing.

OK.  So that was fun and not too hard.  What can I do with it?  I played around with duplicating the image, changing the colors and made a few nice layouts.

Then I discovered the “tiling” tool.  It helps create infinitely repeating patterns.  There was a bit of a learning curve and many videos to watch before I figured it out.

This is slightly more than one tile, but the beauty here is that I can clip out exactly one tile and ‘clone’ it over and over and create an infinitely large background of ginkgo leaves at any scale (Inkscape creates vector art).

After using GIMP for so long, the ability to resize anything on a whim makes me almost giddy.

How far can I push it?  The tiling ginkgo leaves are cool but not the hardest things to tile because they don’t have to match up precisely and there is empty space between them.  Can I make a solid pattern?

It was definitely much harder, but I finally got this using the ‘spiral’ tool:

Again, I pulled slightly more than one tile, but yes!  It works.  This pattern can be repeated indefinitely in all directions.

So there it is.  I started the challenge late and I’ve only got 4 pieces posted out of 21 days, but I will catch up!