Mapping and reflecting

A sad, sad truth:  I have done very little on my map projects.

I mean, I’ve done SOME stuff.  I started thinking about the audio tour that I want to do regarding work.

G+ audio tour convoI started some sketches during the week.  I was inspired by those “Family Circus” strips where Billy takes the longest route possible to end up where he wants to go.

Family Circus strip

Family Circus strip

What I did was not nearly as cool as Bil Keane’s work.  But I’m ok with that.  It’s just to organize my thoughts anyway.

My work mapped

My work mapped

I’ve also spent some minutes working on a “map” of my…  I’m not sure what to call it…  It’s not really a map, but more of a story about my relationships with map, traveling, hometowns, etc.

Popcorn maker progress

Popcorn maker progress

Oddly enough, I didn’t realize it was more of a  story and less of a map until I wrote that previous sentence.  All week I’ve been feeling these internal nags: “You’re using the wrong tool.”  “This isn’t a map.”  “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”

I know enough to ignore the nags, but they squelch motivation all the same.

Another thing that smothers motivation is one’s 3 1/2 year old dropping his afternoon nap.  This means no more power naps for me and/or time to clean the house or work on projects.

This dude is up from 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

photo(3)It actually makes for a fun, creative day.  But there’s not a lot of time for documenting reflection or working on “work” stuff.

And again, I’m ok with that.  There are no deadlines.  No apologies.  Just making, and sometimes those makes have to marinate a little.

 

 

 

 

Another day, another make

In elementary school there was nothing I loved more than making dioramas.

"Domestic Revolution," a CC licensed Flickr photo by machintoy

“Domestic Revolution,” a CC licensed Flickr photo by machintoy

Lucky for me, dioramas were always a project option.  Read a book?  Great.  Make a diorama portraying one of your favorite scenes.

This delight in miniature worlds probably explains my fascination with terrariums.  I’ve been wanting to make a terrarium for years.  Building a terrarium was a project during last summer’s Maker Camp.  I was confident my house would be lousy with terrariums by summer’s end.  Christmas presents for everyone!  Terrariums all around!

Summer came and went, and there was not one terrarium to be had.  For some reason the project just seemed so overwhelming.  What do you mean I have to go out and buy charcoal?

Mason jar terrarium from Make Magazine

Mason jar terrarium from Make Magazine

What do you mean I can’t use real moss?  I have real moss right outside my door.

Light bulb terrarium from Hipster Home

Light bulb terrarium from Hipster Home

UGH!

All of this required SHOPPING just seemed like such a pain in the a** (I really hate shopping).

However, things started coming together when I was in the craft store buying supplies for my toy hack.  I added a bag of artificial moss to my cart.  This was the result:

Ornament terrarium

Ornament terrarium

I broke off small pieces of moss and dropped them inside the ornaments, which I bought on sale after Christmas YEARS ago.  There was no strategic placement of the moss mainly because I lacked long tweezers like the ones shown here:

Terrarium supplies

Terrarium supplies

The opening to the ornament is too small for chopsticks, which you can also use for placing plants and terrarium creatures.

I stole the centipede from my son’s collection of plastic insects.  So far he hasn’t noticed that it’s missing.  World of Mirth, a local toy store, also has a collection of unique plastic bits and bobs.  I plan to pick up some creatures there for future terrariums.

World of Mirth in Carytown

World of Mirth in Carytown

Some thoughts:

I’ve looked at two tutorials: one from Hipster Home that recommends tillandsea for the greenery and advises against the use of soil, real moss, etc. and another from Make Magazine that uses soil, charcoal, and a variety of real plants.

My terrarium doesn’t have any base (no sand, no soil, just fake moss dumped in).  I’m interested in building terrariums based on both tutorials to see which works the best.

 

 

 

This dragon has wings: a toy hack

This is Hackey Packey.

Hackey Packey, the Ty Beanie Baby.

Hackey Packey, the Ty Beanie Baby.

You may recognize Hackey Packey (not his birth name, by the way.  It was bestowed upon him by a current three-year-old).  Hackey Packey was once part of the prestigious Ty Beanie Baby zodiac line.

Ty's zodiac Beanie Babies

Ty’s zodiac Beanie Babies

For a while being associated with Ty was all Hackey needed.  However, lately things have changed.  Hackey Packey doesn’t get the attention he once attracted.  To make matters worse, he finds himself competing with other dragons.  Like this one:

Toothless, Hiccup, and Astrid

You may notice something about the dragon above.  He has wings.  Hackey Packey does not.

Hackey Packey came to me with one wish.  A wish for wings.

After many consultations and thorough psychological evaluations, Hackey Packey decided on the fashionable, yet classic, bat design.  The original mold can be seen here:

dragon wings

dragon wings

The wings were folded in the center and stitched for added stability.

stitched wings

stitched wings

Hackey Packey was prepped for surgery.  Seams were carefully ripped from Hackey’s spine with the finest of tools.

Under the knife

Under the knife

The seams to the right and left of Hackey’s golden scales were ripped out.  The wings were transplanted under the scales.

Dragon wing transplant

Dragon wing transplant

Surgical suturing beings.

Restitching after surgery

Restitching after surgery

The patient spent the afternoon in recovery.  Here he is proud as a winged dragon.

post-surgery

post-surgery

post-surgery

post-surgery

So there we have it.  My first toy hack.  I’m happy with the way it turned out.  My son is too.  I wish I had a picture of the look on his face when I handed him the finished product.  He was pleasantly surprised despite being in the room the entire time I was working on Hackey’s wings.

I was worried about the wings flopping over, because of lack of support.  I bought some stem wire florists use… for something…  I was thinking about lining the wings with the wire and then sandwiching the wire between two layers of felt.  I ended up not needed support, which is a relief.  I’m pretty sure the wire would’ve eventually worked its way out of the felt.  The wings are small enough that they don’t flop over.

AC Moore also carried some pretty cool glittery felt that would’ve made for some cool dragon wings.  However, I pulled a sheet off the shelf, and glitter went every where.  I hate sand.  I hate glitter.  Pretty much for the same reasons.

I just finished the project this evening, so I haven’t had a chance to do any major reflecting, but here are a couple of things that proved to be the most important factors in getting s**t done:

  1. I didn’t have to wait until after my son went to sleep to start working.  I’ve done plenty of hand stitching in the past.  I’ve made plenty of felt toys.  I was comfortable enough that I didn’t need to concentrate 100% on the activity at hand.  The hardest part was ripping out the seams and sewing the little guy back up.  My son was interested in what was going on.  I could talk to him about it.  We pretended Hackey was at the hospital.  I didn’t have to worry about my son getting bored.
  2. I had a purpose.  I had been talking with my son about making wings for Hackey.  There’s also a hack with the Thomas train tracks that I want to try out.  Making dragon wings and improving on toy train tracks are a part of my life because I have a three-year-old.  Not having a “purpose” kills motivation for me.  I want to learn Scratch.  I want to play around more with Thimble.  When I sit down to work on them, I feel paralyzed.  At first I thought that feeling was because I wasn’t creative enough, but I think that paralysis is a result of (a) being completely unfamiliar with a tool, (b) having absolutely no constraints in place, and (c) having no real “problem” to solve.  I’m going to continue to think this point through…

Also, if I had all the time in the world, I would’ve done something like this:

Oh….  One more thing….

Apparently craft stores sell these plastic jars called yarn trainers or yarn holders.  The idea is that you put your skein of yarn in the plastic container, feed the yarn through a hole in the top, and start knitting.  You don’t have to worry about your skein skipping across the floor while you work.  You don’t have to worry about your cat absconding with your yarn in the middle of the night.

I made one tonight out of a trail mix container that I KNEW I was holding on to for a reason.

homemade yarn trainer

homemade yarn trainer

 

 

 

 

Summer Songs

If Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” was last summer’s “song of summer,”

this summer’s tune has to be Icona Pop’s “I Love It.”

To honor that, I made this:

The project stems from the DS106 assignment “Character/Genre Song Mashup” (aka Visual Assignment 733).

The theme of the video clips selected:  Er…. they’re from The Twilight Zone (with the exception of a short clip from “Alcohol is Dynamite“)

The song: “I Love It” by Icona Pop.  It’s catchy and you can dance to it.

The tools:  iMovie ’11

What I did:  I haven’t watched all of the assigned Twilight Zone episodes, so I thought back to the ones I have seen and considered the scenes that would kind-of-sort-of fit the song.  Telly Savales falling down the stairs in “Living Doll” was an obvious choice as was footage from “Midnight Sun.”

I downloaded clips from Youtube using clip converter.  I’ve been using this Firefox add-on since Camp Magic Macguffin, and it works well for me.  Though I’m sure most of these converters have the option to download portions of videos, I found that an especially useful feature for this project.

Settings for clip converter

Settings for clip converter

I opted to save my clips as a .mp4, because that’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to work.  I know very little about codecs.  Am I even using the right terminology?  Is a .wmv a codec or is that just a file type?  I should probably look into that….

I converted and saved all of the clips I wanted to work with to my desktop, because that’s the easiest thing for me to do.  I created a new project in iMovie called Twilight Zone.  Next, I imported all of Twilight Zone .mp4 files in a new event that I called DS106zone.

iMovie process

iMovie process

Most of the clips in the DS106zone event were longer than necessary, so I selected the portions of the clips I wanted, and dragged them to the Twilight Zone project.

I don’t have Icona Pop’s “I Love It” in my music library (because I listen to music through Rdio if I listen to music at all), so I converted the Youtube video to MP3 and then imported that file into my iMovie project.  I only used about a minute of the song, because it’s very hard to too time-consuming to find three minutes worth of clips to match with the song.

Once the soundtrack was in place, I moved the video clips around to fit with the lyrics of the song.  I muted the volume in the video tracks by reducing volume to 0%.  This can be done under “audio adjustment” for each clip.

iMovie screen shot

iMovie screen shot

A lot of folks poo-poo iMovie.  It works fine for the video work that I do.  I’m sure it has limitations for the hardcore video editors out there.  The only problem I’ve encountered is when students try to do a group project at school.  It’s impossible (or at least not easy) for students to work asynchronously on a group project without a lot of network account black magic. 

This project’s biggest time suck is gathering and organizing the footage.  I had a vague mental idea–a mental story board, if you will–of what I wanted the project to look like.  That helped with the efficiency of the clip selection, conversion, and editing process.

Christina Hendricks recently tweeted:

This gave me the idea to create and use several frames of Talky Tina floating through space during the closing credits rather than the space ship.  I’ll add that to my “to do” list.

I also need to add this to my blog:

Official Internet Web Badge

Official Internet Web Badge

So honored!