Friday, November 30, 2012

3d Printer Purchase

I visited NYC in June and used a 3d printer at a hackerspace for the first time.  Before that moment, my experience with 3d printing was very much at a distance.  I did research on buying one, then stopped when a very smart mechanical engineer friend told me it was a bad idea.  3d prints I sent to customers were primarily through and occasionally through

Actually seeing a 3d printer in person, isn't as sexy as watching someone hand craft a really funky scarf.  This experience doesn't really compare to that at all.  It is more like speaking something into existence and watching your words be built 1 millimeter at a time.

There are downsides to 3d printing like having to stop a print when you see it isn't structurally sound or needing to file down prototypes, and even making sure everything is level takes quite a bit of work, but the end result is slightly warm and quite beautiful.  It would be similar to holding a newborn baby if you happened to be printing a plastic toy baby.

The huge epiphany came when Dave, owner of hack manhattan (only hackerspace in NYC that welcomed me in, let me use their gear for free), asked me how much I was paying to print stuff at shapeways.
Dave was a quiet british guy and very nice, but he almost spit his sandwich into the window when I told him typical prices for materials.  Then he told me how much printing my 3 small items cost.  It wasn't more than a dollar.

Granted he had to calibrate all surfaces to be level and fix some wiring the previous user had left, but when everything was right, the process and price were undeniably impressive.

Even with those low prototype prices, the cost of plastic spool can be reduced even more once a decent way to turn plastic pellets (or recyclable plastic shards) into a spool of plastic.

It's also good to know that some plastic is biodegradable, carbon-neutral, and based from fermented corn starch.

I'm not going to rely solely on this machine to make product, but I will use it to divert more time into packaging and figuring out how to making things people want.  This may even be a starting point for new exploration others have already shown is very beautiful.

I haven't purchased it yet, but I'm lining up my resources to place an order for the Ultimaker before the year ends.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Think Geek's Cyber Therapy & Christmas Card Hoarding

Check this out.  If you are openly geeky, fresh out of the basement geek, or still video gaming geek then you will appreciate's clearance section on this fine Cyber Monday.

Since I started my self blinding technique of playing every video game I saw till the wee hours of the night I've been a geek.  Although seeing the Starwars Disc trilogy on Laser Disc definitely pushed me to geek out pretty early in life.

I am not a huge consumer, but the Monday's after a Thanksgiving holiday are hard.  My wife was just saying how we could use the next week off.  Seeing thinkgeeks humorous products and reading every last description is nothing short of therapy for the Monday blues.  It's enough to lift my spirits and remind me I need to get to those Merry Christmas + Happy New Year cards I've started.

This whole business of writing up winter holiday cards and sending them has never been my cup of tea.  Normally we'll receive 20 or so from our good friends and family and we've never gotten to the point were we are sending anything back!  Seem rude?  Probably.  I've finally mustered up the creative stamina to put together a bunch of Christmas cards using some 140lb Arches water color paper with winsor & newton watercolors.  I'll be making paintings all sorts of sizes with this, but I see the thank you cards as a warm up to the pieces I will sell.

I painted a bonsai Juniper tree for my good friends from Oregon, and some pine branches for others.  Eventually when I'm done I'll proceed to actually write something inside these cards to warm cheer up those who read them and don't throw them out or loose them.

Writing something meaningful is a strange difficult process.  My card receiving list started with people who have invited me to their house or who've I've invited over.  Then I thought about those who I've done church related activities with.  And the list grew when I added those who have done hobby related stuff with me or given me really good advice related to crafts.  I've also added cards for my kids teachers and those faithful few who have sent me cards year after year knowing they may not get a response.

All of this thinking through the year and taking time to thank those who've been a part of my life, makes me realize one thing.  Where did these thinking resources come from?  After all I can't even remember the last time I sent out Holiday cards.  The answer is simple.  It's from my kids.  They have been potty trained and each year they are becoming more and more independant curious little kids.  They are helping out more and the invisible weight of responsibility my wife and I feel gets lighter and lighter.  The phase of our lives where we were to exhausted to handle glassware is slowly passing... ever so slowly.

There are still messes to clean up, but they are more infrequent.  The long cries are slowly changing over to polite requests and through all of this, the dark corridors of my mind --so often ignored-- are beginning to get air.  Starting with being a little more thankful of those who selflessly give me their time and looking at what has been going on outside the home around our family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Glittery Octopus

I reconnected with my wife's uncle over a vacation in August by the beach and he filled me in on what he had been doing for the past 30 years. I'd seen evidence of his work around the house with a huge reel shiny silver wrapping paper and reels of silver paper with hearts cut out, but he told me much more and I was impressed with how detail oriented he needs to be. After all was said and done, I shot him an email weeks later and asked for some samples of glitter from his company. He sent them and I set them aside for several weeks.

The past few days, I've been very absent minded and day dreamy, which is a sign I'm fighting a cold. This illness has slowed me down enough to review items I had laying around... 3d printed items to be specific that were closed up or sitting on a shelf. This Octopus was supposed to be the 2nd of whimsical animal hybrids. There was supposed to be another piece added, but the design never quite worked out. But it sat there for months and finally I had an idea! Why not paint the octopus and toss glitter on it?!? Clearly the cold was progressing to my brain!

I continued with the idea. Figuring the glitter across the 8 tentacles and the bulb shaped head would present plenty of surfaces for glitter to cling to and ricochet light. I was spot on.

It was as though the octopus magnetized microscopic stars onto it's body and every way it turned little white shimmers appeared. Mind you, before this glitter was one aggravation I did my best to avoid. My kids lovely crafts would often leave glitter trails in my car and on my clothing and I'd show up at work looking like I just had a all night craft party. This glitter was by far much different and worked exactly as I intended. To continue with this and fit in with the season I picked up some eye hole screws from a local hardware store and took a ribbon used to bundle my daughters clothing. Before I knew it it was done and I just needed to get pictures taken + think about packaging.

I am truly bummed out with how little conservation land is available to Massachusetts residents, but I do have one spot in my town. I went to the closest conservation land I knew and was reminded of it's size by the many houses I could see beyond the trees. I decided to stay away from the typical path I've taken and went south through the woods. Several trees had bowed to Hurricane sandy and stayed there. I kept seeing these trees and nearby there were several branches I picked up and reused for when I would need to show the ornament hanging.

These are the other product pictures.

And here's where you can pick up the glittery Octopus ornament.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I was this close to voting for Rosanne Barr. After all, she did show me the proper way to raise a family with attitide. I thought about voting for Dr. Jill Stein, because I have a secret crush on her. Don't worry, I already told my wife and she knew I would like her hoary hair. I knew who I would vote for before any debates or ads, because I checked This morning I woke to see facebook telling me several of my friends had birthday's on this election day. My wife told me to get out and vote while she got the kids ready for daycare. I would pick them up tonight so she could vote. Our polls are set in the middle of a cozy senior center facility where several of the seniors I've seen here and there man the sign ups, check-outs and process the ballots. I walked in saw the candidates and almost checked the first candidate on the list! Silly me! I scanned all candidate names for all offices before placing my vote. Funny to see that legalizing marijuana has returned in Massachusetts. It's probably been returning for every year I have voted. I slipped my completed ballot into the machine that seemed rather effective and archaic and the lady spun a handle allowing the machine to digested my votes. I don't know what will come of this election, but I do enjoy having an easy way to vote in person.

Take Control

René Jules Lalique

I'm reading a few books on jewelry from the 1900-1950 to see what path's jewelry designers took and find some new inspiration. In Masterpieces of French jewelry, the name Lalique pops up over and over again. I read up on his history and he really crosses the line between nature and abstract forms. Sometimes his pieces are creepy, but other times they teleport you to a parallel dimension.
Links: Masterpieces of French jewelry

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cowboys and Indians

Watched some of the video without sound.  It looks like a good video.  Somewhere in the comments was this statement..

The other day I saw an “Indigenous American” fellow dressed up like a white man; wearing a collared shirt and slacks, he was clearly being racist and I am highly offended.
I laughed when I thought about this.  I've seen all sorts of people wear baggy pants, button up shirts, hats backwards, doo rags, suits, dresses, pants.  It all becomes irrelevant after a while.  The racial associations blur and anyone can wear anything without feeling like a piece of clothing belongs to a certain type of people.

It seems like these artist were going for a specific feel in their video and I think they achieved it.  It was supposed to be a more primal western and I think it worked.  What they probably didn't anticipate is viewers negative racial associations with their look, which forced them to take down the video.

We are on the heels of Halloween so this could be seen as Halloween costumes, but it was taken to be much more.

No Doubt - Looking Hot (Official video) from Flochjan on Vimeo.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Crisp

- 4 cups of sweet potatoes
- 2 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup of melted butter
- 2 tsp of salt
- 4 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 cups of chopped pecans
- 2 cups of fluff or marshmellows
- Lemon juice

1) Peel then boil, bake, or pressure cook the sweet potatoes until they are soft. Roast pecans in as much butter as necessary or around 1/4 cup. Mix pecans and sweet potatoes together.

2) Preheat an oven to 350°F.

3) Mix the flour, brown sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

4) Bake half of the mix from step 3 for 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

5) Add these to the sweet potatoes from step 1 and mix to a smooth paste:
2 Tbs of butter,
2 tsp of brown sugar,
1/2 tsp of salt
optional (lemon juice, milk or heavy cream to taste)

6) In a bake-safe bowl with 3-4 inch walls and a diameter of 7 inches make a 2 inch layer of sweet potato mix from step 5. Cover the sweet potato mix with a 1 inch layer of cooked crisp from step 4. Add a 1 inch layer of fluff or marshmellow on the crisp.

7) Repeat the layers of step 6 until the last layer of crisp is an inch from the top of the bowl.

8) Bake the sweet potato crisp for 15 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.

This recipe is great hot or cold the next morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tricks & Treats

After work yesterday I set out to go trick or treating with my family, a neighbor, and her adopted daughter.
We stayed within a couple blocks of our house and accosted those we saw.  Porch-lights are the universal symbol for candy inventory levels.  Those wise enough to install a dimmer, help us parents steer towards the larger candy stockpiles.

My son is a modern hero who has super hero suits for The Flash, Iron Man, Spiderman, and Captain America.  Times are tough so he takes on the other powers for extra work.  My daughter, my precious, dressed as Elmo and could've easily plundered all candy bowls with her super powerful cuteness.

After all was said and done.  After the strange monster babies in white cradles where behind us and the suited gorillas slipped off with their inflatable banana's, we returned home.  Our neighbors daughter and my son ran to the backyard and said something was very beautiful.  I was pretty sure the kids toys were in the shed and the dark hid our mediocre yard.  Then I looked up.  It was a clear view of the moon and  moonlight soaked clouds.  The sight was so simple and natural reminding me not all passing through the night
is scary.