Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have a lot to do, but I like taking a little bit of time to do fun, silly things, so I am entering a blog contest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Dragon Mask

Wheee! Fall is my favorite ever! The air, the trees, the birthdayCaitlan/birthdayDad/Dia De Los Muertes/Halloween/All Saints/birthdayAndrew/birthdayMom/guy fawkes (and elections!) is just this explosion of fun! It is my favorite part of the year I think. So I made this mask as part of my "St George and The Dragon" pair costume. I've got a red dress, a black lace vest, thigh high red socks with black threads, and knee high black boots. I was thinking to do all kinds of stuff for my costume, a little skirt with tattered ribbons and a small pair of wings made of thin fabric with fabric stiffener and wire, but i think it is a good costume the way it is already, it just came right together. Andy hasn't started his though, I said i'd do his halo and cape. That and a big red cross on a plain shirt will do him nicely if he doesn't find time to work on his costume.
The painting isn't done. It is almost done but a few things need stronger black (it rubbed off a bit while I worked) and possibly silver or white accents?
Oh yes, I have been much, much to busy to do my nails in more than a week, and I am hard on them. This is the inside of the mask. I plan to paint the foil red or just paint it anything really, since it looks unfinished. I used clay sparingly on the underside. Fimo is very light and this is thin, but I don't want to get a headache or have it fall off.

Electronics for Intermedia Project 1

The first project: a prototype or working component of our final project, a practical electrical arduino project. It was supposed to have working multiple LEDS and a potentiometer and a switch. Mine only has the LEDs. I know how to wire the pot and I know what a switch looks like. I was really close to learning how to do those: when the TA got to me after more than an hour he had time to sit and ask what I needed help with and then the professor called me up to discuss my proposal. My proposal for this!

After going thrifting 2 seperate times and finding nothing I was nervous I'd have to use my old art briefcase, which I am using to store stationary and it is brown and has a map painted on it, just really not right for this project and already used for something. But Andy's dad John had this excellent, excellent samsonite briefcase from we guess the 1980s. It is so perfect. It's so well made, and in great condition, and it's the right size for me to actually use.
Here is the excellent interior. The left compartment holds a casette! The right compartment is the same size as the cassette one, so andy said "It's for the casette you need immediate access to!" and we laughed because what is on a cassette? Why would some need strong plastic walls and others be adequately protected by a strap? Then we thought it might be a floppy disk. I am actually old enough to have used a floppy disk, but only have a fuzzy memory of it. The top has a snappy part and they are not floppy.

Anyway! The samsonite is fantastic but it was made indestructable! I need a lot of holes for my leds. My prof suggested using a hammer and nail, which made a tiny divot but didn't make a hole. (I bet someone could make a hole in a samsonite briefcase, but I was working with a little electronics for intermedia hammer and...) So, I went to the woodshop! Which I love! I tried to find an awl but had to use a tiny drill bit, a corer.
Wait, no, I had to make little dents* with a nail and hammer, and then I could drill. Indestructible.

So here is the setup. The pot meter is just chilling in the corner because I planned to connect it up but ran out of time.

Here are the hands free devices for soldering, dancing because they are so happy I got everything to work. The middle LED looked bright when I plugged them in one by one to check them, but next to the other ones it looks dull. At least it's symmetrical. There is a lot of solder, heat shrink tubing, and hotglue keeping that thing together (I plan to really use this as a briefcase from now on, and it's due in 7 weeks so it has to hold up) so getting out that LED... and then soldering inside a briefcase... and I won't be able to heat shrink anything because it might melt the hot glue...
Look, a "schematic". Yellow is ground, red is power, 225 resistors... It's only 15 soldered joins which I think would take only 45 minutes if everything went smoothly and you didn't need heat shrink plastic. The worst is when an LED cracked and I had to un heat shrink plastic everything around it. The stuff is really tough, and in the process I crimped a wire really a lot and had to replace it as I was afraid it would snap... I don't think I will use any heat shrink stuff for my main led part, too time consuming. Did you know LEDs can crack? Mine got too close to the heat gun I was using to shrink plastic.
So this is what the hot glue looks like on the inside. Hot glue is a mess but my prof suggested epoxy and I wanted it a lot more reversible in case anything breaks. It was really hard to do because there is no real way to look straight and up close at this part of the briefcase.
And here is what the hot glue looks like on the outside. I am very good with hot glue, actually, and made little frosted bubbles so the LEDs wouldn't be exposed (they're recessed, but the drilled holes are rough and everything, I thought smooth bumps would be better than rough indents both visually and practically).
So now I just need an RFID reader and tags set up by the next due date in 2 weeks. (If you don't do computer things, LEDS are to RFID as crawling is to dancing. It is quite a near deadline.)
*Well, I am saying nail to save face, but in the intermedia lab I couldn't find one so I used a small thing, like a straight screwdriver, and in the woodshop I was embarrassed to ask where the nails were so I used a screw. I felt a bit silly using a hammer to nail a screw into a briefcase, but it worked.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Acrylic Painting Week 3 Limited Palette

I was unprepared for class having missed 2 sessions for illness (Once to ill to go to a 3 hour studio and once too ill to drive 75 miles to santa cruz and then go to a 3 hour studio) so the professor asked me to do a painting from my sketchbook. When he cycled back to look at my initial sketch he seemed really disappointed with it so I gave up and just worked intuitively with the colors.
In person the field of gold has taupe, rose, and sap green smudges, and the black part has some burnt umber and crimson. It's the sort of thing that might work if it was 4 feet tall instead of 11 inches because it would be more immersive.
One of the sessions I missed was the contrasting hues+white painting from a model, so doing a "limited palette" painting using only one yellow, one blue, one red, one white, and one black, was quite hard. I looked around at breaks and most people were challenged I think, either doing a mostly flesh toned one or looking a bit like mine, though mostly they were turning out better.

This is where I got to when I decided it was getting more and more murky as I pushed the paint around and I should just stop. I tried to do yellow for neutral places, red for warm, and blue for shadow and cool tones. Then when that looked awful I painted over the yellow with titan buff/titanium white. I'm not entirely unhappy with this piece since I had to catch up from last week's session, but it is ugly to me. One problem was the murkiness (these acrylics take several days to dry) as the colors blended, and I could barely judge whether places were just dark, or dark and cool. :( . And next week's session is the day after my birthday so I won't be going... I'll be very behind. :( .

Acrylic Painting Week 3

The dainty bodies, formal dress, and elaborate detail of this old caricature appeal to me so I based a painting on it.
Here is what I finished in the first 3 hour studio session

And I worked on it a bit more after finishing (as best I could) my model portrait today.

Of course with the source it's based on and with my lack of experience painting figures it looks very stiff, I think it's all right but it's not really what I wanted.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Electronics for Intermedia

Well, the art class I was not super stoked about has become my favorite this term. I am not an expert at this stuff, but I am learning a lot about it in CMPS 10 and then this class is the fun version of computer science. It's like, how can I fabricate this? Not "how can I get all related knowledge in this field from the bottom up and write my own codes?".
I am especially bad at the arduino software, since I can literally only do the things we have talked about and even then only by looking in my notes and asking for help. Like, oh yeah, making a light blink.... got it. Making 2 lights blink? Um...... let's ask the TA. But it's a very supportive class. We do a lot of helping each other, which is nice, because I got to help people solder (kind of. by telling them what heat to put the gun on and reassuring them that it looked all right and the resistor is the right voltage "because look, it's red red gold brown", not really helping them like people help me write code by finding relevant tutorials and troubleshooting for me) and other people help me with the software and it is so nice. Always in school you are supposed to ask your peers but usually they don't know or only some students have the skills to help. But in this class someone who isn't a natural at this can help someone who is because the person who isn't has extra alligator clips or knows where the error is bc they just got that debugged by the TA. So it's really nicely collaborative. I helped a girl who has a much more sophisticated first project than mine by telling her you can hold wire in pliers when you strip it instead of wrapping it around your finger.
This is my "project". I don't know how to light it up. I might not be done on time (monday) because i wasted wednesday replacing my different colored clear LEDs (thought they were white or yellow, nope: white, red, dud*, red, yellow, yellow, green) with red ones so I could actually use it in my final project if I want. (initially I was going to do just a project to learn the concept but when i met with the prof to discuss my proposal he said to actually buy my briefcase and wire the leds to it so i didn't want my defective ones wired to it)
This is our wire and little components station. The bin in the foreground is of clear leds that I will test next time I want to use them, before I get out the solder and heat shrink plastic. (ugh.)
This is the coolest. It holds wires next to each other in alligator clips so your hands are free to solder. I love it. It makes me feel like such an inventor. However the magnifier is probably for breadboards or circuit boards or something, it is not useful to be and i have to bend it out of the way.
I am sorry for the quality of this picture. It is my final project. I have to go to class soon, so I can't explain it very much. Basically we had to design a labor saving device and have to manufacture at least a prototype this quarter. Mine saves me from checking on my keys and everything dozens of times by an RFID scanner than I scan my essentials past when I put them in my briefcase and then lights up an EL wire squid that reassures me I got my neccessary tools in the bag. If not all of them are scanned, the leds above will flash. I thought about a 2 way mirror/calendar component but it's quite expensive for the glass... my prof suggested mylar and a picture frame glass... I am not as keen on this anymore, once I understood how much a primitive rfid reader would cost and take to get set up. Actually now I like the idea of a freestanding one, which doesn't help bc it's not portable and would be a companion to planner not a replacement, but then again i don't need to cut a hole in a briefcase and get acrylic so it won't shatter and everything. And find a portable power source for a lightbulb in my briefcase.
*the dud may have been an ultraviolet one, but basically it did not make light so it is a dud.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I was really excited to make soap from oil and lye while watching Fight Club with Andrew and Max, but lye is used to manufacture meth so it is no longer sold in supermarkets in california. We read online about a crystal drain cleaner made of lye with no additives according to the manufacturer, but couldn't find any locally. So, we went to the craft store and bought clear glycerin soap, then went to longs to buy nice things to color and shimmer the soap.

Lavender, leftover cubes of glycerin soap, fragrance oils, mineral loose powder body shimmer, soft pastels (ground for coloring, which don't stain the body but might stain a plastic soap tray)

Max took his beautiful soaps home before I took this picture, but you can see that we made a variety. The top ones have brewed coffee mixed in and they are very, very exfoliating.

This is the other side of my pink bar. It was the last one I did and I think it came out great except that the soap designs float when you pour glycerin onto them and so it will be a few washes before they show up clearly.
I might have just sliced it off but I found it very hard to slice off a consistent amount without the blade sinking in really deep and making it lopsided. I could also have rinsed it until the red layers showed through properly but that would waste.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Love Robot (Papercraft for Andy)

Andy came to visit my dorm this weekend, which was so much fun because he's never been to Santa Cruz since I started going here. He was a little sick so we didn't go to this bonfire thing we planned, but we did have a fun weekend. I accidentally told him I got him a little present (liquorice soap samples from etsy) and so I made him this so he would think this was the present so when his soap gets to him in the mail he will be surprised. Then, I accidentally told him again while he was here, but played it off. At least he doesn't know it's liquorice.
You'd think it's called Love Robot because of the little paper heart on its chest, but really that heart is just an indicator of its contents, a 36 inch "printout" of a love note.
This picture is because I think it's funny that I'm in a nerdRomance (I learned to capitalize like that in my Electronics for Intermedia class :) ) and was getting dressed up for my "date" and deliberating between brown socks and blue socks.

I took this picture in my bathroom so my roommate wouldn't know. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Intro to Acrylic Painting

This is an amazing art class! I think even if you are good at drawing your drawing looks drawn, it isn't immersive like viewing a painting is. Paintings are comparatively complete, and warm. So, I've done a few dozen paintings in my life and several of them turned out good, but now I am really learning to paint in school.

Our first assignments were to get us used to knitting together areas of paint into a cohesive image without pre sketching, and for simplicity we are using only grey. For complexity it is a grey we mixed ourselves from sap green, titanium white, alazarin crimson, and ultramarine blue. But I put black in mine so I wouldn't use up all of my crimson on making gray.

Here are my 6 steps of grey. The leftmost one is pure the color i mixed out of colors, with traces of white from when i added a bit of it to the other colors and didn't wipe my palette knife (palette knives are amazing for mixing paint! I have never owned one, but they do a really good, fast job) and the rightmost one the same but white. We began with 9x12 panels painted with liquitex gray
Our first assignment was to paint a crumpled paper pinned to the wall. I picked an interesting shaped one. This is unfinished because most of the 3 hour class was spent mixing greys. We are finishing them on tuesday, but I probably won't post it unless it turns out amazingly, it will probably look about like this one.

Then at mandatory Saturday class we had to paint a model. I painted a close up because our panels are so small I couldn't finish in the assigned time nor get all of the shadows if I tried to paint all of her. I was surprised that of the ones I saw (not sure when we are critiquing them) everyone else had a little painting of the model taking up maybe 1/4 of the canvas in the middle. I am pretty satisfied with this exercise. I have lost my syllabus somehow, so I don't quite know what we are doing next but I think it is two tones, like green with orange or something.