Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Cardboard mock-up

One of the projects in the Quarterly maker box curated by Adam Savage is a cardboard model of his maker space. Growing up, cardboard was how he got started in making and he wanted people to have skill with this medium. In the box were laser cut, labeled pieces to be hot glued together.

While originally, I thought that I would take the time to embellish the walls and make it more like his space than would be shown in plain cardboard, but then I realized that it was more important to do this craft with my daughters.

I didn't get any pictures of the pile of pieces before assembly, but here are some pictures of the process.
Of course, being 6 and 9, they seemed to think the best part was the bathroom:
Assembling the bathroom

Once they figured out that some of what we were putting in were display cabinets, they decided to decorate them. Thing one wanted to make sure the people had snacks and games.
Decorating the display cabinet

I believe Thing two drew Toothless.

As soon as we finished and I mentioned making a model of our house, the girls were ready to start measuring.  I now have the pieces cut out, but need to find a chunk of not busy time while the girls are awake to assemble it.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Quarterly maker crate curated by Adam Savage

In November I subscribed to Quarterly. I'll admit it was because Adam Savage was curating a couple boxes for it. I'd been skeptical about boxes like these in the past, but a box that he curated should be decent.

For those who aren't familiar with the Quarterly, you subscribe to get a box every three months (also known as quarterly) based on a theme. The one I signed up for is for makers and is curated by fellow makers and scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. They also have a Literary box, curated by best selling authors and a Cuisine box curated by chefs. Those seem much less interesting to me.

The box arrived mid December and I was excited to open it!
Here's what it contained:
A cutting mat and grid ruler

A knife for cutting

A dual temp hot glue gun and glue sticks

A bag, pencils, eraser and tape measure

Not pictured are a notebook, a bag containing numbered cardboard pieces and a short stack of cardboard. There were also instructions to start drawing simple items around us to practice drawing and a puzzle to solve to unlock a couple videos related to the box.

I saw that some people were disappointed by what was in this box, especially for the price. I wasn't unhappy. I've taken the notebook and, although I've skipped the included lessons for the moment (I want to get to those soon), I started sketching ideas to sculpt in it. I haven't been sketching out what I've been thinking of sculpting, so ideas get lost. I want that to change. There are pictures of a few of my drawings on my Valdelia Maker FB page

This holiday season was a making-centric one. I received the above, while my daughters each were given a subscription to a maker crate, which so far has been very appropriately assigned for my daughters. More on these crates in future posts!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Self realization

I've been a maker/crafter most of my life. What my craft of choice was at any given time has varied. Early on, it was cross stitch. I painted for a while, using a couple different techniques. I did wood working, weaving, spinning, dyeing, crochet...if it has to do with fiber, you name it, I've done it.

My craft of choice for the last few years has been knitting. I find that to keep my attention, a project has to have some decent level of difficulty. A friend called me a "challenge knitter" a couple years ago. She was right. I loved the challenge of leaning new techniques. Cables? No problem. Beaded lace? Bring it on!

I learned how to spin fiber into yarn. Then I added the challenge of processing the fiber so that it's ready to spin. Then I started from raw, unwashed, fiber and worked on spinning that. Next was spinning from the lock, rather than the prepared fiber. It was all a new challenge. It all became less exciting...less of a fix over time.

I've come to the realization, somewhat with the help of my dear husband, that I'm a challenge maker. I love learning new crafts, new skills. It doesn't really matter what a given craft is, I want to learn it. I just purchased some pewter and a ladle to do some pewter casting. Have I done metal casting before? No. Is that going to stop me? Never!

I think being a challenge crafter is why I'm excited about sculpting these days. Over the years I've been excited about different crafts, mastered (some of) them, done OK in others and moved on. Right now the challenges are sculpting and molding/casting.

Who knows where else making will lead me?

Sunday, 7 January 2018


Back in August, I made a new hat. 

Meet Hamish:

Hamish has accompanied me most places that I've been this winter. Sadly, my daughters aren't old enough yet to be embarrassed by me when I drop them off at school wearing an octopus on my head. Hamish is great for keeping me warm because his tentacles come down lower around my face than most hats do. He does argue a bit with my winter jacket, which has a hood that also wants to take up space around the back of my neck, but he mostly cooperates.

I love that he makes people smile.

In November he went with me to a knitting retreat. The people there loved him! I could hardly get across the room to go out and listen to the wonderful waves on Lake Michigan without people wanting to get his picture. It was like attending with a celebrity!  I did take him for a walk on the beach. He behaved and didn't try to go for a swim. Perhaps he knew the water would be quite cold. It was November in Michigan after all.

He gets lots of attention wherever we go.  A few people have asked if I'm going to make them to sell. I had been telling them no. Then, when I went to donate blood, the nurse who took my information said "Here is my phone number *writes down phone number and name on the paper they always send me home with* call me if you decide to make them to sell. I'd love to wear one, maybe in red and white, to the Red Wings game"
That got me really thinking about making them. I make one for each of my daughters and paid attention to how long it took to make so that I'd know roughly how much I'd have to charge for them to make them worth my time.
Here's Thing One with her octopus which she's named "Fred the abominable octopus"

And here's Thing Two with her octopus, which I think she's also named Fred. Yes, her sweatshirt is on backward. I think it had something to do with her sister's bff teddy bear not liking moose, which is what's on the front of the sweatshirt. She wanted the front two tentacles to be pinned up in curls. Who am I to argue with this cuteness?

Thankfully the woman who designed the pattern for this hat has been kind enough to allow people to sell what they make from the pattern. She asks that we post a link to her Etsy shop. Here's a link Thank you to the Twisted Hatter for the pattern!

Coming soon: Octopuses part two, which will be about ones I'm making to sell.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Resolutions and Maker boxes

This year I set a resolution to make every day. It occurred to me earlier today that I'm just over a week away from keeping that resolution for a full year. To be honest, there may be a couple days in the year where I forgot to make, but no days stick out in my mind as days where I knew I didn't make. I do know that I remembered late a couple days and ended up knitting or crocheting (my easy go-to projects) late at night. Most importantly, there were no days where I didn't craft because I didn't feel like crafting.

In general, I feel proud that I was able to keep a resolution for the year and, again more importantly, I feel like I was in a better place mentally on average over the course of the year. I knew going into the year that I was happier when I was crafting and that I wasn't doing well mentally if I didn't feel like crafting. I had many fewer days this year where I didn't feel like crafting. I think that just shows how I was in a better mental state this year than I was last year.

I will, of course, finish out this year with making every day. For next year, I want to renew this resolution. I want to add one or two more for 2018.

This first one might be somewhat difficult to keep, but I'm going to try. Something I want to do is document better what I make during the year. I've been jotting notes in my planner about the project that I work on most days (when I remember), but it lacks any kind of detail or thoughts or purpose behind what I'm doing. Many days, my making time will consist of working a bit on a project that I don't have to think about much, but I want to reduce those days. If I'm able to plan my making better, I can make more progress on things I want to do.

I want to improve my sculpting next year. This is something I've been wanting to do for over a year now, but life has kept me busy with other things and I've not prioritized it as much as I should have. Neither of the resolutions deal directly with this goal as I don't want to say that I will sculpt every day because I doubt that's feasible.

A related resolution is that I want to draw every day.  Randomly, over the course of the day, I'll see something that will make me think "an X version of that that kind of looks like Y" will run through my head and I think "I should sculpt that." Of course, I don't get to sculpting right away, or even that day or the next. I need to be able to get my ideas down so later, when I'm wondering what to make, I can flip through my sketch book.

I don't draw well. The picture below may seem to give lie to that statement, but let me explain. I can do a little OK when it comes to sketching something relatively simple when it's right in front of me. When it comes to drawing something out of my imagination with no examples in front of me, it's a different story.

The little figurine at the top is a Tsum Tsum version of Jafar. You can see from the upper left drawing that he has a very simple oval body and tiny legs.  This drawing is practice for a couple reasons. First, I'm planning a project that I'm not ready to talk about yet, but figuring out the basics of something like this will help.

The second reason has to do with Maker boxes. I've been somewhat skeptical of these subscription pages where you get sent a box every month or three and don't know exactly what you're going to get until you open it.
For those of you who know me, I am a huge fan of Adam Savage. I love his enthusiasm for all the projects he does. He is a talented maker and supports other makers. I found out he was curating a maker box for and I was curious.

It arrived a couple days ago. Reading reviews, many people were disappointed because many of the things it contained would be easily attainable at local shops and for less than what the box cost. I was lucky in the respect that I didn't have much of the stuff in the box. I've never owned a hot glue gun, for instance.
Here is a picture (not mine) of what was in the first box. What was most interesting to me wasn't most of the individual items, but the stack of papers and the book on the left. The book is a collection of sketches by Mr. Savage. It shows over 100 sketching ranging from recent back to the '80s, I think he said. The important part to someone just starting out (like me) is that he includes early, bad, sketches. It isn't all beautiful work. Seeing where he, untrained in drawing, started out and has come is inspiration for the rest of us. It also has a first couple lessons in drawing and encouragement  to do it even if it doesn't turn out pretty.

There is a puzzle to solve to access a few videos about the box, Adam's thoughts in curating it and his hopes for it. It was fun and cute and fit in with the drawing theme:

The making project in this box is fairly simple. The second is to take what you learn from this simple project and use it to make your own version of the project. I'm sure I'll post when I get the chance to work on those projects.

Meanwhile, go off and make!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Jam season!

This past week was the week that straddled the end of November and beginning of December so, of course,  that means it's jam making season here in Michigan!
OK, so maybe I'm a bit behind, but I made 6 batches of jam this week.

I had picked some mulberries from the neighbor's yard this summer and then promptly left town for several days, so they were stuck in the freezer to make jam when I returned (later in July).

Monday I hoped that I had enough for two batches. After pureeing the berries and measuring them out, I had about 2 T more than I needed. Whew!
I follow the recipe at The Dirty Radish:, but I don't take the stems off of the mulberries. The friend who shared the link with me doesn't either. That would take way too much time and energy. I've yet to find a stem in my jam and I've heard no complaints from all those that I've introduced to mulberry jam either. I just throw them all in my food processor and measure out the 3 cups when they're all broken down. So far I've had good luck with this recipe. It's the husband's favorite that I make.
I didn't manage to get any pictures of it before squirreling it away into the pantry.

The other "jam" I made this week was an experiment with a bit of a back story. When my parents come to visit, we often go out for breakfast at a local restaurant. Just about every time we go, they lament on how you can get mixed berry jelly in the little packets at restaurants, but you can't go to the store and buy a jar. I did manage to find a website that had the same lament but she had done something about it.
Thank you to Ms. Butler and her post at:
This is the easiest jelly ever...because it's made with fruit juices bought at the store. No picking berries, no straining out seeds.

Is it tasty? Yes. Is it like Smuckers? Don't know. I tend to go for strawberry jam when I go out for breakfast. I just need to get my jam tasters (husband and daughters) to try it out and see if it passes muster. I don't think it will be my favorite (strawberry freezer jam for ever!), but I'm looking forward to trying it on some toast.
My main complaint, if you can call it that, is that I found all the juices in rather large containers. The daughters don't drink that much juice. I didn't want it to go to waste, so I may have made a bit more than we could ever use in a year. Good thing the holidays are coming up.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Brain Candy Live!

Sunday night I went to see Adam Savage and Michael Stevens in Brain Candy Live at the Fox Theater in Detroit. I enjoyed the show and am glad I went.
Any incorrect science below is my faulty memory and probably not them telling us incorrect information. The show happened so fast, moving from one thing to the next, that it was difficult to take it all in.

I've admired Adam Savage for a while now. I, of course, was first introduced to him on Mythbusters many years ago. In recent years he has been a voice for makers. He is a maker and encourages others to make as well. I've been enjoying watching the videos on his website, Tested.

I don't think I've ever been to the Fox Theater before. It's an impressive building.

The show was entertaining and flashy. They talked about the science behind what they were doing, so while I did learn some new stuff, I knew much of the science. The focus of the show was air and the properties of air like the pressure of air on our bodies.

They used an air cannon to knock down an empty plastic bottle and then super sized it a couple times to shoot a large smoke ring over half way to the back of the theater.
Smoke is the product of combustion, but what they were using was from a "smoke machine", so technically it wasn't smoke. It was vaporized mineral oil, I believe they said. They also pulled out a box that had warm water and dry ice in it to show another "smoke that is not smoke", and some boiling water  to explain that the steam you see is not water vapor, because that's invisible, but what we see is the water condensing out of the air. Same thing with the dry ice.

They talked about how everyone knows that water boils at 100C or 212F, but that's only at sea level. I knew this bit of information, but never really thought about it being more than a few degrees off of that on a mountain or wherever. The Armstrong limit is the height at which water boils at body temperature. This is why the body "boils" if exposed in space.

They showed and explained the Bernoulli effect using a ping pong ball in a funnel. You aren't able to blow the ball out of the upright funnel because as the air flows past the ball it slows down and increases the pressure on the upper side of the ball.

Related to the Bernoulli effect is the Coanda effect. I guess the difference is mainly that the Bernoulli effect is a single stream/flow and the Coanda effect involves multiple flows. I'm still not sure exactly what the difference is. They used a leaf blower and beach ball to demonstrate the Coanda effect.
Coanda effect:
Bernoulli effect:'s_principle

The opposite of fire is a plant (photosynthesis), not ice because combustion is the chemical reaction of an energy source with oxygen to produce heat and light where a plant uses heat and light to produce energy and oxygen.

They showed acetone in bottles under pressure. When you release the pressure, you get clouds in the bottle because the acetone is easily vaporized. Add the pressure back and the vapor condenses. This is also related to how high pressure systems in the atmosphere means clear skies, because the clouds can't form in the pressure.

I think the part of the show I enjoyed the most is when Adam (and Michael) answered questions from the people in the audience.

He told a story about how he had a favorite teddy bear as a child and at one point got a larger "sibling" for his bear. He asked his father for a car for Gus, the larger teddy, and his dad went and made one using materials that he'd never used before. This was an important thing for Adam in that it showed him that if he really wanted to make something, that he could do so even if it was using materials that he's never used before. He went on to make his own juggling clubs when he was a bit older because he couldn't afford any.

He also told a story from Mythbusters that I hadn't heard before. On the show, Adam tells a story about, when he was young, wanting a sugary cereal and his mom saying "there's more nutrients in the box than in the cereal". They test it using various tests to determine the carbs, fat, calories and whatnot in it and determine that the cereal has more nutritional value. They commented something about one of them eating just the cereal for a week and the other just the box, but they don't actually do it. I guess they did try this experiment with mice. They had 3 cages of mice, each containing 3 mice. One cage had regular mouse food. One had only Fruit Loops and one had only the box. Everything was OK on Friday evening when they left for the weekend (mice don't need daily care and leaving them with the food and water in their cage is usually fine) but when they arrived Monday morning, they knew things had gone awry. The regular mouse food fed mice and the Fruit Loop fed mice were fine and happy. The third cage, given only cereal boxes to eat, had only one live mouse and two corpses. He said it was like the third mouse had "eaten the others like corn on the cob. There was the head, the rib cage and the tail. Everything else was gone". The one mouse had eaten the other two because there was no "food" in the cage. They were not allowed to show that experiment on TV. I think that it's pretty clear from that which has more nutritional value.

One really odd thing about this trip was driving on 96 around Detroit. It was Sunday evening, so the traffic wasn't heavy and I didn't have any problems. When you head toward Ann Arbor from downtown Detroit the speed limit on 96 is 55 mph. After a few miles it goes up to the normal-for-highways-around-here 70 mph. From where the speed limit was raised all the way to where we go by 275, the speed limit of those driving around me varied widely.  I set the cruise to 72 and absolutely flew by some people while I was also flown by by the people doing closer to 90. It just struck me as very strange. I don't see this on other highways around here.