Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World of Geek Craft 8/16/11

This "woven gift topper" by Kate of Minieco is made of pure happy:

Or maybe strips of paper. Whatever. The point is: I dare you to not smile while looking at it. I'd love to see a whole set framed individually on clean white walls: instant geek art! Hit the link above for more Invader dudes plus instructions. (Found via Craft:)

Some adorableness from the upcoming Stitch Wars gallery show:

Soooo cute. This one's my favorite, but there's lots more to squee over on SuperPunch.

Now, you could buy this necklace by Oak for $372:


...you could use this tutorial by Honestly...WTF to make your own with stuff you might already have in the garage:

Oh, the possibilities! I'm thinking braided ribbon for a more feminine look. What do you think?

(And thanks to Amanda H. for the link!)

Oh, and while we're at it, I Still Love You's tutorial for making "Magic Braided Leather" makes my head hurt a little:

...but I have to try this.

And finally, Josh H. sent me a pic of this awesome nerdy birthday banner his wife Sabrina made for him:

I especially like the Picard uniforms. :)

Josh didn't say, but I think these are all made from felt. Family project, anyone? (And great job, Josh's awesome wife!)

Seen any great geeky crafts lately? Be sure to share in the comments!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On Behalf of a Grateful Granddaughter

Note: Not my usual geeky/goofy fare today; just something I've been working on for a while and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy.

We drove an hour north to climb into a big, beautiful limo.

I hadn't been in one since my wedding. Some of the others had never been in one.

It had a mirrored ceiling and colorful cocktail napkins tucked into champagne glasses, all lined up, waiting for next prom season.


There were even crystal bourbon decanters, but they were empty. (I checked.)

During the next hour's drive, we all laughed quite a lot.



And we talked even more.


I wish I could say everything seemed so much more alive, more meaningful, when we drove through the gates. But really, I just thought it was a pretty drive.

We wound through shaded roads and moss-dripping trees, and then everyone told me to turn around and take a picture of these men on the side of the road:


I began snapping pictures through the glass.


Then the car stopped, and I realized they were there for us.


Deeply embarrassed, I put the camera down and was handed out of the car.

We sat on tiny stone benches under a small gazebo across the road. There a man who'd never met you told us things about your life I never knew. He also read a prayer, and called you "brother."

I didn't take any pictures of that.

The men-at-attention stood that way while we sat. If I turned my head I could just see them, there in the sun. It was about 90 degrees, and so thick we drank the air.

The man warned us it would be loud, but I didn't cover my ears. I covered my eyes, and took as many pictures as I could.

One even caught the puff of smoke from their rifles:


I wished the cars weren't there.

I wish I knew enough about PhotoShop to take them out.

Then the man on the right began to play, and the first notes were so pure, so piercing, that the thick air turned to crystal.

Or maybe I just forgot to breathe.


I stood at the edge of the gazebo, one foot in the grass, and watched through my sunglasses. (I was glad for those sunglasses.) The silence that followed was like the awkward pause at a dinner party.

The few of us who'd stood shuffled back to our seats.

I'd been asked to take pictures for the family, but the click-click-clicking seemed so tacky, so loud. I was embarrassed. Still, I couldn't miss the flag:


And when the shaking old veteran began, "On behalf of a grateful nation..." I risked a shot of that, too. Because I had to.

I had to.

I hope they understood.


I don't remember it being this clear.

I think...maybe that's why I need these pictures.

Then it was over, the strings of formality cut, and I could click away with impunity.


June, watching with gentle sympathy, Mom, smiling through tears, Uncle Russ stoic, and Grandma somehow more radiant than I've ever seen her.

A few more silent pictures, and Grandma and I walked across the road.

I tried to thank the man with the trumpet, but my voice failed me, and I couldn't see if he'd heard. They all stood staring straight ahead, waiting.

I wondered how many tearful granddaughters they'd seen that day.

Grandma planted herself at a distance, like a proud commander, and thanked them all. Then she handed me her cane, and the man called an order, and I took this picture:


We were never close, you and I. You were gruff, and I was sensitive. I never tried to know you better.

I never knew you were a baker.

But I'm glad I got to say goodbye.

These men - these soldiers - never knew you at all. Still, they honored you, and they honored us. They are still sacrificing for their country, in the 90 degree heat and the drinkable air.

And this granddaughter, at least, is so very grateful.

Grandpa Service 2

Charles R. Christensen, 1/27/28 - 6/14/11


Update: I've since had several people send me revised versions of my photo with the cars removed. I'm overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity, and I want to thank you all for helping me make a beautiful keepsake for my family. I can't wait to show it to my grandmother in the photobook I'm designing - so thank you all. Truly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick Craft: Seahorse Candle

Since I just used it in my goggles photo shoot, I thought I'd show you my seahorse candle mod.

I started with this:

We got it for $12 at a Caribbean knickknack shop, on account of the little seahorse missing his nose. I didn't like the smaller seahorses tacked on to the side like that anyway, though, so...

I cut them off with a hacksaw.

There was a build up of resin where the horses were attached, so I Dremeled those areas down a bit:

Already looking better!

Next I got out my trusty epoxy putty:

Love this stuff.

...and built up the edges:

And because I couldn't bear to throw them away, I patched up the little guys, too:

(I initially thought I'd make a mold for the missing nose in clay, but later I just used epoxy for that, too.)

Now, what time is it, folks?

That's right: DREMEL TIME.

I carefully carved in all the missing detail on the ridges and tails.

I figured I'd have to repaint the entire thing, but decided to try patching the resin areas with this old gold leaf kit I found in my craft box first:

And, would you believe it? The golds matched! A few layers of leaf, and then a little brown glaze patted on with my fingers, and...

Not too shabby.

(For the edge above the seahorse, I color-matched the green and then applied gold leaf over those areas as well.)

I also pried off the coconut shell candle bowl that was glued on top and replaced it with a pillar candle, which looks much better.

It's a bit fussier than the stuff I usually like, but I have to admit this little guy has really won me over. (Of course, if I ever start draping doilies all over everything and collecting stuffed cats, then you have my permission to stage an intervention.)

Oh, and just for fun, I painted the little seahorses bronze and leafed them, too:

Side by side you can still tell which nose I carved - but I like to think it might take you a second or two. :)

So now I have these cute little gold seahorses, but no idea what to do with them. Any ideas? They're pretty heavy, and solid as rocks, so I'm open to suggestions!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I <3 Allie of Hyperbole and a Half

Like many of you, I've been mourning the loss of new posts over at Hyperbole and a Half while Allie writes her first book. So, I was thrilled when she popped up on Twitter tonight.

Then this happened:

---- about 20 minutes later ----

Aaaand I can die happy now.

Thanks, Allie. You had me at "Tipey."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cross-Viewing is SO COOL

If you've never been able to see those migraine-inducing Magic Eye illusions that were all the rage years ago, then you're going to hate this. But if you *can* see them, this is AWESOME.

First, look at these two pictures:

While looking at both photos, cross your eyes. With your eyes crossed, you'll see three photos instead of two. Try to focus on the middle one. It takes a little practice, but when you get it, WOW. 3D!

This technique is called "cross-viewing" and is similar to the old-fashioned stereoscopes you see from Victorian times. The photos are by yowayowa camera woman, aka "the levitating girl." Her photos are gorgeous and oddly mesmerizing even without the 3D affect, so you'll want to see her other work, too. (And thanks to Mary B. for the link!)

Her site doesn't have a search bar to find just the 3D images, but I tracked down a few more for you here, here, and here.

Oh, and if you can't get your eyes to cross properly, Mental Floss just posted 12 animated stereoscopes which give the same general 3D effect without all the eye strain. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I'm Reading: Quick Reviews

What I've read since my last book review:
(all links to Amazon)

A trio of quirky siblings that brings A Series of Unfortunate Events to mind star in this delightful, quick read. (I finished it in one sitting.) I especially love the narrative style, which is written from one of the sibling's POV - but you have to guess which one. Without spoiling anything, I will say I have some complaints about the twist ending, but nothing severe enough to make me regret the choice. Definitely pick it up if you have the chance!

The Blue Sword

Robin McKinley was one of the authors mentioned most frequently after my review post, so I went hunting for her at the library. If I hadn't been seeking it specifically, I never would have picked up The Blue Sword; the older cover has that slightly cheesy 80s look that plagued fantasy fiction of the time.

The story itself also seems dated, in as much as it has a slower pace (it gets interesting around page 50) and an almost painful predictability. The attempt at romance was also incredibly weak. That said, I did like the story, as it reminded me of some of Tamora Pierce's work, and in many places the prose reads like poetry. However, for someone used to the faster pace and more dynamic character growth in today's YA fiction, I'd recommend Pierce's books over this any day. (Sorry, guys!)

[Note: I've since discovered through Amazon & Goodreads that nearly everyone else in the world considers The Blue Sword to be The Most Amazing Book Of All Time, and it's won tons of awards, and people have called it "life-changing," so take my review with those huge grains of salt.]

This was also recommended by one of you readers for its great art and a plot that revolves around an astounding automaton that actually exists in real life.

The story would be perfect for parents to read with their kids. It moves quickly, and at times the simple pencil drawings are used to move the story forward for many pages without any text at all - a neat creative twist.

The only problem I found is that none of the characters are very likeable - the hero Hugo least of all - which was a big hurdle for me since I need someone to root for. Still, it was worth the read if only so I could discover the Maillard automaton. (OMIGOSH SO AMAZING.)

Stay tuned for more, or check the comments here for more of your fellow reader's recommendations!

Also, because it's a FAQ - I *do* have a Goodreads account, and have had one for ages, but I haven't had time to update it much the past three years. Since I plan to post my reviews here from now on anyway, rest assured you aren't missing anything. It's a great site, though, and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We recently moved our cats' scratching post perch to a different window.

As you can see, Tonks is REALLY enjoying the new scenery:


Credit goes to John for getting the perfect bird's eye view.