Saturday, May 26, 2012

Maker Faire fun, now with Annular Eclipse Action Figure!

I can not say enough good things about the Maker Faire.  This year I was able to see both sides of the event.  First, I got to walk around being a guest and seeing all the fair has to offer.  Second, I was an exhibitor and got to interact with all the other guests.  And the whole weekend ended on a high note by watching the Annular Eclipse with 100+ people.

As a guest I got to see ArcAttack, get my picture taken with a real live talking and walking (floating? rolling?) Dalek, get tested to see if I was a zombie and many other things.  Fortunately, I passed my test and I am still human.  The gentleman before me must have been bit somewhere, because he tested zombie! :O    There were exhibits of all kinds of techs, crafts and just plain old fun stuff.  Maker Faire is really hard to describe to someone who's never been.  It's crafts.   It's tech.  It's art.  It's a mix of all three. There's even a little steampunk thrown in for fun.  The main thing about Maker Faire is that everything is made by normal and not so normal people.  It can be as simple as a cardboard robot, or as complicated as hand made working replicas of  R2D2.  There are giant fire breathing dragons made from bits and pieces of garbage.  Real live blacksmiths show off their skills.  There was a fire truck that blew fire up into the air.  A viking ship made out of cardboard and bicycles that someone rode around on.  Everything is very hands on.  There are many booths set up so you can make your own blinking LED necklace, Freak Flag, learn to solder, grow your own food, all sorts of things. I could go on forever!  But I wont.

As an exhibitor I got to meet hundreds and hundreds of people that were excited to see the sun from my stepfather's telescopes and talk about sun spots and the eclipse.  Before the fair I thought it'd be a "job", boring, a pain in my arse, etc.  Turns out it was really fun.  I loved the whole thing!  I never thought to take pictures of the huge crowd we had around the outside exhibit where I spent all of my time.  You can see the giant sundial my step-dad made.  He also made the white telescope on the bottom right, as well as the planetarium in the two upper corners!  No, he's not an astronomer by trade.  It's just a hobby of his.  I also added in a projection of the sun.  We had three very clear sunspots showing all weekend.  I only had one person be a bummer.  She couldn't figure out why we'd even want to look at the sun.  *rolls eyes*   Everyone else was very excited and I couldn't believe the amount of children that knew more than me!  Not that I am an expert on the sun, but I studied all week!

As for the eclipse, it was pretty amazing.  I spent a lot of the eclipse urging people to share the telescopes and the eclipse viewers we had.  I tried to make sure everyone got a chance to see what was going on.  I did manage to take a few peaks myself.  I was standing next to the Sun Spotter, so I took a lot of pictures of the sun on that.  I was amazed at how everyone was so good at passing the viewers around and how everyone was excited to see the eclipse even though we only got to about 84% coverage here where I live.

Time to start planning for the next solar eclipse in North America! We have a few years...2017.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A long time ago in a dumpster on the street...

Poor discarded wood desk
I found this desk.  It was sitting next to the dumpster at my apartment complex.  It had been gouged and poorly spray painted black.  (I had already started sanding it before I decided to take the before picture.)  The reason I grabbed it was because it was a solid wood desk. Not press-board. Not veneer. Not ply-wood.  Real wood.  Even the inside of the drawers are real wood.  I couldn't let it be tossed in the garbage.

Now, I have never refinished any furniture before, but, hey! the desk was small.  How hard could it be??  The hardest part was actually overcoming my fear of refinishing something.  I read a lot of online tutorials that explained how important it was to use the right sand paper, the right stripper, the right everything.  I gave up on being perfect and just had fun with it in the end.  In the end it took me 3 years to complete.  First and second years I sanded and striped it.  The second year I did some more sanding and primed and painted everything but the drawers.  This last year, the poor drawers have been sitting on the patio waiting for primer and paint.  I finally finished them up this week!  I am pretty excited.
Fresh coat of paint and new knobs.
You may have noticed that the long top drawer is missing.  The bottom of the drawer was broke in 2 pieces and I wasnt sure that wood glue would fix it well enough, so I decided to just leave it out.  Instead I put in a piece of plywood and left it open.  The idea was to have a place to store my laptop when not in use. We'll see how that ends up.  My laptop is near it's death.  I am sure I'll find something to stuff in there though!
I think it looks pretty good for my first time....and probably my only time.  While I am enjoying the end product, it didn't generally excite me.  I didn't finish it and think, "Wow! I cant wait to find another piece of old furniture to refinish!"  I am very happy to have a place to put my sewing machine though!  Before this it had been sort of a nomad.  Sometimes on my computer desk.  Sometimes on the fold-a-way table.  Even on the floor a couple of times (which really sucked!)  Now Mr. Sewandsew has a permanent home. :)

An action shot with Sewandsew.

I have asked my son's girlfriend if she wouldn't mind doing some artwork on the drawers.  She does really cute water colors of flowers and swirlies and vines and stuff.  I am hoping she'll do something to fancy it up a bit.

So here we go, one goal for May complete!  I am half done with the cover for my husband chair.  I haven't even touched Growth Rings. :(  And my gimme goal of something small, might just have to be the fact that I survived work over Mother's Day week and the Maker Faire this weekend.  Although, I shouldn't count my eggs before their hatched.  I haven't survived the Maker Faire yet!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

STNA's Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop #2 To Stand or Not To Stand

Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
This week's question:
Do you use a stand when you stitch? If so, tell us about it and share pictures if you’ve got them. If not, would you like to try using a stand? Do you have any tips or tricks around using a stand versus not using a stand?
I do not use a stand and I never have.  I know most people have a favorite chair where they sit to stitch, but I dont stitch in a chair.  Because our apartment is so small and my daughter keeps moving in and out, we dont have much furniture in the living room.  My husband and I have gotten into the habit of using our bedroom as the living area.  So, I only stitch while in bed.  I have a breakfast tray that I set my scissors, floss, etc on.  I have a metal board and easel that hold my chart, and a clip on magnifying lamp.
My stitching set up from the front
 I have also picked up the habit of stitching in hand, so there are no scroll rods, q-snaps, hoops, etc to put on any kind of stand.  My cats were always crawling onto my q-snaps and stretching my fabric and getting hair all over the project.  This way it's just in a little pile that I can stuff into my project bag quick and easy.  I keep my ort jar on my bedside table so it's easy to drop them in as I stitch.  It has also become a catch-all for my necklaces and notes from my daughter.
Close up of my stitching set up...ignore the cat print on the lamp.
Maybe someday when we get a bigger place or less children coming back home all the time I'll get a nice big, comfy chair with a floor stand. For now, this is what fits my lifestyle.
Close up of my ort jar/necklace holder/note from daughter
 holder on the bedside table.
Cant wait to visit everyone else's blogs!  Leave a comment when you drop by!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

STNA's Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop

Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
Today's Question:
Have you ever had a case of the “stitching blahs” where you just didn’t want to stitch? Or maybe it was more like you didn’t get to stitch because you were busy and that created a chain reaction sense of the “blahs” and led to even less stitching…. sort of like a case of “the Mondays” that we are all familiar with. How do you handle your stitching blahs and get back into stitching mode?
I have definitely had the 'stitching blahs'.   Not nearly as often as I get the 'doing the dishes blahs'!  When I have the blahs for an evening or two, I just go with the flow and do something else.  I don't let it stress me out or think that I "need" to be stitching.  Stitching is meant to be fun and relaxing.  It's not supposed to be work or stressful.

Sometimes I have a long "blahs" streak, days, weeks or even months.  This usually happens when I am working  on something really large or an obligation piece that has a time limit. There are 2 things that I do to break out of my blahs.  One is to finish up something small or something else that is close to being finished.  Nothing gets my stitching mojo back than a good old fashioned finish.  Something I can admire and show off.  You get that feeling of accomplishment and the world seems right again.  For this purpose I keep a lot of smalls around ready to pick up and finish in a night or two.  I love small beading projects for this.  I also have a project bag full of almost finished projects.  Things that just need to be framed, turned into a pillow or whatever, or even things that just need a hanging string put on them.

The second thing that brings back the mojo is a new start or some stitching shopping.  And by shopping I don't just mean buying stuff.  There are plenty of wonderful free designs out there, and plenty of fabric and threads I forgot I had hiding in my crafting closet!  New blood refreshes the senses. It brings back the excitement of stitching.  Watching something new unfold before you, new colors, new textures, new designs.

To keep from getting the blahs now days, I always make sure I work on 2-3 big projects (no more or you get overwhelmed) and swap them out often.  I try to make them completely different types of designs, colors, fabrics, and threads.  I like to mix it up a little.  I also set small goals for myself.  I celebrate each small finish, even if it's just a part of a larger design.  I also make sure to toss in a small or two into the rotation so I have some quick finishes.  Since I have started doing that my blahs only last a day or two.  And that's not really considered "the blahs" is it??

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.