May 2011 Archives


"Tale of a Nose," wooden automaton by artist Kazu Harada. (via Craftzine)
Our mini heat wave continues, with temperatures above 90 F - not ready for this fast forward to summer. I got some of my planned weekend projects completed, but much of the gardening will have to wait until I am used to the warmer weather.
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Lauren Redniss's book, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, looks wonderful. Science, art, writing... I just read a review of it here, and then watched Redniss talk about her process in a TEDx East talk.

The scarf I started on Election day is now done, ends woven in, and given to youngest child. Finished length was about twenty-four inches when I ran out of the yarn. On to the next knitting project - not sure what, yet.
Looking forward to a long weekend - project time and time with family.

Amazing what new tools can let people create and capture... I read about George Lambro's video here, and am thinking about the fact that Garage Band for the iPad costs $4.99.
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More information and instructions at Craftzine.
Awesome moment in class today when an entire roomful of students said, "Whoa," as each connected her LED and battery and saw the light glowing.  Just remember that it can be as simple as that...
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After taking Jet Townsend and Drue Miller's great EL Wire workshop at Hack Pittsburgh earlier this month, I made myself a light-up jacket. The jacket, a Goodwill find, had convenient pockets for the controller and battery, and an inner lining, so that the run of wire from pocket to start of question mark could be hidden.  The controller also has a sound sensor built into it, so the question mark can flash in time to loud noises or music, if I like.


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I've been off line for the past couple of days - no internet or cell phone in the mountains, but I did learn how one of these works.

Ronen's Adventure: Trapped in an iPhone from Ronen V on Vimeo.

Clever video. (via The Unofficial Apple Weblog)
"Often difficulties are just opportunities in disguise." 

Gary Starkweather, quoted by Malcolm Gladwell in "Creation Myth," an article about innovation in the May 16th issue of the New Yorker. (The article text is only online for subscribers, but it's worth tracking down a paper copy of the magazine or buying a digital copy - lots of interesting recollections of Xerox PARC and Apple.)
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Eventually more people came, and the knitting did not entirely keep up. (16 inches, 47 voters by the time the polls closed.)

May 17 is Primary day in Pennsylvania. If you are a state resident, please don't forget to vote!  Thanks.
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I was out of town for Jet Townsend's talk on EL wire at Hack Pittsburgh back in April - so I was so happy when he offered a workshop

I've wanted to know how to use electroluminescent wire since I first saw pictures of costumes and clothing incorporating it. You can buy it in pre-cut lengths, all soldered and ready to connect to a driver or sequencer, but it's just expensive enough that I wasn't ready to buy some until I knew more about it. After a great combination of lecture and demo and hands-on (where I soldered some to a connector), I've already got a project in mind for my aqua EL wire which now is ready to go, and I know where I can get whatever I need for anything I can imagine next.
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Apparently you can dye plastic buttons.  With Rit Dye. Not sure why I needed to know this, or when I will do something with the information, but I'm intrigued. (via craft)


From the description on YouTube:
Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.


Such a treat. (via kottke)
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Comforted a child with flu by reading many chapters of this book aloud today. A household favorite.

Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have combined an EEG reader with a flight harness, letting people fly when they calm themselves sufficiently.
More new ideas - lots of things to read and think about in the week ahead. 
Sometimes the best rest is found in a day of new ideas.
From an article on artists and creative routines:

If you want to develop your ability to enter the creative zone at will, you should know that there are three conditions for a really effective hypnotic trigger: 
  • Uniqueness - it should be something (or a combination of things) you don't associate with other activities, otherwise the effect will be diluted. 
  • Emotional intensity - the kind you experience when you're really immersed in creative work. 
  • Repetition - the more times you experience the unique trigger in association with the emotions, the stronger the association becomes.

If done is "the engine of more," as I so blithely posted last night, be careful what you finish.

(Various possible projects all seem to be taking shape at once - all good, but I'm going to be busy and working hard this summer.)
Bre Pettis published a 13-point Manifesto of Done, in collaboration with Kio Stark.  My favorite points include:

2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
and: 
13. Done is the engine of more.

You will want to go read the full Manifesto on Bre's site, though, so that you can see the two posters created by readers...
If you live in the region of Western Pennsylvania and are working on a project where art and technology meet, visit the Sprout Fund's website. They make grants to individual artists...
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From magnetic gel to conductive thread to translucent concrete - Inventables sells unusual materials in small quantities for art or prototyping. I can easily spend hours dreaming of possibilities here...  (via cool tools)
"The best thing a child can do with a toy is to break it." - Arvind Gupta



I thought I had posted about Arvind Gupta's work on this blog, but I guess not. He is totally inspiring - the kind of speaker who helps you see the world differently. His web site, "Toys from Trash" is an encyclopedia of inventive and delightful things - all easy to make with materials you might find for nothing in the street or around the house.

The video above shows him demonstrating just a few of his projects in a talk he gave at the INK conference in December 2010. If you like what he has to say, be sure to explore his site, where you will find many, many more ideas...

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