Friday, January 28, 2011

Working while distracted



Hi everyone. First let me just say this wasn't the topic I was planning on writing about today, but the situation in Egypt has me distracted. I've been listening to it, reading, and watching what's going on there all day long.

I'm not going to get all political in my blog, but I felt like it was worth noting that it IS actually effecting my daily life a bit. I don't know why this particular crisis is bothering me more than any of the countless ones that have happened in the last year or so, but it is.

Now, as for what I've been doing today, which is more what you likely stopped for. I've done and put up four of the six cabinet doors in my kitchen. The pics are the before and after...I'm pretty pleased with them. I still have two to do, which are on the other side of the kitchen, on either side of the sink. Also, if you notice any weirdnesses on the bunnies, they aren't quite dry yet.

I didn't actually start a doll yesterday, but I did start the process of sealing the 'secret doll'.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Multi-Part Update

I've not finished anything except the squirrel girl pic, which apparently will become a tattoo! Yay! But I have made progress on all the other things I've been working on.

The bunnies for the kitchen cabinets are coming along. The fourth one is currently being set with Mod Podge so I can cut it out and glue it into the cabinets. I need six, so I'm halfway done! The three finished ones are awaiting their bunny brethren. I have all the fabric I need for both the bunnies and the backgrounds, so I expect that next week, my kitchen cabinets will be made over.

The light has been fluctuating and disagreeable for taking pictures of the Story Teller doll, but I'm excited to get them taken. I just need to figure out where to set him for the pics. He's currently perched on the Vacuum Form Table.

The articulated doll is getting it's final paint job today. I'll be sealing all the parts with Delta Ceramcoat varnish, then stringing it together. It will still be a few more days before it's finished, though. Sorry!

I may be starting a new doll later today. I've been working on some sketches. So, that's it for now, I'll be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A picture


Today I have to work on a picture I promised someone. It's potentially a tattoo, but I'm not sure. All I know for sure is that he wanted it roughly the same size as my tattoo (Yes, I have a tattoo...mwhahahah). I finished up the black and white, and I'm going to photoshop some color into it, today.

This is not my normal 'here's what I'm working on that will be done in a few weeks' post, but more of a here's something I'm finishing up today. I'll be working on tons of other stuff soon, though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oopsie


I was so busy yesterday that I forgot to post anything! My bad. I've been working on several different projects, and some of them are closing in on finished. That's put me in a mad dash to finish them, of course.

The Story Teller is finished. He's the guy pictured. I will take better pictures of him later, but right now the light isn't good enough for great photos of him. He's been a long time in the works, and I'm glad to have him done. Now, though, I just want to start another giant doll! Maybe I will, later.

The vacuum form table is still waiting on it's frames, then I intend to abuse and abuse it. I tested it's seals over the weekend, and everything seems to be in order. So, as soon as I get frames, something will be formed!

The new 'Secret Doll' is getting some articulation in the form of elastic bands, we'll see how well that works out in the next few days. I won't post the doll until it's finished though...even though I would normally not mind showing it off. This time, I have my reasons.

Kitchen cabinet rabbits are coming along. As soon as I have all six cut out, I will take down the cabinet doors and finish off this project. Pictures and info and all that will come once I do.

That's it for now. Enjoy the only pic of the story teller!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Showing off my Koopa


This fellow is my Koopa Trooper. He's just shy of 16 inches tall, and each block is 5/8"X5/8"x5/8". He hangs out in the living room, just inside the door. I am not sure what possessed me to make him, but I can tell you how I did it.

First, I found a sprite of the Koopa. (If you all aren't in the know about such things, the sprites are the 'models' used in the older games. This one is a Super Mario World sprite from the 16bit Super Nintendo system). I blew it up, printed it out, and drew a grid over it so I could see how many 'pixels' I would need. Turns out I needed roughly ...a bunch. I think it was around 244? But I'm no longer sure of the number.

I bought some bitty little wooden cubes from Hobby Lobby, while all their wood stuff was on sale, and I painted them with acrylic paint. I counted out how many light green cubes, dark green cubes, black cubes etc. I would need then divided them up and painted 'em all. It was a slow process.

After all the painting, I glued them together with wood glue, starting at the bottom and working my way up, one row at a time. I found it was easier to glue a whole row together at once, or at least big parts of the rows, then glue them to the existing rows. That kept things mostly straight. There's obviously some distortion in him, but I liked it, so I left it.

After he was all glued up, I left him to dry for a day or two, then propped him up on the mantle. I was afraid to put him anywhere else, cuz I thought he would break. He's tough, though. He lives happily on the floor, now. Maybe some day he'll get some company, like say a Boo to hang on the wall above him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Boxes, Sculpting, Painting

Today, instead of moving forward on any of the stuff I've talked about in the past week or so, I'm ending up working on a bunch of things that are kind of under the radar.

I just got done staining three wood boxes. I also stained my fingers, but that's beside the point. The boxes are all wood burned with different stuff on them, and they look fairly good, especially as I've never stained wood before. One has a donkey on it, one has a fox on it, and the last one has a pair of bunnies on it.

I've been working slowly slowly on a new doll, and I'm working on improving articulation, so hopefully this one will be more poseable than the ones in the past. If it works out, I'll go into it in more detail later.

I'm also going to be working on my Story Teller doll, who is easily the biggest doll I've ever attempted. He'd be over two feet tall, standing. He needs pants and boots and some paint on his neck and he's pretty much done. Can't wait to be showing off this guy.

For now, that's it. Once the boxes are fully stained, I can reclaim my art desk and will use it to work on my kitchen cabinets. For now, I have to wait, because if I get glue on the kitchen table, I'll never hear the end of it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Key Chains



I have made my masters, made the molds, and poured some key chains! …and painted them. Anyway, here they are. I am sure that EVERYONE EVER will agree that there is something grossly wrong about the lack of gas mask key chains in the world. I’m here to solve that. Also, at least some people will agree that there are not enough sexy naked fox girl key chains, as well, so I did that, too.

As for the bad news: I’m having issues with air bubbles in both molds, but in the fox girl, they are almost insurmountable. The gas mask isn’t so bad, but it’s bad enough that it slows down my making of them. Also, the fox girl’s paint job is a little complex for me to just mass make these things to sell, so she may never be a sold product. This makes me sad, but it may happen!

I’m digging through every set of tips and tricks I can find involving the casting process I am using, and I will keep you updated on what works!

Also, if Austrich reads this, you have a gas mask key chain waiting on you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vacuum Form Table part 2



As promised, here's the beast! Isn't it beautiful? I particularly love the simulated wood grain finish with the lime green plastic. It has all the elegance and beauty of a early 80s station wagon.

The thing on the side of the bucket is an adapter for the Shop Vac. I just cut a hole in the bucket, then caulked the adapter up tight. The top started life as an entertainment center. I think that it's more entertaining now than it ever was while holding up a television. It's just a piece of particle board with holes drilled into it. The bucket is also the vacuum chamber, and well...using a poo bucket to make my own plastic crap seemed appropriate.

I've wanted to make one of these things for forever, but I was always intimidated by the various schematics, etc. that you can find on the internet. Apparently, it's just as simple as you want to make it. Crazy huh?

I still need to build frames to hold the plastic, but after that, we'll form some stuff up and let you know how it works, and anything I learn from the process. Also as the second picture shows...don't drown babies in your vacuum forming table.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vacuum Form Table!

I’m starting work on my vacuum form table today, thanks to the awesome (Ausome, for certain readers) gift I got for Christmas, of a 5.75 horse power Shop Vac! Yay! I’m not sure what I’m going to end up making with it, but it’ll likely involve quite a bit of costume things, and likely some candy molds and plaster molds.

I’m thinking of making some plaster molds of mushrooms to decorate my bathroom with. We’re going with a ‘swamp’ theme in there, for some unknown reason… I’m trying to convince my girlfriend that Yoda lived in a swamp, and is therefore suitable d├ęcor, but I don’t think she’s buying it. I’m also going to be getting some food safe plastic for candy molds, but I’m not sure exactly what I’ll sculpt for those.

If anyone has any cool ideas for thinks for me to make, let me know! I’m overwhelmed with possibilities and could use a little focus.

As for the lack of a picture this time: The vacuum form table is currently being built, and is upside down on my work bench with a bunch of JB Weld drying/setting to link the top to the bottom. Tomorrow it will get a good blob of caulk around the edges to make a seal, then lots of little holes drilled in it. A picture will be forthcoming, I swear it... Mainly because the thing looks kinda funny. Construction also involved a kitty litter bucket.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Kitchen Cabinets: A Project

As you can see, my kitchen has glass front cabinets, which look really pretty when you are going house hunting, and are completely empty. They look less charming after they become full of clutter and spices. There’s four above the oven and prep sink, and two more on either side of the kitchen sink, so that’s a lot of visible mess. I’ve wanted to do something about it for a while, but I didn’t really enjoy the idea of tearing out cabinets and putting up new ones (which I don’t know how to do, anyway).

I watch TED talks a lot, and saw a pretty neat one the other day which involved using what you have, recycling busted construction materials by actually using them in houses, etc. The man speaking was talking from a construction point of view, but it got me thinking about my cabinets again, from a different angle. I knew I could come up with some way of making those glass fronted things work.

Here’s what I came up with. With Fabric Mod Podge, it is possible to glue fabric straight to glass, which is kinda cool. I knew about it thanks to this video (which is a how-to! I’m addicted to how-to videos). Combined with my glass cabinet problem, I can see a really cool solution. Soon the cabinet doors are going to be backed with fabric bunnies! Yay! It will be fairly inexpensive, and should look neat. More pictures when I’m finished with it.

As I can never do things the right way (nor do I care!) I'm not going to be using fabric Mod Podge because it's extra expensive and after researching, it looks like regular Mod Podge will do the trick just fine. Now, I just have to figure out how to make 20" tall bunnies.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Update

Okay I have a few minor updates, no major ones, yet. First, the key chain molds have not completely set yet, so I dont' get to show you what they look like. I guess that's something I learned about the mold making. It takes longer than I think to get it done.

Next, I played in the snow again with my friend, Austrich, and we made snow men in gas masks. We have a bunch of pictures, but I'm not sharing them yet, because he needs a crack at 'em too.

Thirdly, I just got the new Game Informer, so there was a huge pause in my typing as I kinda started pawing through it, instead of doing what I was supposed to do. I plan on working some on my kitchen project today, so we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mold Making 2


So, I finished the masters for my key chains, and today I'm going to be pouring the molds, I think. After the last disaster where the mold box sprung a leak, I'm taking no chances today.

Instead of building a box around the object and sealing it, I'm gluing the masters straight into the bottom of a plastic cup (see picture). No way these babies will leak! Right now the glue is setting, so later today I should be able to pour latex.

With any luck the molds will come out looking good, and tomorrow I'll be able to pour the first batch of key chains! That will be awesome (Ausome). I was going to talk about another project that I might be starting today, but I decided to wing it with the molds, cuz I promised I'd talk about them more. To give a hint, the new project involves Decor. Kitchen decor to be more specific. The kitchen cabinets to be even more specific than the others.

So, tomorrow we'll probably see what kind of horrors come out of these molds, and then Friday, we may be visiting the kitchen. Take care!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SNOW


I had planned on writing about my new kitchen project, but it's all snowy, so I've changed my mind.
I'm going to go play in the snow....and yes, I'm too old for that kind of crap, but I'm still going to do it. Yesterday, in fact, I did it for a little while.
Here's a tiny snow man wearing a gas mask. Enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Paper Craft



Pictured here is Birdo, paper craft style. I made her (him? There’s some question to this critter’s gender, depending on what you read) from four sheets of cardstock and some glue. I didn’t design her (I like the idea of Birdo as a girl better. She’s Yoshi’s girlfriend!) I just printed the pieces, cut and glued the paper, and tada! I now have a new figure for the living room!

Of course, the bomb there is not Birdo, it's a paper craft version of the FallOut 3 Mini-Nuke...on top of my washing machine. It's really pretty impressive to see the range of objects possible with the craft. The Mini-Nuke looks great on my 'Villain Shelf' with my gas mask and dummy grenade and the like (I'll probably talk about the villain shelf later).

The whole Paper Craft movement/hobby or whatever it is, is really interesting to me. It also went pretty much right under my radar for way longer than it should have. I knew people did something involving cutting, folding, and gluing paper to make figures and what not, but I didn’t realize how big it had gotten, or how fun it actually would be.

I think that a really good hobby should be cheap, take up time, and provide a sense of accomplishment. Paper Craft does all three reaaaaallly well. New paper craft models are easy to get, and most of them are free. You just download them, print them, cut them out, and glue them together. It takes quite a while to finish a piece. Birdo took a couple of days of work at a fairly obsessive pace to finish, same for the Mini-Nuke. I was also very proud of finishing her, and have a neat little figure to display, now.

There’s almost as many websites devoted to this hobby as there are models, so rather than link to any one in particular, I’ll just say there’s tons. Now to get back to cutting! I think I’ll start on a mask, next.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend Update

I was going to wait until Monday to post, but I decided that I wanted to do a small update now, given the circumstances. My Mom is out of the hospital and home! She beat the deadline of getting out before her birthday, too, so yay! I'll update again on Monday, be well until then!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Several months ago, my Clockwork Rat sculpture died. It fell off the shelf it was on and broke into a ton of pieces. I was very upset. Okay, to be fully honest, I was pissed off. It was a lot of work, I loved it, and then suddenly it was broken to bits.
I saved the damned thing, and I glared at it every day for weeks. Then it was every other day for weeks, and …you get the idea. It’s been long enough now, that I’m fairly divorced from the tragedy, and I can see it as something I will repair, redo and make better. It was a disaster, but I’m over it now, and I think I can turn it into something even cooler. I’ve learned a lot about sculpting in the months after, so he’s going to get a make over. I’m honestly kind of excited about the prospect now, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Also...No, you don't get to see a picture of it all broken up. I started to take one, and it ...just no.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mold Making


Mold making is a new thing for me, but I’ve always been interested in it. In fact, I thought I’d grow up to design toys, when I was a kid, and I’m not completely over that ambition. Right now, I’m working on some keychain molds, rather than start with something so complex that I’ll just end up frustrated and angry. That’s something I tend to do all too often. I over reach, then I get mad.

I’ve done some other molds, of course. The candles, the reindeer skeleton ornaments, etc. Most of them were made by painting latex over an object, drying it, and repeating until I thought I’d go insane, or by using some mold making putty that works pretty well, but only for certain things. This time, I’m gonna use RTV latex. It’s scary and exciting. The last time I tried this stuff, the seal around my mold kinda popped, and I ended up with cured sheets of the stuff all over my desk. You can’t tell by just reading this, but I was and still am furious over that little incident. Eh well, live and learn, I suppose.

I don’t know yet how the molds will turn out, but as I learn stuff, I’ll try to keep you informed! Heck, some of you may even find it useful.

Two asides:

First, the little sculpture pictured there is going to be used for key chains, if it turns out okay. She's a little under two inches tall. Sorry for the picture quality. I'm one of those people who uses their phone for pictures.

Second, there's a chance, albeit slim, that Mom will be getting out of the hospital today, pending a procedure to fix a partially collapsed lung (which I only heard about yesterday).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Magical Mushroom Lamp



Tada! Here’s my magicky mushroom lamp thing. I was inspired by an instructable to do this, but I didn’t follow the instructions, as I’m lazy, and I don’t know enough about using LEDs to follow the instructions well.
I started by molding a blend of translucent and glow-in-the-dark skulpey around a mini set of LED Christmas lights. I picked up the lights at Dollar General or some such place a couple of years ago for around $3, so I would not have been heartbroken had this ridiculous plan not worked out. I took the batteries out of the battery pack, and backed the whole thing. The battery pack housing warped some in the oven, just for the record. The lights survived intact, though.
Next, I took some blue board, cut it into two pieces, a larger one and a slightly smaller one. The larger one was to be the base of the lamp. I cut a hole in the larger one to fit the battery pack into, then taped down wires leading to mushrooms, here and there. I cut up the smaller blue board so that I’d have room to run wires, but I was kind of sloppy with this. I glued it all together with wood glue.
Next, I mixed up a batch of pre-made paper-mache pulp and used it to give the blue board a ‘bark’ texture. I gobbed it pretty generously in the cracks and gaps between the various pieces of blue board to hide wires and give the thing that ‘side of a tree’ look I was wanting.
After it dried, I painted the ‘bark’ with a black coat, dry brushed some gray, brown and white, and let a little bit of it dab onto the mushrooms, because mushrooms are never completely clean. Then I screwed in two wood screws into the back at a really fierce up angle, and hung the whole thing in my bathroom with a bit of picture hanging wire. That’s it!
Hope you all enjoyed seeing it, and maybe it’ll inspire you to make something neat! We’ll discuss my latest project next time!

Also, as an aside, I took these pictures with my brand new LG Optimus. It's a cool phone, but I'm still a bit lost as to it's functionality.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm an art hoarder

There. That’s a confession. Hoarding runs in my family, I hate to admit, so it’s not a big surprise that I have some of the compulsions to hoard stuff that they do. My problem tends to lie solely in my studio, though. I can’t keep it clean and organized, it’s always ultra-cluttered, and I have a hard time tossing anything potentially useful, even if I don’t have a use for it right now.
The thing is, I want a neat and tidy work area, but I can’t do it. The hoarding of potentially useful bits has come in handy so often it’s not even funny. I say this, because I’m going to try for the billionth time to clean my studio up. Wish me luck, maybe this time it’ll stick.
I’ve already starting this nightmarish cleaning process by doing something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m pruning down my mass of sketch books. I’ve been going through them, and ripping out everything that seems like it might be useful, then tossing the rest of it into the garbage. It’s a painful process, and I’ve had to do it in small steps. Three sketch books is about my limit for one sitting, though if they are older sketchbooks, it’s a lot easier. I have next to no emotional attachment to the older stuff, and upon looking back at it, it’s mostly pretty awful.

It has been kind of intellectually interesting to see where my progress was back in high school and the like, but mostly it embarrassed me to see the mess. I know that an artist is supposed to keep such things to see progress and the like, but really, I think I carried it too far. Anyway, the garbage truck has come and gone this morning, so they are now on their way to a better place.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My New Pens


For Christmas, my sister gave me some pens. She went to Michaels and chose ‘the most expensive ones they had’. Hehe, she thinks I’m an art tool snob (she’s right, too). They were a Faber Castell manga set. It’s a pretty cool set and comes with a black brush pen, fine point, and medium point pens, as well as a set of five gray and brownish gray brush pens.
I’d be a liar if I said I’d never looked at the pens before she bought them, but I hadn’t really ever considered buying them. I didn’t know what I’d do with gray pens. Turns out, I’d do a lot! I’ve been using them on a nearly daily basis. I LOVE the depth they’ve given my work. It’s very exciting.

As for the picture...the mushroom guy was the first think I did with the pens, and will be a gift to my sister, as she's got some unnatural affinity for mushrooms. He's not a happy looking guy, but he's not the scariest monster I've made lately, either (See my Baby New Year post).

So, to get to a point, I suggest these pens, if you like working with ink. Also, I’m thinking of throwing some art onto the Etsy page I run, so check over there, if you’re interested.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Mom's in the Hospital

This is news to you, unless you know me personally, but it’s not a new development. Mom’s been in the hospital since the day before Thanksgiving. It’s been stressful as hell, to say the least.
First, it was assumed that she had a stroke, but she seemed cognitively fine. Then we went on to other more exotic disorders, and eventually settled on myasthenia gravis. I didn’t know what it was either, so don’t feel bad. Boiled down, it’s an immune system thing that disrupts the neurological signals to the muscles.
Of course, if that were the only problem, she’d have been home long ago. She’s turning 70 on the 10th, and she’s had a rash of problems with her health since going to the hospital (a great number of them seem to be the fault of the hospital, but that’s something I’ll likely not discuss here).
The point of this is not a cry for sympathy, but because I’m trying to figure out something nice to do for her. She’s missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and will likely miss her birthday too. Seems like she should get something for all that. If you all have any brilliant ideas for gifts, let me know!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

As you can see, Baby New Year is upon us. Creepy little bugger, isn’t he? Well, the future is always scary. Of course, as it is New Years, it’s time for the new resolutions. I’ve only got a couple. 1st, stay on top of this blog. I tend to abandon it for long periods of time (this is typical for me. My DeviantArt account gets the same treatment). Second, stay on top of my Etsy store. I’m going to try to branch into selling on different venues, etc., but if I can stay on top of the Etsy store and the Blog, I think it will help.
Now, Baby New Year… The Baby isn’t actually Baby New Year, but I finally finished the little devil, and I sat on him for a bit, so I could unveil him today. The eyes are glass pebbles that I painted, the head is Super Sculpey, and the whole deal is stabbed onto a dowel rod, so I could move it about under the baby blanket. The idea is to carry around the little rod puppet, and act like it’s a baby until people want to see him. I think the shock value will be priceless. He may be incorporated into this year’s Halloween costume, but I dunno, yet.
Keep tuned, and I promise I’ll at least get some stuff posted for the next few days.