Monday, May 25, 2015

Mermaid Play

What do mermaids do when it is time to have fun?  My latest design, Mermaid Reef Country Life Reds illustrates just what mermaids get up to when they relax.  This design was created for a Spoonflower contest whose theme is to design a mermaid themed pattern for girl pajamas to be made by CWDkids.  Please consider voting.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lampshade Update

Most of our lamps are from the early 2000's.  Nothing wrong with that and everything still works.  However, some of the lampshades are yellowing or otherwise falling apart and I am getting tired of looking at them.  When I ran across a beautiful silk drum style shade at the thrift store, I was happy to take it home.  The picture on the left shows our old shade made of nice handmade looking paper, however, it is hanging on with Scotch tape.  Very sad.

I took the recently acquired lampshade, and since it is silk, I stamped it with acid free pigment ink in a simple design.

The real obstacle to my plan switching lampshades was that the new one was made with a smaller Slip UNO fitting than my floor lamp takes.  This was no surprise since, IKEA lamps are known for this and I was pretty confident I would be able to switch out the fittings.  How hard could it be?  (See the next photo for the original shade fitting, silver, middle right; and the new, larger white ring in the center of the shade.)
Dang, solder doesn't do the trick
Turns out pretty hard.

Nope, not glue either
I first tried to solder it but the solder just rolled off the surfaces---even off my roughed up wire.  OK, so on to plan B.  I tried gluing it in.  I used two different kinds of glue but neither could hold up the weight of the shade with the small contact that the wires made on the fitting.  I did think the use of binder clips to hold the drying components in place was pretty clever though.  :)
Tried screwing on wire terminals
Next I tried looking it up on Youtube.  Probably what I should have started with this step, but surprisingly, it was no help.
So off to Home Depot.  The staff there suggested I put three little holes in the UNO and screw on wire terminals.  I would then clamp the terminals down tight onto the wire.  Again, I had a problem with the weight of the shade overpowering the small contact points with the wire.

Finally in desperation I took apart a second IKEA lampshade and overlapped the wires.  Not elegant but works. 

not the most elegant solution
So in the end, I am enjoying my lampshade but I have to say Never Doing This Project Again. Of course, if I did, I would know how.
Finally can enjoy my lamp again!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Insights Makers

 This week instead of my usual schedule I worked with the Lansing Makers Network (LMN) as a volunteer (and member) to host a group of Lansing elementary school children.  The children were part of an enrichment program called BEYOND Insights.  Each year the BEYOND Insights program has a different theme and activities.  This year the children, grades 3-6, worked on projects such as creating their own museum displays on Egyptian history with activities such as making their own mummy, and making papyrus paper.
To celebrate the end of the year, the BEYOND Insights group decided to supplement their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum with activities at LMN.  The members had a great time working with the children.  We divided the children into small groups to work on a variety of projects.  The children made and decorated wooden planters, visited the woodworking area, had demonstrations of the lasercutter and 3D printers, had a slowest marble anti-race (sort of Rube-Goldberg-ifying a marble race,) and created an electromagnetic motor.  The members of the Lansing Maker's Network did a phenomenal job creating all of the kits for the different activities. 
I am really proud to be a part of such a great group.
An example of Rube Goldberg machine, OK Go's video for This Too Shall Pass

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gelli Plate Experiment & Star Attraction

I have had fun in the past experimenting with gelatin plate printing so when I discovered the Gelli printing plate I was pretty interested to work with it too.  The Gelli plate has a clear, soft surface.  It holds it's shape, unlike the slow (or sometimes quick) decomposition of gelatin.
I first tried printing on fabric using my usual Jacquard fabric paints.  I did not like the response of the paints to the printing plate.  I need to experiment further but the paints seemed to react to the plate.  Once dry, the paint easily peeled off of my silk, an effect I have not seen before. 
My next experiments were much more successful.  I made the prints shown here using lightweight cardstock paper shapes.  This time I used transparent and semi-transparent Liquitex Basics acrylic paints. 

Steps to Monoprinting
1. Smooth a small amount of paint with brayer on the Gelli plate.
2. Quickly arrange cardstock cut-out shapes on plate
3. Align paper over plate
4. Gently but firmly press hand all over paper.
5. Carefully lift paper and set aside.
6. Remove cutouts. Optional, place 2nd paper down to pick up ghost image (paint that remains on the plate.
7. Clean Gelli plate and brayer. (I used wetwipes.)

In other news, a new fabric design available in my shop: Star Attraction.