Archive for the ‘papercraft’ Category

Project #245 – More Paper Cutout Posters

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

I added a few more poster-slides to the stack for my talk. They look a little insane out of context.

…and now I am officially sick of paper cutouts.

I also put together a chart explaining the phonemes in the English language. Since may talk is about getting animals to speak English, and specifically chickens, I hope no one expects me to explain how any thing with a beak could pronounce a bilabial consonant.

Project #244 – Paper Cutout Posters

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I spent the bulk of my day putting together posters for my talk tomorrow, um, instead of finishing some of my work projects. Programming all day Sunday is my punishment.

Since we can’t use digital visual aids, I elected to use giant cut-outs instead. Everything needed to be big because we’re going to be doing this in a church and there is at least 20 feet between the pews and the pulpit.

They were fun to make at first, but it gets old after doing 10. By the time Clark got home I was so sick of them that I didn’t even want to talk about them.

Here are a few from the stack. They’re a little more amusing when viewed completely without context.

Project #236 – Half Baked Idea Poster Prototype

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

This afternoon I took a trip to the Waffle Shop to do a run-through of my Visionary Ideas talk. Since my idea involved teaching chickens different kinds of phonemes, I loaded Mary into the car to see how she behaved when separated from her sisters.

One of the rules for the contest is that digital aids aren’t allowed. I’ll be using posters with cutout illustrations. The shop is rather small, so I made a demo poster-slide to see if it would work for the area, but I learned that instead of sizing everything for the dining room table sized diner, I would have to make everything large enough for the cathedral across the street. Nuts. I need to figure out how to make my visual aids big enough to be seen from 100 feet away.

Mary did not like her trip, but only grumbled while sitting in the Waffle Shop and grudgingly accepted peanuts as a consolation. However, when I took her across the street to the church she went completely bonkers. She’s never been in a space that big and the enormousness of it spooked her. I’ve never heard a chicken scream before, but her only reaction to the sanctuary was an “AAAAAAAAAAAA! [pause for breath] AAAAAAAAAAAA!” She stopped as soon as I took her out of there, but the damage was done. She’d spent less than an hour out in the East Liberty neighborhood, but she was just done with me for the rest of the day.

Luckily, my talk will be later at night when she’ll be a little more mellow. We’ll keep her cage covered by a blanket just to keep her calm.

Project #199 – Seed Envelopes

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

I stopped by the art store today to take a look some new markers. What I wanted wasn’t in stock, so the manager gave me a catalog. It’s a catalog I have no intention on using because the whole point of going to the art store was to try out the markers before buying them.

Now, I have a catalog with pretty, glossy paper. It will be much more useful reused as something else or recycled, rather than something that sits on my coffee table and entices me to spend money. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ordered anything out of a catalog since the advent of online shopping.

When I was in high school my girlfriends and I would rip pages out of fashion magazines and fold them into envelopes for sending letters through the mail. This catalog has the same kind of shiny paper with colorful images, so I could use the pages for the same thing. However, since I don’t mail letters very often anymore it would be more useful to have envelopes suited for another task, namely seed collection out in the garden.

To make my own seed saving envelopes, I first made a template out of card stock. The template is based on what I wanted the final size of the envelopes to be (about 2″ by 3″), plus a little extra on the sides for folding, and a flap on one end. I ripped out my favorite pages from the catalog and traced my template onto each. I then cut them out and folded the flaps over, taping them in place.

Lastly, I added some labels so that I could keep track of what was what and when it was collected.

Now I have no excuses for not collecting and sharing seeds this year.

Project #183 – Name Tags and Stupid Printer Tricks

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I volunteered to organize the 10th Anniversary Metafilter Meetup for Pittsburgh, which might have been a stupid thing to do because I think strangers are scary. The one requirement for meeting lots of new people is to have name tags so there aren’t any awkward moments where you’re talking to someone and you completely forgot their name the second you met them and you end up saying ‘you’ or ‘that guy/lady/person’ a lot because it’s weird to ask someone their name over and over again. Plus, because this is an internet gathering (of nerds) there are also screen names to remember/forget.

I’m cheap, so instead of the big sheets of name tags I just bought four dozen giant sticky labels, the kind that fit right into the envelop feeder of a printer and cost 75% less than the purpose built stuff. I don’t have an envelope feeder, so I’ve learned a few tricks to print things on smaller sheets of paper. This will also work if you want to print something of a non-standard shape or size. The idea is to tape your item to be printed verrry gently to a standard sheet of paper and trick the printer into thinking it’s all one piece.

First, just print your design on a regular sheet of paper so that you know where to tape your label. Next, position the label the way you want it over the printout and tape in place. I like to stick the pieces of tape to whatever t-shirt I’m wearing to get a little fuzz on the sticky part. It will still keep the label in place, but it will be easier to peel off the label without damage.

Run the label and paper through the printer. If you like how it came out, mark the corners so you know right where to put the next one. If not, reposition and repeat.

Project #151 – Guitar Sketches

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Clark and I went to a John Vanderslice show at the Andy Warhol Museum today. The Warhol has occasional concerts, and its theater space is a wonderful, intimate place to hear live music. Plus, it’s small enough that it’s not necessary to blast the music, and so you don’t need earplugs.

If you’ve never heard John Vanderslice’s music you should check out this, and this, and this. Clark and I went to see him perform with the Mountain Goats in Ohio, but due to a miscommunication we missed his set entirely. Still, he came out and sang one song with John Darnielle and I was really gobsmacked by how amazing his voice sounds in person. The tone and variation of notes he can hit are quite arresting, so I was really looking forward to hearing a whole concert of that today.

I also love that the whole band sticks around to talk to audience members afterwords, too. I spent the whole concert drawing cartoons of everyone’s instruments, so it was really wonderful to talk to each performer about their instruments and getting a closer look. John even taught Clark how to play the chords to Kookaburra so that he’ll have something extra to practice during his lunchtimes.

This is John Vanderslice’s acoustic guitar, monsterified. All of the stringed instruments had faces and personalities

I wish I had written down the brand of John’s electric guitar. He mentioned in between songs that the manufacturer adds faux aging to their guitars and rolled his eyes a little.

John is also amusingly obsessed with this video of a concert from the Sasquatch festival.

Jamie played the bass on a really sweet Rickenbacker. I will never be able to do the curves justice.

This is Sylvan’s guitar. It had so many features that I had a tough time putting them together, even when I got a good look at it after the show, so I made an alternative, simplified sketch. He said that his instrument was a cheap one that cost about $600, but it sounded quite nice for the money.

I couldn’t get a good look at the drums or keyboards from where I was sitting, so their sketches were pretty incomplete.

Lastly, here is a horse typing a novel.

Project #124 – Charity Candy Box

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Karis is one of the best people I’ve ever met, the closest thing to a Bodhisattva that I’ve ever seen. She’s been in the hospital, and in an out of the transplant ICU, since October, with only a few days of reprieve. She is too ill to travel and can’t go back to her hometown, São Paulo, Brazil.

Still, she stays involved even if she’s thousands of miles away. When she heard that a school (CEVAP, or “Centro de Valorização da Pessoa”) where she volunteered would have to find a new building or shut down, she took advantage of the reader base of her blog to solicit funds. I donated out of pocket, but I need a scheme to acquire further funds. There might just be a source in the one place I spend most of my waking hours.

We got a new snack box yesterday at work after nearly cleaning out the last one (seen above), as we do every month. It’s always an event at the office and each of us, one-by-one, will sneak into the kitchen and assess the goods offered. This week there was a near snack box mutiny because there was only one chocolate based candy bar, clearly unacceptable. (Note to snack box company: more peanuts and chocolate, less crackers, or there will be consequences, plzthxbye.)

I decided to take advantage of the chocolate shortage and put together my own chocolatey candy box to raise money for my Karis’s school. I purchased candy from Target on my way home, which was more expensive than I had imagined, ~50 cents for a full-sized candy bar. Boo. Still, it is candy for the education of the children.

I made the box itself from two cereal boxes that I spliced together and painted white. The back panel is covered with a collage and a note explaining the charity. I had some springs and little metal clamps that were also put to good use holding the prices of the items. On one side are the full sized candy bars, and on the other are miniatures at a lower price. Multiple price points are good for business.

I prepared a second, smaller display for my husband to take to his workplace, too. I’m going to match any donations I receive, so whoopee.

If you’re not around to buy candy, please donate through the CEVAP page. The button is at the bottom; payment should be made c/o Rachel Kornfield (CEVAP). I’ve met some of the volunteers working with the kids, so you can at least say that there you heard it from someone who knows someone who has a direct hand in this legitimate endeavor, even if they might be a dog on the internet.

Project #106 – Research Notebook

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Professor Peter Bock started me on the path of research notebook devotion when I took my first Machine Learning course at the turn of the century. We were lectured on the importance of them weekly, and somehow keeping a research notebook became one of the few organization habits I retained from my undergraduate career.

When I started graduate school at CMU everyone had one, not just the AI nerds. Despite the fact that nearly everyone owned a laptop and lugged it everywhere, research notebooks were almost universally preferred over anything with a battery. It’s a low-tech solution, but it’s much less cumbersome to write out charts and diagrams by hand on paper, and computational linguistics is all about using elegant informational figures over plain text.

My notebook goes to and from work with me every day and accompanies me on all my errands and vacations. It functions as a date book, address book, sketchbook and sewing log. I use it as a journal when I go overseas. Pages are filled with to-do lists, crazy ideas, algorithms, recipes, and notes on conference talks. I even have a few pages with diagrams of my company’s systems just in case I need to explain it to a visitor on the fly. In short, my research notebook has everything I need in one place.

I’m down to just 5 blank pages in my current notebook, so it’s time to break in a new one. I’ve been through a lot of brands, but my favorite remains the Miquelrius Spot 4 medium-sized spiral notebooks. I have a stack of them in my closet from the time I found them on sale in the CMU art store and bought everything in stock. That was a good day. If all goes well I’ll have enough for 10 more years.

All of my research notebooks must be spiral-bound so they’ll stay open to the correct page when I leave them on a table. I also like the grid paper, a total necessity for someone whoe draws diagrams frequently. Size is also important. The Spot-4 ones I like are about 6.5 inches by 8 inches, so they fit in a purse and are easy to keep with me at all times.

It’s not normal, but I like to glue things into my notebook. I used images from my picture file to sprinkle some mini-collages at irregular intervals throughout the notebook. I also glued in a lot of interesting single images, and pages from my Edward Gorey page-a-day calendar. I have an easier time finding things if I can associate them with a distinct image (“Ah! That was a few pages after the proboscis monkey!”). Plus, I’m more likely to carry my notebook around and flip through it if there are pleasant images inside.

I also draw in a calendar, one quarter at a time as I go on. April’s theme is, um, ‘Judgmental Otter’. (May’s theme: squid!) I also cut in tabs in the lower right hand corner between months. It helps me flip back and forth, and it helps me find my calendar even if the notebook is closed. I just flip through the pages with my thumb on the lower right corner until I hit the ones that don’t flip.

I hate ripping out pages from my precious research notebooks (They can’t be replaced!), but people look at you a little funny if they ask for a scrap of paper and you refuse even though you’re holding a notebook presumably full of paper. So, I always have a few pages of post-it notes that I can hand over with little pain. I also use them to mark important pages or go back later and add notes. It’s less cumbersome than carrying around the whole pad.

I also like gluing in a few crossword puzzles on the last few pages. They’re good for those unexpected moments of boredom on the bus on in a waiting room. I went through four of these the last time I had jury duty. I also have an envelope glued to the very last page for carrying receipts and miscellaneous items.

Project #89 – Lino Block Initials

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I learned how to carve linoleum blocks in high school, and I’ve made a new one every year since. I used last year’s to print our post-wedding thank you cards. Linoleum takes a little more muscle to carve than rubber blocks, but you can put a lot more detail into a smaller space. The result looks a lot like a wood block print and the overall effect can be textured and rustic looking.

There are a few ways to plan out the carving. It’s possible to draw directly onto the block. In this case, because I’m using text and it will need to be reversed I printed the letters into cardstock and cut them out with an x-acto knife. I used to write everything backwards as a kid, but these days I’ll just screw it up if I try to write in reverse.

Next, using the v-shaped cutting attachment carve a border around your figure. You’ll want to have something to lean against as it’s really easy to slip and cut yourself if your holding the block in your hand. I managed to cut myself twice before remembering this.

Then using the rounded cutting attachment cut away the larger areas that you don’t want to print.

Once you’re done cutting dust the stray bits off of your block to prepare it for inking. Roll out the block printing ink onto a smooth, flat surface like a piece of glass using a brayer. You’ll know if you’ve used the right amount of ink when it makes a sizzling noise as you run the roller over it. Now, run the roller over your stamp, making sure the ink is even.

Press your stamp onto your paper. The paper will stick so that you can turn the whole thing over. If you want thorough ink coverage rub your design with a spoon. Peel off the paper and you’ll have your design.

Project #68 – Tessellations

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I will forever have mixed feelings about my 8th grade math teacher. On the one had she taught me a snazzy way to make tessellations, and on the other hand, she once gave me an ‘F’ on a project report because she thought it would be funny. I’d missed a test due to illness and instead of giving me an incomplete, as she should have, she gave me a failing grade that I would then have to show my mother. What if my parents were the “beatings for anything below a ‘B’” types? Harpy. Whatever, I guess those two things cancel each other out.

I’ve seen a lot of MC Escher illustrations where you can see the grids he used to map out his tessellations. I don’t think my brain could ever work that way. However, my brain does work a lot better by cutting things up.

This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to cut up a shape that we know already fits into a self-same grid (like a square) and turn it into an even more complex figure that will still fit into a self-same grid.

First, take a square of cardstock. Make a mark exactly at the center point at each side. Draw a line between each point and its opposite. Do the same on the reverse.

Cut a piece out of one side. Flip it and add it to the other side.

Do the same to the side 90 degrees to the left or right.

Now you can trace your tessellation pattern onto anything and add extra details.

Tessellations can be used to make an infinite number of shapes, complex or simple, abstract or with a toehold in reality.