Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DIY: Cheap Easy Screenprinting: World Cup T-Shirts

I tried two methods of screen printing (two methods of making the screen really, one way of printing) while making some fan shirts for the World Cup.  The process is pretty easy, and I'm quite happy with my first-time results.  The ink is the biggest cost, and on a per-item basis it's still pretty cheap.  There are two major pauses during the process when waiting for glue to dry and when waiting for ink to dry.  I looked at a few other blogs for ideas, particularly this one and this one.  I decided to try both methods for screening.  For the Germany logo, I used a knitting hoop to attach the nylon.  For the Argentina shirt, we used a regular picture frame and duct-tape.  But first things first.

This project required: Shirts, Screen Printing Ink, Nylons, Frames, White Glue, and an image.

1) Image: First I made my image.  The two images are both adaptations on the soccer logos of their respective countries.  You will be able to see pretty much any image through the nylon, whether it is printed from a computer or drawn in pencil.

2) Nylon: Next I put the nylon on the frame.  This turned out to be tricky to do with only one person.  The nylon stretches well, but you need to tape it very well.  Putting it in the knitting frame one-handed turned out to be a nightmare, so in the future I think I'm sticking with the picture frames and duct tape (masking tape wasn't strong enough to hold the nylon).  You want the nylon to be taught, but not ripped.  Make sure that it is above the frame so that it will later be able to be flush against a t-shirt.  Here are the two methods (frame and hoop).  I definitely prefer frame.

3) Putting Image On Nylon: To trace the image onto the nylon, place the frame face down (nylon side down) on top of the image you want to make.  Very carefully trace the image in ink onto the nylon.  This is a very easy place to rip the nylon, so do not press down too hard.

4) Glue the background: Next, put glue around the image (from the top).  Wherever glue goes, no ink will go through.  A paint brush can be very useful here.  Make sure to give yourself a nice big buffer of glue around your image to make sure paint doesn't sneak onto the shirt around the edges.  You will need to let the glue dry completely before continuing, which can take awhile, and it doesn't hurt to hold the image up to a white wall or light source to double check to make sure there are no gaps in the glue.

4) Paint: Once the glue is dry, you can put your frame face down on your shirt.  Make sure it is flush with the shirt (add weights if needed) and add ink.  The darker the shirt, the harder it is to get good coloring.  For better coloring on dark shirts do a white print first, then follow with color.  Don't be afraid to put down quite a bit of ink, but make sure the nylon doesn't shift during the inking.  A piece of cardboard can be helpful for spreading ink.  Once you have gotten everything covered, slowly pull the frame off the shirt.  Wash the ink out of the screen if you wish to re-use it (do this before the ink dries!).  You will most likely need to touch-up a few places to get a solid coloring.  Once you're happy with the coverage, let the ink dry completely.

5) Iron: Once the ink is dry, you will need to iron the shirt to set the image.  Each type of ink will have it's own directions, but this is usually 2-5 minutes on each side.  Do not use steam unless specifically stated in the directions (the inks are water based usually).

6) Be Done: And voila! A home-made shirt with whatever design you fancy.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

3D Orchids and More

Now that TV is apparently going to be 3D soon, I thought I'd make some 3D photos (sans glasses).  Just cross your eyes until the images line up.  It helps (a lot!) to be a few feet away from your computer screen.  The photos are made by taking two photos of the same object, but moving the camera a few inches to the right for the second photo (this will also require adjusting the angle of the camera).  What you are trying to do is replicate the two images that a person is always seeing through their two eyes.  If the photos are taken from eye distance apart at an object that is a few feet away, the result is a 3D effect.  When you cross your eyes, you are overlapping your right eye view and your left eye view, just like in real life.  Objects taken from closer than a few feet require less of a distance between camera shots.  

Window Suncatcher Crystals: Sunlight Spectrum

Refraction of sunlight through a hanging crystal.  These are fun, and science!  The montage is what happens if instead of looking at the rainbow projected onto the ground, you look from the rainbow back into the crystal.  If you take a movie of one of these and pan across you can get a more complete spectrum (doing it photo by photo took a long time).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Canon Powershot SD980 IS Macro Photos: Phalaenopsis Orchids

bout half (if not more) of the photos posted on this blog involve the macro setting on my digital camera.  The first digital camera I had was a Canon Powershot SD600, which had a rockin' macro mode.  When I upgraded to a Powershot SD980IS, the macro function improved as well.  This is by far my favorite thing about these cameras.  There is nothing too small for them to take amazing pictures of, and it's incredibly helpful when my art doings involve predominantly things that are less than a square foot.  I use this setting for any time I'm within a foot or two of the object I'm trying to shoot (or an inch or two).  Of course, as with any photo, they turn out best in full sunlight.  As an example, here are two phalaenopsis (moth) orchids (my IKEA orchid and my new Whole Foods orchid).  The second photo is a zoomed in version.  More macro photos here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Clay: Battlestar Galactica Vipers (as Adorable Ornaments)

My latest Sculpey creations.  This time I tried to see what I could make of the Viper ships from Battlestar Galactica.  They are incredibly detailed and complicated ships, so I had to take some liberties in turning them into their geometric basics.

The main bodies of the ships are one long piece (White), with everything else added on top.  Three small white cylinders sit on top of the hull (Yellow). The wings sit underneath them, and the dorsal fin is on top (Green).  The cockpit was added on after the rest of the body of the ship was together (Black box).  The engines are a black diamond (Black diamond), then small black circles (Gray), then smaller blue circles (Blue).  The red stripes were rolled fairly thin, then simply pressed down onto the clay.

The final products are about an inch long.  I wish I had poked holes in the wings because they would make a fun hanging diorama.  Maybe next time.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DIY Suet Feeder

So lately I've been buying Suet Plugs, essentially tube-shaped suet, and feeling like it would be ridiculous to buy a feeder for them.  This is because a suet plug feeder is pretty much just a log with holes drilled in it.  So, I made my own.  This is super straight forward:

Take a log, ideally about as thick as the plugs are long (definitely not thicker, though thinner is ok).  I used a section from last year's Christmas tree.  I'm not sure what treated wood would do, but I figure better safe than sorry in terms of not poisoning the birds.
Drill holes into said log with a drill bit the same diameter as the suet plugs.  I used a 1 inch bit, which was a hair too narrow.  1 1/8 or 1 1/4 would probably be better, but that may also depend on what brand suet plugs you buy.  I found that drilling exactly perpendicular to the wood actually proved quite difficult, but if you drill at a slight angle up or down the wood will drill much easier.  
Screw in a hook at the top of the log.
Put suet into holes (make sure it is mushed in and won't fall out).  Hang on bird feeder.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Clay: Songbird toothpicks

I felt like my succulent garden needed a bit more color, so I decided to make some birds for it.  I used Sculpey clay, and made tiny songbirds on top of toothpicks.  The toothpicks allow them to be placed easily into plant pots (or as appetizer picks).  They were very simple to put together.

My favorite part of using Sculpey is reducing complicated objects into their most basic shapes.  It's like the Ed Emberley of sculpture.
The making of the goldfinch is included here.  These were my first attempts at this particular project, so I may try again in the future to get them a little cleaner (and expand the repertoire of birds).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Battlestar Galactica The Board Game: Pimp Your Rides (BSG Miniature Painting Guide)

A friend of mine got a copy of Battlestar Galactica the Board Game this past winter.  The game is a ton of fun to play, especially if you are a BSG nerd, and includes numerous small plastic ships that are used.  As a present, I decided to paint my friends' ships.  Most of the ships in the show are already dark grays of varying degrees (the color plastic the ships came in anyways), so I decided not to paint all of them.  Rather, I focused on the Vipers (white ships) and the red lights that come out of the cylon Raiders.

The Cylon Raiders were pretty simple.  I only painted the red line on the front of the ship, and just used a toothpick to do the painting since the area was too small for any of the brushes I had on hand.  I made a base layer of white first, then applied red over the top.  This helped the red be a bit stronger since it was being painted onto almost black plastic.  

The Vipers were a bit more complicated.  I first painted on numerous thin layers of white until the gray plastic beneath was completely gone.  Then I painted a dark gray onto the engines and cockpit canopies.  Next I made the red lines down the wings and center of the ship.  This was touched up with more white wherever the paint strayed.  The backs of the engines, where exhaust would come from, I painted dark blue.  I then did a thin wash of gray, letting it seep into the nooks and crannies of the models.  This is the cheap and dirty version of starting with a dark base coat and working up lighter and lighter, but this way the ships had a dirtier, worn look, which I felt was appropriate.  It also meant the worn look covered the red highlights as well as the bodies of the ships.  The engine exhaust was then finished by making progressively smaller interior circles of lighter blue paint, until the very center of each one got a tiny dot of white.  Apologies for not having pictures of the various stages along the way.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wedding Shower Favors: Rose in Small Vase

Recently I made guest favors for a wedding shower.  We have a red rose bush in bloom which had lots of flowers, but none of them had long stems.
To work around this, I got lots of small vases (actually votive candle holders, very inexpensive), so the roses would seem to be the correct size.

To make it a little extra classy, I put polished river rocks (the sort of thing you would find to fill vases/glass lamps/etc at pottery barn) at the bottom of the vases.  I had considered glass jewels or the like, but decided it would be too ostentatious.

I also got another candle holder so I could try floating a rose.  It worked

out pretty well.

To make the blooms last longer, cut the flowers in the morning and at an angle

All Cut Flower ideas here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Acrylic Paintings

Some of the paintings I've done



Notre Dame

Gimli from Lord of the Rings

Friday, June 4, 2010

IKEA Orchid: Great Success

I got a Phalaenopsis orchid at IKEA last September, and have been quite amazed by the results.  The first set of flowers were about 3/4 bloomed when I bought the plant.  The remaining buds had no difficulty opening, and the flowers lasted something like 4 or 5 months.
Eventually of course, the flowers started dying and falling off.  When this happened, I started periodically giving the orchid food.
Then, as the stem started drying up, a new budding began.  This budding successfully grew into a new branch of blooms without the original stem dying away more than about four inches.
With only a month or so between the last of the original blooms falling off and the new buds appearing, the plant has effectively had flowers or buds for 8 of the past 9 months.  And, of course, the plant is pretty cheap if you buy it at IKEA.  If the new flowers last as long as the first set, the plant will have gone pretty much an entire year in constant bloom.  The one downside is that I still cannot re-pot it, since that could hurt the flowers.  Perhaps I never will get the chance, but that would be cool too.  And of course, for more information on how to grow plants, ask this guy.

A note on how I have been taking care of the plant:  It sits in moss of some sort (whatever IKEA packaged it in originally), and the entire pot sits on top of some shells (rocks would be fine) inside of a plant pot dish.  I fill the dish with water, but not so high that it touches the orchid pot.  This way the orchid is sitting above water, to keep it humid, but not sitting IN water, which would make it rot.  I water the orchid whenever the moss and roots seem dry, which is roughly every two weeks.  I water it by holding it over the sink and essentially running water through it.  The water soaks the roots and moss, then runs through the pot.  I make sure all the extra water is gone before returning the pot to the dish, again so that the orchid is not sitting in water.  Orchid food is pretty cheap and you only need a very tiny amount to keep them going (and I don't use it every time I water anyways; in fact I didn't use it at all the first 5 months or so that I had the plant.

  At the rate I'm going through this stuff, it will last a few years...