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31  Re: Crafty Lit 101 in Craftalongs by TrentSketch on: April 26, 2007 10:22:29 PM
I'm glad I found this thread, as I constantly use the world of lit for inspiration.

I've posted these pictures on Craftster before, but I'll link to my original lino block design and a test print inspired by Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."

Which all leads to some original sticker prints that I am enamored with:

Metallic Purple on Yellow:

Bronze on Blue:

Next stop: actual crafts made specifically for this craftalong inspired by Katherine Dunn's "Geek Love" and Chip Kidd's "The Cheese Monkeys".  Oh, and Lucius Shepard's novela "Jailwise" and Tim Lebbon's short story (almost novela) "Remnants" and...I should just stop typing now.
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32  Re: 'What do you look like?" atcs! in Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) by TrentSketch on: April 25, 2007 04:39:50 AM
I figure it was about time a guy posted in this thread.  The inspiration started with the American Idol logo, barely visible under the bright, multicolored spotlights surrounding the ever judgmental eye of my personal experience with the show.  I've extolled on that all over the web, but I did make it much, much farther than most people in the contest, only to be eliminated not by the judges but but the executive producers under the "for any or no reason at all" clause.  So, I guess you could call my "What do you look like?" ATC "Carrie Underwood Stole My Grammy".  Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

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33  Re: "My First" ATC gallery for all the fabulous newbie ATC Artists in Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) by TrentSketch on: April 24, 2007 09:45:09 PM
Please be gentle...it's my first time Wink

Called "A New Nightmare", 1 of 9

Made entirely out of dual-colored neon index cards and white glue.
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34  The Best Fog Chiller - A Tutorial in Halloween Decor and Parties by TrentSketch on: April 24, 2007 09:41:07 AM
One of my must have Halloween yard decoration tools is a fog chiller.  The purpose is to create an eerie, low laying, rolling fog effect that always earns accolades on the big night.

There are some (limited) commercial models, and they are ridiculously over priced for use once a year.  There are instructions all over the Internet for how to make your own, but they all involve a whole lot of tools, dry ice, and professional quality smoke machines.  Well no more.

I've designed and built three different fog chillers at this point, and finally found a design that I fell in love with.

fog machine (with timer, you really can't use one where you have to press a button to start it for this)
large storage tub
PVC pipe
Drill with some kind of circular cutting bit
and for the big night: lots of ice, enough to fill the tub with some left over to account for melting

A bit of very simple fog machine theory and safety to get started: the machine heats up the specially designed liquid to the point that it is between a liquid and a gas, sort of like a vapor.  Which means that the fog is much warmer than you would think, but cools down pretty quickly when it hits the exposed air.  The fog still tends to shoot up quite a bit and not move much and normally dissipates only a few feet from the machine.  It's also easily blown around at this phase.

However, were the fog to be cooled down in a contained area immediately after being produced, the fog would stay much closer to the ground, and travel much farther, because the external force of exposed air will not be able to cause as fast a change.  This results in long lasting, continually spouting rolling fog that covers your entire lawn and very well may cover your entire neighborhood with a low rolling fog anywhere from a few inches to two feet high, depending on proximity to the machine and wind conditions.

For safety purposes, when that machine is running, stay away from any exposed metal parts - you WILL get burned.  It takes a lot of heat to get that fog rolling, and the metal parts do become extremely hot.

On to the tutorial.

1. Measure the size of the metal ring on your fog machine (the part that shoots out the fog) and purchase PVC pipe just wide enough to slide over the ring.

2. Cut a length (your choice) of PVC pipe to guide the fog into the storage tub.  Just remember, the goal is to slow down the fog before it hits the air.  A longer stretch of PVC pipe will slow it down faster, but will be harder to work with.  The fog chiller pictured above had about a 2 foot length of PVC pipe.

3.  Find some kind of drill bit slightly smaller than the width of your PVC pipe.  There are many varieties of circular bits.  The best would most likely be a step drill bit, but they are the most expensive option.  The next step down would be a spade drill bit, and that would work just fine.

Whatever bit you choose, drill a hole near the bottom of the narrower side of the storage tub.  Then drill 1 or 2 holes near the top of the opposite side of the storage tub.  These holes release the fog into the air, and should be near the top so that when the tub is filled with ice, the fog has to travel through the ice to reach the holes and get out).  I strongly recommend finding someone to help you with this step, since these tubs can be very difficult to drill through.  It is a time consuming step, but one that is worth it.

There is an alternate way I wound up switching to when I broke the only bit I had the right size for the job.  Draw a circle slightly larger the size you need on the tub, then drill a hole with a regular bit pretty close to center.  Working with a sharp X-Acto knife, cut 4 to 8 lines through the tub to various points on the outside of the circle.

Step 4: Push the length of PVC pipe that you cut in step 2 through the hole near the bottom of the tub and secure with epoxy, plumber's putty, or even the all mighty king of adhesives: Duct tape.  There should be a snug fit to ensure that as small an amount of fog as possible is lost when the machine is running.  Try to keep the inserted end of the pipe as close the bottom of the tub as possible (I'm actually going to try cutting the PVC on an angle to aim more of the fog towards the bottom this year) to allow for maximum chill time.

Step 5: Decorate your fog chiller.  Either make it so that it is hidden from sight (mine is green because it was going to be hidden among some bushes), or design it to be a set piece in and of itself (a fire breathing dragon perhaps? a cauldron? you are only limited by your imagination here).

Step 6: Test it.  Put the lid on securely (don't tape it shut as you do need to get in there to add more ice as necessary on Halloween; be warned, when you do open it, you will get a face full of fog, and it will take a few minutes to get the fog going again, but if you run it for more than a few hours, you will need to add more ice or the effect will become progressively worse)  Just run the machine for a few minutes without ice to see if there are any leaks in your system.  Also test various locations in your yard to see how the architecture and wind conditions impact the direction of the fog.  You don't want to just send all of your hard work rolling into your neighbor's yard, do you?  If you have the time, pick up three or four bags of ice to see how the cooling affects fog direction/strength.  Don't open the bags, just toss them in, that way you can save them for Halloween night.

Step 7: The Big Night.  Load that sucker up with bags of ice (you don't even need to open them) and set your timer to shoot off maybe once ever 45 seconds to a minute, maybe less, maybe more; you'll be able to see pretty quickly if it needs further adjustment.  The fog will go into the tub and will very slowly roll out of the two higher holes.  The remainder will stay trapped in the tub and be far more dense than the first few minutes.  Add some colored spot lights aimed very low at the machine from various points throughout the yard (last year I dedicated three lights to this: one opposite the machine in the front of the yard, one right next to the machine and aiming away from the yard, and one aiming straight past the machine, but any light you aim low will add an eerie hue to the proceedings) and presto! Instant ambiance that makes even cheaper store bought decorations look creepy.

This shot was taken with only three bags of ice in the machine and already the fog moved slower and did not go nearly as high.  Without the chiller, the fog would shoot straight up past the second story windows.

A long post, but worth it if you get through it.  Enjoy.
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35  Lino Blocks: Robots, Cats, and Zombies - Now with even more pictures in Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects by TrentSketch on: April 17, 2007 09:04:00 PM
I recently took up lino cutting (for those of you that read Crafty but Stupid up the site a bit, I do have a scar from where I managed to cut myself with the tool while putting it in the box, yet when I stabbed myself with a very thick bit the cut healed fine) and just did three more blocks in the past two days.

The first is a sassy little robot, who will find a comfortable home as the back of a set of small playing cards:

The second is where I tried to play a bit more with an artistic looking block, where the block itself is as nice, if not nicer, to look at then the printing.  A cat on a cemetery plot, sort of:

The final, and my best work to date, is a zombie I sketched out in a notepad, scanned into the computer, digitally edited to create more droopy flesh and dangly hair, transferred to the lino block, and cut, with background texture, for printing:

I don't have any nice paper (or proper ink) to pull a print that I'd be proud to post on here yet, but the tests for the robot and zombie were wonderful.  The cat's face is a bit off, but nothing a paintbrush can't fix afterwards.
Prints added.

Oh, what the heck.  One more.  Who likes The Handmaid's Tale?  Cause I'm watching you...

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36  New Craft Room...Sort Of (Lots of pretty pictures) in Interior Decorating: Completed Projects by TrentSketch on: April 16, 2007 09:29:57 AM
Ok, so technically its part of my closet of a bedroom (as in, my bedroom was designed to actually be a storage closet leading to the attic, but my parents decided "what the heck? a crib fits just right, why not a twin size bed?"), but I'm proud of how it turned out.  It's a new crafty work bench/organizational unit in progress (needs more shelves/storage space and some cool customizing bits I'm still working on) but it's beyond what I ever expected to build right now.

To clarify a few things: The two Panels as I call them, are separate.  As in, I can move them wherever I want them without moving the other table.  They are about forty inches high and together about five feet wide.  I built the new work surface myself (as in, outside with wood I purchased, sawing and screwing and sanding and gluing and routing and everything else) and the only thing pre-fab is the Ikea bookshelf, the only leftover piece from my previous system.

Panel 1: Sewing

Panel 2: Art/Cutting/Design/Crafting/Other

Custom Shelf

Ikea Bookshelf

Serger, Sewing, and a Long View

Room for One More Machine

Under Panel 1

Under Panel 2

Now I just need to organize the rest of the room...

Full size images and better descriptions are available at my Flickr Account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trentsketch/.

The design is going to have more overhead and under desk storage and removable attachments for safety purposes for lino-cutting and other more dangerous crafts that a total clutz should never even try.
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37  Gremlins: An Adventure in First Time Block Printing (Yes, there are pics) in Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects by TrentSketch on: March 01, 2007 11:03:04 PM
I was bored today, so I decided to take on a brand new craft: Block Printing.  Normally, this would end in disaster with me probably bleeding and definitely crying in a puddle of my own failed craftyness.

I picked up the Speedball Block Printing starter kit and decided that I would make my first block an homage to a horror film I just watched for the first time: Gremlins.

So I trace the cute little picture of Gizmo on the DVD cover a few times and then draw it onto the block.  Apparently, my free hand drawing made gizmo a sassy and angry creature, and I'm ok with that.  I load up my #1 tip into the handle, make my first cut and SNAP!  #1 breaks in half.  So I dig out the outline of Gizmo with just the sharp pointy end and manage not to cut myself (though I do have a blister on my thumb now.

I figure, let's give the tool another try: #2 tip in to pull out some bigger sections and no breaks.  Well, except for the new long skinny cut on my left index finger from when I was putting the tool down (I wasn't even cutting at the time, people - that's talent).  I freehand some text "Just Add Water" and a  drop of water flying at Gizmo's head.  Only the text actually came out "Lust Add Water", so I had to fix that before moving on.

So then I say, "Trent, what do you want to print on?  I know!  My favorite messenger bag!"  It was at this point that I realized that I actually carved little Gizmo wrong and his impression was a negative of the actual way I wanted it cut (lesson learned? probably not).  No worries, though.

From here, outside of my blue screen printing fabric ink not filling properly, I'd say it went pretty well.

The promised pics:

The block:

Inside top of bag:

Bottom of bag:

Unintentionally wavy close up:

Action shots: What's in the bag?

Gremlins, of course!
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38  Digital Camera Technicolor Techno-Cozy in Projects from the Stitch 'N B**ch Books by Debbie Stoller by TrentSketch on: January 02, 2007 11:53:29 AM
Just finished my first project from Stitch 'n Bitch.  It's the Technicolor Techno-Cozy for my digital camera.  This was adjusted as best as I could to work on a knitting loom (just can't get the needles to click in my mind).

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39  Re: Loom knitted projects - show off your creations in Knitalongs by TrentSketch on: January 01, 2007 09:23:03 PM
Finally got my Knifty Knitter to cooperate with me.  Here's a black and tan scarf I made for myself, modeled by the always lovely, enthusiastic, and not capable of killing a craftster Maverick.

and a face shot

The scarf is pretty long, if a bit uneven (I lost a stitch maybe six rows in and didn't realize until row forty and just said screw it).  Also, this is a flat panel scarf that is just curling on itself really badly (and it's acrylic yarn, so I'll try washing it tomorrow and see what happens).  My next project will be better, and I'll even try experimenting with more than just the e stitch.

Now if you'll excuse me, Maverick needs to be tucked into my bed before he gets cranky.  It is past his bedtime.
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