Thursday, January 26, 2012

Minecraft Playset


A virtual world of cubes.

By breaking and placing these cubes you can build your wildest fantasies! becomes incredibly addicting...

My brother-in-law introduced us to this amazing world about a year ago.  Now, for the most part you need to be on the computer in order to play minecraft.  But what if an obnoxious family member is hogging the computer?  Or what if there is a thunderstorm and the power is knocked out?  What then?!  How can you satisfy your need to explode little blocks of stone and dirt?!

Enter the tactile minecraft playset:

Forty-five hand-painted blocks let you build and play anywhere!  The blocks then nestle snugly into a chest for safekeeping.

And hey, what better way to introduce youngsters to the wonders of minecraft?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tutorial: Origami Dove

As I've said before, I love origami!  It is a fascinating art that turns the 2 dimensional into the 3 dimensional.  But perhaps the best part about it is that just about anyone can do it.  Okay, maybe not everyone can fold super-complex dragons and dinosaurs like Kade Chan without a few years of practice... but there are many simple models out there that can easily be folded by the common person.

For example:

These doves are both beautiful and simple.  I bet that you (yes, you reading this blog!) can fold one!  All you need is a square piece of paper.  The red dove was folded out of store-bought origami paper, but the white dove was folded out of plain white copy paper.   

In order to help you out, I've created a little video tutorial (my first!) that explains the folding process step by step.

Have fun!  Let me know how yours turns out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Origami Dragon

I find the Japanese art of paper folding to be incredibly beautiful and mystifying at the same time.  A single, flat piece of paper is somehow transformed into elegant, 3-dimensional work of art!

Now, I thought I was pretty good at origami.  After all, I can pretty much fold a paper crane in my sleep.  But then I started running across models like this:

...and I realized that I can barely fold squat.

Or can I?

I found a pretty nice tutorial on YouTube for folding an origami dragon (you can watch it here) and I decided to give it a try!

Here is my third attempt:

I may not be an expert like Kade Chan who invented this model (how you can think up complex patterns like this one is way beyond me!) but I think it turned out pretty good.

For an extra dramatic effect, I mounted the dragon model on a piece of wood and added a flickering flame-like lightbulb.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

And the Green Grass Grows All Around, All Around...

Happy 2012!

With all of the holiday craziness my posts have been a bit sparse, as I'm sure you probably noticed.  But now that the holidays are over and presents have been given, I can now post about all of the projects I worked on last month!

First up, the "Grass Cube:"

A while back my brother-in-law decided that he needed a plant to take care of while at college.  While contemplating what kind of herbage would be best, he remarked how cool it would be if he could get grass to grow on all sides of a cube.

The gears in my head started turning, and I decided that growing him a "Grass Cube" would be a pretty cool Christmas present!

I knew that to make it work I'd have to suspend the cube and rotate it somehow so that the grass could have a chance to grow in every direction.  I came up with a wire frame with two loops on opposite corners.

Using a thinner gauge wire I wove a mesh onto each side.  I then stretched some old pantyhose over the whole thing to keep the dirt and the grass seed in.  I did keep one side open so that I could fill it up.  That was a little tricky, but I managed to get grass seed on every side with tightly packed dirt in the middle.  After wiring the last side closed and securing the pantyhose, I thoroughly drenched the thing in water and hung it up near a window to grow!

I rotated the cube every few days and it was soon growing really well.  I found that it dried out really fast and I had to water it every day in order to keep the grass from wilting, but the end result was pretty sweet!

In order to transport the cube I constructed a stand out of some commercial-grade cardboard tubes and some old wood I had lying around.  The crosspiece is a small section of decorative bamboo that I had leftover from some custom curtain rods I made.

...and of course, my brother-in-law thought it was pretty cool, too!