Archive for January, 2011


Project 5: Papercraft

January 31, 2011

Moravian Star

There is some neat stuff going on in the world of papercraft. Artists everywhere are creating jaw dropping work in origami, pepakura (including the awesome pepakura giant heads), and paper cutting, to name just a few. This week I’m going to try a few paper crafts from downloads and tutorials and show you where to find them. By the end of the week I hope to have made the beautiful Moravian Star you see above. Can I do it with my limited cutting skills and my severe lack of patience? We’ll all have to wait and see.

Photo by Christoph


Project 4: Lessons learned

January 28, 2011

Anodized test piece

I’m including this photo to show that anodizing really does work. This test piece is from the class I took several months ago. It used to be a shiny aluminum rectangle, and now it’s dark blue. I’m bummed that I didn’t end the week with bright pink cookware, but I know how I could do better next time. I’m going to try to anodize my pots again later in the year.

What happened this week? Well…

Lessons learned:

– The theme of this week was lack of preparation. I didn’t have enough dye, I didn’t find the final pieces I wanted to anodize, and I didn’t leave myself enough time to do everything I needed to do. All of these together added to failure.

– I need to learn more about how to calculate the electrical settings before next time. I also need to learn how to choose the right aluminum pieces so that I can narrow down my problems when the pieces fail. Right now it’s all still a big mystery.

– Anodizing is still awesome, even if I didn’t get much of a chance to show you that this week. I hope you’ll join me in a few months when I have another chance to try.

Next week: a recovery project. Maybe some paper folding. I’m looking forward to getting my confidence back!


Project 4: Day of rest

January 27, 2011

After yesterday’s utter failure to anodize and dye my test pieces, I took a moment to source the kinds of cookware I hope to anodize for my final project piece. Unfortunately, I really didn’t leave myself enough time this week to shop as thoroughly as I need. I ran to a department store that the internet had suggested might have plain aluminum cookware, but they didn’t have anything I could use. I ran quickly through one more store on my way to another obligation and still turned up nothing. At this point I’m afraid I’m not going to be successful with this week’s project.

I’ll make one more status update tomorrow and figure out where I can go from here. Thanks for your patience.


Project 4: Failure

January 26, 2011


Yesterday was anodizing day, at least for my test pieces. I brought my husband along to help me with the math. I don’t fully understand electricity yet and so I thought it would be wise to have some help.

I got all suited up in my safety gear and prepared my two test pieces for anodization. First I secured the conductive wire to my pieces. Then I lowered the pieces into the bucket of sulfuric acid and connected the wire to the metal plate.

Sulfuric acid Using my husband’s calculations, we set the amperage to the settings I needed and walked away for an hour. It was at this point that I realized I hadn’t bought enough dye. So my husband set out to find more Rit Dye at 9pm. He eventually found some, but not the colors that I wanted. I settled on a couple of other shades of pink and he returned just as the timer was running out on our acid bath.

The pieces looked promising. Anodized aluminum turns from a shiny metal to a light gray matte, and these pieces looked great. I carefully removed them from the bucket and rinsed them under a lot of water. We mixed up the dye in two smallish containers, one color per container, and settled the pieces in for a soak.

The problem with anodizing is you don’t really know if it worked until you’ve already invested 90+ minutes into the project. We got the containers home and I prepared the steam bath for sealing them. When I opened the containers to check the color, I found this:

Dye bath failure

They hadn’t taken up any color at all! I don’t know what went wrong and I’m beyond frustrated, but I’ll bring them back to TechShop tomorrow and try again.


Project 4: What to anodize?

January 25, 2011

Canteen set

The first thing I did when I discovered anodizing was to shop for some cheap aluminum thing that I could use for testing. I went to a local antiques store and found this Boy Scout canteen set. It has a cup, a pot, a plate, and a pan with an adjustable handle that holds everything together. However, before I could try it out in the anodizing rig my husband gave me something else to test:

Cap catcher

This is an aluminum cap catcher like you would hang under your bottle cap opener. He wanted me to try dying it red as a test for the local homebrew supply store. One fun thing about anodizing, aside from getting to dye metal colors, is that the anodization can be etched. This means that something metal like this cap catcher could be branded in a more visible way than just etching the metal itself.

So I tried anodizing it. Basically what you do is hang the metal object into a bucket of sulfuric acid with a current running to it via a conductive wire. When the anodization is done the metal is porous and will pick up regular laundry dye.

At least that is the theory. For this particular piece I was having no luck getting the anodization to work. It turns out that the cap catcher is coated in a way that makes the metal not conduct electricity. Since the electricity is a vital part of the process, the anodization didn’t work.

I hope my canteen set is the right kind of aluminum! Check back tomorrow to see my results.


Project 4: Anodizing Aluminum

January 24, 2011

Photo from West Loop Anodizing

This week I’m going to anodize some aluminum cookware and dye it bright pink. I have been wanting to do this ever since I first found out that anodizing was something that one could do at home. For this project I’m going to do it at TechShop where the anodizing rig is already set up.

Join me as I learn about anodization, source some plain aluminum cookware, and probably run a few test batches. Hopefully I’ll have time before Friday to test the pans for color fastness while cooking.

Photo from West Loop Anodizing


Project 3: Done!

January 22, 2011

Finished boots

The boots are done! They still slouch when I walk in them, but I’ve adjusted them quite a bit now and I’m hesitant to keep going. I don’t want to make a Frankenstein monster out of them; they’re perfectly wearable. I’m planning to wear them to a party tonight, in fact. Yay boots!

Update: This project was featured on the Urban Threads blog on April 8th, 2011!

I was StitchPunk’d


Project 3: Lessons learned

January 21, 2011

One boot is (almost) done! I successfully removed the water soluble stabilizer under the embroidery pattern last night. I was kind of nervous about that part because I’d never used it before and I wasn’t sure how it would work. Turns out it worked like a charm. Now I have one boot sewn up but it’s not staying up on my leg like I want it to. It’s pretty cute slouchy, but if I wear it like this too long it’s going to drive me crazy. I’m thinking a run to the store for some elastic may be in order later this afternoon or tomorrow.

So here are some lessons learned even though the project isn’t yet done:

– I can accomplish things when I’m sick, albeit more slowly than I’d like to. This is a corollary to the next lesson…

– It is still possible to get something accomplished after a long and tiring day. My usual tendency is to rest and recover after a long day, but this week I had to push through or I’d have nothing to show you. I was tired, but it worked.

– A little embellishment kicks a plain article of clothing up a notch. These boots were fun plain, but the embroidery turns them into something special.

– I have the ability to customize things to fit me and my personality. Also, having a strong preference for colors, styles and designs makes it easier to complete projects for myself. Walking into the fabric store with an idea of my favorite colors and textiles, or browsing embroidery designs with an idea of the kinds of symbols I like, cuts down on the amount of time spent looking.

– Taking the photo of an item can be just as difficult as making the item in the first place.

And on that note, this is the photo I have so far. I hope to have a better one when the second boot is done and I figure out how to keep them up on my legs:

Finished boot

Watch for an update about these boots over the weekend. Then we’ll move on to next week’s project where I’ll be working with metal, but not in the way that you think. See you then!


Knitting marathon!

January 20, 2011

A friend of mine started a knitting marathon this morning. That’s 26.2 hours of knitting! If you want to watch the progress, send her notes of encouragement, or join in for a few hours you can find her here: Knitting My American Dream.

Go Cheryl!


Project 3: Embroidery

January 20, 2011

Machine embroidery

I’ve been battling a cold this week so I haven’t gotten as much done on my boots as I was hoping I would by this time. The embroidery is almost done, I just need to remove the rest of the stabilizer. Then I’ll sew my cuffs onto the existing boots. I may or may not have time to pick up buttons before the weekend.

Each Celtic cross was 64 minutes of machine embroidery time. I can’t even imagine how long they would have taken if I had done them by hand. I feel very fortunate to have access to awesome equipment for this project.

Boots tomorrow, I hope!