Thursday, March 31, 2011

00499 Day 35, the Bag

35, not only a Croatian greeting, but of course the fifth tetrahedral number (including 1 - duh) and the age at which Stevie Ray Vaughan famously died.

Well, that's all the stuff we already know, but what about the Vitrex Twin Filter Respirator? Well one four-star Axminster Tools review tells us:

"The mask presents one with the opportunity to find your own bag to keep it in, I found this to be an easy task. Note that you are able to buy replacement filters separately and they're pretty cheap. - good mask."

Now I've never been offered the "opportunity to find" anything before, so when I saw the Vitrex Twin Filter Respirator, I just grabbed that opportunity with both nostrils (I have opposable nostrils) and bought it. But finding a bag goes way beyond my skill set, so I'm just going to throw away the chance I've been given and carve out my own destiny. And the shape of that destiny will be BAG. A bag. The shape of a bag. My destiny will be shaped like a bag.

No? Not working for you?

Whatever. I'm not the loser without the kick ass, cotton drill, rip-stop lined, Matthew-Walkered, custom-hand-turned-beaded BAG.

the Bag

Sew the Bag The bag

I might be the loser with one, however.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

00498 Day 34, Ninja Worrier

Ninja Worrier

"I mean, it could just be a spot, but it's really itchy. Anyway I've got to go and pick up that thing - I really hope it's ready. Oh, no, where's my wallet? Where did I put it? What if it's stolen? Oh, no, I'm going to have to cancel all the cards. She's going to kill me. Or laugh at me. Either way, I'm not going to like it. She thinks I dress like a Ninja, I know she does. Or she thinks I look like I've been made out of putty, stuck onto a wire frame and wrapped with cotton edging tape. Oh, I can't stand it. AND WHY DO PEOPLE THINK IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE EARS ANYWAY! I wish they'd all just leave me alone."

"But then I'd be alone."


00497 Day 33, Lanyard beads

It's going to be a bowl. A kick ass bowl.

OK, let line her up, turn on the lathe ... and off we go.

Right ... so ... I'll just take a bit off here and ... bugger.

So, it'll just have to be a slightly smaller bowl.

And just a bit off the side ... and ... Aaaaah!


So, maybe just a thing to put the salt in. OK, one more time ... steady hold and ...


Right, this time. Maybe a little plinth for one of the models. And, go ...

oh, what's the point.

Beads it is then.

Lanyards and lathed beads

Note: this is just a story I made up. I actually meant to make beads.


Oh, just %&$£! off

BTW, the Matthew Walker knot just rocks (for a knot):

Matthew Walker

Monday, March 28, 2011

00496 Day 32, Sugar Spinner

"It takes all these things and all that time
Till my sugar spun sister's happy
With this love of mine"

Stone Roses, 1988

Just typing that makes me want to make caramel prototyping tools.

Right now, I'm stick with these digital appendages, which I bite the nails of.

So then, sugar, water, lemon juice, pan, heat and spoon. Go spun sugar:

Did you ever have one of those days when you made web after web after web with caramel strands and it just didn't work out. No me neither, until now.

There were others, oh yeah, there were others. But we had to leave them behind and they were eaten by small children.

00495 Made and Explorated

I wouldn't normally take much notice of my explored images in Flickr, but since this project began, I'll be honest, I'm interested to find out if any of this is reaching any sort of audience.

Now, I don't imagine that this is earth shattering stuff, but I'm certainly doing things that are affecting me quite profoundly. So if any of it it leaking out, I'd like to know.


So, first up, Legs !!!!! made it into Make's Flickr pool roundup, which is awesome, because Make is just my life's blood right now, so any chance I get, I mention it.

the Hunter Paradox Little whittle

Then "the Hunter", "Canned Goods" and "A little whittle" got into Explore on Flickr, which is nice.

Just for the record.

00494 Day 31, Shelf life

I am shelf:

My existence serves only to herald my successor.

My master asks: "Where do I keep all my new stuff?"

I answer: "Well, I can probably take some of the smaller stuff, but really, you're going to have to upgrade."

He already has plans to replace me.

I don't care.

What he doesn't seem to realise is that, even before the new model arrives, he will have filled his house with so much crap he won't even be able to find a space on the wall to hang it.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

00493 Day 30, the Catabox

What I am about to show you is top secret. It has been classified "Code:Mauve".

Matchapault Matchapault

Matchapault scattergram

Analysis of the shot patterns yields the following results:

Deviation from central axis (mm) Distance

17.00 526.00 1.85
33.00 537.00 3.52
-22.00 457.00 -2.76
39.00 536.00 4.16
32.00 545.00 3.36
70.00 476.00 8.37
28.00 510.00 3.14
16.00 560.00 1.64
6.00 563.00 0.61
42.00 555.00 4.33
86.00 539.00 9.07
81.00 540.00 8.53
65.00 477.00 7.76
6.00 526.00 0.65
-15.00 561.00 -1.53
11.00 534.00 1.18
-11.00 488.00 -1.29
70.00 526.00 7.58
5.00 511.00 0.56
34.00 566.00 3.44
87.00 526.00 9.39
56.00 523.00 6.11
45.00 499.00 5.15
8.00 530.00 0.86

32.88 525.46 3.57
St dev
32.15 29.14 3.56

Fascinating, eh?

00492 Day 29, the T-lites


Tracing paper.






Thursday, March 24, 2011

00491 Day 28, Legs!!!!!

When you're just so tired and the all-singing, all-dancing iPod speaker dock didn't quite come together for your wife's birthday and the matchbox catapault just wasn't going anywhere and you drew around two hundred circles and only had energy to colour in around ten of them (if that), it would be easy to just fall down in a heap and cry.

But then ... wait!

What's that? ... coming over the horizon ...

It looks like ...

No, it can't be ...

IT IS!!!!!!!!

IT'S LEGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Whoooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! GO LEGS!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

00490 Day 27, the Sanctuary

And so we arrive at Day 27. Significant, of course, as it is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, also because it can be expressed as 3 to the power of 3, and perhaps most notably as it is the number of moons circling Uranus (the outermost and most mysterious being "Bumholay").

And so to the task at hand ...

Stamp box

Stamp box

What would you do if you had crafted stamps from purest eraser and wished to keep them safe from harm?
Why, then you would fashion a shelter, a place where no harm could come to your inky offspring.
How would you set about this task?
You would seek out the wisdom of the ancients.
Here it is written, that from basic shapes shall spring forth sanctuary using only the flesh of the tree and the nourishment of idle hands:

What the Ancients Said

Much is also written of the health and also the safety:

What the Ancients Said

What more does one need to know, other than it is hewn from purest wood (or at least pure-ish wood).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

00489 Day 26, Can I?

Pencil pots

Found this can at the back of someplace or other, but ... couldn't 'member ... when we bought it ... all a bit hazy ... probably around the time we were sort of just hanging around doing ... bits and bobs ... you know.

Maybe ... something to do with wazzizname ... and doo-dah.

Anyway, one things for sure, I think we should all do somethingorother ... with some of those bits ... in the place where we put ... the thing.

Probably a pencil pot, or something.

Monday, March 21, 2011

00488 Day 25, "Oh not it isn't"

I'm not overly concerned about repetition, probably because I'm just not concerned about repetition.

Oh no it isn't

You thought it was a book, but no. Because I live every second of my life as closely to the Ninja code as I can, I am always looking for opportunities to conceal covert devices.

Secret Firestarters Club Kit No. 1

Admittedly I have no covert devices and have had to settle for the "projects in a matchbox" from Day 4 and Day 18. The other two matchboxes have been cleverly filled with matches and can be used to make fire (which, when you think of it, is pretty amazing)

The Neodymium magnet to close the box is a throwback from the old backgammon board days. That's old skool in my book (did you see what I did there?).

Did I even mention how unconcerned I am about repetition?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

00487 Day 24, les Maisons Decoupages

C'est vrai, mes amis.

I'm going to translate the rest of this although, had it been in French, it would have been impeccable and with a slightly Lyonnaise accent (that's "Mayonaise" to my spellchecker).

This is one of the fruits of todays make:

Les Maisons Decoupages

It's all very well to just make little wooden houses and cover them in newspaper and Unibond, but surely there has to be more.

And indeed there is.

I approached a local architect with this brief:

"We're looking for something unique and specific.
Tall, thin, with the exact appearance of a wooden toy covered with newspaper, but with all the interiors as per a normal house. There should be no doors or windows (just a picture of a window on the front wall), only a teleportation device. There must be no stairs, just a lift (which only goes up) and a fireman's pole, and there MUST be a basement level in which we will conduct our evil plans to take over the world.

And an escape pod."

Well, he properly came up trumps. Here is the initial elevation:

Les Maisons Decoupages

And a brief tour:

And we're now living very happily in what is basically our "dream home".

I can't see us moving.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

00486 Day 23, the Hand

Aieeeeeeeee!!! It's the Hand!!!

Not at all created by stealing clay from a 9 year old boy. Nay, 'tis a severed hand that roams the land, holding pencils for people who can't remember where they put theirs.

I needed somewhere to keep my pencil. and the hand appeared.


In the pipeline:

Little wooden houses
A big picture made with lots of stamps
A wind up airplane
PC case mod
Shelves (to put some of this stuff - it's building up)
An engine for driftwood boats
A plunger detonator for bangers
Lanyard beads
An electronic DND sign

I thin that's it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 18, 2011

00485 Day 22, the Book

Once upon a time there was a ream of paper who longed to be made into a book, so he decided to pack up all his worldly possessions in a bag and set off to seek out his destiny. Unfortunately, because he was a ream of paper, he didn't have any way of moving because he had no arms or legs and to be frank, I've already attributed the power of free thought to him (as well as assigning him a gender), so apart from maybe suffering what Bhuddists might think of as the ultimate punishment (a conscious being trapped within an inanimate object), he wasn't doing badly.
So instead he waited for many years for his destiny to find him.
To cut a long story short, he met a scalpel, a needle threaded with kite line, three small strips of cotton, some glue, some cardboard and the fabric from an old pair of trousers (in that order - this is basically a road movie) and slowly he found himself changing into what some people might construe to be a beautiful hand-bound, hardback book. In khaki.

He took a camera with him and here are some of the pictures of his adventure (obviously he just asked everyone he met to take the pictures for him, what with the arms/legs issue):

And of course he lived happily ever after.

Although he did have to put up with having quite allot of rubbish scrawled across his pages. We all have our crosses to bear.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

00484 Day 21, Diodes are a Girl's Best Friend

This is about the third time I've gone off on an awesome make and realised that it's just not going to happen today. So it goes with book binding. Man, glue is like the slowest ting in the world ever, next to that other really slow thing that I always exaggerate about.

So, nimbly sidestepping into a "quickie", I find myself bereft of four hours and a whole lot more educated about the ins and outs of copper pipe manipulation on a miniature scale. Man, that's really going to come in handy when I have to hook up a sink to the mains when they're separated by 4mm.

Man ring

Man rings Diodes are a girl's best friend

And they said I was wasting my time.

Chuh! What do they know?

Lots .

You should listen to them more, I wish I had, then they could have told me all that stuff about not doing those things that I would have been better off not doing.

Also, they probably would have told me to go on that self-editing course where you can use less words to say the same thing.

I said to myself that I'd mention what I actually did, so this might actually serve as some kind of useful record of things that lean heavily towards the useless, so:


22mm copper pipe, cut really short with a cheap pipe cutter, smoothed off with wire wool and sandpaper. The man ring was drilled a bit and although I did one with a bit of solder set in it like a stone and it was awesome, I then went and stuck a whole load more in there and it went totally tits-up. Then I ran out of time and energy. The LED on the Lady ring was a stroke of arguable genius mind, although my soldering skills with regards to jewelry are pretty low grade at best. Hey! Who cares, they're s'pposed to love you despite all your shortcomings. There's a limit, mind.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

00483 Day 20, the Hunter

Did I ever tell you about the tribe of warriors I had the fortune to encounter on one of my many expeditionsin the '50's?

Well, we had been carving a path through the jungles of the Castagnaccio desert - which turned out to be rather simpler than we thought, what with there being no water and consequently no vegetation and therefore no carving - when we found ourselves face to face with an enormous animal. Huge thing, male, frightful temper. Mating season, guarding his territory.

Reckoned we were all gonners (dicky leg from the Crimea put paid to my running days) - when up jumps this native fella, spears the blighter right through the heart!

the Hunter

Bloody close thing, that.

Never did learn his name. All we know is that he had a value of .22 Ohms.

00482 Day 19, the Guide

As a result of the problems I'm having with building a pre-amp for my microphone (so that i can lay down some funky soundtracks to upcome film releases that I have yet to pen), I'm going to release a piece of writing that was conceived when I was constructing electronic die and which I just managed to finish today (actually its 2am - oops). It seemed appropriate considering my present frame of mind. Anyhoo, here you go:

Hi there and welcome to the first in what promises to be a long and possibly even endless journal of failure centered around the field of electronics.

In the coming weeks and months I hope to guide you through a series of projects which will help you to discover how to design and construct massively disappointing failures.

We'll be looking at the parts you can buy (but never fully understand), how best to maim them and finally how to keep them in a box until you finally manage to resign yourself to the truth that you have broken them beyond repair so that you can finally consign them to the trash. We'll also be working on developing a greater depth of sadness and incomprehension, so that you can more easily reach those frustrating and depressing intellectual cul-de-sacs.

Let’s start with a pretty good example of a project that will initially raise your hopes of producing a fully functioning toy, before dashing them to pieces as the realisation of your abject failure finally dawns.

The Electronic Dice.

If done properly, the dice project should address the major issue of using components unnecessarily and in the wrong place, so that they end up burned out and leave you both despondent and frustrated.

To mentally prepare yourself for this project you should begin by imagining yourself to be capable and intelligent. Don't forget to look forwards to the successful completion of the electronic dice. In this way you'll be able to maximise the sadness it will inevitably bring you.

OK, let’s go.

1. Assemble the components and tools you'll need.

At this point it would be best if you understand as little as possible about the components you buy, that way you can really mess things up while at the same time never really understanding what exactly has gone wrong. This last technique will add real depth to your fail.

You’ll want:

  • LEDs – around twenty. You only need seven, but the number is immaterial as they will all have blown by the time you are finished.
  • Around twenty mid-priced microcontrollers - pick a kind you like the look of.
  • Loads of resistors - that desktop’s not going to cover itself in ruined bits.
  • Wire – anything will do as long as it’s too thick.
  • Capacitors – you won’t need them here, but you’ll buy loads of them anyway.
  • A power source - batteries are always good as long as they are either duds, or of a voltage that is waaaay to high. To be safe always go for a transformer, this should provide you with an endless supply of power so you can overload all your fledgling circuits without having to nip out to the shops when you realise all your PP3s don’t work.
  • You’ll want a soldering iron. They come in many shapes and powers, but don’t worry, just go mid-range, they’ll all successfully burn you and help flip your angry switch.
  • Programming bits and bobs – again, don’t concern yourself about the details here, just get a starter pack. There’s a whole load of stuff you can buy, but seeing as the physical electronics side is going to go wrong, you can guarantee that the code side of things will be several degrees of impossible for you.
  • Wire cutters and desoldering pumps will come in useful here so it’s probably best forget them, that way you can berate yourself for being stupid while searching the house for something else which will fall woefully short of doing the same job.

2. Building your circuit.

Don't prototype your circuit on a breadboard (unless you're using a real breadboard where you cut bread, in which case, carry on).

I’d go into more detail here, but it really isn’t necessary. If you’re using instructions, skip the early pages, imagining that your expertise will guide you through the first stage so that you can concentrate on the really complicated stuff that you “feel” you understand, but actually don’t comprehend at all.

Now, just steel yourself to the task at hand and get on with it. You will need all your powers of concentration and tenacity if you are to create something that truly doesn’t work.

3. Testing your circuit.

Now comes the moment of truth. You should have managed to go through the entire construction process without an inkling of whether this is going to work, basing all your hopes around the grand finale where you flip the switch and everything runs perfectly. If all has gone according to plan you should now be excited and filled with expectation.

Turn it on!


Anything at all?



Probe around with your multimeter until your head is so full of figures that you confuse current with both voltage and resistance.

Go back to step 2, taking bits out and adding bits back in. Now would be a good time to use a lot of wire.

Having completed all the steps you should have a tangled mess of solder, wire and parts all ready for the bin, while you yourself should be adequately devoid of all hope and motivation.

Some more general points about nurturing failure.

There are several key areas that you should be aware of so that you can snuff out even the vaguest possibility of accidental success:

  • Reach for the stars. Only great aspirations reap the poorest results - pick a project that goes beyond your abilities by several degrees of magnitude. That way you can screw things up and have no idea how badly things went wrong. Chances are you will never know how far away from success you really were. Rest assured, it will have been a very long way.
  • Over spec everything and make sure that you don't really understand what any of the numbers mean. It can be really helpful to pick parts which have at least three sets of figures associated with their specification, that way if you manage to understand something of the first two numbers, there's a very good chance that the third will elude you and break up the critical path to succeeding.
  • Try to overcomplicate things wildly and if something goes wrong in the construction of your thing, rather than taking a thoughtful step back, just plough forwards. This will almost certainly put a monumental spanner in the works.

And here’s some extra tips:

You might think that while you're getting down on messing things up, you should ditch the books. Keep the books. Keep them and browse longingly through their pages as a reminder of how close you are to their world, but yet how far. They will show you things of great wonder. Hope will burn brightly within you and leave you ready to tackle anything. Badly.

Swearing will usually help to drive you further into despair, but use it sparingly, as too much frustration will probably bring a premature end to the project and ideally we want to draw it out as long as possible. If you are tired or hung-over this can also help you make some really quality mistakes.

So there we go! Now it’s time to crawl off and lick your tasty new wounds. The painful memory of your failure will slowly fade and with a bit of luck you’ll feel ready to give the whole scene another try in around a month or two. And when you finally get round to doing it all over again, don’t worry about sudden breakthroughs, if you follow this guide and your instincts, you’ll always manage to f*** things up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

00481 Day 18, Dice or no Dice?

So what's it to be?

Well it's not as simple as it sounds.

See, I've only just gone and cracked the whole "electronic" dice thing when in comes the devil's advocate.

"Alright?" says I.

"Not bad," says he. "What you got there?"

"This? Oh, this is just an array of LEDs hooked up to a PICAXE 8 microcontroller with a bunch of resistors, sunk in resin, all wired up to a small bank of coin cells, hidden in a matchbox and triggered by the opening the tray to produce a random dice throw as indicated by the pattern of the lights. See:"

Slicey Dicey


"Is that all?" says he.

"Not quite," says I. "The dice will re-randomise every time the box is opened and closed and there's also a compartment where I have secreted a small die, just in case of electronic failure."

"Nice touch," says he.

"Thanks," says I, warming nicely by the heat of my awesome.

"Of course, it'd be nice if it really was random," says he, smarming.

"It is random," says I, still basking in the glow of my brightly burning pride.

"Nuh-uh," says he.

"Says who?" says I, beginning the concern.

"You want to listen to Marcus, Colva, Timothy and Melvin, is what you want to do. They'll point out that your 'random' dice are nothing but a bunch of deterministic, instruction-following, dressed-up-as-chance-but-being-anything-but, fall-short-of-an-unpredictable-outcome farce of a failure."


Sunday, March 13, 2011

00480 Day 17, Canned goods


Always read no labels

First in a series of canned and boxed goods.

00479 Day 16, the Caddy

- So how does this work?

- Well, you just talk about how you feel and we just take it from there.

- I feel pretty good.

-Do you?

- Well, I have moments, you know, like everyone does.

- Describe these moments to me.

- It's kind of hard to put into words.

- Try.

- Ok, well, I guess it's like I sometimes feel like I'm just being used.

- By who?

- I dunno. But it's like I'm only able to concentrate on one thing.

- You mean one thing at a time?

- No, I mean like just this one thing.

- And what do you think is giving you this impression.

- Well, it's all the cards I have here, I mean look at this one:


- Mmmm. I see.

- What do you think it means?

- Well, I've personally never seen this kind of thing before, but I've read about it.

- What is it?

- I don't know quite how to put this, but you're a card caddy.

- A what?

- A card caddy. You carry cards. Someone uses you for carrying cards.

- oh.

- It's perfectly alright. The only problem is that you've been made by someone who's had a busy day and who then subsequently had to host a dinner party.

- But why should this all be so strange?

- Ah, well that's simple. You see you've been made in hurry and whoever made you has become so obsessed with finishing you that he's stayed up until 2am finishing you and making up this whole scenario in which you and I are talking. I can see that you might have been constructed more elaborately had there been access to the proper tools, but on the up side, you are made entirely from high-grade maple.

- Are you sure?

- Oh, yes, very sure. Look here's some pictures of you:

Card Caddy

The back end

- Oh, I see. Is this going to last for long?

- No, he's going to be now.

- Thank God for that.

ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Friday, March 11, 2011

00478 Day 15 Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrocket!

I think we all know the significance of the fact that 15 is the smallest natural number with seven letters in its spelled name.

Anyhoo, and with no other alternatives in sight, I opted to base today's thing on AWESOME!


Rocket Rocket

Fin plan Rocket

Should you find yourself in disagreement with the awesomeness, there is a standard protocol to follow:
  1. Note the date and time when the disagreement occurred.
  2. Contact the local "I Don't Think It's Awesome" office (and BTW, good luck with that).
  3. Request a meeting with their regional representative. You may find this difficult, as this whole thing is made up, but persevere. Remember: this is a matter of principle.
  4. Fill out the requisite form - A55Ho73, if memory serves.
  5. Have an eye test (you need one so badly you should also take anyone who has been near you today).
  6. Dance the dance of fools - don't worry, you will find yourself to be an expert.
  7. Seek counseling when your case has been adjudicated and returns the inevitable verdict that you are and have always been deeply wrong.
  8. Strain to hear the distant sounds of my laughter.
There, I think that's pretty clear.

This was totally made by sticking a bolt into a piece of wood, shaving it down a little with a plane. cutting the end off the bolt, sticking the whole thing bolt-first into a drill, clamping the drill trigger and sticking the drill in a workbench, throwing away the health and safety book and shaping it all up with coarse grade sandpaper.

I accept no responsibility for your lack of ability to agree with me, or my subsequent bird-flipping. Your house may be at risk if you play with explosives.