Monday Apr 25, 2005

Card Models

Over the past few years I've taken an interest in making card models. From cutting out and assembling various things made available in books by Dover Publications through to a recent model of the Taj Mahal that I did with Duncan.

This was sold by American Science Surplus. From a quick browse of their online catalog, I see they've still got some models available.

The box actually says "3D Jigsaw" but it's not really, as you have to punch out the thin card pieces and then continually insert the right tab in the right slot. The kits were made in Thailand and the instructions were apparently converted into English. Well almost. There are some delightful sentences. It's pretty obvious what you've got to do, so isn't really a problem.

Duncan (who's 6-1/2) had no problem punching out the shapes, but the actual assembly requires a grownup (or an older child). They supply you with a small roll of tape and that was good enough, but if I was doing this just for myself, I'd probably take a bit more time and use white glue and get a more exact join.

Some of steps are challenging, requiring you to puzzle over the small pictures provided in the instructions, comparing the pieces with the finished model on the box cover and looking for the given tab and slot numbers on the pieces of card. All definitely doable though.

If you're interested in card modelling, then here's a great starting point. It's an amazing set of resources including links to lots of free models you can download and printout for yourself.

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Friday Dec 17, 2004

Shoal Creek Succulents Plants Have Arrived

You may remember that last month I ordered some succulents from Shoal Creek Succulents and experienced some difficulties. I'm pleased to say that's all been sorted out now, and I'm very happy with the plants that arrived in the post today.

If you've never ordered plants like this before through the mail, you might be surprised that they come wrapped in newspaper with no soil or pot. I was fully expecting this and had pots and "soil" at the ready. First thing I did though was gently unwrap everything, and lay them out to see what I'd got. It was nice to see that there were multiples of some of the plants.

I then started potting them up. Since the rekindling of my interest in succulents, I've been potting them in pumice. The last time I collected these plants there were some occasions when I'd over water them. This time around I wanted to make sure I had good drainage. Pumice is perfect for this. The pots are also lighter in weight too.

Duncan wanted to have his own pot, so he got a special deal. His pot contains four different plants. Duplicates of plants that are in the other pots. I ran out of pumice for that pot and for one containing the Kalanchoe tomentosa, so they have a mixture of soil and small stones with a very small stone topping. Since taking the group picture, I put one of my other plants outside in a pot on the deck, and used the pumice from its original pot to repot Duncan's plants. I didn't realize how big the Kalanchoe beharensis 'Fang'was going to be, so that's gone straight to a pot on the deck too.

These are all nice specimens. I'm particularly happy with the Titanopsis hugo-schlechteri. It'll also be interesting to see if I can keep the Frithia pulchra minor alive. The two previous times I've owned this kind of plant I've killed them (I suspect from over watering).

Now I just need to go buy some proper blank plastic labels so that I can identify them properly. At the moment I've stuck the paper labels to the pot.

Thanks to Ryan at Shoal Creek Succulents for this excellent selection.

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Saturday Jul 24, 2004

Balloon Animals

Here's something that will give your kids minutes of enjoyment and get them out from under your hair. It's making balloon animals.

At yet another library book sale, I picked up a small book giving the basics on how to create balloon animals and showing step-by-step instructions for making several of them. Okay, this looks easy I thought. I bought a bag of the long thin balloons at a local party store and tried to blow up my first balloon.

A word of advice here. Buy yourself a pump to inflate the balloons unless you want to see the inside of a hospital room really soon. Those professional balloon blowers you see at some restaurants. They've had special surgery so they can blow those balloon up and make it look easy. Using a pump would make them look like wimps. You and me. We aren't like them. Get a pump.

This morning we made an octopus and a wasp. Of course the wasp could have been a dragonfly or a small bird. It wasn't clear until I'd added a few markings.

This page seems to be a good online starting point if you are interested in all this. You can start with a simple dog. They even animate it just in case the instructions weren't clear. They also have a great gallery of balloon creations too.

And if you practice and practice, pretty soon you'll be making everything out of balloons.

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Monday Jul 12, 2004

Hey! That's Reasonably Clever!

Do your kids (or you) like playing with LEGO? Do you wanna do it online rather than buy yet another tub of bricks?

Here's a site that lets you do exactly that. From creating a look for your Mini Mizer, to building your blockhead to LEGO Tarot cards plus articles on how to build some special designs, plus more!

This site is the brain child of Chris Doyle. Congratulations on a very interesting site (and you thought I was going to write "reasonably clever" here didn't you)?

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Friday Jul 02, 2004

Keyboard books for beginners (I hope).

Just over a week ago I mentioned that we'd ordered a Yamaha electronic keyboard. None of us know how to play it and even though it comes with a comprehensive guide to what it can do and a song book (for the 100 built-in songs), I felt the need to order some beginners books for myself (although the keyboard is for Duncan our son too when he starts to show an interest).

I searched around on Amazon, reading the reviews and came up with these three which I've just ordered

If anybody has any experience with these books or can recommend others (or even better, any good free online resources), please comment.

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Saturday Jun 19, 2004

Wood Wood Wood!

This morning we went and visited some friends of ours who are building a huge house in the hills above Redwood City here in California. We got a tour of their mansion to be. It's going to be truly awesome when it's finished in about 15 months. It's at the stage now where the framers are busy getting all the wood for the three levels of the house put together.

So this means they have a large bin of wood scraps, offcuts, pieces that they don't need. Wood! For free! So I reversed the mini-van up, and loaded the back full of sheets of 1/2 to 1 inch plywood, and many large chunks and planks of solid wood.

"What are you going to do with all that?" they ask. "Projects" I reply. My wife gives me one of those, well-it-is-Fathers-day-tomorrow looks and politely humours me.

Thanks Juan and Donna!

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Tuesday May 25, 2004

American Science Surplus Rules!

Our American Science Surplus order arrived last night. I love these guys. They sell some of the most interesting, reasonably priced stuff that it has ever been my pleasure to buy.

From craft supplies, to toys for kids and grownups. From kits to tools. You name it they probably have sold it at some time.

This last order included some candle making supplies, a DIY Kaleidoscope kit, a wasp catcher for the garden and a bag of wooden parts.

The last one is always fun because you never know exactly what you are going to get and craft-wise it leads to some interesting creations.

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