Friday, June 26, 2009

Card to end all Trading Cards

Undoubtedly, the Periodic Table LTC ring was a big project. Like many others, for weeks I was consumed with carving, cutting, inking, assembling, and labeling. There were days when I thought it would never end. Little did I know that a bigger project lay in my future. That project began when 3 Blind Mice invited me to join their Challenge Ring (for the 3rd time) and I finally relented. Since I was again planning to take the Summer off from trading card production, I decided to do it up big. This would be the trading card to end all trading cards. It was going to be three dimensional and interactive, and contain a really great carve. What followed pushed me to the limits of my ability and occasionally, sanity.
At my daughter's suggestion (and with my DH's support), I decided to attempt to recreate The TARDIS in LTC form. For those of you who are unaware, the TARDIS is Doctor Who's time machine/spaceship/thingy (in his words). It looks like a Police Call Box and is bigger on the inside (hence, the ltc's name). I won't bore you with all of the Sci-Fi geek details. You either already know, or you're not likely to care. But here are some specifics of the trading card itself:
It has one inconspicuous stamp on the outside, plus two stickers to give it an authentic look. The windows are each hand cut and lined with transparency film to give it a shiny, but frosted glass look. Open the door and a sound card activates and you can hear one of Doctor Who's famous quotes; which you can listen to here, if you like. The first 10 seconds are on the card. It was my intention for the light on top to light up at the same time, but I quickly discovered that soldering electronic components is way harder than it looks. Sadly, but not before some brick-headed stubborness, I had to give up on that element as the deadline loomed.
On the inside of the card are two stamp images: one of David Tennant, my favorite Doctor Who yet; and the key to the TARDIS (which stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, btw).

A true Who geek will know that this is not David Tennant's key. However, it was more interesting to carve, so I went retro. It is, after all, a Time Machine.

And there you have it. My Challenge card. The carves themselves, while not particularly challenging, were ones that I have wanted to do for some time. The hurdles for me were more logistics and the technical aspects of actually making the thing work. And not breaking the bank in the process. And losing sleep over it. And keeping my fingers cross that they would still work when they arrived at their destinations.
And with that, I am taking the summer off from trading cards. If you need me, I'll be on Gallifrey.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beginner Bookmaking

Want to try something new? Here are the instructions for hand making your own books. They are easy, fun and fast. Once you've finished your first one, you will be amazed at how many of them you can knock off during one episode of NCIS. They make inexpensive, yet personal gifts and can be designed to fit any occasion, personality, or size requirement. Are you sold yet? Then lets get started! Here are the basic things that you will need:
  • Cover material, cut to size~Card stock is an obvious choice, but really, the cover of your book can be any number of things. The only requirements are that you can punch holes in it and it needs to be a little flexible. Leather, fabric, cereal or gift boxes, felt, etc. For illustration purposes, I am using 65lb card stock cut 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 (a half sheet of paper).
  • Paper for pages, cut to same size as cover~again, you have options, but I'm using boring printer paper here. The number of pages is up to you also. For LB logbooks, I usually make about 45-60 pages. Journals or more personal books are usually about right with 75-100 pages.
  • Paper cutter
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Hole Punch*~Options again! My punch of choice is usually a 1/8" hand punch, but you can also use shaped punches. Go crazy. Just remember that much of the hole detail will be hidden.
  • Binding fibers, cut 4x as long as the height of your book~By now it should be redundantly apparent that your choices in the bookmaking department are unhindered by limitations. That's Fancy Nancy speak for "options" again. You can use just about any kind of fiber to bind your book: yarn, DMC thread, leather laces, high test fishing line, flavored dental long as it doesn't snap with a little tugging, will fit through the holes you punched (up to three times) and can be tied into a secure knot, it's good.
  • Needle~I favor the chenille needles because they have a bigger eye and a blunter point (less chance of drawing blood). As long as the eye is big enough for your fiber choice, and the needle can pass through the holes you punch, it will work. Just keep in mind that in several of the holes, there will be as many as three layers of fiber and your needle still needs to fit. Another method is to cut a length of wire about 6 inches long and fold it in half to use as your needle.
Now it is time to make your book template (If the picture is not clear enough, click on it to go to the larger version).
  • Take one of the sheets that you have cut for your cover and draw a line from top to bottom 3/8 " from the spine edge.
  • Next punch the end holes. Each one should be on your line and 3/8 " from the top or bottom of the book. These would be holes A and E in the picture.
  • Next punch a hole in the very center of the line, or hole C.
  • For holes B and D, you need to find the point that is equidistant from the center hole and either hole A (for B) or E (for D). I'm trying my hardest to make this really confusing. If I've succeeded, stare blankly at the screen. Good. Moving on.
Once you have your template made, you can use it to punch the holes in the rest of your paper, multiple sheets at a time, if you like. When you are finished, stack your book pages in the order you want them bound. If you flip your template over and use it as the back cover, all of your pencil marks will be hidden inside.

Remember the sewing cards we used to do as children? Then, thread your needle and get ready!
Starting with your needle on the back side of the book, come up through the center hole (C), leaving a 4-5 inch tail behind.
Down through hole D, then wrap the thread around the binding and go down through hole D a second time.

Up through hole E, wrap the thread around the binding and come up through hole E a second time, then wrap the thread around the top edge of the book and come up through hole E a third time. Down through hole D for the last time and one end is finished!

Take your thread across the back of the book, skipping hole C for now and come up through hole B.
(This part will mirror what you did with holes D and E) Wrap the thread around the binding and come up through B a second time. Down through A, around the binding and down through A a second time. Around the bottom edge of the book and down through A for the third and last time. Your thread should be on the back side of the book now.

Now for the big finish...bring your thread up through hole B and then down through hole C, making sure that you are on the opposite side of the binding thread from the tail that you left in the beginning. Wrap around the binding and go down through hole C one last time, again on the opposite side of the tail (see photo above).

Tie a secure knot around the binding thread and trim the excess off. You can glue the knot for added security.
You are now officially done with your hand made book! I hereby send you forth to wreak havoc on the the unsuspecting literary world.

Once you have become familiar with this technique, you can make any sized book that you want. You can also modify the number of holes that you punch, as long as it remains an odd number. In the photo above are a couple of books made with 3 and 7 holes.

Another modification that you can make is to cut your cover material 1/4-1/2" wider than your pages and trim the open (non-spine) edge with decorative shaped scissors. Or trim all of the inside pages with a deckle cutter or scissors (or hand tear them) for a nice effect.

*It is also possible to use an awl or Dremel tool to bore the holes for your book. However, it is messier, more difficult to be accurate with your hole placement, and only pushes the paper out of the way instead of removing it; which makes the spine lumpy. Obviously, it is not my preferred method. However, if you choose to try it that way, make sure that you secure your paper in a vice between layers of wood to prevent ripping or creasing the paper.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sporific Treasures of Hiking

I've wanted to read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods for a long time, but very rarely can force myself to pay full price for a book. So when the chance came to pick it up for a quarter at the local library book sale, I didn't hesitate. It was a wonderful book and I loved how he so skillfully wove the historical and environmental information in with his personal tale. It is unrealistic to think that I ever would or could hike the AT, but it is fun to dream about. One of the reasons that I could never do it is that I would feel compelled to stop and snap photos of every living thing I passed. I'd probably average about four miles a day...and 4000 photos. The unlimited variety of plant and animal life is one of the biggest draws of hiking for me. With that said, onward to our next edition of Treasures of Hiking. Our focus today is fungus. I'm not even going to attempt to identify these specimens, as I will likely only mess it up.
What makes mushrooms so cute? Logically it makes no sense. Mold that grows on decaying matter in the dark shouldn't be cute.

The coloring of these fungi made a sharp contrast to the burnt wood they were growing on.

It saddens me that so many of the large bracket fungi get smashed by wandering idiots, so I'm always pleased to find ones that are intact...

...or have taken to defending themselves with the help of more noxious neighbors.

No idea what this is, but it looks like something on an alien planet.

Anybody else seeing the dancing mushrooms from the Fantasia version of Nutcracker?

These look more like barnacles than anything. Perhaps FungusWoman will drop by and give us a hand with some more insiteful identification.