Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Open and Shut Case

I picked up this tiny pattern card "Little Wallet" by Valori Wells when I was in the craft shop last time.  It seemed about the size of something I could tackle.

I had the sewing machine out over the holiday weekend, so I took a few minutes to test it out.
Cute, huh!

Second Instar

I posted a pencil draft of this knot ring a while ago. I did the first round of ink work this weekend.  I'm not sure yet how the remaining areas will be filled in, or even if the four corners will be the same. Final dimensions will be a rectangle of about the width and height of the diamond shape you see. I hadn't drawn any beetles lately and I missed them.  It may be hard to see the two big leaves - one has eggs on it, the other has been chewed.  I'm mulling about themes of circles and cycles.

Other recent ink finishes...I'm planning on adding some color yet still to the serpent.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dancing with the Salts

More geekiness, in part brought on by the trip to LIGO last week.  My son came home Thursday with two friends and a goal of doing a special experiment and presentation for extra credit for their science class.  Their science teacher had introduced Cymatics and showed them this video on You-Tube:

They rigged up a tone generator from the computer and I helped them cable it into the home stereo. We took a trip to Goodwill, where we found a few big speakers that could be cannibalized ($2.17 total - what a deal!) A little wiring and soldering later, we were able to dial up any frequency and crank it up. Earplugs.

It took some fiddling to get a plate system that would work, but the kids eventually ended with a system that worked and the salt did indeed dance. It wasn't anywhere near as elaborate as the video, but they could see patterns and they did change as they ranged the tones.

With this success, then my daughter described the LIGO demo where they had taped a tiny mirror to the plate in a similar setup and shot a laser pointer at it. As the sound changed, the reflected spot on the wall went crazy due to the vibrating plate! We replicated this with great success, although photographing it was less than representative.

These are called Lissajous figures.  Much fun for me, as I got to play the role of technical consultant.  I could also see the lights flickering behind the eyes of the kids.  I hope they are sparked to further explore. Meanwhile, I must go vacuum the living room...and buy another box of salt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Spent the day as a chaperone on my daughter's AP chemistry class' field trip to the LIGO facility. The facility's mission is to detect gravity waves.  It's a pair of 4km long tubes at right angles with mirrors and laser beams.  You can't see the actual equipment from the outside (just the tubes - below,) but there are lots of cameras and tons of scientific instruments feeding to a control room. They were actually reconfiguring a 2km tube to it's full 4km length, so nothing was operational at the moment.

Although not up and running, the facility has a great hands-on area, where every imaginable demonstration involving waves or gravity was waiting for the many students that cycle through. We had fun with the 30 foot slinky, pendulums galore, interferometers, sound generators, lasers, etc.

This was a special mirror that is being upgraded. It may not look like much, but apparently was the very best available and ran about $150k when originally made.  The coating on these was an amazing iridescent thing.

Another view of removed/demo equipment:

I have no idea how this fits into the grander scheme, but I believe a portion of the money for the real project was siphoned off to build this dalek prototype. My camera angle does not do it justice.

To finish off our tour, we heard a presentation from an MIT physics grad student there who was working on physically implementing a "squeezer" which reduces quantum uncertainty noise.  This is a huge project with collaborators in many parts of the world. Quite impressive, both the young lady and the project.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Barrage Tonight

We've got tickets to see these guys tonight. The group is called Barrage.

They are doing a concert in conjunction with the local high school orchestras. The kids have a clinic/workshop with them all afternoon, then play a little wee bit with them during their concert tonight. The rest of the concert is just Barrage, and the kids have their real full concert tomorrow.

My daughter certainly has the long blond hair ready for Celtic-women-esque prancing about. She's not too far off on the fiddling, either, but she (like me) can't even imagine trying to dance while playing at the same time.  I'm curious what she'll get out of the workshop.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nice Jug

I was getting my growler filled today at the Ice Harbor brewery, since I had to visit their homebrew store anyway.  Some kid (probably just 21) in the parking lot gives me the thumbs up and yells "Nice Jug!"

Good think I wasn't filling two of them, or he might have said, "Nice Jugs!" In which case I would have had to slap him.

He was totally correct- It is a nice jug.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carved Bottle and Layout

I've been thinking about graphics for the bottle labels for our homebrew.  We drank the first batch without fear of mix-up, but ideally we'd like to make little stickers or something to identify what's inside as we continue to brew.  This is a little bottle stamp I worked on last night.  I"m teaching a kid's class on stamp making this summer at the local art gallery, so it felt good to dust off the tools.  I need to figure out a cheap way to secure or make 18 cutters - the class pack I'd planned on ordering has disappeared from the web store since I submitted my budget request.

I've also been working on the layout of a new bigger Celtic piece. I've got this round border penciled in. I think I will ink it before I go too much further, as all this pencil is very smudgy. I'm not too sure I like the two giant petals at the top and bottom, but small ones were in the way of the triangles I'd laid out in the background. Round borders are fun but much more tedious, since you have to draft the grid before you can draft the knot.  Oh well. I'm sure you'll see more of this later.