Dextery: November 2007 Archives

Fembot progress

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The fembot knits up quickly, even if I have tons of other things to do. Here's a picture of her head :

fembot_head.jpgI really love the colors and the yarn is a pleasure to work with. Knitting this fembot really feels like a treat to me. No homeworks, no dealine, no stress : just me, my yarn and my needles. I have to wait a bit before I make the main panel because some electronic parts are not chosen yet.

I will make a pattern or a tutorial for making fembots someday soon. I hope it will encourage you to put some electronics in your knitting! ;-)


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One challenge when making a female robot is to make her look feminine even if she is square and bulky, like le robot. An obvious way to do that would be to make her pink. But I don't like pink. It's too girly of a color. I know lots of beautiful and feminine women who hardly ever wear pink. So what physical traits are typical of femininity?

I googled a bit about fembots, women and the like, and what is stereotypically feminine seems to be : hair, eyelashes, breasts, waist and curves. I probably won't experiment too much with curves (nor waist) since I want the fembot to be a feminine replica of le robot, but the other traits will probably be implemented.

Oh, by the way, the idea of making a fembot with lots a features and buttons and flashing LEDs and switches is inspired by this photo that I've seen dozens of times in various contexts :

woman_switch.jpg Some people interpret it as : women are too complicated. For me, it means : women are cool!

Le robot

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What was this yarn I bought yesterday for? Hmmm... I'll give you clue :

LEDs.JPGDon't get it yet? OK, this one is very obscure. It takes a twisted mind like mine to see the connection yarn + flashing LEDs = plush robot! I already made one for my boyfriend's birthday. Please meet Le Robot :
le_robot1_600px.jpgIsn't he adorable? And his switch works for real, see :

le_robot2_600px.jpgI'm not completely satisfied with the outcome of the electronic part (I wish I had used more LEDs) but it's not bad at all for a novice like me. No soldering involved : I just twisted wires together and sealed them with electrician tape. But my boyfriend is really good in electronics and I thought that if we put our hobbies together, we could create the ultimate knitted robot with cool flashing lights. And of course, seeking perfection, we decided to make it a female robot. ;-) She is actually taking form on my needles right now, so more on that later.

Yarn hunt

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I went yarn hunting today for my boyfriend's gift, and this is what I''ve found :

yarn2.JPGOk, the photo is ugly (I really need a better digital camera, or at least a tripod) and doesn't pay tribute to the gorgeousness of this yarn. The teal one is Cascade 220 and the green one is Nachua Handknit's Julia, a blend of alpaca, mohair and wool.That's overly fancy for it's intended use, but it was the only yarn in the shop with the color and gauge I wanted. Oh well, it's for a good cause! ;-)

Magnet Galore (pt 2)

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This set of ladybugs magnet was inspired by the work of Suntaree Palasingh, an awesome artist who makes beautiful decorative - as well as useful - objects using papier maché. This technique might be underrated by people thinking it's a child craft. But it's very versatile, cheap and lightweight, just what it takes for this projects.

ladybug_magnet2.jpgBasically, to make a papier maché sculpture, you first make a structure using cardboard, styrofoam, balloons, empty cans, etc. and solidify it with (a lot) of masking tape. Then, you dip strips of newspaper in a glue made of water and flour and apply several layers of them on your structure, letting the glue dry between layers. Then you paint and varnish your object and you're done.

There are several glue recipes out there, and the one I use is a very easy and effective one. Just put 1 cup of water into a small saucepan, then add 3 tablespoons of white flour and stir well with a whisk until there are no lumps left. On med-hi heat, bring the mixture to a boil while stirring. Then lower the heat and let simmer a few minutes while constantly stirring until you obtain a custard-like texture. Let cool completely before using. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, maybe a week.  Throw it away when you no longer need it, because it will eventually develop molds (yuk).

For this project, I tried two methods for the structure of my ladybugs. I first tried to make a body using only newspaper taped into a somewhat semi-spherical shape. Masking tape is best used here, because the strips of newspaper will adhere to it while it is not the case with other, glossy tapes. The outcome was satisfying, though there were not all alike. The other method was to simply cut a styrofoam ball in half, which led to a much more uniform batch of ladybugs. The drawback though is that you have to buy styrofoam, which is not really eco-friendly, while the all-newspaper ladybugs give you an occasion to reuse materials that you would otherwise throw away. Yes, I'm a sensitive eco-minded gal.

Then I made two or three layers of papier maché on the structure, let it dry and taped the antennas, which are made of florist wire that was twisted a bit around a toothpick to give it's spring shape. Then I made some more layers of newspaper and let it dry overnight. This is important because when using gesso, acrylic paint and varnish, it seals moisture inside the papier maché, which can lead to problems. The next step was to paint and varnish it, and when it was dry I glued it to a round magnet using a strong adhesive (I should have tried silicon sealer, it would have smelled less horrible). For the bigger ladybug, instead of round magnet I used self-adhesive magnetic tape cut to fit its entire bottom area and it worked very neatly.ladybug_magnet3.jpgMy mother-in-law was crazy about them and made comments every time she saw them on my fridge. So I made a set of ladybug magnets for her. I gave it to her in a small gift box to which I have glued a metallic circle at the bottom (the metal plate that comes with my magnets). I cut leafs out of green construction paper and arranged them to hide the metal and arranged the ladybugs on top so that the leafs won't move. This small scene was a really nice way to present the magnets.

Magnet Galore (pt 1)

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One of the successful handmade gift I made was fridge magnets. We all have a bunch of ugly magnets on our fridge gathered from eclectic sources, so a themed set of kick-ass magnets really gives your appliances some flair. They are not only useful on the fridge : they also work on other ferromagnetic surfaces like the stove, white board, metallic file cabinet, etc.

I made a set of marble magnets for my best friend (and some for me too!) with her favorite characters from Rejected, which is also my all-time favorite short film. I firstly attempted to draw the pictures myself, but it has to be so tiny and sharp that I couldn't do it, with the ink from my fine point pen bleeding a bit on the paper I used. So I printed out the images and made some hand drawn additions to them. I guess it might be against copyright laws to do this, but it was for only 9 fridge magnets that light up my day every time I see them, and I go to every film festival I know of where Don Hertzfeld's  work is presented, so I hope he will not be upset about that.

Having my pictures, I followed the very nice instructions of Not Martha for making marble magnets. I used silicon sealer as the glue and it worked beautifully and doesn't smell really bad (as super glue tends to do). The marbles are actually the kind of marbles for aquariums or floral arrangements, and I had a pack of 100 for 1$ at my local dollar store. It's a cheap and easy craft, but all the fun resides in drawing tiny pictures or cutting them out of magazines/postcards/pictures/etc.

Christmas is here... in November

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You probably have seen it too : cheap plastic Santas and red and green (too sweet) chocolates (with paraffin) taking over the shelf space in every store. Fortunately, I stay away from shopping malls so I can survive the Xmas frenzy taking place 2 months in advance without noticing it too much.

I don't like all the cheap holiday-related stuff, but I do like Christmas for, at least, 2 reasons : (1) food and (2) having a good time with my family. Oh, and gift giving. But I don't like the idea of giving something just because you have to. I prefer to think about what the person really likes and find something that fits his/her personality. I usually make all the gifts myself too : there's nothing like a beautiful (or delicious) handmade item to show your appreciation to someone, with all the thoughts, time and effort put into it. Or at least, I would appreciate such a gift and my blind optimism keeps me knitting and crafting stuff for my friends and family.

This year, instead of giving something to every family member, we decided to do a gift exchange, so I only have one gift to concentrate on instead of eight! (well, with my in-laws. I still want to do something for my parents, brother, grandma, and some friends too.) I think it's a good thing : less clutter, less stress (hey, why stress-out for Christmas; isn't it supposed to be about joy, love and sharing? Or am I being blindly optimistic again?).

As a starting point to this blog, I will post in the following days/weeks some handmade gifts I have made in the past. Maybe it will inspire you to make something similar for someone you love. Hey, make at least one handmade gift this year, even if it's just baking a batch of gingerbread men.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Dextery in November 2007.

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