Etching pint glasses with Women.Design.Build

Recently I learned of  Women.Design.Build, a local organization that encourages women to get involved in their community through design and construction activities. One way that they do this is through workshops where you can try out a new skill. Last week I attended a glass etching workshop at the MAKEatx studio. You know how we etched our pint glasses? With a giant LASER! Right up my alley, reminding me of days spent in the basement of the UT physics building working with lasers. The MAKEatx laser is much more awesome than any laser I used in the past.

 

Laser etched / cut designs are located all around the studio

Yep, that’s a giant laser. CO2 apparently.

Prior to etching our glasses, we had to create a small black and white graphic to etch on the glass. With Father’s Day right around the corner, I decided to make a gift for my Dad. He’s got a thing for motorcycles so I incorporated that into my design.

Placing the pint glass in the machine required a bit of calibration.

 

Pint glass loaded and ready to go

After the pint glass was loaded, the file from the controlling computer was opened to send the design to the laser. We closed the lid and pressed the go button and the laser whipped out our designs in no time.

The laser in action. You can see one of the motorcycle wheels.

My finished glass

 

There were about 12 of us in the workshop and many had to create their designs on the computers there. We had plenty of time to browse around the workshop and drink some wine. Everyone was very friendly and it was an enjoyable evening. I look forward to attending more events in the future.

Seen around the workshop:

Another etched glass – a mason jar that says classy. For drinking wine of course.

Amazing groomsmen gifts – hatchets etched with initials.

 

So true.

 

 

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Dear cats, stop stealing my coasters!

I have a set of coasters that are made of felted wool (knitted by me of course). They are very absorbent and make great coasters. They also attract cats like crazy. In the middle of the night, one of our cats steals the felted wool coasters and leaves them on the floor in the hallway.

Using a multi-colored wool yarn that had been given to me as a gift, I recently knitted up a rectangle and felted it.  Felting rarely turns out a perfect square, so I had to trim the edges to make a coaster.

I rolled up the extra felted material, added a bow and call my creation a cat toy. So, dear cats, stop stealing my coasters!

Recycling bike inner tubes into a phone case

Okay, so I only used a small part of a bicycle inner tube to make a phone case.

Next week I start training for a half marathon that takes place in November. I also decided to start using a fitness tracking application called Endomondo. To use Endomondo, I need to carry my phone with me on my runs which I’ve never done before because it’s big and I’ve not a found a good case for carrying it. At the Urban Assault Ride put on by New Belgium brewery, one of the schwag items we came home with was a little pouch made out of a bike inner tube which gave me this idea. The inner tube will help the phone stay dry while I sweat like crazy in the Texas heat.

This weekend I decided it was time to make the phone case with the start of training on the horizon.  I grabbed an old mountain bike inner tube and cut off a piece of it. After my first attempt at making the case ended up just a tad too small, I succeeded on the second try.

One of the trickiest parts of this case was the zipper. I had to deconstruct a zipper so that it would be on continuous piece by folding it in half and putting each end into the zipper pull. You’ll see what I mean in the pictures at the end.

First I cut the tube down the middle and washed it. Next, I sewed on the zipper to one side:

Next, I folded the zipper over and top-stitched it:

Then, I added the piece needed to put a strap through (normally I wear a dog leash around my waist, which is the best place to attach a phone).  Then, I folded it in half and sewed the bottom together.  I then had to turn it to the right side and try to attach the zipper pull, which turned out to be quite tricky the second time. After enlisting the help of pliers and my husband, I got the zipper pull attached and turned the case back inside out and sewed the smaller end together.

After that, I trimmed the edges near the seam and turned it right side out. Complete!

Some useful tips: rubber isn’t that hard to sew, but it’s tricky to get it to feed correctly through the sewing machine. I had to play with both thread tension and the foot tension to get it to work correctly.  Sewing through more than two layers  gets more difficult.

Making buttons (out of shrinky dink)

So it turns out that you can make buttons out of shrinky-dink plastic! You know, that plastic from your childhood that you could draw on and then put into the oven to make useless shapes out of?

This tutorial from Scissors.Paper.Wok inspired me to give this a shot because I  need buttons for two knitted baby bibs currently in the works. One is for a boy and the other a girl and from previous button shopping I remember not being terribly excited about options to match my knitted bibs.

Because I didn’t have a large round paper punch as used in the tutorial, I started with 2 inch squares and then used a corner round punch to remove the sharp edges.  I used a paper pattern to get the holes in the right spots and punched them with a normal paper punch.

I drew designs on the four buttons, some inspired from the button tutorial and other from icons I pulled up on Google.

Before shrinking:

After baking between parchment paper on 300 degrees for a few minutes:

I must say that they turned out better than I could have hoped. Now the hard part is choosing which button goes one which bib! I think the girl should get the rocket ship of course.

Bicycle print

The finished print

Drawing, carved block, and print

This is my second print since receiving the linoleum print tools as a gift earlier this year. My inspiration for it is obviously the lyrics to Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and the fact that I’ve been riding many miles training for the Escape to the Lake Bike MS Event which happens in two weeks.

You can see the finished product but also the different steps of the process in the pictures. In one picture you can see my original drawing (I used a compass for the wheels) that I then transferred to the carving block. I carved it using special carving tools.  I mixed paint to create a dark green color, rolled it on the carved block and transferred that to the paper.

I’m offering one of these prints to anyone who donates to my fundraising page for the Escape to the Lake. I can make them in light or dark shades of black, red, blue, green, or yellow.  If I don’t know you personally, please contact me before donating so I can confirm that I will be able to create a print for you.

Making cork coasters

So after seeing this blog post from the Mother Nature Network I decided it would be a good way to use up my champagne corks that won’t work in the wine cork bath mat I have planned for an unplanned future date. I mean, the blog post makes it sound so easy.

I sliced up the champagne and beer corks into circles and glued them down to some plastic disks that I cut out of some lids saved from yogurt containers and other such things. So far I’ve completed three coasters.

The lessons I’ve learned so far are:

  1. Cutting corks a uniform width is freaking hard
  2. I’m good at cutting my finger nails with a knife
  3. The glue doesn’t hold forever, one of the first ones I made already lost a cork
  4. This might not be the best way to use up these corks 😦

OMG, I have a bottle tree!

So, I’ve seen strange items in front yards around town that are used to display empty glass bottles. I mean this is Austin after all.  Then, I went to the yard art show at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and saw a bottle tree there.  It was AMAZING. I had to have one. In fact, I knew way back in August that I needed this for my front yard.

Needless to say, I didn’t really have the proper tools to execute such a large project on my own. Luckily for me, I know some people that do. Recently, my father-in-law toted down his welder and torch from Fort Worth so that we could make my bottle tree and I could have the most “Austin-y” yard on my street.

We made the tree out of rebar on Saturday, and even took a break to attend the Circle Brewing grand opening party.

We cut a thick piece of rebar in half to act as the main trunk and then cut the thin pieces of rebar to varying lengths to make the branches.  And of course by “we” I mean my father-in-law. He also heated up the rebar so that I could bend it and he welded all the pieces together.

Welding and torch setup:

Bending some branches on the tree:

Cutting branches in action:

A certain husband had to hold up the bottle tree for quite a while once it got unweildy:

The following day, they set the main trunk piece in some concrete in the front yard amongst our cedar trees:

After the concrete had some time to set, I added the bottles I’ve collected for it so far.

My bike basks in the shade of the bottle tree:

Try to ignore our messy garage in the background and what appears to be dead grass everywhere:

And finally, a close up:

Yep, it’s awesome. I’ve got room to grow as I get more bottles.

A HUGE thanks to my father-in-law and husband for humoring me and creating a bottle tree for me!