March 24, 2013

Scout's Palace

So, Scout has used a little cat carrier for years as her kennel and loved it. But her back is not great and she was starting to balk at having to duck into it to go in. (She could stand inside, but the doorway was short.)

The real problem ... is that kennels are ugly ... and this needed to go in the living room. I've seen some kennel-tables for sale, but they seem to be $200-$300 and they really don't match our decor at ALL. So I decided to make my own. I didn't think about doing a step-by-step originally, so I don't have a ton of pictures, but several folks on Twitter asked, so I'll do my best to describe it.

First off, I snagged this kennel from Amazon. (Not an affiliate link.) So that's about $30. Then I picked up 2 packs of 4' wainscoting from Lowes and 2 square lengths of poplar.

Materials

I measured the exterior of the kennel longwise, making sure to find the longest spot. This kennel has some small protrusions and if this was going to work, I had to make sure I took that into account as well. To make sure I'd made this with enough clearance, I added another 1/4" to length. I measured the back of the kennel the same way.

I measured the height the same way as well. I wanted those poles to be a tad taller than the kennel itself. The idea is that you'll have four square poles on the inside of the structure, boards on the outside creating the wall and then a "ceiling" or tabletop that rests on top of the poles with the sideboards covering up its edge.

So, after measuring the kennel height, I cut the square poplar poles. The next step was to cut at least 4 of the long side pieces and two of the short side (the back). Don't think about the table top just yet.

If you've not worked with wood much, this next part is tricky and requires patience and probably a little help to keep things balanced as you work.

On a level surface, lay two of the poles down. Take one of the pieces of wainscoting, square it up carefully with the edge of the pole and the bottom of the pole and drill a pilot hole through wainscoting and into the pole. You MUST drill a pilot hole first or your wainscoting piece will split and crack. Then screw the wainscoting into the pole. It's probably moved now, so square it up again ... and then square up the other side with the other pole. Drill a pilot hole and screw that side into that pole. 

Repeat with another long wainscoting piece and the other two poles.

Now it's tricky. Stand both of those structures up - if you have a friend who can hold them steady, that's even better. Take one of the back pieces and square it up with one of the structures. Drill a pilot hole and then screw that piece in. Do the same with the other side and the other structure. At this point, it's VERY unstable as it will pivot around those screws. The next step will stabilize things.

Now, the wainscoting I bought is tongue-in-groove which means that I slid the next piece into the first piece. Drill pilot holes (just like before, just one screw on each end) and screw that in. Do the same on the second long side and then the same on the back. 

The structure is mostly stable at this point.

Partial Structure

Now, for the third level, I did not screw in one long side and the back piece. Depending on how you cut the boards, you can slide this piece in and out, creating a "window" that can be opened or closed for ventilation (see the last picture below). Or, you can continue with the pilot holes and screwing in the wainscoting. For the fourth board on each side, I screwed those boards in.

At this point, I got a large piece of kraft paper and made a pattern of the top, paying special care to keep the back of the table as accurate as I could. Then I traced that pattern onto a piece of 1" thick plywood that I had in the garage. 

Next, I placed the plywood on the structure and squared it up, drilled a pilot hole through the plywood and into the poplar pole in each corner, screwed it in, countersinking the screw. (If you're not a woodworker, that just means getting the screw's head part way down so it's not raised above the plywood.)

After that, I cut two more long sides and one back side. I slid each one into place, then took a pencil and drew a line to see where to cut. I wanted the plywood dropped down into the sides of the table rather than on top. After that was cut, again with the pilot holes and screwing those planks in.

Sand it until it's nice and smooth, fill in any gaps with a stainable wood putty and then, last up - a couple of coats of stain. And voila! Kennel table!

Scout seems quite happy with it. It cost about $60 - half of that wood and half of that the new kennel itself. The table is stained to match our decor and the wainscoting is a nice match to our style as well. (The pictures don't show it well - bad lighting, but the colour of the stain matches that bit of wood on the wall to the left - it's just got some more gloss on it than the wall and reflected light enough to make it look white instead of stained.)

kennel table
kennel table

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:46 PM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 1, 2011

Clearing Out

The packing is going well. My happy hobby desk that I built a few years ago is now gone to a new home:

hobby desk

hobby desk

Like most of my stuff, it was hard to let go of it. I put a lot of time and effort into building it, but I just don't know if I'll have the space for it out in New Mexico. So, it's gone to a friend locally who will put it to good use and appreciate it. That's all I can ask for.

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:48 PM | Blog | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 5, 2011

610

Well, because I get going on something and can't really let go of it, I decided to see if all of my Fisher Price Little People would fit onto my big-ass drawing table. There are a handful of peoples still downstairs in the basement - like the orange scuba-diver dude and the ones I customized into Leia, Han, Luke, Ben, Chewie and Vader. And the ones I made into the Village People who stand in front of the Firehouse from the old Village playset. And probably a few strays I'd forgotten to bring up with the others.

Anyhow, click through for a larger image....

610 Fisher Price Little People

Posted by Red Monkey at 11:01 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 28, 2010

A Little Overboard

I get these wild hairs from time to time. Something just strikes my fancy, and on a whim, I have suddenly committed myself to a huge project. Last year, it was making a Sculpey piece for everyone in our department. This year it was another Sculpey project ... but a little bit different.

I watched a few friends on Twitter conversing with someone who sounded intriguing. So I followed her. She was having a rough year. Her body was attacking several organs and things were looking serious. After several surgeries and more tests than you could shake a stick at, she finally had a diagnosis of Lupus, something I've rather feared for most of my life. (I've been tested for it from time to time and had doctors bandy the word around since I was in high school.) Through it all, her kids seemed so sweet and loving.

So one day, she's tweeting about the kids playing their made up game of Plants Vs. Zombies in the backyard and she's just basking in their imagination, ingenuity and sense of fun. I mean, Plants Vs. Zombies is an iPhone game. Kind of a strategy game somewhere between board game and video game. And they are making up their own version to play in the backyard. Later on, she tweets that her two kids had asked Santa for Plants Vs. Zombies toys. I'm sure that PopCap is planning on making some at some point, given how wildly popular the game is ... but as of mid October when she tweeted that, there was nothing.

This sounded like an excellent Sculpey project to me. Two sweet kids. Imaginative. Hard year. Yep, just the kind of project I like.

I looked around the web for some screen shots, since I'd never played the game. Found out what their favourite characters were ... and went to work.

And ... umm ... I went a little bit overboard.

I kinda built them a board game version (they'll have to make up their own rules, though).

The full project isn't quite done - I'm waiting to get something back from the printer, but you'll get the general idea from these pictures:

An overview of the whole - the box is just a mockup, printed in tiles (that's the piece I'm waiting to get back from the printer):

Picture of sculpted characters from Plants vs Zombies

And then there are the watermelon-catapult things - these are apparently the kids' favourite plants:

Picture of sculpted watermelon catapults from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's an angry "Wallnut" and a pair of zombies that are only loosely based on the game. As much as I love working in Sculpey the stuff is amazingly soft once you start working with it. Which means every time you touch it the slightest bit, you affect the sculpture. And if I've mixed colours to get a specific hue, I can guarantee the stuff is so soft, I'll never be able to get my finger prints off of it completely:

Picture of sculpted Wallnut and Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then a couple more zombies which are more directly based on the game:

Picture of sculpted Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the peashooters:

Picture of sculpted pea shooter from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the snowpea shooter and a trio of mushrooms:

Picture of sculpted snowpea and mushrooms from Plants vs Zombies

And finally, a quartet of sunflowers to round everything off:

Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies
Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies

And because I can't leave well enough alone, I ordered some custom cut foam and built a box for the whole thing. Sculpey is fairly sturdy if you don't drop it on a hard surface, but why not stress that this is a little fragile?

Picture of the custom box interior with pieces

And then a final image - this will wrap the box lid and make it look like a board game:

Game box lid

I should say a few things:
One, I respect copyright. This is a one-off art piece made specifically for these kids and I made it clear on the box that Plants Vs. Zombies is PopCap's baby.
Two, I won't make another one.
Three, I've accepted no money for it. I did this on a whim for some kids who needed an extra-bright spot in their lives this holiday season. That's it.

Posted by Red Monkey at 12:25 PM | Design | Sketches | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

March 9, 2010

My First Munny

So, there are these things called Munnys which are just vinyl "shapes" that you can buy and decorate yourself. Or, if you're more into collecting than doing it yourself, you can collect various artists' renditions of Munnys. (Or Dunnys or any of the other critters they make.)

There's a huge Flickr group of customized Munnys if you want to click through. But here is a regular white Munny ready for customizing:

Munny at Kid Robot

So I decided it was time to try my first foray into the fine art of Munny-making. My first one is quite simple, but something that was quite meaningful to me. I still have a larger white one to decorate as well as a large glow-in-the-dark one. I'll get more creative with those, I'm sure. I'd like to do some sculpting on one of them, at the very least.

This one is based on a Sunface Kachina doll. We lived in Albuquerque for all of three months when I was three years old, but I was fascinated by the culture then and remain so. The face is a typical Sunface - eagle feathers bordering and the red and yellow quarters. The face is sometimes white, sometimes turquoise. On this Munny, the eagle feathers are white leather. A leather loincloth and belt have also been glued on. I've contemplated doing a kind of "sandpainting" design on the back of the head ... that seems to be a Munny tradition of sorts to do an elaborate paint job on the head ... but in the end, I think I prefer the simplicity of this design as it is. Maybe I'll do another Pueblo/Hopi/Navajo-area-inspired design later on.

Sun Kachina Munny

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:15 AM | Design | Sketches | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 15, 2009

Fisher Price Pueblo

I've been fascinated by the southwestern "style" ever since I can remember. And, of course, I've also been fascinated (some might say obsessed, actually) with the old style Fisher Price Little People. So for years when looking at the Little People Village, I thought, I have GOT to make a pueblo village out of one of those.

This is a bit photo-intensive, so I'm only including one photo here on the main page ... if you're interested in seeing more photos and how I made the thing, please click the read more link.

Here's a couple of shots of what I started out with:

Building a pueblo out of that was going to take some serious remodeling. I started out with a village that had been played with pretty hard ... the firehouse and the second story roofs were cracked, doors were missing and this was generally a piece that had seen hard times. So, I got out my trusty Dremel and begin sawing/melting off the pieces that I didn't need.

This section of the village had once been the fire station. I took the garage door off, and completely took the roof off as well. Then, I used sheets of polystyrene plastic to re-create the front wall and the roof to that room. I also used Dremeled off the slanty roof on the second story and cut a notch out of one ceiling/floor to accommodate a ladder (which, of course, I couldn't find when I was snapping photos). The graphics you see on the inside of the rooms of this home were all original graphics I did in Photoshop and Fireworks. I tried to keep to the simple style used in other Fisher Price toys and was pretty pleased with the overall effect.

View from the front of this building:

Every kid I knew who had this village set absolutely adored the nifty bridge that came with it, so I was determined to fit this into the theme. Naturally, it became a rock formation that bridges the home section of the playset to the "shopping district." Here you can see a little girl crossing over to the restaurant. Through the arch you can see the jeep/truck thing I attempted to make. About the only thing that I still like on that particular part of this project is that the headlights were made out of glow-in-the-dark Sculpey.

Now, the second half of the project was particularly fun and time consuming. Here, I added the logs sticking out of the "roof" and again I had to level out the roof of the second floor. You'll also note that the stores are Leslie's Diner ... Marmon Trading Post ... Silko Filling Station. This is after one of my favourite authors, Leslie Marmon Silko.

Here's a long shot from the back side ... look in the garage ... that car was completely sculpted from scratch in Sculpey. Click the picture to get a bigger version ... I was rather proud of that car ... turned out much better than the jeep thing.

The inside of the trading post ... here you can see the backside of the little people I sculpted with a native blanket wrapped around him.

And finally, the inside of the diner:

I sculpted all of the people as well ... trying to replicate the older wooden little people that I'd had as a kid, but still using Sculpey to create them. I also wanted a slightly darker tone than the pink wash that was usually used over the light coloured wood on the little people ... mixed results there. Their tone is definitely darker, but not quite what I had hoped for. The faces are drawn on with a fine point Sharpie marker.

I used Celluclay to create the adobe effect ... it's essentially a craft papier-mache product ... with mixed results. In many places it simply pulled away from the plastic as it dried ... worse, in several places it actually cracked. I've gone back with superglue and tried to re-attach the Celluclay where I can ... but I've also found that as this project has "cured" over the last two years or so, it's cracked more and new spots have begun pulling away. I fear I'll probably need to repair it periodically.

Also, I printed the graphics on a inkjet sticker pages ... unfortunately, those stickers don't stick to textured spraypaint very well! Again, I've gone back with Superglue and tried to tack down those stickers.

I used two colours of fleck paint to create the sandstone and the red sandstone looks of the two buildings. It took an entire can of each colour to completely overrun the original yellow and red buildings!

One last shot of the project:

The little boy (over to the far right, inside the house) turned out to be one of my favourite parts of this project. He, Leslie (the woman inside the diner) and the man wearing the draped blanket all turned out pretty well.

One of these days, I'm going to sell this one off and build myself another one ... I learned so much doing this one ... I can already think of several improvements I'd like to make on it.

Thanks for sticking around for all the pictures and geeky descriptions!

Posted by Red Monkey at 7:27 PM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

May 7, 2009

Ba Dum Dum Cha

I can recall overhearing my mother give her mother two edicts regarding me - no basketball hoop to put up over our garage (and yet, Grandma bought me a basketball hoop one summer for being good - and it languished in their garage because Mom wouldn't let me take it home & Grandpa wouldn't put it up at their house either) - and no drums.

Of course, Grandma bought me a kiddie drum when I was 6 or so. I ignored every other present and instantly ripped it out of the box and began beating away. I would disappear into my room - or our converted garage playroom - and wail away to my heart's content. As I left elementary school, we were given the opportunity to join the junior high band and the director came to school to give us some aptitude tests. I wanted to either play drums or saxophone. Can you guess how that went?

Finally in high school, I bought a used snare drum and would turn my stereo up ridiculously high and play along when no one else was home. Eventually, frustrated by the lack of a complete set, I sold it off. Since then, it's been an endless stream of table drumming, lap slapping and the odd hand drum here and there. I bought Wii Music because it had a drum kit in it and I thought that would be a cheap way to explore having a whole kit. Nope. Couldn't stand the way it worked. (Anyone wanna buy it?)

Next, I thought I'd try Wii Rock Band Special Edition. This at least came with a kit of four drum pads and a pedal for the bass.

Meh. I really don't like the way the kit sounds. Any of their programmed kits. (Anyone wanna ... oh hell, I need to box it up for eBay, don't I?)

The next thing I discovered in the last week or so is the cajon. Now this is a freaking cool box drum. It's all wood and you sit on it to play it. (Seriously, click through the link to a picture and description - and you can choose to watch the video if you're in a place where you can do that. It's pretty freaking awesome.) Our choir director's other half brought her new cajon to choir the other day so I could mess with it. The sounds ... wow. The thing is awesome.

But to get the tones I like the best, you have to strike pretty loudly which means I would never be able to play with it - my other half would shoot me provided her migraines didn't leap out of her skull and kill us both. I toyed with getting the bongo sized cajon, but I don't really like the higher tones, so I figured that was out as well.

Instead, I trolled through Amazon just to see what was out there. And I discovered the drum kit that I really want. Here's a YouTube demo. This sucker is the ultimate in hand drums. And from what I can tell via the YouTube, the deeper tone is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Plus, I could change the sound for different kinds of playing.

Best of all, this can be played much more quietly than the cajon. Don't get me wrong, I still think the cajon is incredible. When I'm filthy rich and build my dream house with the big-ass sound-proof music room, I'll definitely get a cajon to play as well. But for now, I should probably stay more reasonable ... :)

Seriously, anyone interested in buying my Wii Rock Band? I think I played it twice. Guitar, mic - everything except the drum kit is unused .... Hey, I gotta fund the purchase of the next drum somehow!

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:14 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

December 14, 2008

Obsession

I was taking some reference pictures for a project and decided to share just a tiny portion of my Fisher Price Little People obsession.

Fisher Price Little People - two houses and one box in a house and some cars and camper

Yep, there's two of the blue & yellow houses from the late 1960s and the revamped house in brown & blue in a box. (Yes, it's been out of the box and played with.) There's the snowmobile up against the box and in front is the 1960s tow truck and then the small camper/trailer.

Down below, just barely visible on the next shelf down is a corner of Main Street. Above, where you can't see, is the old Village - a downtown type area done in two buildings, joined with a bridge.

I have a whole town set up ... the upper shelf is the outskirts of town with a couple of farms, the A-Frame vacation house, a couple of different campers (one on the back of a HUGE pickup truck, the other hooked to the back of an SUV), a little gas station/quickie mart, the Western Town (which I treat as a little dude ranch on the outskirts of town) and the Lift N Load Depot. The next shelf down is the old part of town ... the old Village "main street," a children's hospital, a couple of the large schoolbuses (there were a couple versions made), the dump truck loader place, the old schoolhouse ... ack, I've forgotten what's to the right of the schoolhouse all of a sudden. I think the little drive-in theatre and the little gas station probably.

The next shelf down has the old blue houses you see here, then the Sesame Street building and then the Sesame Street clubhouse ... the old parking garage and old airport.

The next shelf down we get into the newer part of town. The Main Street, the "Neighborhood" (one house that looks like two - joined by a treehouse). There's a newer parking garage, the newer airport, the zoo ... the "marina" where I have the houseboat, the marina, the ferryboat, a fishing boat ...

And then across the way, on another set of shelves are some of the older toys. The parts of the Amusement park that I have, a Ferris Wheel or two, the two circus sets, various rides (there's even a merry-go-round that plays the Fisher Price plastic records).

Yeah ... I get a bit carried away. One day I'd like to have a place big enough that I can build the Fisher Price town that I have set up in my head ... rather like a model train set up. I have plans for lighting and even for making the little cars move around the town.

One day ... one day ....

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:23 PM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

February 21, 2008

Steampunk Nerf

First, let me kind of react to some of the comments about the Nerf Sniper Rifle post. My issue is not with the toy's existence, it's with calling it a "toy." I don't want to legislate crap like that. I am for involved parenting.

All of that said, and as fun as most of the Nerf guns are for ALL ages, I still don't think a sniper rifle that shoots foam darts is truly a toy. Do some mods on it like the good folks out at Nerfhaven.com and get better accuracy and firepower out of it and go play a nice game of "foam-paintball." Now, if my 10 year old wants it ... I doubt it. Not without a buttload of rules like, "never point it at a person or animal." Not because it's as physically dangerous as a BB gun, which kids have been playing with and surviving without shooting up their schools for decades, but because I believe in involved parenting, as several of my commenters on the previous post stated. Involved parent who lets their kid play with a Nerf sniper rifle under rules and such ... okay. I'm just saying how many parents are NOT thinking and just buying Nerf?

Anyhow. Enough said.

For a complete change of topic, I bring you to the realm of Steampunk. What is Steampunk, you ask? From Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used--usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England--but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

Think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Or Steamboy.

Need a visual? Try the Datamancer. Or this iPod gelaskin from GelaSkins.com.

Now, enter my goofball self.

As I was running some preliminary research on the Nerf sniper rifle, I discovered Nerfers and Nerf Wars ... well, really that was a re-discovery. I already knew about the sport/hobby, but hadn't really gotten into it. But then I found Chris (from the weekly geek show) and his Steampunk Nerf Maverick gun. Oh my. I haven't done a good modding project in quite some time. Most of my equipment is in the basement, including my big-ass box of Citadel paints that I got and then never opened. (I know, I know.)

So, of course ... I HAD to! Click the images to see the larger size version. (Oh, and the blue "lights" on the gun look better in person, more glow-y and less paint-y)

 

 

 

Fun times!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:19 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

November 20, 2007

Holiday Happiness

Just some silly fun. First person to leave a comment correctly identifying ALL of the quotes (movie and the character speaking) will get a sketch from me. Remember you have to identify all 15 (and there are not 15 different movies here). Quotes which are divided on two lines are spoken by two people (that's number 2, 10, 13 and 14).

EDIT: IMPORTANT
It just occurred to me that the Captcha is going to be annoying for this. Dammit.
Here's how to beat the Captcha's timer (which, apparently I can't set to a different time).
Write your answers in a simple Text Edit program or Notepad. When you are completely done and ready to post ... then hit the comments link ... copy and paste your answers ... fill out the Captcha. Just don't hit the comments link earlier or the captcha image will "time out" without telling you.
If you did hit the link too early, just hit reload and it should give you a fresh captcha.
If it whines that the captcha is wrong, and you've done the answers in a text editor, it's no biggee to recopy.
Sorry ... but it's worth me not having to delete 300+ spamments a day :(

Name the movie and the person/people speaking ...

1) Is my shirt too big, or is that my flesh crawling?

2) How'd you like Grants Tomb?
It's lovely. I'm having a copy made for you.

3) You're just a bee-charmer, Idgie Threadgood, that's what you are. A bee-charmer.

4) Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.

5) When I was your age, television was called books.

6) Look, I can see you getting all bunged up for them making you wear these kind of clothes. But face it, you're a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.

7) We are men of action, lies do not become us.

8) So, what's an old-timer like you want with a two-timer like me?

9) This is your badness level. It's unusually high for someone your size. We have to fix that.

10) Oh, it's all right, Joe. It's all right. It's my dog. And, uh, my wife.
Well you might have mentioned me first on the billing.

11) I'm not even supposed to be here today!

12) I don't have it. Screws fall out all the time, the world's an imperfect place.

13) Say listen, is he working on a case?
Yes, he is.
What case?
A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him.

14) What's the idea of the kid?
Well, we have a dog, and he was lonesome. That was the idea, wasn't it, Mummy?

15) For once, I'm stuck without a punchline.

Posted by Red Monkey at 3:18 AM | Blog | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

September 2, 2006

ACTION!

Sometime in the early 90s, I was corrupted. Wait ... it's not what you're thinking. Umm, let me explain. Sometime in the early 90s, I was corrupted by comics.

Despite being a devout geek, I had managed to stay away from comic books for the most part. I mean, sure, there was the Dematteis/Muth Moonshadow 12 issue mini-series. Fascinating story! And the artwork was just amazing. So, after I was introduced to those, I managed to pick up the series whilst at the Dallas Fantasy Fair ... along with several issues of Scamp, a comic I had read a bit as a kid. (Lady and the Tramp's little scamp of a son, of course.)

I then proceeded to continue avoiding comics. I don't know why, really. I'd learned from Moonshadow that comics could have utterly beautiful artwork and very complex stories.

At any rate, my friend Miccah introduced me to Lone Star Comics by dint of their annual warehouse sale. They gave you either a paper bag or a beat-up, old, once-white-now-mottled-grey longbox and you bought your comics by the pound. This was all their old stuff that wasn't moving. Back issues that hadn't sold and weren't, by Overstreet's standards, at any rate, worth much of anything.

I went a wee bit overboard. I grabbed anything and everything that looked interesting. Barefootz. Geriatric Gerbil Something-or-anothers. A ton of Teen Titans issues ... because I adore Robin/Nightwing/Dick Grayson. (Oh great. I said "Dick Grayson" and I said teen on the same post. I'm gonna get some crazy search engine hits for this one. emoticons/mad.gif )

I was hooked. I started reading Batman comics. Then some of the ancillary lines. Nightwing got his own comic. So did Robin. Birds of Prey ... Gotham Central ... and, of course, anything series I could find by J.M. DeMatteis ... Brooklyn Dreams ... Abadazad ... the most beloved and faaaar too short-lived Seekers into the Mystery.

So, when a co-worker gave me the following link to a bit of comic book history, I was ecstatic. One of the original comics ... one of the most beloved characters ... a piece of U.S. history:

Action Comics Number One

Enjoy!

Posted by Red Monkey at 6:42 AM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 8, 2006

Adobe Pueblo

I've been fascinated by the southwestern "style" ever since I can remember. And, of course, I've also been fascinated (some might say obsessed, actually) with the old style Fisher Price Little People. So for years when looking at the Little People Village, I thought, I have GOT to make a pueblo village out of one of those.

Like the previous post, this is a bit photo-intensive, so I'm only including one photo here on the main page ... if you're interested in seeing more photos and how I made the thing, please click the read more link.

Here's a couple of shots of what I started out with:

Building a pueblo out of that was going to take some serious remodeling. I started out with a village that had been played with pretty hard ... the firehouse and the second story roofs were cracked, doors were missing and this was generally a piece that had seen hard times. So, I got out my trusty Dremel and begin sawing/melting off the pieces that I didn't need.

This section of the village had once been the fire station. I took the garage door off, and completely took the roof off as well. Then, I used sheets of polystyrene plastic to re-create the front wall and the roof to that room. I also used Dremeled off the slanty roof on the second story and cut a notch out of one ceiling/floor to accommodate a ladder (which, of course, I couldn't find when I was snapping photos). The graphics you see on the inside of the rooms of this home were all original graphics I did in Photoshop and Fireworks. I tried to keep to the simple style used in other Fisher Price toys and was pretty pleased with the overall effect.

View from the front of this building:

Every kid I knew who had this village set absolutely adored the nifty bridge that came with it, so I was determined to fit this into the theme. Naturally, it became a rock formation that bridges the home section of the playset to the "shopping district." Here you can see a little girl crossing over to the restaurant. Through the arch you can see the jeep/truck thing I attempted to make. About the only thing that I still like on that particular part of this project is that the headlights were made out of glow-in-the-dark Sculpey.

Now, the second half of the project was particularly fun and time consuming. Here, I added the logs sticking out of the "roof" and again I had to level out the roof of the second floor. You'll also note that the stores are Leslie's Diner ... Marmon Trading Post ... Silko Filling Station. This is after one of my favourite authors, Leslie Marmon Silko.

Here's a long shot from the back side ... look in the garage ... that car was completely sculpted from scratch in Sculpey. Click the picture to get a bigger version ... I was rather proud of that car ... turned out much better than the jeep thing.

The inside of the trading post ... here you can see the backside of the little people I sculpted with a native blanket wrapped around him.

And finally, the inside of the diner:

I sculpted all of the people as well ... trying to replicate the older wooden little people that I'd had as a kid, but still using Sculpey to create them. I also wanted a slightly darker tone than the pink wash that was usually used over the light coloured wood on the little people ... mixed results there. Their tone is definitely darker, but not quite what I had hoped for. The faces are drawn on with a fine point Sharpie marker.

I used Celluclay to create the adobe effect ... it's essentially a craft papier-mache product ... with mixed results. In many places it simply pulled away from the plastic as it dried ... worse, in several places it actually cracked. I've gone back with superglue and tried to re-attach the Celluclay where I can ... but I've also found that as this project has "cured" over the last two years or so, it's cracked more and new spots have begun pulling away. I fear I'll probably need to repair it periodically.

Also, I printed the graphics on a inkjet sticker pages ... unfortunately, those stickers don't stick to textured spraypaint very well! Again, I've gone back with Superglue and tried to tack down those stickers.

I used two colours of fleck paint to create the sandstone and the red sandstone looks of the two buildings. It took an entire can of each colour to completely overrun the original yellow and red buildings!

One last shot of the project:

The little boy (over to the far right, inside the house) turned out to be one of my favourite parts of this project. He, Leslie (the woman inside the diner) and the man wearing the draped blanket all turned out pretty well.

One of these days, I'm going to sell this one off and build myself another one ... I learned so much doing this one ... I can already think of several improvements I'd like to make on it.

Thanks for sticking around for all the pictures and geeky descriptions!

Posted by Red Monkey at 4:28 PM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble

January 7, 2006

Hobbies

So ... for the past several weeks, I've had a big project going. Here's a quick shot ... since this is a photo-intensive post, I'm just posting one here on the main page ... for more (including more dog pictures) ... click on the Read More link.

At any rate, I enjoy a lot of various creative hobby activities. I like customizing action figures ... like this version of Dick Grayson from the Batman: Animated Series. (The reference picture is about half-way down ... the one where the young boy is holding up a photograph.)Click to see.

Besides cutting up action figures and using Sculpey and my Dremel to re-mold them, I also like simply sculpting in Sculpey, doing leather work, some carving ... and so on.

Obviously, this takes a lot of room. Hence, after getting a handyman magazine and seeing a cool hobby desk that folds up onto the wall, I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's not quite done, but is certainly to the point where it can be used and shown off now.

And now for more pictures! :D

Now it gets really geeky.
So the desk is mounted to the concrete block wall ... which was a real hassle. The hammer drill knocked out the first three holes quite easily. But then it seemed to take forever to make work. This would be because the concrete blocks along the top row are nearly twice as thick as the lower levels ... which meant that the lag bolts I'd gotten to attach this to the wall weren't going to work.

Ultimately I decided to simply use the three lower lagbolts and shove the upper ones in, even though they wouldn't attach in the thicker blocks. To balance that out, I went ahead and installed a bit of 2x4 leg on each side of the desk.

Other than that, I didn't run into too many problems building it. I still need to sand it down again, stain and varnish it as well as finish the shelves and the final leg to the fold-down desk.

Was an interesting project, but the magazine's instructions were not the world's best. I had to correct many of the steps to get things to work out right.

And of course, pictures of the one time the dogs are allowed up on the desk!!

Posted by Red Monkey at 9:51 PM | hobbies | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble