Laptops, Fantasies, and Rice Cookers??

I have been fantasizing about my first-year experience lately. Some of my friends are already making shopping trips to IKEA and Canadian Tire for the basic necessities needed their rooms and for just general survival. One of my best friends is even taking the extremes and sneaking a rice cooker into her room! Me? You ask? I won’t be needing to make those trips to IKEA and whatever and sneaking rice cookers anywhere (where do you even buy a rice cooker??). I will have to make a stop at a mall of some description to purchase new clothes because when you go to a private school for most of your life, the school uniform takes a prominent spot in the closet. Nevertheless, the only important purchases that need to be made for my “room” will be my TTC Student Pass and my new LAPTOP! To make things more clear, I am going into first-year Graphic Design at OCAD University so that basically explains why I’m not making those trips like my friends. However, the trip to get my new LAPTOP may just be the most important one of all!

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Let me explain.

I have a soft-spot for good working Apple Products. For those with PCs, you may turn your nose into the air and think whatever you like. Apple is just pure awesome! So, you could understand my constant nagging about my new laptop, considering my current 6-year-old MacBook is about to die. This lead to my sisters rolling their eyes and hoping I would just shut up about my new computer. I would give my dad a sorrowful look like my puppy died and he would just roll his eyes. No matter what, getting my new computer was a slow slow process.

Luckily, though, I have determined which kind of computer I would like in my possession. It is the new Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is light like the MacBook Air and as resolution screen of 2880 x 1800 pixels, which is a pretty damn good screen. I, in early June, went to OCAD for a workshop to help me register my courses and there was a booth available to ask questions about computers. I spent about most of my time discussing with a worker in the OCAD store about which computer I should buy. He, inevitably, said this new MacBook Pro would be the best choice for a Graphic Design student as myself.

So, when I finally convinced my dad to drive me to OCAD to get my computer, I found out that the exact type of computer I wanted to purchase was all gone. OUT OF STOCK! My worst fear came true! More waiting!

Now that my new laptop is on order and I expect it to arrive in the next week or 2, I definitely feel that the wait will be so worth it. I now feel like my friend with the rice cooker simply because I need this for my room next year.

My LAPTOP is her RICE COOKER.

laptop

rice cooker

Toothpick Tree

I really should have written this post a while ago about another project I completed for my university portfolio interview. Before I even began making anything, I thought long and hard about what I could create that would help me stand out. I had wanted to pay tribute to the environment, particularly useless products made from trees, but didn’t how to visually. Finally, I decided to make a tree using nothing but toothpicks an glue.

Excitedly I trotted to the store and got about two packs of 250 toothpicks and some white glue . I had only happy thoughts about this project.

Expectation: This is going to be a piece of cake! No Problem!

Reality: … … MOST TIME-CONSUMING PROJECT EVER!!!!

While completing the tree, I realized that the process was rather tedious, almost unbearable! Honestly, it was such a time-consuming task. The constant routine of taking a toothpick, putting glue on it, and holding it in place was really took its toll on my patience. If you ask anyone who was around me while I was working would agree that I became a little bit irritable. “WHY ME??!! WHY DID I EVER DECIDE TO F***ING DO THIS??!!”

Luckily, I placed the final piece of toothpick and declared that my tree was finished! (I think I heard the Hallelujah chorus and a light shine upon me). In all seriousness, I was glad the hard work was done.

After completing my toothpick tree, I met up with my art teacher and asked for help with photographing my pieces for my portfolio interview. I brought in my artwork and photographed them. Here is the photo of my tree I took:

When it came time for my interviews, the professors who interviewed me were quite impressed with my work, and definitely became intrigued in my toothpick tree, saying it was one of my strongest pieces.

Overall, the project was a success! Although I felt frustrated and irritated during the process, I do feel now that it was worth the agony. If you are going to attempt a project like this, don’t quit! Believe me, seeing the end result is amazing.

My tree is now sitting on top a coat closet underneath a window. It has a constant spotlight because it is just that awesome!

DIY Clay Critter (Duck)

Here is a great craft you can complete anytime you are feeling bored and eager to be creative. I am going to be making a duck, but any type of animal is applicable (if for some reason you really don’t like ducks…) As well, I will be using Super Sculpey clay, which I recommend because it works really well for crafts like this.

GETTING STARTED

Preheat your oven to around 275 °F. Condition all the clay you plan on using by kneading until it is soft and smooth or, if you have one, running it through a Clay Conditioning Machine (I used it in my tech class this year and now I really want one. It works really well!)

STEP 1

Grab some aluminum foil and roll the strip into a ball 1 1/2″ in diameter, for the duck’s body. Roll another ball of foil into a smaller ball about 1″ in diameter, for the duck’s head. Afterwards, grab a toothpick and stick the balls on top of each other.

STEP 2

Take some of that Super Sculpey clay and start covering the aluminum foil balls. You don’t need a lot of clay but make sure you have enough so no aluminum is showing anywhere.

STEP 3

Now it is time to add some features to our duck. Make a small ball of clay and flatten it. Cut it in half and place one half near the centre of the head for the top part of the duck’s beak.

Then place the other half below for the lower part.

Next we will make the wings of the duck. For this you with need to make two disks in an oval shape (keeping it real simple so nothing fancy) and place them on opposite sides of the duck’s body.

Now, the tricky part, the duck’s feet. For this you will need to make two small diamonds (or little kites, which ever helps visually) out of clay. Then start to pinch three of the points so they look more like webbed feet. After you have this shape, place both of the pieces underneath the body so they are sticking out.

Finally, make two really small circles for the eyes.

eyes on the duck

STEP 4

Place the duck in an oven-proof glass surface and stick that duck in the oven to bake! Leave it in there for about 15-20 minutes. Once it is done, let it cool.

STEP 5

Now it is time to paint! This is my favourite part of this craft because the clay critter is brought to life (plus it looks super cute when it is done!)

I use acrylic paint for the soul purpose that it works on any surface (and it is the only type of paint I like to use anyway). Use whatever colours you like so your duck critter is unique and cute enough for you!

STEP 6

Admire your cute clay critter! 🙂

It really is that simple to make!

DIY Night Time Photography

I do really like the nighttime, both in the city and also at my cottage. From living in the constant movement to going occasionally to a more remote and peaceful area, it is a fortunate escape into a different environment. Apart from the mosquitos constantly attacking any bare skin on my body, watching the sun set beside a campfire is the perfect activity during summer. For very special occasions, there are usually fireworks or sparklers lighting up the blackened skies after the sun’s light has gone. The only problem is… How do you capture this moment?

Trying to take pictures of fireworks can really be a frustrating experience. By not knowing which settings to use, you can end up with a lot of pictures of blurry lights. I don’t think anyone wants blurry fireworks or sparklers in their photo libraries right? Here are some tips on how to take stunning shots of fireworks and sparklers so you can truly capture the moment:

1. Invest in a tripod that is a decent make and a sturdy model (this will make a big difference). Absolute stillness is required for the slower shutter speeds you’ll need in these conditions.

2. NO FLASH! Just switch it off! Believe me, I left the flash on and the shot I took looked like light crap. Switching to the manual settings on your camera will cover this and give you more control.

3. CHARGE YOUR CAMERA PRIOR TO SHOOTING! The long exposures can drain your camera’s battery more quickly so charge it up.

4. Lower your ISO speed. This will prevent your images from getting somewhat grainy. You can also turn on your camera’s Noise Reduction setting, if you have one.

5. Turn on your camera’s fireworks setting. Many of the recent camera models have a scene mode specifically for shooting fireworks.

6. Use long shutter speeds around 2-3 seconds or even longer. This is the most important camera setting you need to worry about. With a fast shutter speed, your camera will not be able to pick up the illuminated paths of light the fireworks make in the sky. So give your camera a chance to record those streaks with a longer shutter speed. I recommend experimenting different durations to see what you prefer and what ultimately looks the best.

7. Take lots of pictures! You can always delete the duds later.

Remember, taking photographs with your camera is a fun activity and a great opportunity to experiment new settings and features. Have fun!