Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Table Upgrading

My latest project is something that I have wanted to do for a while. It however has been on the backburner due to other things in life distracting me and the wonderful british weather!

I had an old table that my Dad has passed on to me, nothing special, just a wooden foldaway table. It was painted blue, with the woodgrain showing through, but it was worn and needed a little maintenance. But it was functional so for a few years is just remained in the living room as a useful table for unfolding and resting a laptop on or a dinner.

A couple of house moves later we finally had a small back garden again, and it was a nice space in which we could work, it was also easily accessible, unlike a few of our old houses. So on the week of moving in I decided that the old fold away table needed a lick of paint. We had some red spray paint left over from another project so I sprayed, let it dry and then that was it. I didn't varnish it and I didn't get to cover all of it, so it was a this weird combo of red and faded blue. It was also sticky as I hadn't put a varnish finish over the acrylic spray paint.

So it got stuck in the corner and used as a mini dumping ground/charging station for my many handheld games.

Then when the weather started getting better earlier this year, and I had a new job that didn't leave me getting home until 9pm, I decided that it was about time to finish the table properly. So it got dismantled and I began the slow process of sanding and tidying it all up. (All done by hand as I don't own an electric tool to help...this resulted in a sore arm for a week.)

Then the weather changed...as it does here, and it rained a lot, every weekend I had free to work on it, it was raining, and I didn't fancy accidently spray painting the carpet blue in our rented house....

However as soon as the sun showed up again I sprayed all the dismantled parts of the table. After giving it one more fine sand and wipe down with a damp cloth. The spray painting was done in layers, I was not that fussed about keeping the wood grain as it was all patchy in places and I had already coated the top in red spray paint. So I would spend one weekend spraying it all, and then letting it dry. It then processed to rain again during my free time so it was a few weeks until I got back to it again.

Then I gave it another sand and wipe down for the next sprayed on layer. Now the one thing that I learned from this was the mistake of putting down all the leg pieces on paper to dry after spraying them with acrylic paint. They stuck to the paper, so I then had to remove that, sand away the paper that had embedded in the paint, and then spray again.

Using an old broken garden tool to use as a base for painting!

However taking the time to prep, sand, spray, dry and then add the varnish layer has resulted in a very nice smooth finish. I then put it back together, having to rig a replacement washer for one of the leg joints as it went missing (despite best efforts), thank goodness for random collection of materials and tools in my tool box!

Anyway this little table has ended up with a long story, and then to top it off the top didn't quite end up right, I had run out of varnish and there were areas of it that were still sticky. I did not want to put a sketchbook on that!

You can just about see the patches where the varnish missed.

So some Fablon to the rescue! I had a roll of this really pretty white with forget me not style flower pattern in the same blue that I sprayed it. (A happy coincidence I might add.)

New top, that is also wipe clean, handy for split tea. :)

After all that I added on this new table top and now it has become a nice little piece of furniture that I feel a lot better about. As thanks to all the moving I've done and tight budget I've had for years most of my furniture is flat pack from Argos/IKEA, hand me downs from family or sale items. I mean I still have a flat pack Argos desk from 2004, I'm still not sure how it's survived, although after a slightly bumpy journey in a removal van it does not have a new Fablon covered top too.

I do now want to update and modify the rest of the random pieces of furniture I have, as this little table didn't take that many hours in total to complete. It however is expensive still do to, as in total this table used up 2 sanding blocks, 2 cans of paint and 1 can of varnish. Which doesn't sound much, but it's a dent in a small budget. However it is such a vast improvement on the table as it was, and it is now being used regularly, mainly for Bullet Journal updating as it fits neatly next to my little blue arm chair in the living room.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Its the little things in life...

Since the last post back in May much has changed! I have moved house and am now living back in England, and for the first time in my life I have a house that is partners and mine. No flatmates, no family, no random tenants, just us. (Not that all flatmates and family have been bad to live with mind you, but I think I am now at a time in my life where the freedom and privacy of my own home is needed.) It's also a surprising home as we are now living in a much cheaper area of the country we have a whole 2up 2down house to ourselves. Which means also for the first time a study that is separate to the bedroom and a craft room that is separate to the living room! :) We have a teeny tiny kitchen to make up for it though. :P But I love my new house and can't get enough of the organised space and the 'just the right size' garden right now. :)

It does also mean that for the first time I have been able to properly display my Dreamstone collection:
Mostly Dreamstone, it seemed only fitting that NiGHTS went there too. :)
Now those that know me know that The Dreamstone has been an important influence in my life for many years, and most of the collection has been built up thanks to the like of eBay, second hand shops and presents from family and friends. The show is a cartoon from the 90's but something about it stuck with me, and even to this day I cannot quite fathom why it did, but I enjoy being a geek about it. (Although I think I maybe the only one left who is this much of a geek about it. Which reminds me I really need to add most of this stuff to the Wiki soon!) :)

Also this month it is the birthday of someone close to me, I have known her for over twenty years and we grew up together. Our lives have led us to live in different cities for most of our friendship, and there are times when we don't seem to catch up for months, once even a couple of years, however each time we meet it is like no time has passed. :) However this birthday, like many for the past several years, I am still a student (I start my post-grad in Sep) so I don't have the funds to get the gifts I would really like to give. But as recent events in her life have led to busy and hectic times I wanted to do something to show I cared. So what better than to make something?

The start, picking out beads and working out the pattern.
The finished necklace.
It's not much and I hope she likes it, we used to make things like this for each other all the time when we were younger. In fact I still have and still wear a necklace similar to this one (but in blue) that she made me so many years ago I don't remember not having it. :)

As small as this is for an important birthday I do think it's the little things that count. Simple signs of affection for a friend, the ability to display something that you love and the ability to have a fresh start in a new city. A fresh start that certainly provides an interesting perspective on things. As it's the little things that add up to big things, good and bad, and after moving yet again I realised how much I have been carrying around with me. (Both physical and metaphysical!) So little by little I have let some things go, and it has been liberating, and little by little I try to concentrate more on what matters to me, and not get distracted by the little things of little consequence anymore.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Customising Storage - Jewellery Box

The one thing I do like doing is finding solutions to storage so things have their place and can be easily accessed when needed. This is obviously a lot easier to do when you can afford shopping trips to places like IKEA and the like. As I can't, and never really have been able to, afford that I have instead enjoyed finding ways to 'hack' existing items to better suit my needs.

This weekend one such 'hack' was my jewellery box, I have already modified it once with some foam sheets and PVA glue to make the inside more padded. As I tend to wear lots of stone jewelry such as Hematite and Cats Eye (mainly as my nickel allergy prevents me from wearing a lot of stuff and I find the shapes and textures of the stones interesting). :) Anyway the box I have is just a plain wooden one that got given to me years ago, and although it sort of works the necklaces and bracelets tend to get tangled as it doesn't have compartments or places to hang things.

So I thought I would fix that...
The right tools: screws, shorting than the thickness of the wood, pencil, pen knife, small screw driver and modelling screwdriver. 
First off the collection of tools! As the box is made of hardwood it's going to take a little more to screw into it than just the screwdriver. (I found this out when I tried a quick fix a while and and tried to stick some corkboard tacks into it.)

Planning the positions...
With the pencil I first marked the rough outline of the sides of the box so as to make sure that the 'pegs' I was creating wouldn't interfere with it closing. Also as a means to ensure that the the 'pegs' were going to be in a straight line.

One down...
After testing with the the first screw I found a good method for doing the rest well. First score the mark where the screw needs to go using the pen knife, and then use the small drill to drill the hole, making sure that the drill doesn't go all the way through. Then attempt to get the screw in as straight as possible.

Spacing...
For the horizontal spacing I used a nail from my tool kit, which also came in handy for removing the sawdust from the drilled hole as well. The most nerve racking bit of this was making sure each time to not drill all the way through.

Sugru to the rescue...
 After adding in all the screws I realised that they did not quite stick out far enough, and they also looked a little garish. This was when I remembered that I had some Sugru left that really needed using up, this would also help elongate the 'pegs' I was making and create a better surface for the jewelry to hang from.

One packet of Sugru later...
One packet created some nice sized 'pegs' and helped cover up the screws. Now all it needs is to be left to dry overnight.
Bracelets all hanging up...
Necklaces all in the box...
The next day I was able to hang most of my bracelets to the new 'pegs'! Although I think that I may use another pack of Sugru to add to the length of each 'peg' and add one or two more near the bottom of the lid to hang my rings from.

Overall this was a fix that was rather organic in it's making rather than a fully planned out endeavour from the start and I am quite happy about how it turned out.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The usefulness and invasiveness of technology...

I discovered a scary and useful feature from +Google yesterday while in London. I was having dinner before heading to the fantastic Zelda Symphony concert. Now I had the concert marked on my Google Calendar, and had just used Google Maps to find the restaurant I was in. 

About an hour before the concert doors were due to open I get a notification on  my phone saying that I would need to leave at 5:42 to get to my destination (the concert) at 6:30. (Obviously this meant I had attached the convert venue to the Calendar post.)

Now I haven't to my knowledge told it to remind me at a certain time to tell me to leave for events, but we left roughly at the time it suggested and then arrived roughly at the time it predicted. (I wish Google had better integration with the public transport links in this country, as I still switched out between the TFL site and Underground Map App to double check where we were going and trying to use it in Wales just doesn't work at all.)

Now my first thought was: if it does and could connect to the local transport links and predict travel time, provide alerts etc then that would be cool, and very Tony Stark and Star Trek like. However the second thought today was the realisation that it knew where I was from the GPS, where I wanted to go, and what I was interested in due to the type of concert. Now I don't use things like FourSquare and such (although it would have been nice to 'Check In' at the concert last night) so it's all a bit new to me. And to be honest I haven't done as much investigating and usage into this type of tech yet.

Part of me is happy as it makes life easier, as long as you do the work of entering all the data in the first place... but part of me is also a little uneasy about the potential privacy risks. It's not that I particularly care about what others see I am doing and where, but I am worried about it being used badly by people with ill intent. (Part of the upbringing I had that included talks by my school and parents to avoid strangers and later on to never use real names online). But I can see how all this tracking can also be useful as a means to help if things go wrong. I instantly think of the check in's and tracking of people that is available to help alleviate worry for relatives an such when large scale events like floods and tornadoes hit.

All in all it's exciting to have this digital assistant sidekick (I keep thinking K-9), but at the same time it's leaving a large breadcrumb trail that I am not entirely sure that I am happy with. (Although that might stem from spending so much of my early years trying to hide my interests from the school bullies or my location from my parents as I snuck off with friends. Which to be honest wasn't even that rebellious if you count board gaming nights around a male friends house when I was supposed to be having a sci-fi watching nights around a female friends house!)

Anyway I don't use all the tech out there to make a fully formed opinion on it all (I'm still using a paper diary to help organise my University life in conjunction with alerts from the digital one), and to be honest even the public displays are curious for me as it feels a little narcissistic in some regards. I would use this type of tech more as a means to help remember doing certain things or to organise my life, and as for broadcasting a check-in it's handy for meeting up with like minded people or making new friends. I already discovered that via hashtags and Twitter and a event I want to last year. But as a recent TED talk reminded me it is like a permanent digital tattoo, all this data, and as much as I don't have an issue to putting thoughts like this down on a blog I'm glad that I grew up in an age where the internet was very young and social media didn't exist. Unlike todays teens where everything they do will always be there if you look hard enough and no-one can escape embarrassment or the foolishness of youth.

Monday, 24 December 2012

My Year in a Nutshell

The year has been a very rough year for me, both personally and with the situations of my family and friends, for the most part I can't wait for it to be over and to start the new one. My brain goes fuzzy just trying to think about what happened this year as it has all rolled into a ball of cancer, births, deaths, MRI's, financial issues, stress, University issues, arthritis, labrynthitis, lost jobs, job rejections, fire doors, travel, needless expenditure on those that don't appreciate it, family arguments and constant concerns for the future. (Note that is not all me obviously, but a mixture of me and those around me.)

I have not blogged as much as I would have liked, partly due to the lack of time and stress from the situations mentioned above. However it has not all been doom and gloom this year, so I write this re-cap of the highlights and the times that have made me the most happy this year. :D

Janurary
Visiting my friend Naomi in Oxford and taking part in the Artist Meet and seeing the wonderful museums there, and afterwards an awesome cocktail party in which I developed a very fruity not sure what it was but to easy to drink cocktail. :)

Museum of Science - Oxford
February
Another visit to Oxford, this time organised by the University, and a chance to spend the day in the Museums again. I can highly recommend visiting as many times as possible as there is always something you missed or new to see.

Museum of Natural History - Oxford
March
Spending time with Lynn and getting to know her new dog Poppy, an adorable creature that has very cat like qualities.
Poppy the Puppy
April
Spending time with Kyle and Hetty during the Easter holidays, a time where the best every Irish Cream and Chocolate mousse was created by Hetty, the huge Steak and Kidney pie was cooked by Kyle and fun was had by all with Lego Pictionary, wine and modelling clay. :D
Mmm chocolate mousse. :P
May
My birthday, a nice quiet day with gorgeous food and fun silly presents, such as a model of Kathryn Janeway and a Sylvanian Tardis. :) (Also finishing the second year project!) An witnessing the Olympic Torch coming through town on a very nice sunny day that was then spent in the park with ice-creams. :)
Mmm ice cream and sunny parks....
June
The Jubilee, I was in London staying with Angie for this, and even though I normally wouldn't have gone to London for this it was a happy accident. A very fun night was had in the centre of the city with a flat full of Australians, lots of Jubilee themed decorations and some dancing in the rain in the small hours of the morning.
Me and Angie (slightly tipsy!)
July
My sister's graduation from Bath University! She misread her results and thought she only got a 2:1, turned out she had a 1st! :) It was a great day to spend with all the family, not something that happens often. I am so proud of her for working so hard for so long and happy to be able to take part in celebrating that.
My sister in her gown with the city of Bath in the background.
August
A quiet holiday before the third year starts, so I got to visit my Mum, step-Dad and brother. A sunny few days where we rescued a hedgehog, went swimming and went to the movies together. Felt just like the summer holidays of my childhood again. :)
Found by the road and taken to the Hedgehog Shelter.
September
Another visit to London to see Angie where we decided to take a stroll down the Thames, visit the Science Museum and chat late into the night. I also enjoyed the Women's in Game Jobs Conference where I got to meet up with Naomi and meet some inspirational people in the industry.
London in the evening.
October
A gaming month, I got to play the new versions of Jet Set Radio and NiGHTS as they were released on the PSN. But more importantly this is the month of GameCity, the best and most wonderful festival of the year! Seeing friends such as Rob and Elsa and getting to meet and hang out with some of the most talented an inspirational people in the industry. The highlight of my year as it was also my first proper holiday away with my partner. :)
Nottingham from the hotel room.
November
This is when I had to say goodbye to Pebbles, my dear cat who was part of the family for sixteen years. :(
On a happier note though I went to an open day in Birmingham to learn more about their MSc course in Game Production, it was all rather positive so it looks like my time in education is not over with yet.
Pebbles from May this year.
December
Making stockings for the younger kids in the family has been a lot of fun. :) Otherwise it's a month that has gone by so quickly, but a time where I am enjoying a nice quiet Christmas and looking forward to seeing close friends for New Years. :)
What started as a plain red stocking I made into a custom dinosaur themed one. :)

So that was the year in a nutshell, only a small fraction of the ups and downs this year, but these are the ups that have made the year worth it. (Aside from Pebbles, but I am grateful to have had the time I did with her as she lived a year longer than the vet expected!) So farewell 2012, you were a busy and stressful year and I haven't even finished my Dissertation yet! :)

Here's to 2013, a new year and new starts, I hope everyone has a good New Years Eve/Day and I look forward to seeing friends and family at some point next year after I have come out of third year university hibernation. :)

Friday, 2 November 2012

The World's Largest Practical Science Lesson

This time last week was GameCity in Nottingham and me and Devilbod went up there and stayed for nine days to cover the eight day long festival celebrating games in all their forms, from digital, to alternate reality, to augmented experiences, to board games and everything else in-between. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet and greet not only people that play games but the people that make them as well.

However there is also a nice side note for me going to Nottingham as it is closer to my Mum, little brother and step-Dad, so this year I got the see them twice as the Festival span two Saturdays. The second of which was quite fun for anther reason.
Image from GameCity7's Flickr Photostream.
It was the World's Largest Practical Science Lesson, which me and my family took part in and in some small way helped break a Guinness World Record. It was a rather fun way to end the week long gaming festival (my blog post about that is over on Dream Development) and as a day out with little brother as we got to make slime and a rocket. :)

It was odd to note that the rocket was made up of an old film canister, the likes that most of the children taking part have probably not seen before. Even though this was a science lesson done using basic materials and chemicals it did strike me how much technology has progressed over such a short space of time.

My visit to the science museum in September also highlighted this, as me and my friend Angie went from the Alan Turing exhibit to the Google Web Lab experiment. It is amazing to think how far it has all come!

Above is the few photo's I took while there, realising that my little dedicated camera is starting to feel threatened by the phones these days. I remember how excited I was when my Grandfather gave me my first camera, it had film and the most advanced feature was the auto film rewind. It is nice to be nostalgic until I remember how easy it was to ruin a set of film by flipping open the back cover or not knowing if precious holiday snaps had come out until after the five day wait for your photo's from Boots! :) Not something the 'Facebook' generation will ever really experience.

Anyway all in all it is nice to be able to take part in things like this and to also visit the Science Museum, I may feel the odd one out in my family sometimes for not doing more science based degree, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't interest me, I just can't keep up with the conversations over the dinner table sometimes. :)

Friday, 7 September 2012

The little things...

Sometimes it is just the little things that add to the decor or it's a little project that just helps you get away from the computer screen for a while. In this case it is also related to the namesake of this bog. :)

For my birthday a while back I got given a small bunch of faux bluebells from someone special. As bluebells are my birth flower and my favourite flower it was a nice little addition to the other gifts that year. For a while my Zora Tunic Link statue has been looking after them, but then this birthday I got given a rather nice reed diffuser that came in the sweetest little blue bottle with a little dragonfly attached. Once the oils had run out I washed it out and decided that I wanted to use it for something...

Staring at my shelf of figurines I realised that it was about time to relive Zora Link of his burden...


To get the 'flowers' to stand up was similar to the ship in a bottle conundrum. I had to cut the wire stems down to size, and after unravelling them they would make a good stand, but I needed to splay them on the bottom of the bottle and then get the whole thing to stay stable. Splaying the stems in the bottle was easy, just some force required to do so, to get it all to stay in the same place was another matter. Blue-tac etc didn't stick too well and the top heavy nature of the flowers pulled it over, as the stem of the bottle wasn't quite thick enough to hold the bunch up. The bottle is not fully opaque either to the wire from the stems was visible.

That when I had the idea of using the blue glass droplets, I used to collect them when I was a kid - having recently found them during a clear out it seemed the perfect solution. However the bottle neck, living up to it's saying, was too thin this time. Only a small selection of the droplets would fit through and none would go through while the bluebell stems were also in there. So it became a balancing act of adding enough droplets to cover most of the base, then feeding some more next to the thin end of the stems, then pushing the stems down through the droplets and hoping that they would still splay out to provide the stand for the flowers.

After some shaking, poking and prodding it worked, a nice quick little job using things I had around to create a little stand for my year round flowers and reusing my pretty little bottle. It's these kind of projects I like, spur of the moment ideas that give use to otherwise disposable items. :)

Otherwise life has been really busy recently and I have had little time to work on my else other than my dissertation, but as the autumn approaches my breaks from writing will be spent more on crafts I think, as at the moment the nice weather is too good to ignore and stay indoors. :D