“Hard Problems? Soft Robots!” at BsidesHH 2014

I’ve been going to CCC for a while. I’ve given some talks (mostly on the lightning talk track) and have generally had a good time. More and more, though, I’ve gotten interested in gatherings that orbit big events like CCC, Maker Faire, and HOPE. Unconferences, Bsides, and nether-conferences like BarCamp are less formal than a traditional conference, and often have the kind of wiggle room for instant breakout sessions and long Q&A.

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Please, don’t shop at Wildwood

I don’t tend to use this space for out of channel stuff. I’m all about making and building and doing and all that, and don’t want to cloud things up with all kinds of other dross. But, this feels like a special case for all you makers out there, especially ones with laser cutters. DON’T SHOP AT WILDWOOD DESIGNS (aka Cherry Tree Toys).

One sheet cut through at 40% power 10 speed. One did not.

Wildwood Designs (site, Facebook, Twitter) sold me a bulk order of custom cut plywood. It was 100 sheets of the 1/4″ veneer core birch plywood. I’ve bought a half dozen sheets of it before at the recommendation of some folks from Artisan’s Asylum, and thought it was a good consistent material. That notion took a sharp turn as I opened up the box containing my purchase (a solid three feet of stacked sheets of wood) and found two different products inside. One was the wood I was used to, a plywood that cuts well and leaves a nice soot-free edge. The other had the same veneer jacket, but was a completely different beast. I haven’t given everything a final count, but it looks like about 70% of all my wood is the very, very bad kind. Continue reading

Apothecary Candles

I really like candle making. Despite the mess, the cost of materials, the burns, and the constant fear of spilling hot wax over everything I hold dear, it’s completely worth it. If you remember, a long time ago I made a set of candles cast from impala horns. I’ve wanted to do more projects like this, especially as I ramp up to doing an absurd huge candle project based on much larger and more elaborate horns.

This photo features my legs, my mess, my mold, and bits of my lovely assistant.

The process started with taking an antique apothecary bottle, cleaning it up, and cutting up some cardboard to form a mold box. I waxed the cardboard, made some clips to hold everything together, and marked out where I should build up the clay to form the first half of the mold. Continue reading