Saturday, December 10, 2011

Project: Steampunk Computer


Starting the monitor stand.

I've had three days of putting this with that, combining all my bits and pieces to try and come up with a stand that is going to both look good and be strong enough to hold a framed monitor.

I've been looking at a lot of the steampunked versions on the internet and found myself wanting to copy them but most of them have attached the stand to the sides of the monitor and I really liked the idea of having a single stem stand. It occurred to me at a slightly hysterical and tired 5am this morning, that THEY haven't copied anyone - they've been making it up as they've gone along so there's no reason why I can't as well.

That is, after all the whole idea.

So after sleeping on it and digging through what I already had in the shed, I took a 'quick' trip to Mitre 10 with my mate and handyman extraordinaire, Aaron, and this is what I ended up with to construct my monitor stand. Yes, this is the makings of a monitor stand.

We've got some irrigation pipes and fittings, a couple of pieces of steel rod, cut to size, 6 massive coach screws, a galvanised face plate thingy, some plastic hose, the hose off a shower head and the front of a drawer from an old cupboard I found ages ago in hard rubbish.

Today I'm putting together the stem and arms of the stand.

Assemble the 'T'. I've placed the metal rods inside the tubes of the T. No more worries about the thing bending under the weight - I reckon I could play George of the Jungle on that.

*When she was little, my daughter thought she'd play George of the Jungle in the bath. An emergency trip to the doctor and 4 stitches in the back of her head later...needless to say she's never tried to swing on a shower curtain again :-)*

Lots of manufacturers markings that I don't want so I grab my new best friend, Dremel, and grind them off, adding a few nicks and scratches for good measure - it's supposed to look old industrial so marks are good.

Ready for painting! The paint I'm using is a wax paint called Rub'n'Buff. Amazing stuff - you don't need to prime, just rub the paint on with a soft cloth, wait a couple minutes and buff the excess off. I love it. I haven't tried real hard to get into the nooks and crannies so there's a bit of the original black piping showing through as lowlights.

The finished product - looks like real metal - you'd never know it's garden hose.

This is the stuff - I got it at my local art supplier here in Adelaide. It's around $10 a small tube but it has amazing coverage and one tube seems to last forever.

That's it for now...stay tuned!

Project: Steampunk Computer


First up, this is a photo of the typewriter I WON'T be dismantling for my project.

This is a photo of the monitor that I have no problem pulling to pieces. In theory. The casings are quite hard to take apart. Please note the mess on the table.

After a day working without clearing my space of all my other projects I gave up and spent a couple of hours getting organised. The mess is now spread in organised piles all over the shed instead of just on the table.

I decided that seeing as this computer is going into an art gallery it's only fitting that the monitor is framed. I had an old frame there that was too big so I decided to cut it down to fit. I'd have to mitre the corners and measure up correctly, but using my trusty dremel, a hand saw and basic arithmetic I was sure I'd be able to manage. I mean, seriously, how hard could it be?

Five hours later I had three sides that were too short, five mitres that were not 90 degrees and had run out of frame to cut.

So today I went to my local and most accomodating framer and got them to make me this. Fifteen minutes it took.

The moral of the story is...tidy up as you go along (Hi, Mum!) and sometimes it is far more sensible to delegate and get some sleep instead.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Project: Steampunk Computer

As part of the shop revamp, one of my projects is to build a steampunk computer to use as a register.

Steve is taking care of the accounting and retail system setup so the construction side of things is my job.

No worries say I, but those of you who know me and my history with tech studies would know that this is, indeed a bit of a worry, and possibly my most ambitious project to date.

First obstacle is the typewriter. I found one and bought it with the intention of taking it to pieces, but have since found out that it still works.

I don't have a problem with hacking into a computer screen and destroying the bits I don't want (necessary to get to the bits that I do, as it turns out - demolition, Kat style) because there's plenty of them out there.

This, however, is a Remington Portable Typewriter, built sometime in the 20's or 30's and I just can't bring myself to pull it to pieces for any reason other than to recondition it.

Back to the drawing board for typewriter keys. Or, Ebay, anyway.

More updates on my steampunk adventures, soon. And photos!

Project: Gallery

I have a lot of things on the go at any one time and my little gallery is one of them. I haven't been paying it a lot of attention for the last six months, what with everything else, but have been happy to let it toddle along at it's own pace - open when it's open, not really concerned with making a profit, just waiting until I have the time to concentrate on it.

That time has arrived!

It's a sweet little space, heritage listed, art deco and looks like a little French cafe stuck in the middle of Glenelg. So many times we've been asked if we make coffee and we've always had to say no - as a coffee shop we would have made a fortune in the last couple of years.

Over the last six months of inattention there has still been lots of discussion around the shop and lots of ideas around what we'd like to do, and we've ended up with a fairly clear vision of what we want and some key objectives around it.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to produce sustainable income doing the things we love, without having to work for anybody else. I have a few things I love to do and so does Steve.

I love to paint, I love to rearrange furniture and create really cool, functional spaces using furniture and equipment that I have or find. It's part of my creative process when I paint. I love to do commission work and tailor my work to a client's specific needs. I also love to ride (just not up hills).

*A few artist friends of mine feel that commission work is almost like selling out - you have to subdue your own vision to fit with someone else's, but I actually like it. One of the things I've found is that I work really well with a few specifications to work from. I find it a lot easier to have a starting point as opposed to 'What am I going to paint, today?'.*

Steve loves to paint miniatures, he's a techwizzy genius and loves to code, he loves to research (part of his creative process) and he also loves to ride.

We both love coffee, not just the drinking of it, but the process of making it, experimenting with different coffee making processes, blends and all that jazz. We are currently using a Belgian Siphon Machine - a process dating back to the 1800's (I think). It looks like a science project and makes amazing coffee.

We're both really into the Steampunk genre. I don't get around in a leather waist coat and a top hat - I tend throw on whatever's closest on the floor in the morning, but I do love the quirkiness of steampunk, the sumptuousness and quality of the past lending it's romance to soften the edges of today's brash throwaway society. Technology is now essential - cheap and nasty is not. If I have to sit at a computer all day, I would far rather be sitting at one of these.

I digress, however - this is the subject for another post.
*Note to self: you do not have to fit everything into one article.

SO! Back to the shop. The vision is to showcase our various services, to serve really good coffee that you can't get anywhere else in the Bay, catering specifically to the sadly neglected cyclist market, to offer essential cycling supplies, unusual local artwork and a genuine Circa 1800's cafe' experience, all in 24sqm of space and all on the smallest budget possible.

So let the games begin!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Fairytale (Bear with me, there is a point)

It is said, that if you look hard enough between the leaves of the trees and the cracks in the pavement, you will see a land of wonder and magic, of twirly things and swirly things and smiles and cuddles. It is officially known as The Land of WooWooShinySprinkles but the people who know just call it KatWorld.

The fair Queen Kat of WooWooShinySprinkles had a magical life. Everywhere she went she saw sunshine and sparkles, her loyal subjects loved her and every day she woke up in her princessly bed, with sheets of muslin and rugs of fur-lined gold, said hello to the sun, donned her multicoloured robes and danced through the day at her wee little shop, right, smack bang in the middle of the land.

She was a good and fair queen and very capable. The land of WooWooShinySprinkles was not very big and it's major currency was dreams and ideas, but the palace's pantry was full, she managed the kitchen, the land's coffers, the upkeep of the grounds and the palace gardens, and all her loyal subjects had what they needed to live comfortably. People would come from far and wide to ask for help and various boons. These she granted with a smile and as a result, she was kept very, very busy banging in nails, fixing lawnmowers and all sorts of things.

She would sit on her throne and visit with the populace, accepting their gifts and presenting them with gifts of her own. She was as happy as any queen could possibly be and while many of her subjects would mention in passing that every happy queen deserves a worthy king she would laugh and say,

'Fearest not, oh loyal subject! I doth ponder this, upon occasion and I vow, I needst not a king?! What happiness could a king provide for me that I doth not have at the present? None. For I have thou and thou and thou and thou art all I needest.'

And this the queen vowed and declared and truly believed for she truly felt that she had everything she could possibly wish for.

Suitors came from far and wide to woo her and claim the throne by her side (or rather, out the back in the shed, under the boxes behind the piano), but to one and all she said,

'In truth, thou art lovely, but I doth have no wish for a king. Have a look in the land up the road - you're sure to find someone nice there.'

Until one day.

One day, when the sun was laughing in the sky and the birds were serenading the flowers in her garden, a funny little man happened by.

Odd of appearance, with curly hair, a grumpy face and a largish kind of nose, he was dressed in coloured tights, a rather strange hat and tap shoes. He stopped at her throne, spoke to her briefly in passing and then was gone. Poof! Just like that.

She thought not much of it at the time - she had many strange and wonderful visitors every day and was used to it. Little did she know, however that the odd little man was actually a powerful wizard who was just very, very tired and didn't like people very much.

AND little did she know that the seed had been planted, the spell had been cast and she was soon to be his, for he had apparently decided that he wanted her and the powerful wizard always got what he wanted.

He just needed to get some sleep first.

Slowly but surely his spell began to work. She started to see him everywhere and she soon realised that underneath the grumpy face was a beautiful smile, a sharp wit and a closet full of dressups. Now, any queen worth her salt (whatever that means...) loves a good dressup, and from that exact moment, she knew that he was the one for her.

They slept in his cave and played in her wee shop together every day and made lots of magical things. He told her stories, fed her and made her laugh. He began to teach her how to do magic. He showed her how much fun it is to fly on two wheels. She gave him cuddles and let him hang out in her really cool shop.

Eventually, though, the wee shop seemed too small to make everything that they wanted to make, so together they cast a spell and created a bigger, even more amazing castle that they could live and play in as well.

Spell after spell was cast as he gave her everything she ever wished for and she gave him lots of cuddles and said thank you a lot.

And they both lived happily ever after.

The End

Ok, well, obviously it's not the end because what would be the point of having a blog...and that's not really the whole story – it's just part of my fairy story...or maybe one fairy story in a collection of them and it's the one that I'm living in, now.

This story isn't really about me and the wizard, it's about me and about how I got to the point where I feel like I've got something to write about.

It's about the struggle to get from fairystory dreams in an ordinary life to fairystory reality and about the fact that for fairytales to exist the mundane has to exist also. It's about juggling and walking the tightrope between everyday and magic.

I was talking to my 20 year old son the other day and he was saying that there seems to be one thing that he's missing and if he could just figure out what that one thing was, that one step he needed to take, he'd have his life sorted.

It's a conversation I've been on the other side of many, many times and I realised as I was listening to him talk that it's taken 20 odd years, but I have finally done the one thing.

And I still don't know what it is.

As you know, by now, I'm an artist – have been for about twenty years.
I am also a mother, domestic goddess, home administrations director, part time woowoo consultant in a local crystal shop and owner of a lovely but ever so slightly neurotic dog called Fysher.

I do commission work for domestic and corporate spaces and have just finished work on my biggest ever commission for a new medical centre.

I have my own little art gallery in a premier seaside suburb in Adelaide where I exhibit my work and the work of other artists. I've set it up as a working gallery and have 2 or 3 artists in residence who use the space for their work in return for keeping it open to the public.

It's a beautiful little place that looks like it's been picked up from a street in Paris and dropped in the middle of Glenelg, so there are plans afoot to merge gallery, artists cooperative and coffee shop into 21sq metres of space.

What you didn't know, is that in the last two years I have gone from dreaming big dreams and making big plans that I never actually did anything about to having those dreams and a few extra ones that I hadn't thought about, come knocking on my door and moving in, in the space of a few short months.

I've gone from painting in my loungeroom, spare room, bedroom, shed or carport to having a real studio that I only have to share with one person. For years I've painted the odd picture for the odd person, given most of my artwork away and fit my arts and crafts hobby around a real job. Now, suddenly, it IS my real job.

Over the years I've been given opportunities to do this and I've not taken them, whether it's been because I haven't felt good enough, haven't known where to start or it's just seemed all too big, all too good to be true. For 20 years I've been suffering from ACS (more on that later), so I've done nothing.

My question is...why are things different this time?

An introduction and a disclaimer

About ten years ago a psychologist friend of mine told me his formula for a good life.

FLP - fun, laughter, play = The Meaning of Life.

A few months later in another conversation with said psych, I reminded him of his formula and he had no idea what I was talking about. While it was slightly disconcerting to realise he makes it up as he goes along, it still stuck with me as a good plan, so I created this blog to expand on the subject.

Ten years later I am writing my first post.

My techiwhizzgenius partner-in-crime has informed me that as part of the plan for world domination I have to start writing. It's been on the 'to do' list for ages and I think one of the reasons I've been loathe to start is because I have no idea where to.

In a perfect world this blog would be divided into categories and subjects and each would have a name, but as my head is not divided into any of those things, and my art and life adventures are always closely tied to new discoveries about how I work, my slightly erratic kids and the constant struggle to balance creative genius with the practicalities of motherhood and day to day life, this is most likely not to happen.

I'll be writing about my art, I'll put photos up and if I remember to take photos of works in progress I'll put them up and write about them, too.

I'll be writing about my gallery and all the things we're doing to it and in it. I'll be writing about the process of getting from 'we could' to 'we did' and all the brick walls in between. I'll be writing about my new love affair with riding, how many hills I've climbed and how much I don't like climbing hills. And my kids will probably feature in here a bit, as well.

It's not going to be in chronological order or probably any other kind of order, for that matter, it will just be what it is. I might date some things. Maybe.

I'm sure that at some point this will exasperate said techwizzy boyfriend to the point that I'll have to do something about it, but for now, writing is enough :-)