Washi Tape Whiteboard Frame

15 April 2017

Washi Tape Whiteboard Frame

Random, quick project for a long weekend; finally found a tape I like to do the job.

Tape used: ‘Duck Tape’ – Black Ornament

Things I learned from a week playing MP3s on my phone

11 January 2017

The default music app is crap. AIMP is unusable. Poweramp is better. Playerpro tbc.

Dynamic ‘Now playing’ list is not a standard feature.

Picking two albums and shuffling them together is apparently not a common use case.

Leaving the volume switch unlocked is genius and whoever thought of it should be given a medal from the stuff in my bag that keeps pressing it.

Shuffle doesn’t work in a standard way across players. Some playlists change to show the shuffled order. When set to loop, don’t expect the order to be re-shuffled when it gets to the end.

There are people out there who want to play everything in their music collection from start to finish (seriously, who are these weirdos?)

Album art is nice and utterly useless at the same time.

Displaying compilation albums in media libraries is still not a solved problem in 2016.

5 inch screens are far, far too big to use while walking without risking dropping them (* learnt in theory, not practice).

Proprietary playlist formats can do one.

I need to fix my Zen :(

Zen Micro with Harddisk Problem

Colour Charts: CarbOthello, Derwent Studio and Friends

9 November 2015

(aka things you write in January and find on your hard drive while doing backups)

The first thing everyone does when they get a new set of pencils is test all the colours out. I’ve always done this but never kept the list; every time I draw stuff I test colours on a small A6 sketchbook as I go and I’ve almost filled the entire thing with random testing scribbles. I also don’t mix ranges often; this means I’ve got loads more colours than I realise I have.

So I decided to make some colour charts, and I got something out of it that I wasn’t expecting; using all your pencils together is a great way to compare them.

CarbOthello and Pitt Pastel Colour Chart

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils put down an even block of colour; using pressure doesn’t change the shade much, and you get towards white by dragging pigment around, smudging and blending rather than using techniques with the pencil itself. Some of the shades are very bright and Magenta goes for miles. Getting a smooth gradient is easy; the nature of chalk pastel does half the work for you. I think they’re better for larger drawings than small ones, which give you the space to work the colours in properly. They’re a completely different beast to most of the other pencils I have so it’s not really fair to compare them as such, but when you have both it’s helpful to work out which pencils will be better suited to a particular drawing.

I bought the Faber Castell Pitt Pastels to fill in some gaps in my CarbOthello set when I couldn’t find them for sale individually. I really didn’t notice much difference between them when using them. Their colour naming is completely different; CarbOthello 770 Payne’s grey has a lot more blue in it than Pitt 181 (which I suspect is closer to 760 Lamp Black but I didn’t buy that one to find out). Dark Sepia looks like a shade of brown on the colour charts but I couldn’t see any brown in it at all, it’s more like a Dark Warm Grey that’s almost black. Warm Grey IV on the other hand is identical in both ranges.

Derwent Studio Coloursoft and Polychromos Colour Chart

Derwent Studio I’m beginning to love more now that I’m using them properly. They’re not designed to cover large areas but for fine details and smallish drawings they’re brilliant. They stay sharp for a long time so you can get really niggly details in with them. They are duller than the other pencil ranges; the colours are a lot more muted but if you press really hard you can get a decent shade out of them (though flooding the grain of the paper won’t let you get much more on top), and the odd pencil will really surprise you. Doing gradients with them was pretty easy. I haven’t tried layering or blending here, but I’d imagine blending very different colours is somewhat difficult. I have two Derwent Artists thrown in there and didn’t really notice the difference; they are the same lead after all.

Derwent Metallic in Silver: didn’t notice anything special about this one; it’s shinier when you get it under the light. The more exotic colours might be more interesting.

I found the Faber Castell Polychromos the hardest to use. The pigment was sticking to the paper too easily even with light pressure, so while the colours are bright I found it difficult to keep the white shade in towards the right. When I noticed a jump in the gradient it was hard to smooth it out without putting too much colour down and making it worse. You can get some really bright colours out of them easily. These pencils are oil based so maybe that’s the difference; I never liked oil pastels either.

Derwent Coloursoft are lovely. If I was to throw a pin inbetween CarbOthello and Studio this’ where it’d land. Varying shade with pressure is easy, as is building up an even gradient. If you press really hard dust starts to fly off much like the pastels would. You can probably drag this about a tiny bit but I don’t think it’d go far. Colours are pretty intense. If I had to describe them in one word it’d be ‘creamy’. I’d rather like to get a proper set of these… but I think I have enough pencils aready :) (total lie; I’m probably going to cave and get some at some point… when I can actually find them. The Usual Suspects in Central London don’t stock them, my local art shop is the only place I’ve ever seen loose stock but their sets are expensive. I wouldn’t dare attempting to order a large set of soft pencils through the post).

I didn’t plan on doing all of the Artist’s Grade ones in one day but that’s kinda how it happened. 111 down, 116 to go.

Aquarium Light Replacement: Aquael Classic 50

21 February 2015

I’ve didn’t know I missed having a light in the fishtank. I bought a new batch of live plants and completely forgot the fixture was broken. Having gone through 3 replacement lids which all developed lighting faults I’ve had enough of Aquael units and went out in search of something else that would fit.

Arcadia’s Ultraseal ACU15 takes the same T8 bulbs I already had, so it seemed like a good bet. It turned up on Thursday and it’s almost perfect; the brackets sit at *exactly* the right width to screw into the side of the tank lid.

Arcadia bracket that doesn't fit

But there’s a problem. The old light fittings get in the way of the new bracket. Wedged between them the new bracket sits a few cm lower than the old light, meaning the water level would need to be dropped which is something I’m not too keen on doing.

At this point you’re left with 2 options:

* Saw the old screw fittings off. Drill through the side of the tank to fit the new bracket (meaning the screws would be visible from the outside)

* Make a new bracket using the existing screw holes.

Arcadia light balanced in Aquael Classic lid fitting

All it really needs is something to bridge the 5cm gap, curved in a U shape to allow the light enough clearance from the lid. I turned the local high street upside down looking for something suitable in the DIY section with no luck. Best I could do was this:

Plant labels aka useful bits of plastic

Bendy bits of plastic ftw! Conveniently the existing holes were the perfect size for the 4mm screws. A bit of persuasion with a stanley knife and a dodgy screwdriver later (note to self: get a Dremel) I ended up with something that remotely resembled what I was after.

Close up of improvised fitting for Arcadia Light

I added an extra sideways piece to keep the cables out of the way. Without it, the bulb rotated so the cables were pointing straight down, and I didn’t fancy having them in the water. Passed a quick safety test to ensure it didn’t get hot (the bulb is the only part that gets warm).

Completed aquarium light replacement


Tank with new light

The bulb has a slight pink-shift that my camera can’t handle, but you get the idea.

Extra CarbOthellos!

16 January 2015

The Coloursofts started this.

I’ve been trying out portraits recently after receiving the Derwent Coloursoft Skintone set as as a gift and decided to have a go using some of my existing pencils to achieve the same effect, so I was looking to match the skintone shades to my other sets. My CarbOthello set had a few gaps around the Skintone and Grey range so I decided to buy a few extra pencils. I thought completing the set for £20 was a little steep seeing as I haven’t used them in ages so I decided to just pick the ones I thought I’d use rather than buying all 12.

Extra CarbOthello Pencils

I left the shop with 8. It’s okay, I’ve been good recently.

Now I just need a tin to put them in. I’m finding it hard to find tins for sale with individual sections so each pencil doesn’t bump together (they usually come with pencils inside) so I think I’ll have to grab another Derwent tin when I’m next in Rochester.

Pencil Weight and Pressure

15 September 2014

One thing I’ve always struggled with is pencil pressure. This little exercise from artists.pixelovely sounds just perfect for sorting that out.

I’ve always put a lot of force behind whatever pen I was holding. As a kid my handwriting absolutely sucked. Like, really badly. It was only after switching to biros made an instant difference that I realised what the problem was; I was pressing far too hard for the fountain pens that they make you use in school. The nib kept scratching and catching on the paper surface, taking my handwriting with it (you’d think snapping a nib might’ve been a hint at the time). When using biro the paper would curl up until I wrote on the other side.

My construction lines don’t fare much better. I tried switching to a 2h to make it more difficult to get graphite on the paper but I still haven’t got the hang of it. Hopefully doing this quick little exercise on the train each morning will help.

The idea is to shade in 3 boxes with different shades of grey, increasing by one per day until the end of the month. I’m not sure how to fit 30 boxes all in a row on a piece of A5 but I’ll figure that out when I get to it.

Fixing a Christmas Tree

8 December 2012

There are many problems in this world that Google can solve. This, apparently, is not one of them.

While taking down my Christmas tree last year I was most dismayed when a whole layer of branches snapped off in my hand. Being 1am on twelth night at the time, I decided to pop it in the box and deal with it next year. Next year is… well, today.

Oh Noes Tree

I rather like trees. They’re like the little friend who pops over every year and stays in your living room. If it had a face, it would be full of smilies. It seems a shame to throw away a perfectly good decoration due to some shoddy plastic work.

So here I am, attempting to fix a Christmas tree. The individual branches are still intact, I just need some way to attach them to the central trunk. I have some 5mm aluminium wire left over from another project that I think will do the job. It’s bright pink. I need to get some duct tape though. Or green electrical tape.

Perhaps I am a little bit insane. I did consider this while sitting knee deep in dismantled branches.

I also need to figure out how to get a set of pink fairy lights on a curtain rail while still being able to actually use the curtains. For now, this remains a mystery.

Mount Doom

19 August 2012

Woah, I’ve been pretty busy with Other Stuff ™ recently so haven’t been writing much on here. Apparently it’s summer outside. Who knew?

I bought a new bag last week. It’s *huge*. Alas it has not pockets. Anyone who’s had a bag without pockets is probably well versed in the art of how every useful thing ever invented like phones and MP3 players always manage to find their way right to the bottom of a mess like this:

Bag Without Pockets

Cue Internet Time, looking for a way to add pockets to a bag, and we find the concept of the bag organiser.

[Pattern] from TheGivingFlower, via CraftApple

Bag Organiser


Bag Organiser Filled

Aside: The bloody stupid wasp fromt he last post is still in here. The double patio doors are wide open but it keeps trying to fly through my ceiling.

Anyways… this should make my bag a lot neater.

Bag With Pockets

… I’m not convinced, I think my bag’s a little too big for this to work. We’ll see when I take it out for a test run tomorrow, so long as I can actually find my phone in there without emptying half of the thing then I’ll be happy.

Okay aside 2: the wasp has DISAPPEARED. It was nowhere near the door when I lost sight of it and I haven’t seen it in 10 mins. Really want to get out of this hoody now, it’s boiling in here. With all the doors and windows open my current cost meter reckons it’s still 31 degrees inside.

Back on topic, I also made some other stuff since I last posted. There was a cushion but that wasn’t very exciting, though the fabric I found in a random cute little shop in Caterbury is awesome.

Butterfly Cushion

And I finally finished some handwarmers I started sometime last year but it’s totally the wrong time of year for those. I’d just been putting off finishing them and finally gotten around to it.

[Pattern] Morgaine Fingerless Mittens from blueoceanspureskies (via Ravelry)


Okay, so the wasp wasn’t actually a wasp, it was an enormous housefly. And by enoromous I mean like proper mega ultra huge. After working out that it wasn’t actually capable of stinging me horribly it was rather easy to persuade it to vacate the premises with a broom. Admittedly I didn’t expect it to land *on* the broom, thus letting me walk it over to the nearest open window but hey, that made things a heck of a lot easier.

I’ve never been stung by a wasp before, but from what I’ve heard it’s not something I’d particularly want to happen either.

Late to the Party

19 August 2012

I totally forgot to put up shots of the finished terrarium. Which is odd, considering I’m sure I remember writing a blog post about this. Hm…

One Terrarium

It’s grown in a bit since then.
Terrarium Two Months On

The locals are rather happy with the arrangement.
The Dinosaurs Who Live In The Terrarium

I went a bit nuts over houseplants this year. The remaining dinosaurs from the pack live with a Pachypodium Lamerei (Madagascar Palm) on my windowsill though I’m not entirely clear on how big this mini palm tree is actually going to get. I got some twisty twirly lucky bamboo and a few succulents, including this one:

Pink Jellybean Succulent

…which dropped all its beans and I was very sad. I also picked up some moss balls becuase I thought they were cool.

Marimo Moss Balls

They live in a jar because my fish will eat them.

In other news I hate insects. There’s a wasp in my flat and I’m now in a hoodie and jeans in case it tries to get me before it finds its way outside. It’s 31 degrees in here. Not cool.

WIP 26-04-12

26 April 2012

Amissia - Sigh - WIP