Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Light Box DIY Cheap Easy Tutorial

I am so excited!  I finally got the parts to assemble my light tent.  I had been frustrated for some while about how to diffuse my light source.  I had the lights already that I purchased a few months ago. Then a couple of weeks ago I bought some white nylon jacket lining material that is similar to rip stop but probably not as strong.  I wasn't sure about how to hang the fabric and support it to shine my lights through.  After doing a google search, I found this link with a good tutorial that gave me some great ideas. I did alter the design to fit my own needs and what was in stock at the hardware store.

This light box is significantly larger than the other design.  I am going to be making some larger sculpture so I chose 36" lengths of pvc all around.  The hardware store only carried 10' foot lengths which would not fit in my car.  I bought a ratcheting pipe cutter, marked off the length with a yardstick in the store and then cut the pvc out in the parking lot.  The spring clamps in the photo are not necessary but I usually find some use for them. In this case, my light box was much taller than I had envisioned so I used the clamps to hold my backdrop lower down on the legs of the tent.

 The bottom four fittings shown above were only available with two slip holes and one threaded hole.  I had to get the four threaded male adapters to put on the ends of the legs in order to screw them in to the top of the frame.  The four caps are not necessary but are nice on the bottom of the legs for better stability.

Here you can see everything assembled.  I have a length of pvc pipe temporarily taped to the back of the frame so that I can clamp the one lamp up higher in order to shine down from a better angle.  You can see my backdrop is pretty small for the size of the tent.  I got this backdrop from B&H Photo. It has really made my photos look much more professional.  This is crucial as I will need the photos to submit my sculpture to juried art competitions.  I will probably need to get a larger backdrop and I am so happy with this light tent that I am thinking of making a smaller one as well.  I don't actually need to make a whole new one, though.  I did not glue the pvc pipe into the fittings on purpose.  This way I can make different length pipes and adapt this tent to just about any configuration I need.  Now I want to make a bag to carry the pipes and fittings and another one for the lights and any other accessories. This will give me a fully portable light studio!

My first test shot in my light tent studio.  I need to play around with the lighting a bit to work on reflections and such.  I might get some different lights in the future.  I would like some on tripods when my finances allow.  This setup was really inexpensive to make.  I would have loved to have purchased everything pre-made but my student budget doesn't really permit that. The backdrop I already had was about $35.  The lights were about $30. The ratcheting pipe cutter was about $12 but you could borrow one or use a hacksaw.  The pvc pipe was about $10.  With tax that makes the total around $90.  Not bad!

My final image, cropped and edited a bit for the fun of it.  I am very pleased with this whole process and can't wait to take more photos.  And I guess this would be my first tutorial.  Let me know if you decide to make a light tent of your own.  Do you have any fun ideas or suggestions you can share? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Turkey Leftovers Equals Turkey Enchiladas

Yum, turkey leftovers!  I was tired of the turkey soup from Thanksgiving so I decided to make enchiladas. Unfortunately I was being a bit lazy and used store bought enchilada sauce.  You can see in the first photo that my tortillas look pretty greasy.  They were!  I was going from childhood memories and not a recipe and forgot the obvious of draining the tortillas after frying them to soften them up.  However, I did remember how to stuff and roll them, easy.  And, of course, pouring the can of sauce over them was easy also.  After a thirty minute bake in the oven they came out bubbling and delicious.  I think I am going to have to make them again because I want to try a few different things.  One, I want to make my own sauce.  This one just didn't have the flavor I was thinking of.  Second, I think I would caramelize the onions before putting them in the enchiladas. The third change I need some help on.  How would you soften up the tortillas without all of the oil?  I would really rather not fry them at all if I can help it.  Any ideas would be a great help.  Thanks.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bracelets, bracelets, bracelets...

I have been busy posting jewelry to my etsy shop so go on over there to see everything beautiful I have for sale. I will be posting more bracelets, earrings and hairsticks.  Oh yeah!  And I will be posting pottery for sale as well.  Just as soon as I can get good pictures taken of them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Playing Possum

We had a momma opossum coming through the yard every night for some time. She liked the cat food that got left out. I saw her one night climbing up the other side of a chain link fence. I had a flashlight and as I got close to her I could see ears and eyes peering out from inside her pouch. Then I hadn't seen momma for a couple of weeks. Two nights ago I walked out into my carport where the cat's bed is and found this little baby comfy and cozy. It was sooo cute I wanted to keep it around but we decided to relocate it out by the Sacramento river and away from our cats. I didn't want it to become the cats' new plaything.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wildflowers and Clouds

Okay, this time I've gone way overboard with my blog posting. Well, you'll see why. It was definitely worth it. I've been incredibly busy going to school, making sculptures, playing in my garden and firing my kiln. Firing my kiln is what started all this. Or maybe it was the wind and rain that came first. I needed to fire the kiln but we had had two days of wind and rain and the kiln is outside so I need calm weather. Then Becky and I had decided we were going to go to Table Mountain on Saturday. By Friday I knew that Saturday was going to be the perfect day to fire the kiln. What's a friend supposed to do?

This is the view I came home to after being stuck inside all day at school. I knew this must be serendipitous and I knew what I had to do. Call Beck and go a day early. Of course! Besides, who could pass up these gorgeous clouds for photo opportunities. Thankfully, the spontaneous person that she is made my plans perfect. I picked her up in the late afternoon and we headed out.

This is the view that opened up before us as we headed out towards Butte College.

Oops, I missed the turn off because we were talking so much and I continued up highway 70 and we pulled into the Vista Point parking area where we were presented with this gorgeous panorama.

We headed back down the highway and finally made it to Table Mountain, hopped out of the car and Becky pointed out this rainbow behind us.

The late afternoon light was warm and perfect for showing off the gorgeous wildflowers still springing up everywhere.

Becky looked so cute sitting in the middle of this patch of flowers (trying to avoid sitting on the cow patties!)

I think maybe we took as many pictures of each other as we did of the landscape.

The shadows were lengthening...

and the cows were pretty used to people running all over the place.

The clouds started to turn pink as the sun was setting and we were racing back up the hill to the parking lot so we would have a better view of the sunset.

Out of breath, but delighted with our adventure, we snapped our last pictures.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring Wild Flowers

I went up to Table Mountain with my friend Jennifer yesterday. It was a beautiful day and the flowers are just gorgeous. I was impressed that Jennifer knew the names of almost all the flowers. I'm going to have to do my homework though. We walked all over the place and we hiked down a cliff to see a waterfall. We haven't had much rain so it was not very big. It was really nice at the bottom by the waterfall. There is a really nice wide grassy area with trees and shade. A perfect place for a picnic. I'd love to write more but I've got to go get ready for school.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photoshop Fun

I spent the morning playing around with my mushroom photos in photoshop and this interesting image is what I came up with. I'm trying to come up with images for laser transfers to put on some of my sculptures. I've never done this before. I think this image might be too dark for the transfer process. I haven't played with photoshop for so long that I'm having to remember some stuff. It's coming back pretty quick so I am happy. I'll probably do some line drawings or use some images out of my sketchbooks for the transfers since I think I need something that is not so busy. I think less detail in the image is supposed to transfer better. We'll see. Wish me luck. I'm usually at church at this time but the hubby and I decided to go at 1:00 instead of 9:00am. I better go get ready.
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Saturday, March 28, 2009


Last Monday we were supposed to be done with one of our projects and were supposed to have "crits" which is basically a critique of everyone's projects by everyone else in the class and the instructor. We ended up having a last minute guest artist which was great for me because I was not ready. I wasn't really thinking about when the make-up crit would be. Towards the end of the week I decided to glaze up these pieces that were sitting in my locker. The tech loaded the kiln the very next day, lucky me. Even luckier, I found out we are having the crit in two days. I stopped by the university to see if the kiln was cool and pulled these out. I'm definately feeling good.

I love this piece! I loved it when I was making it but then I was having technical problems with the test piece. I was firing the test piece at a lower temperature and the glaze and the red cracked and popped right off the pot. My instructor suggested I put another test piece in with a high fire clear glaze and fire it at cone 10, almost 2400 degrees. This is the range that I am used to but I wasn't sure what the red underglaze would do as it is meant to be fired at about 1850 degrees. I thought I would completely lose the color. Impulsive as I am, I couldn't wait for the test and glazed it up anyways. Goody for me!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tapioca Pudding

I made this super yummy tapioca pudding at the end of January. I'm thinking of when I'll have time to make some more. It was the first time I had ever used a fresh vanilla bean for anything. There are a lot of teeny tiny seeds in those pods. But it was delicious and worth the extra work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fresh From the Oven

Or rather, hot out of the kiln. I opened up the kiln this morning and this is what I found. I couldn't even remember what I had glazed up two months plus ago. It was a pretty good load and a pretty good firing. The only thing I lost were four porcelain pieces that I glazed too heavily and they ran and adhered themselves to the kiln shelf. Yeah, I might actually get excited about getting back into this. But I really need to rebuild the kiln. It's made of fiber and starting to fall apart. That is going to be a huge job. I'm not sure I want to tackle it. But at least now I have a few pots to sell at the farmer's market.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Frosted Fruit

I was up until 11:40 last night firing the kiln. I don't fire the kiln very often and it took a couple of hours longer than usual but I'm learning. Towards the end the kiln needs to be checked often and it is pretty hot. On top of it we had a warm day and the house was still hot. To cool off I rested my aching head on an ice pack and that felt great. I had a headache all day. Chico in the spring is beautiful and it smells great with all the blossoms but along with that comes all the pollen. The ice pack wasn't quite enough so I had to fill up this bowl with frozen fruit from last summers garden. I dusted it with some sugar and poured in some soy milk. It turned into a thick, delicious fruit slushy that did just the trick. Soon after finishing it I was able to turn off the kiln and go to bed. Tomorrow I get to open the kiln and see how it turned out.

I had to include this gorgeous picture of some of the first almond blossoms. The orchard is two doors down so I go there often to take pictures.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beauty in the small details

It is so amazing the beauty we can find in the seemingly most ordinary things. I saw all these mushrooms while taking a walk in the orchard next door.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kiln Load

I eventually survived finals and made it to winter break. I've been busy catching up and having fun but when it comes to the computers they have been frustrating. The desktop is about eight years old and the laptop six. They often don't like to do more than one thing at a time and have been especially picky about photos. The laptop decided to behave for me so I thought I should show myself while I still have a chance.

I have been so distracted by all the things I want to do versus what I need to do that it took me about two weeks of working on this load for the kiln before I was done. Wow, I usually have it done in a few days! I guess I shouldn't forget that I have been working at the university and working on my sculptures at the same time. So, I'm making progress. I'm just working on a lot of different projects.