Saturday, December 26, 2009

Loss, love, and holidays.

PZ Myers has some good thoughts over at his blog, Pharyngula.

I'm reminded, as I often am, of "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber:

"So I asked myself then," he said, "what's the use of going on? What's the use of dragging it out for a few years? Why prolong a doomed existence of hard work and cold and loneliness? The human race is done. The Earth is done. Why not give up, I asked myself—and all of a sudden I got the answer."
"Life's always been a business of working hard and fighting the cold," Pa was saying. "The earth's always been a lonely place, millions of miles from the next planet. And no matter how long the human race might have lived, the end would have come some night. Those things don't matter. What matters is that life is good. It has a lovely texture, like some rich cloth or fur, or the petals of flowers—you've seen pictures of those, but I can't describe how they feel—or the fire's glow. It makes everything else worth while. And that's as true for the last man as the first."
"So right then and there," Pa went on... "right then and there I told myself that I was going on as if we had all eternity ahead of us. I'd have children and teach them all I could. I'd get them to read books. I'd plan for the future, try to enlarge and seal the Nest. I'd do what I could to keep everything beautiful and growing. I'd keep alive my feeling of wonder even at the cold and the dark and the distant stars."

The complete text of the story may be found here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm all about the B-Wing helmet lately...

It's been a busy month; the Renaissance Festival is over, the GCFCG Halloween Haunted House was a great success, and Star Wars In Concert came to Baltimore, where I took this picture, among others. This is a Y-Wing Pilot's helmet from Return of the Jedi, and its relevance to the B-Wing helmet is the leather trim around the bottom of the face opening.

The B-Wing helmet has similar trim around the sides of its face opening. I had some imitation leather material, but wasn't sure it would be quite right for this project. After seeing the Y-Wing helmet in person, I decided to use what I had. I stitched a length of it into piping -- a tube with a seam. In this case, a 5/8th-inch diameter tube with a 5/8th-inch seam. Here it is on my sewing machine. It's already all sewn up in this photo, it's just on the machine to show its size, and the zipper foot used to stitch right next to the padded tube part.

But that's as far as I've got -- the piping isn't attached to the helmet yet. But I am proud of the paint job so far, so here's a photo of the helmet:

Some folks may recognize the flame logo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Something different: helmet progress

The thought occurs that I haven't posted any progress pictures in a while. I'm to the point where I'm decorating the thing, even though I probably could have done just a little more smoothing and sanding. I'm quite proud of how this is turning out, and at the same time I want to make another, better one.

I'm done, here, with re-creating anything used in a movie. The paint job is my own unique art. Folks who know me may recognize the significance of the design in the right side of the blue stripe.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The subconscious is amazing

Last week, I drew a shape that I wanted to make with pentominoes. It was the right size -- 60 square units in area -- but I didn't know if the 12 pentomino shapes could really be arranged to fill it. I stayed up late one night trying to solve the puzzle (and late for me is pretty late indeed), but had no success. When I decided it was time for a nap, I reminded myself that my subconscious mind would keep working on the problem.

Last night, I pulled out the drawing again, and my little set of pentominoes. I picked the pieces up and laid them on the outline, one by one, and suddenly, there was the completed figure in front of me. It didn't take as long as it's taken me to write about it. I threw my head back and laughed, because I was so surprised. I wish someone had been there to see, but they wouldn't have believed that I didn't have the solution memorized in advance. Which, in a way, I suppose I did -- I'm convinced that some part of my brain really had been working it out all week.

But did I make a conscious decision to sit down and try the puzzle again -- or did that part of my brain decide that it was ready, with my conscious mind just along for the ride?

I have a costume piece in mind for this pentomino arrangement. You'll see it again, if all goes well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

You saw it here first!

Here's my brand-new, never-worn Tangram tabard that I've been planning for a couple of years:

I'm planning to wear it to the Renaissance Festival next weekend. This weekend is pirate-themed, and this tabard isn't all that piratey, really.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

If you're viewing this hologram...

If you're viewing this hologram projected from a working astromech droid head set on top of a non-working astromech droid...

... you might be a redneck Jedi.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Boring Old Helmet Progress

It's been so long since my last post! Another Shore Leave has come and gone, and another Artscape. And the car trouble -- oh, you don't want to know. And great interest in The Star Toys Museum.

I've carved some more detail into the helmet. I'm beginning to think that any detail one can put on a project like this will just make it look better. I'm also still thinking of making another one, so I can put the experience of making this one to good use and make the next one better. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Laser Awesome!

There's a new sign on the door at the laser shop!

My better half remembered that I wanted one of these, found the image and printed it out nice and big. Thanks, Don!

Thanks also to Nickelodeon, or maybe Nicktoons, whichever one has the "Laser Awesome" program block. I'd include a link, but I can't seem to figure out how just now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Other creative endeavours

Work on my B-Wing helmet continues, but it doesn't look too much different yet. Sculpt, coat with sealer (white glue, mostly), sand, sculpt some more... but I've made a few new pieces. There will be photos as soon as they're warranted.

I made a prototype of a new puzzle the other day, but I probably shouldn't post pictures until it's in production. It's very pretty, and shaped like a flame. I have another design that needs to be made in the next few days, a polyomino set to commemorate an upcoming event.

Meanwhile, here are a couple sketches of an original costume I'm wanting to put together. Partly, they were just an experiment with a couple of human figure templates I found on the Web, but I'm mostly happy with the design. I've got the fabric ready, in colors not quite so bright. The final geometry will be different, I'm sure. I still haven't worked out where to hide pockets, or exactly what the collar will look like.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Helmet progress

On low spots and places where I sculpted too aggressively, I've begun filling in with a mixture of white glue and sawdust. The styrofoam helmet is still four separate pieces -- I want to do as much sculpting as possible on parts before I glue together the whole thing. There will still be sculpting to do after it's all together

If you look very carefully, you can see that I'm wearing a cloth helmet with odd ridges over the forehead, similar to what the pilots in Star Wars wore. Since there's so little reference material, I took some artistic license.

Monday, May 11, 2009

B-Wing Helmet continues

I visited my friend Betsy last night, then put in a few hours work with the lasers, and on my B-Wing helmet. I saw a rat in the shop office. It's a historic building in downtown Baltimore, so the rats have been there longer than I have, but I'd rather they keep out of sight.

Here are some helmet progress pictures:

I've replaced the side pieces with a shape that's a little more elongated. The few reference photos I have suggest that there are at least two versions of this helmet that were made for the movie. The best reference photos show the helmet on an alien pilot, whose head is rather different from the average human being.

I've sanded down most of the sharp edges, and am shaping the back to something more like a sphere-segment than a layer cake. I imagine that finishing this will be a lot more work than beginning it.

I am enjoying working with this styrofoam. It's very lightweight, easy to cut and sand, and surprisingly tough. I will have to be careful how I paint it, though, as many paints contain solvents which will dissolve styrofoam.

Friday, May 8, 2009

B-Wing Pilot helmet begun

I've started working on a B-Wing Pilot helmet (B-Wings were one of the Rebel spacecraft in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). This may mean that I'll have a whole B-Wing Pilot costume at some point in the distant future.

It's just the basic shape right now, laser-cut from sheets of styrofoam insulation. These helmets are pretty goofy-looking, and don't seem to afford much protection for the pilot's head -- unless they incorporate force-fields or some such thing. The movie is 26 years old, and only now does it occur to me to wonder if the designers intended this helmet to recall Princess Leia's hair. I think they were definitely trying to come up with something unfamiliar that would still look like it fit the aesthetic of the Star Wars universe.

From Drop Box

This is a top view. Since I took this picture, I've sanded down the parts that stick out on the sides behind the ears. I imagine there'll be plenty of sculpting by hand still to do.

I'm quite pleased with what I've done so far.

There aren't too many good photos of these helmets -- not even in the movie -- but here's one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mulling a proper post

But I can't post it today, because no one would take it seriously.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I don't

blog very much. Yet.