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Well, I did make something

Today. It’s Monday, which is work then school (same as Tuesday).

I ran out of body wash, shampoo and lotion so I decided to make some (so, see, I did make SOMETHING today besides lunch).

Really the body wash and shampoo are a 2 for. It’s pretty much Dr. Bronner’s soap, olive oil (infused with calendula) and coconut milk whipped together until it’s super airy and frothy.

The lotion was similar (minus the soap): calendula infused olive oil, coconut milk, vegetable glycerin, coconut oil and essential oils (I used cinnamon and clove bud).

After running M0rt last night via Lappy, he seems to be behaving. And MTC seems to be WAY more stable. I will try some more cuts tomorrow night using Lappy and  MTC. Both Lappy and Desky run Windows 7 but Lappy is 64 bit v Desky’s 32. There are no posted forum topics discussing 64 v 32, just that the plugin for eCraft doesn’t work.

I’m not sure why MTC’s admins wouldn’t ask what version of Win7 people were running when they complained about it not working. I mean, we ask that right off the bat when someone calls in with problems accessing our website.

I had sent a terse email demanding satisfaction from MTC. I will give it a bit more trouble shooting before I completely give up on it.

This does not mean I have given up on a laser. At all. In fact, I want to go to TechShop so I can laser things for hours. The laser brings great joy. Great joy.

Oh and when the hell did Dr. Bronner’s soap jump up to $22/bottle?!?!?!Oh, that’s right, when I decided to go to CityTarget (I hate you CityTarget).

Nothing to see here


After last night’s frustration with M0rt, I spent some time in the kitchen today. I made broth (a Sunday activity for me), home made sausage meatballs, harvested some volunteer collards and arugala from the plot that is slated to be a compost plot, planted kale, swiss chard and lettuce and researched laser cutters.

I’m currently testing how M0rt, Make the Cut and eCraftshop Pro work with Lappy. Perhaps it will all work better with 64 bit v 32 bit?  Who the hell knows. All I know is that if I am to produce quality work of any sort with M0rt, things better start acting straight. Or I will get lasers. Seriously. We’re LaserGnomes with no lasers at the moment.

I seriously spent some time researching laser cutters/engravers. I would love to have one in the Gnomery. It was the main reason for going to techshop, but these days it’s neigh impossible to get time on the laser since everyone and their brother is running a business out of techshop AND people are booking far more than 2 hours at a time.

So far MTC seems to be okay running on Lappy, but the first cut almost always runs all the way through. The problem usually occurs on cuts 2, 3 and so on.

The real issue with eCraftshop Pro is the speed at which it runs M0rt. MTC runs a lot slower, which allows for fewer issues with delicate cuts. Neither offers speed control and there is no speed control on M0rt himself. This is a fatal flaw. Running full tilt isn’t so much a problem if you are cutting 5×7 rectangles (which I was for my first project of wedding invitations). But high speed and small cuts don’t mix well. Same with the laser. You don’t want to run full speed, especially if you are doing delicate detail work.

The prospect of a laser cutter would open up a lot of doors. I wouldn’t be limited to paper products, fabric and the like, as I would be able to cut items up to 1/4″ (some models 3/8″ thick). I would also be able to glass etching as well.

Last night in all of my frustration, I busted out the scissors and started cutting (I know I said I could have cut my pieces faster than M0rt by hand, but that was clearly an exaggeration on my part). I still can’t use scissors. I have regained A LOT of use of my hand and arm back, but scissors are still NOT one of those things. My arm burned and hurt so badly and I really only was using scissors for about 15 minutes. It was frustrating. That compounded with M0rt issues and disco disco made me feel ready to punch somebody.

I have days where holding a pen is difficult as well (like Friday, I’m not sure what was up, but I really hope my instructor doesn’t grade based on penmanship – it was atrocious). Luckily those days are fewer and farther between than they used to be.

M0rt is currently 82% through the first cut in MTC with no problems. We’ll see how he does on round 2

Makes the Cut(?)

I’m starting another Skull tonight and I am BEYOND frustrated.

I loved Makes the Cut the first day I used it. It was perfect. It wasn’t throwing the paper around the way that eCraftshop Pro does. I got clean cuts the first time.

But that was the first day. Ever since then, I have been getting random error messages when making the cuts. It may occur in the first 5% of the the entire cut path or it may occur at 95% complete. I can’t tell you how much paper I’ve wasted when it gets part way through a cut and stops.

In reading through MTC forums, it appears to be a problem that has been ongoing for at least 2 years with the eCraft plugin. People have reached out over and over trying to get help but have basically been told to kick rocks and that it must be their computer.

Well, I just spent an hour and a half cleaning my registries, uninstalling and reinstalling, making sure that drivers were up to date, etc. I got one clean cut and then got the same error message 10% into the cut on the paper I wanted to use for piece 3 of this particular assemblage. I tried moving my files from my external hard drive to my desktop (just in case there was some sort of issue with the hard drive communication with the eCraft).

I have requested a refund from MTC. At this point the usability of MTC is so unreliable that I am not willing to throw any more paper at it. It had some features that were great, but in all honesty, those features don’t outweigh the wasted paper (and time costs).

I’m running a timer for this assemblage to see how long it will take and at this point I have 3 pieces of paper cut in 2.5 hours. I probably could have cut that by hand faster. I spent 2 hours working through some file issues in Illustrator (which is understandable, but once I get those sorted out my time investment should be minimal for cutting). The part that should be time consuming should be assembling the flowers and hand inking the line work.

In other making stuff news, Justin and Rod worked on casting in brass this week while I was at work. (all the good stuff happens while I’m at work). My head is spinning with ideas for things to make and I can’t really prioritize what I want to do.

I’m still making sure I spend at least an hour a day on something creative (except last night – went to bed early and had the best night’s sleep all week. Friday night seems to be my best sleep night). I was going to tangle last night, but Justin wanted to go to bed early. He didn’t feel well and apparently got up and was quite sick in the middle of the night. I didn’t even realize he got up, that’s how deep in sleep I was!

Tangle time

Woo. Got a tangle done. Studied for a test (wouldn’t you know the one time EVER I ask to reschedule a test it gets all effed ujp and at the moment I have a big fat F).

Got a massage and my therapist mentioned there were way fewer knots in my low back. Thank you kneeling chair, you are a lifesaver

Time for bed… wish me luck remembering the potbellies, olmecs, izapa and maya.


But I’m really not sure what day to call it. I think it would be #38 based upon the sequence from when I was doing it daily. While I haven’t been doing a tangle daily, I have been “making” daily. “Time Goes By” took quite a few days of work and layout to get it all assembled and framed.

We also went to the Elder Gnome’s home to do some metal casting. That was pretty rad and a few more crucibles have been obtained. Which means more metal types. Which means brass. I need to figure out some modeling software and make something for my gramps. Every time I see brass, I think of him. Before his hands (and head) started bothering him a lot, he spent a lot of time buffing brass. Every time we include antique brass items in a collection at work, I think of my gramps! He should have been buying up used brass and selling it on Etsy! We sell so much brass (and throw pillows, which I still don’t get the point of).

I did tangle today. I went in to work late so I could help Justin with some additional rack installation and got home around 8. I did some yoga (I highly recommend for home practice – there’s a lot of variety and it costs less than drop in at a single class!).

I had a thought recently about homeless people. Perhaps they are so fried in part due to dehydration (it can make you pretty weird). They are often wearing 5-6 layers of clothes, they drink mostly alcohol (I’ve never seen a bum drink a bottle of water) and they are exposed to the elements all the time. Something to think about.

Time for bed.

Passing Time

I’m watching you

I distressed the frame
I couldn’t find my pop up photo booth for this, so still not the greatest photos. I’m sad to say that the only thing my V3 seems to be good for anymore is Macro photography. It takes amazing macros but the second you try to photograph anything else with it, it’s super grainy. 
Justin got me this rad journal today. He saw my sad little notebook from Goodwill that I have been working on recipes in and thought he’d give me some place nice to put the final versions!  

The first recipe to go in there will be avocado zucchini hummus. 

I swear I haven’t been slacking off!

I haven’t been the best about the blog for the last few days  but we’ve been busy!

Saturday we did some experimental metal casting. I haven’t had a ton of time to model anything (my modeling skillz are lacking anyhow) and the stuff I have modeled is too large for the current casting set up.

Tiny Lazard heads were printed and cast in silver! Behold!

I then stayed home and diligently worked all day yesterday. I drowned more ants in my plot (though all this talk about casting sort of makes me want to cast an aluminium ant hill.

I tested out Ebay Now for myself yesterday. In less time than it would take for me to walk to target, get stuff (and get distracted by other stuff) and walk home, my paper goods were delivered to the house. Seriously like 37 minutes from order to delivery. I made lunch and ate it and watched part of Parenthood.

But then I got down to business.

I plan to photograph the final product with my actual camera, not my phone. I swear. Frames are on the way.

I have to say that M0rt was giving me some troubles though. Not sure if it was the paper type (heavy cardstock with glitter and slick surfaces) or what, but he was stabbing the paper instead of gently cutting it. Then there were software issues. As in love as I was with Makes the Cut 3 on Saturday, Sunday was a whole different experience. It kept losing communication with M0rt about 1/3 of the way into a cut. I wasn’t having  that issue with eCraftshop Pro but there are some things I am not a huge fan of with that software as well.

I took to doing some of the cutting by hands (for the rolled rosettes in #2) but it’s nice when M0rt is working smoothly to work while he does the cutting.

Ah projects

So, I’ve obviously missed a few days of my zentangles. But I’m okay with that.

After a lengthy discussion with Justin, it feels more important to create in general every day rather than be tied to a specific project.

I was stressing over not getting tangles done. I was going to bed too late because I had to make dinner, walk the dog, go to the store, actually spend time with my husband etc., and lo and behold it’s almost midnight and my tangle wasn’t done.

Life happens. And it was staring to feel like I was sacrificing other projects I wanted to do so I could get the tangle done.

Like this one:

I have had this project on my radar for ever. Seriously. From the day I got M0rt I wanted to do this. It’s not working out exactly as planned (M0rt is choosing to be difficult), but I’m trying a variety of ways to work through this project.

It’s really time consuming. I have to make sure the files are appropriately layered for cutting. I’ve spent countless hours working on the AI file itself over the last how ever many months. But the zentangle project was basically relegating things like this to the weekend. If I am home and not busy with other stuff.

M0rt doesn’t seem to take kindly to really intricate scroll work (neither does the Cricut). He chews the paper. He gets his blade stuck and cuts over the same area twice. So that sort of put a damper on my idea intricately cut paper scroll work for this project.

So my next inclination was to cut a template and ink the scroll work using that. I figured if M0rt didn’t want to work with cardstock on this, perhaps he’d cooperate with some Bristol. Nope. Not having it. He threw a fit. He didn’t want to cut through most of the time (I started at a 6 pressure and went up to 8). When I increased the pressure, he stabbed the paper with his blade and snagged the edges. I wasted a few pieces of bristol in this process.

I got frustrated and was like “fine. be that way M0rt. See if I use you as much for stuff” (maybe he doesn’t want to do work and this is all a part of his plan). I decided to hand ink after all. But then Justin reminded me of the Grafix Rub-onz sheets. So I inked the rub onz sheets and am attempting to transfer that way. The only issue I have with that is that there is a slight sheen around the placement because it would be really difficult to remove all of the non inked adhesive.

Ultimately I plan to put this in a 12×12 scrapbook/shadowbox style frame, so the glass will have all sorts of glare that will likely obscure the sheen of the adhesive. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

My skipping tangles started on Tuesday with good reason. We went to Sacramento to go to the annual Bristol Hospice Remembrance. I have to say I was really glad I postponed my midterm (first time in all of college I’ve ever asked to reschedule a test). It was awesome to be somewhere with people who were so highly impacted by my brother. Sometimes it feels like people don’t remember he ever existed, but even almost 3 years later the hospice staff tears up when they talk about Jesse. It was also really great to see some of the people who have inspired my desire to provide art as therapy for hospice patients and their families.

365 Days of Zentangles – Day 37

Day 37! I did it. And a bunch of other stuff this weekend too. I swear sleep was what I needed. It was the first weekend I didn’t feel stressed about work, which made my weekend that much better.

I battled ants yesterday in the garden. I tried to make muffins (fail). I succeeded in making tiny pumpkin pies. I doubled down on the tangles yesterday. I did something else but am not entirely certain what it was.

Today I got up and did yoga for an hour. I made coffee. I sat on the porch and drank said coffee while reviewing for my Contemporary Art midterm that is tomorrow night. I made a slideshow of all the pieces I may be tested on for that class (not sure why people make flashcards anymore, putting together a slide show is much more efficient). Started this project:

I’ve had this vision in my head for a couple of weeks now. When it is finished, I am going to mount it in a shadowbox frame.

This is where I got today:

I’m using M0rt for this project. I read a lot of people’s complaints on the forums over at Craftwell. “it’s not mat free. You have to use something.” “It’s ripping my paper.” “It doesn’t work right” “I should have kept my Cricut”

Having used a Cricut for work and having used M0rt, I have to say I like the e-craft (M0rt) more than the Cricut.

First things first, the cutting mats. e-craft is a “matless” cutting system, meaning it doesn’t require consumable sticky mats that are a proprietary design and you don’t need to buy a new one every couple of projects. Cost aside (they range from $7-$12/ea), they stink. They have an odor I cannot stand. It’s repulsive. If I had to smell that every time I wanted to make anything, I’d get rid of the machine. Paper stick to the mats horrendously (I ended up losing a large number of cuts to the mat alone). Hair sticks to the mats. Dust sticks to the mats. It’s gross.

The e-craft (M0rt) is matless in the sense it doesn’t require a sticky mat. Some materials will need a “carrier” though. Light weight paper, fabric, cellophane, things like that will need a “carrier”. What’s a “carrier” and how is that different than a mat? The carrier can be anything that is thicker and sturdier than the paper in question. When I need a carrier, I just use the chipboard or lightweight cardboard from the back of a paper stack with a bit of Scotch “blue” tape (removable tape) to keep the edges down. I’m re-purposing materials, which is a big part of LaserGnomes.

I have to say that both M0rt and the Cricut actually aren’t that rad for cutting really detailed pieces. Both end up having a bit of blade drag (which I have observed a way around, but can’t exactly figure out what the eCraftShop Pro does to calculate a cut path). That being said, as frustrating and wasteful as it sounds, you ultimately need to have a new blade every 5 sheets of paper or so. In one of my art classes, we were told to use a new x-acto blade for EVERY CUT in order to attain the best results and cleanest cuts possible. Mind you, we were masking areas off with frisket for renderings and that takes a ton of cuts. This is the equivalent of that.

Cricut blades are about $10 for a 2 pack, whereas e-Craft blades are $22 for a 20 pack. This makes switching blades out a lot less painful.

There are some other reasons I really love M0rt that I will get into another day. It seems like a lot of the people who complain that it’s not a Cricut are people who just want to push a button and choose from predetermined designs. Not how I want to craft, but hey, to each their own, right?

365 Days of Zentangles – Days 35 and 36

Okay, I had to double down today. I intended to do day 35 yesterday (as it should have been), but I came home, made dinner and crashed out. Hard. I even skipped happy hour after work. I was too tired. I made some kick ass pulled pork in the crockpot (nightshade free even. It’s becoming a challenge to find recipes that are tasty and nightshade free. Every time I see something that looks delicious, it’s got something in it I can’t eat). I fell asleep at 9 pm and didn’t get up until 10 this morning.

We tried Absolut Apple Ginger vodka, which was delicious, but I think at this point the only vodka that doesn’t completely mess my nose/sinuses up is Ciroc (it’s made from grapes). Really though, I think it may just be better to avoid alcohol completely for a while again and get my nose straight. I’m currently doing a fungal cleanse using Garden of Life Fungal Defense (some times chronic sinus issues can be fungus related and I have been having problems since I got sick). After 3 days, my sinus headaches have gone away.

I mounted all of my loose tangles to bristol stock the day before yesterday (I was starting to lose them being loose all over my desk).

I also made tiny pies today. They are delicious. I love things that are bite sized or prepared in individual servings, so I made pumpkin pies using muffin tins. Best idea EVER. I’m still working on a pumpkin muffin, but it’s not quite there yet. I think the chia egg is making it gummier than it should be, but I’m still not doing well with eggs yet (try being paleo without eggs. it’s pretty damn hard).

Justin and I went and had massages as well today. And I battled ants. I have moved to electrocution for the GD mice. I don’t even know what do to for that many ants in an area where no one wants poison.

That greenery is a 3 inch tall sprig of mint COMPLETELY covered and swarmed by ants.