Sunday, August 25, 2013

Anatomy of a job.

This piece was created in a day for the RHS. Here it is from sketch to scan!

Nothing digital, just my inks and a few teas, working in my temporary office space to a soundtrack of screaming, under the Big One rollercoaster in Blackpool.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Adobe Kuler: Great App, Awful Name.

For this blog I am borrowing a feature by Assistant Graham, who introduced me to the abysmally-named but really quite helpful Adobe Kuler (pronounced 'Cooler'. And please, don't worry if you added 'Shaker' in your head - we've all done it).

In common with a lot of artists it seems, I love colour, but for a long time (we're talking years) I avoided making colour decisions or would work in black ink all of the time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE black ink. But you can't use it on EVERYTHiNG. When I did do colour, it would come out as a frenzy of lumo greens and yellows, or muddy reds and weird browns, and sometimes it worked, sometimes it was awful, especially when printed on a final product.

I later bought an excellent book about using colour - called Colour Index, shown below, which has masses of ready-made colour combinations taken from life, nature, art, history and so on. It really helped for a good long time - I'd just reach for the book when I wasn't sure. Then I began to get comfortable with sampling colours from around me - a dress, some fabric, a car, old packaging, anything - but the difficulty was sometimes capturing and recreating them, and a camera phone wasn't quite around then - or if it was, it wasn't up to the job!

When phone cameras did arrive I thought to myself, y'know, I ought to be able to just point this at the thing, plug it into my Mac and download the colours (well you could, by loading the photo into PS and eyedropping - but it was always a bit awkward). Then lo, suddenly, this tiny little app and website by Adobe called ‘Kuler’ was shown to do just that!

Dodgy name aside, it's a great app and it's free. Here’s a link to Kuler on the App Store:

You can point your phone or iPad at something - here I point my iPhone at Graham - and it picks colours from what you've it pointed at, making a 5 colour swatch from it.
Note the circles, which you can move with your fingertips to get the exact colour you're chasing:

From there you can manually tweak them:

or if you’re happy with the swatch's colours you can give it a name and save it - switch over the Public Theme button and other people can use it too:

then add it to your massive collection of Kuler swatches - here's Graham lounging among his co-swatches:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

'Irish for play'.

You know when you get a new thing and you want to tell everyone about it, for their own good, 'cause you can't believe how brilliant it is, like those people who come to the door with little 'good news' tomes with a tower on the front? Or carrying pictures of Jesus?

Well, this is such a thing. It's called Sugru, and I've been pushing it like a crack dealer for years.

Invented by spectacularly-named Irish Royal College product design graduate  Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh (it took her ten years), Sugru is a self-setting wonder-material that fixes, modifies, changes, and adheres to, anything. It's not Plasticine. It's not Modroc. It's not flippin' Fimo either. You don't need an oven, it dries and sets in the air, is moulded by hand and stays flexible. It can withstand temperatures from -50 to 180 centigrade. It's waterproof. And it sticks to anything.

For the juicy tech spec, you can go here.

It's actually a kind of silicone rubber, and I've given packets of it (which look just like condom packets) to everyone from the builder to the plumber, the bikeys, the architect, electrician, garage fellas and family and friends. Whether they've played with it yet I don't know - but suffer the fool who doesn't!

Sugru changed my life in that it provided a thing with which to solve the sorts of problems I previously just didn't know how to fix. I'm handy with a screwdriver, I'm good with a drill, but some things just seem impossible. And we hate throwing things away. Thus, our house is a living monument to the stuff. Well, not quite, but here are some of the problems we've solved and hacks we've made with this wonderful material.

For more, go to Sugru's website. You need it in your life. You actually do. Come to my Church of Sugru!

Stockists are here, but of course, you can buy from them direct.

Modified my chuck key handle, to make it easier to turn when A Bloke has been using my drill:

Made a doorstop, to stop the back door banging in the wind (it's moulded round a screw in the ground):

A removable cover for the lock on the door, to stop the wind whistling through it:

A new handle for the little bathroom cupboard:

Mended the soap tray thing in the bathroom (there are four repairs like this one):

Stuck Lego heads onto earring backs:

Modified window seals on our Nissan Pao:

Terminated the disconnected and redundant air con pipes in the Pao:

Made a bonnet catch too:

 A stop for the lid in the kitchen step, so it doesn't scrape the wall:

Feet for the crate which holds all my current job bags, so the floor isn't scratched:

Little pads for all the chairs, so they too don't scratch the floor:

His Favourite Mug, handled shattered into seven pieces, mended so you wouldn't even notice:

A stop for the toilet lid, avoiding paint chips through repeated bangs when it's opened.
The design matches that on the bathroom fireplace:

Stoppers for the reclaimed chemical bottles in the bathroom. They're aren't full of hazchems, just inked water. They're stamped with my 'ink bottle and quill' wax seal:

Modified the gate catch:

Made a new taper on an improvised stand for the bird table, when the builder chucked the original support away:

Made the van's air compressor handle less miserable to use (in matching colours):

And my first ever repair, a favoured glass lotion dispenser dropped on the floor and the crappy plastic nozzle smashed off. All Sugru'd up and still going strong:

An extra couple of pads on the coffee grinder so it doesn't damage the worktop when in use:


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