Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY: Make your own lightbox

A special post is coming to you today from "Broju Studios" (that's Andy)!  A few weeks ago, he made me my very own lightbox! 

So without further ado, here's Andy's How-To. 

If you want to know how to make this read on...

Lightboxes serve a few purposes.  For one, they provide a convenient location to focus a lot of light.  They also diffuse that light to eliminate shadows.  Lightboxes also provide consistency among photographs.

There are many different ideas out on the web on how to make one of these.  None of which was hard enough to make for me.  In order to overcomplicate things I decided to go above the internet standard cardboard box design.  I also realized at the end of this project that there is a reason why the cardboard box design is popular aside from the ease of its production: cost.  This job below cost me about 80 bucks, so beware.

What do you need to produce this box?  I decided the construction would be 1x2 pine.  I dug through the Menards stock of "fine" quality stock and tried to find the straightest I could.  I ended up buying 6' lengths, since I wanted my box to be 2'x2'x2'.  Why that size?  That was what management (Boju Wife) wanted in order to shoot all of her desired objects.

I am not much of an expert woodworker and despite my desire to make this as complicated as possible I lack the equipment to make the joints very complex from a wood standpoint.  So I went the easy, flexible route: corner braces available in the hardware section of any home improvement store.  Why the felt pads?  Because my design was going to require the braces to be on the bottom of the frame, which would scratch up the wife's Christmas present from a few years ago- her craft table.

Now the lynchpin of the whole operation- the lights.  These lights below will reflect the light into the box, and since they have clamps will be easy to mount.  I looked around for something with a better clamp or construction (the ball joint is quite cost reduced on these, some lame knurled job) but these seemed to be the big box standard.  They will have to do and are cheaper than the light bulbs that go in them, hard to argue with that price. 

The lightbulbs below I ended up taking back.  For a 2'x2'x2' box 65W bulbs were simply not bright enough.  We got daylight bulbs, but I suppose you can get whatever color temperature you want and correct for it in the camera white balance.

Time to start putting this thing together.  I figured it would be nice to have 45 degree ends that mated up to each other at the corners.  On my first attempt at this, I tried marking the long edge with a 45 degree angle.  Then I cut each piece individually.  I was not satisfied with how the pieces fit together.  Note, all I have is a circular saw so there are certainly better tools such as a miter saw that would have made it easier.

How can I get nice fitup of the corners with only a circular saw?  I set it to cut 45 degrees and cut the short edge of the wood, with all the pieces clamped up tight.  See below, it is four pieces but you can clearly see the angle is consistent when cut this way.

Looks pretty good...

Here are the top and bottom laid out just after cutting.

These L brackets are nice enough to tell you what hole you need to predrill prior to assembly.  I suppose you could try it without predrilling but in order to keep the wood from splitting out I predrilled all the holes.

I made sure to square the corners up prior to using the actual brace as a template to drill the parts.

Here is the drilled corner.  Ready for the screws.

Once you assemble all the brackets on you get one of the square frames below.  Now make another one to form the top of the frame.

Here is what the assembled corner looks like.  Note if you don't do the miter cut one piece will only get one screw, which weakens the connection.

Next I took some 2' sections and screwed the brackets in.  Make sure the bracket is flush with the bottom of wood.  I just bumped it up against a 4x4 to ensure the surfaces were parallel.  Predrill these and assemble.

Now that you have the four legs, time to assemble them to the top and bottom.  I located them away from the outer corner because I did not want the screws to interfere with the screws I used to assemble the top and bottom frames.

Below is the box.  Looks fairly cubic, which is a good sign.

Next I just took some display cardboard and trimmed it up to make up the back wall and bottom.  Why cardboard?  So you can pin backdrops to it if desired and also easily replaceable.

I made the lampstand below using leftover 1x2 and some 1x6 I had already.  Note the clamp was not strong enough to hold the lamp in this orientation, so I had to use one of my own to reinforce it.  It also helps to counterbalance the weight of the lamp since my base is not ballasted.

Nothing hard here, just another L bracket that I already had.

I nailed in the felt pads to prevent the scratching.  You are looking at the bottom of the cube so you are seeing the backside of the white cardboard bottom.  So now the real test- if for some reason this does not fit through any doorways en route to its final destination in Boju wife's studio...

Looks like it fits just fine.  Here it is lit up.  Note that I ran out of little elbows and time to properly rig up the top light, so it is held on with some clamps.  As for the diffuser- tissue paper works, but we are running a cheap bed sheet that seems to work a little better.

So how did it turn out?  Due to its size we upgraded to 100 W equivalent CFLs with a "daylight" color temperature.  A bigger box simply needs more light.  It has survived the more pudgy of our two cats jumping into it as soon as it landed on the craft table shown above.  It is pretty sturdy so it certainly is a good platform for some more upgrades if desired.

Whew!  So now that all that time was put into helping me take better photos, I better put it to good use.  Looking foward to taking lots of pictures using my new toy! 

Here's a little secret:  I actually already used it to make my last Invisalign post!  Those handy photos were taken in the lightbox! 

Thank you Andy! 

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Letter to my Students

Dear You,

I am writing to let you know a few things.  I want you to know that I did not leave teaching because of you.  No.  You are the reason I was a teacher, and you are the part of teaching that I will miss.  While one year may not be such a long time in the grand scheme of things, it was long enough to meet and know each of you.  It was long enough to care for you more than you know.  It was long enough to be so proud of you and your accomplishments.  And it was long enough to never forget you.

I have many wishes for each of you.  If you are reading this tomorrow, I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation.  I hope you are spending time with family and friends, and I hope you are reading.  Find some good books at the library and get lost in that world.  Play outside!  Ride your bike and wear your helmet.  Enjoy life! 

And if you are reading this in five years, some of you will already have graduated from high school.  Wow, congratulations!  I know you worked hard for that!  I hope you are doing well in college or in your career.  I hope you have big dreams for yourself and believe that you can achieve them.  I do.  Some of you will be in high school.  I hope you have lots of good friends who are positive influences in your life.  I hope you are careful while you drive.  I hope you are doing your best in school even when it's hard.  Even when it's overwhelming, I know you can do it.  I hope you know you can too. 

And if you are reading this in ten or even twenty years, some of you may be married with a family of your own.  I hope you have met many goals you had for yourself, have set new ones, and are working toward those.  I hope you are happy with whatever it is you choose to do.  You deserve to be happy.  Know that I remember you.  Know that I am proud of you now.  Know that I am still thinking of you.  I wish you well always.

Yes, you are the reason I became a teacher.  You are the reason I loved teaching.  You are the reason I will look back at that time in my life and smile.  Really big. 


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Someone's a Year Older Today...

Happy birthday to Andy!  On this day every year, I'm thankful for many things, one of them being that for the next six months I'm no longer a cougar.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saturday Recap: What He Said

Funny story from Saturday:

I had just finished my most favorite design ever for the next Spoonflower contest.  I mean I was super proud of myself.  I showed it to Andy and here's what went down.

Andy: It's not my favorite thing you've done.
Emma:  What?!  I love it!
Andy: (pause)  Really... I like every other thing you've done better than that.

Oh my gosh my life cracks me up.  It's amazing we ever like anything the same, because many times we are the complete opposite.  I will never forget standing in Bed Bath & Beyond for what seemed like days, holding the wedding registration scanner, staring up at the wall of towels, and we could not come to a decision for the life of us.  I wanted pretty colors, he wanted white.  But really, white towels?  (A few years later, he said "Why did you let me get white towels?)

So anyways back to the design story... Later that day:

Emma:  I can't believe you said that!  I love that design!  I hope you know that's going on the blog.
Andy:  I'm just being honest.  I usually love your work, just not that.
Emma:  ...and that's going on the blog, too.


So we shall see!  We decided it will be interesting to see how it does in the contest, to see which of our tastes appeal more to the masses.  Voting starts Thursday!  If you want to vote for me, go here!  You can vote for more than one, so pick all your favorites!

Here she is in two color schemes.  I chose to enter the grey and yellow one.  The contest theme is stars and stripes.

So who's crazy, me or him?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Contest Results

Remember this?

This was the little guy I entered in last week's Spoonflower contest.  And I'm proud to say that out of a whopping 375 entries, my Circles and Stars fabric design came in 130th place with 77 votes!  Yowza!  Not too shabby, not too shabby... 

I love voting in the contests, because I get so many ideas and inspiration!  So many of the designs are amazing!  Thank you Spoonflower, I do love you.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Magazine Page Layout

Hey!  Last week, my class took a break from illustrating, and worked with text.  It was really fun!  I love love type and fonts, so I was really happy to learn more.  I learned that the "Golden Rule of Font Selection" is to never use more than two fonts in whatever you're creating.  No matter how long or short.  Veeeeeeery interesting...  One of our assignments was to create a magazine page layout.  It could look any way we wanted it to, with any genre of magazine we chose.  We started with this page of text, called "Lorem Ipsum," which is a dummy text used by designers when creating layouts.  I guess it's been around since the 1500s or something.  Again, veeeeery interesting... 

So here's what I started with:
And here's what I made:

Though not everyone may get excited by something like this, I do!  At first it was daunting, like how am I supposed to make a magazine layout, from words I don't know, for a purpose I don't know, with a title, headings, and quotes that I make up?  But I'm glad I tried, because I think it came together in the end. 

Happy Friday!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heaven in a Bowl

Last week, my parents and I went out to eat and I had this awesome salad.  I decided to re-create it at home yesterday.  Super easy.  Super good.  If you like the ingredients, that is.  My husband wouldn't touch it.

Optional:  Black Olives (not my thang)

Looks good, right? 

Disclaimer:  I may or may not have eaten the whole thing.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How I Feel About Laundry

I really do not like folding shirts.  That is all.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

As Promised: My Dino Tracks Fabric

Hi!  So on Friday I showed you my dinosaur footprint sketches for the new Spoonflower design contest, and I had a bit of an idea of what I wanted to do.  Well, I've been working this weekend, and I have two designs. 

Here's a recap of my initial sketch in all its glory:

Next I loaded it into Illustrator and used the pen and pencil tools to trace the footprints.

Then I copied them into a new document, resized, added multiples, placed them, and chose colors. 

First, I thought I wanted text, so here was my first design. 

Then, I wanted to try taking out the text and adding more footprints, so here's my second design. 

I picked my favorite and submitted it into the contest.  But I still have two days to change my mind.  So, help me out.  Which is your favorite?

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

All About Invisalign

All about Invisalign!  Here are some pros and cons, tips and tricks for anyone reading this who's thinking about getting Invisalign.

It's now my third week of Invisalign, and I'm on my second set of trays.  They were super tight when I put them in, which is uncomfortable, but I kinda like it because I can feel it working.  And I swear, my front teeth have already moved.  Maybe it's all in my head, but I think they have.  Andy thought so too.  They're still overlapping, but they're more even, if that makes sense. 

If you want to see what my teeth with Invisalign look like, see my first post here.

I'm also feeling better about wearing them.  I don't feel so awkward.  I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law and they didn't even notice them until I said something about 10 minutes later.  Unless they were lying to make me feel better...  Maybe Andy told them to say that, I don't know.  But anyways...

My 10 Things about Invisalign (so far): 

1.  Your teeth will be sore the first few days of your new trays (aligners).  You put in a new tray every 2 weeks.  Now, I never had braces, so I can't compare how bad the pain is, but I don't think it's too bad.  It's sore more than painful.  I take some Advil and avoid food that I have to bite into, like sandwiches or apples. 

2.  The attachments will feel really rough and you'll think they're sticking out of your mouth.  But they're really not.  It's only week 3 and I barely notice them anymore.  In some lighting, you can't even see them. 

3.  The time you spend on dental hygiene (wow I've never written that word before and had to look it up) will increase.  Of course you have to brush after every meal or snack now.  But you also have to brush the trays, which takes longer than you may think.  You also floss every night.  I'm also using mouthwash at night, too.  Because the trays completely cover your teeth, you don't want anything trapped in there that may cause cavities, so be extra thorough. 

4.  Going out to eat will become a bit of a pain.  You have to bring all your Invisalign stuff, find a good time to take out your trays (which is weird when someone else is at the mirror in the bathroom), and then brush your teeth in a public restroom after.  You may be thinking, why don't you just take them out before you leave the house and put them back in when you get home?  That may work, depending on how long you'll be out of the house.  You're supposed to wear them 22 hours a day, which means you have 2 hours to eat, drink, brush and whatnot.  So I've been taking them out at the restaurant to cut down on the time they're off my teeth.  A couple times I've had a snack at a time or place when it's really not convenient to brush my teeth, so I've used those Wisp disposable brushes.  They work in a pinch, and then I brush when I get home.

5.  If you're someone who likes to enjoy sipping on coffee, pop, or alcohol, you'll have to think twice.  The only thing you can drink while wearing the trays is water.  Anything else, and you have to take them out, drink, brush, and put them back in.  And remember, your trays shouldn't be off your teeth for too many hours in a day.  The positive to this is that it forces you to drink more water, which is a good thing!

6.  You will have to go to the dentist more often.  I am going every 4 weeks for a quick check and to get my new trays.  Not a big deal, but still something that will need to fit into your schedule.

7.  You'll be able to say funny things like "Just a minute, let me go put in my teeth."

8.  This is totally a just-for-me-and-may-not-apply-to-you thing, but I grind my teeth at night.  It causes some trouble for my teeth (cracking and messing up fillings), so wearing Invisalign at night is like a built in mouthguard teeth protector.  So it's a real positive for me.

9.  One thing I like about my new daily routine is that my teeth are all brushed, flossed, and mouthwashed right after dinner.  Then I don't have to worry about doing all that later, when I'm half asleep and just ready to be in bed. 

10.  Seeing and feeling your teeth move will make it all worth it.

So there you have it!  All about Invisalign.  Is anyone out there thinking about getting it?  If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dinosaur Preview

I've been working on a new design for the next Spoonflower contest.  The theme is... extinct animals!  Fun fun.  My idea is to have different dinosaur tracks going all around randomly and then to have dinosaur names written all wriggly going all around randomly too.  Ha, sounds really great right?  I'm picturing greens and tans. 

Here's my *ahem* design process *ahem* so far.  Obviously not in any order, just the names and foot shapes to use. 

I'm so excited to go back to school in the fall and take a drawing class!  I've never taken a real drawing class before, and I KNOW I need to learn the techniques.  I would love to be confident enough to draw real dinosaurs, instead of just the footprints.  So that will be really good for me, I definitely need it. 

So, what do you think of my dino tracks?  Anyone have faith that I can turn it into a fun fabric? 

I'll post my finished design... hopefully by the end of the weekend!

Happy Friday!

**Update**  When Andy came home and saw this, he said "Is that from when you were a kid or something?"  Haha... how's that for a vote of confidence?

P.P.S.  He also wants to be called "Broju."  Now that makes me laugh.  A lot.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Illustration

I've been having so much fun with Illustrator!  Love, love, love this program.  My class is teaching me so much!  In one of our lessons, we learned how to draw a polygon and then apply different effects to the shape, stroke of the lines, and fill colors.  We played around with flowers, and here are some that I created on my own!  These flowers started as 3 octagons that I changed the shapes of to create the center, petals, and leaves, using an effect called "pucker & bloat."  Amazing! 

Pretty fun, right?

I'm learning that the possibilities are endless with this program.  My trouble now is remembering how to find and do the things I want to do.  But I'm sure that, like with anything, the more I use it, the better I'll get.  I'm so thankful that I LOVE doing it!   
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Something New

One of my recent internet finds is this website called Spoonflower.  Have you heard of it?  It's a place that lets you design and/ or sell your own fabric and buy fabric designed by others.  The designers on Spoonflower are really great!  I love seeing the new designs on the home page and browsing through the shops.

Spoonflower also has a weekly design contest, and I've started entering some of my designs!  It's been a great way to challenge myself, put myself out there, and get feedback.  If you're interested, you can visit my shop here!

This is my most recent design.  The contest rules were to create a design using only these 2 colors and geometric shapes.  I LOVE colors, shapes, and patterns, so this was right up my alley.  I know I still have a lot to learn, but I had a lot of fun creating it, that's for sure.

(Sorry about the watermarks and poor quality, I'm new to this
"protecting your work on the internet" thang) 

What do you think?   I can totally see this being a fun pillow in a kid's room or playroom, or maybe a summer placemat.  I'll let you know if I turn it into anything :)

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Friday, June 8, 2012

And Now a Word from My Sponsors

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Smile for the Next (almost) Year

Announcement:  I decided to straighten my teeth. 

I had always liked my teeth and smile, with my slight overbite. But when my wisdom teeth grew in, my teeth shifted and caused some crowding and an overlap of my two front teeth.

I'd been thinking about getting Invisalign for a while, and finally went for it this spring. There were some suprises, like the attachments.  The ads never show you these little attachments that may need to be placed on the fronts of your teeth.  I get why they're necessary, but I still don't like them.  My dentist has been great though, and has made the whole process feel easy breezy.

And here's my new (but temporary) smile.  I've had them for over a week, and I'm getting used to the way I look, but I do wonder what other people think.   I feel the need to explain to everyone what's going on in my mouth, because I don't know if many people know that Invisalign may look this way.  Or even what Invisalign is.  I wonder if they look like weird growths, or fangs or something. 

But hey, I feel blessed and lucky to live in this modern day where something like this is even possible.  Until next time, I'll keep trying to smile at strangers without feeling like a vampire. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meet the Kitties

It's time for you to meet the little ones.  Get pumped! 

Baby is the old man. 
AKA Tummys, Tum Tums
He pretty much breaks every black cat stereotype ever.  He is loving, craves attention, and is just slightly off balance most of the time.  He'll be 13 this summer!

Pepper is the little missy.
AKA Pep Pep
She is the baby of the family.  She's sassy and likes to get her way.  But she's also super cuddly, hilarious, and fun.  She just turned 3. 

They are so sweet and social.  So even if you're not a "cat person,"
I promise you would love these guys!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Little Sista and Josh!

My sister Cassie and soon to be brother-in-law Josh are visiting us!  Few words are needed for this joyous occasion, so I will grace you with some glamour shots of the four of us from last Halloween. 


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Monday, June 4, 2012

Gosh, It's Summer!

Okay, okay, I know it's not officially summer, but to a teacher (or a student), IT'S SUMMER!!! WOOOOOOO!!!

Can I get an AMEN?!?!

Oh my word, this summer feels so freeing!  I feel like I could just float right up into the sky, laughing joyfully and dancing a little jig along the way. 

This summer is all about learning and practicing my design skills, taking lots of pictures, blogging my little heart out, and getting my items ready for my Etsy shop.  It will certainly be the most I've worked during the summer since college! 

Right now, I'm taking an online class.  It's an introduction to Adobe Illustrator.  I wanted to learn a little before starting school full time in the fall.  I also took a Photoshop class in the spring.  They are both such amazing programs, and I am just LOVING learning about some of the things that are possible.

Here's one of my assignments:  create an abstract logo using the shape tools.

What do you think?

Let me just say one last time:  SUMMER!!!

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Sunday, June 3, 2012


My friend Erin came to visit this weekend!  Oh halleluia it was fun. 
We lived together during our freshman year of college.  We had coordinated bunk bed bedding, watched a lot of TLC, and made so many memories. 

We've been friends since 5th grade, when I had a bowl cut hairstyle.  Any friend who would stand by me through that is a friend for life.  We love to eat kettle corn and McDonalds chicken biscuits.  We love us some Joshua Jackson. 
She's a middle school math teacher and deserves a standing ovation.  I mean it, honestly.
She totally rocks short hair and funky glasses!  Not many peeps can do that. 

And she agreed to this awesome photoshoot so I could practice my skillz!   

Let's not forget Andy.  Look at this manly man.

 Here's what we grilled, drank, and ate.  Plus smores.  And amazingly delicious blackberry wine.  And some knock your socks off rounds of Boggle and Scattergories. 
And maybe a viewing of Bridezillas. 

Now that's what I call a Saturday night!

It was a great, great weekend.

Until next time...  
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