things that make your life easier

or more fun



I Paint with a Laser

I was painting today, or rather removing the paint from a few days ago.  The process continues to evolve, and I did finally get a decent picture of my first painting. It is very high contrast, and I have to say I didn’t have much control.  This is a watercolor with a rather haphazard application of paint. It is tentatively titled “Making Marx on Canvas.”

marx and me

I have updated my process and am now using acrylics.  The reason for my switch has more to do with opportunity than anything else.  That is to say that the store I went to on Monday didn’t have a good supply of watercolors, but was overflowing with inexpensive acrylics.  At some point, if this becomes an ongoing thing I will take my materials more seriously, but at the moment cheap acrylics are serving me well.

I spent the first hour aclimating to the new materials and trying to figure out what colors I could get out of it, I realized that I was in an iterative proces (multiple runs with the laser) and started with gradients at 20%.  The material proved quite resiliant but after 4 passes I had taken off the black layer on top and revealed the blue underneath.  This was encouraging, but I also realized that I did not have time to do 4 passes to get a blue.  I may incorporate this in the future, but moved along to boxes all black 100%, 80%, 60% and 20% (oops). I upped the power to 40% and did up to 4 passes. This revealed almost all the way to the white canvas.  It occurs to me that I could do another pass and clean off most of the paint for a white, but I am also getting into “baking the canvas” territory which would yield a pleasing sepia or brown but not a white.

I then did a color separation on my image. (note too that in my files I had to invert the image because of the reductive process)

invert black

This is the black which shows a pretty good representation of the tonal range.  The reason behind doing a color separation is that I realized that when I am using the laser I am able to strip away about a layer of paint, and have the ability to do tuning.


after the first pass, I had the power pretty low (again about 40% and the results are consistent with my test patches.  I can now see the image and wanted to start cutting deeper looking for the white. I noticed that even a little laser destroys the luster of the black.  I need to watch this in the next painting.


I used the yellow channel next and started tuning the channel image.


The magenta channel was next, and cyan.


Thinking it was too dark I attempted to tune it with another pass with the adjusted black layer.


The result is quite pleasing, and looking back at the original SL image, I really like how the process favors the 3d of the avatar, the images in the back still look flat, but I have all of my colors revealed in the final painting.


I ran out of time on the laser, but got a result that is wonderful.  It is “Mona Lisa” dark and shows the original texture of the canvas.

The work is titled “Malcolm in the Middle” and that is Rabelais on the right.

I paint with lasers.

CADRE build (Week 1)

This is what learning is about.

After one week at the TechShop I am still totally excited, I feel like I am on the all-star team with a bunch of artists and students that I respect and whose company I enjoy.  This however also qualifies as the ultimate unclass. ( and I have an agenda.  This time I am a peer in learning and less of a teacher. I have however taken up the mantle of a community organizer and try to keep up with everyone and do some cheerleading as we only have a month to work here.

Our first meeting was at noon on Tuesday.  Much though I hate it I was late to the meeting because Steve was on auto-pilot and headed towards Jameco.  We eventually got turned back around and had a nice meet and greet and tour of the TechShop.  It was great to feel like the new kid in the playground again, and after a look around we scheduled classes and left.

On Wed Dan, Steve, Dave and I took the laser class with the lovely and talented Laura Mappin.

On Thursday we had our first potluck, I made beans and rice and Laura was able to join us as well.

our first mealThe food was good, the company was excellent and then our very own Steve Durie led us in a workshop where we build blinky bots.  We got some SBU’s (Safety and Basic Use classes) in (4 of us on laser, vinyl, and plasma cutter) and then Saturday got our first block of laser time and we shared it.  Four of us ended up using the 2 blocks of time:

Santa Steve made festive Christmas gifts

Dan etched some wood with a family photo.

After our laser time we were fortunate enough to happen upon the textile and laser meetups at the TechShop. I had a chance to play with some canvas on a board which was super painful to cut through, and etching an image took 4 passes with the laser on 40% power.  If the power went higher the gesso seemed to give off a gas that flamed up.

We met again this Tuesday after Jenene and I tried to go to Sacremento (that darn 101 hates us). We then had our next block of laser time after our meetup at noon. At the meeting we tossed around the idea of creating lamps for the exhibit at the beginning of spring.  We have yet to hear from everyone, but it seems like a good project.  We also booked three sessions back to back for the laser from 1-7 pm.  Because of this I managed to get my first project cut and do some experimentation with the canvas.  I applied layers of yellow, red, and blue in both watercolor and acrylic.  I then lased off portions of it in “etch” mode. Test results are here next to my newly coated yellow canvas.  I am thinking this will take a while to  iron out the materials, but am excited by the results so far.

Our brave band will not meet this Thursday as it is x-mas eve, we are planning our next potluck on Saturday (when we have another laser block).  I have also ordered some super bright LED’s for my lamp.

Now we just need the arduino class.

I made a quick video last night showing some of the paper work I did on the laser.

PayPal Still Sucks

What is wrong with PayPal?

Today I tried to donate money to some deserving causes and I got blocked.

At first PayPal said that my account was flagged, that they were trying to protect me from fraud, pretty much your standart phishing email except it came from paypal and didn’t have any links.

I logged in to paypal and it wants all this information, the first thing it demands is my full credit card number, then makes me change my password and my extra questions then get this it tells me this is a random thing and that the note they sent was BS. they just wanted to re-verify me.

Okay, I am pissed. I figure I will go ahead and do it, but then I am hit with their stupid system, they are asking for location information to verify, they will not accept my cell phone and appearantly my lifestyle is such that I have little to offer.

Now I have been a customer for 5 years, and never had a problem, why all this now? And why such a damn unfriendly system? I mean I have spent more than an hour throwing myself at this and I am coming to the opinion that it just might not be worth it.

Why must I confirm location for a 5 year old paypal account?

I end up re re re confirming my credit card and they charge me $1.95 that I have to go to my statement to find a code number… WTF? 4 days before xmas when I am trying to buy something, and of course there is no way to reach customer service for something that would be pretty easy with a live person on the phone.

This feels like the “add bank account to verify” scam that I refuse to play.

Oh yeah, and so now paypal is blocking my credit card from being used too… how wonderful. 2 hours and counting

noon2noon decompression

Saturday Afternoon at 12:01 we were out of Works San Jose, we had just spent 24 hours of gruelling art making.

The whole evening was fun and there were plenty of memorable moments, like the high school band that had their parents carry their instruments out sooo serious, but fun nonetheless.

Overall the music was tight, the Indian band created an amazing atmosphere, and the emo kids that played good music but just too loud that chased away most of the crowd.  Then there was the house band Haptic Synapses who played an all too short set.  At least they hung around around to do some 1am noodling on the music box.

It was also really cool kicking it with Charles about the 13″ MBP. In fact there were a couple of really good conversations that night and I ended up really really liking the survivors who shall be listed here:

I know I am missing people here, if anyone knows them (from the pictures or otherwise) please help and I shall update. I also have to follow up with the numbers which we won’t know for a few days yet I am sure. We have left the chip-in open till the end of the month

I was working on embedding these but wordpress is being difficult, so I may update, but until then ustream links:

beginning  noon2noon

papercraft with the art inspector

DC and the French

bad beuys

9:27 pm

1:46 am

finis (see 12:30 onward)