Category Archives: EMSL Projects

Halloween Project Archive

Array of Halloween Projects

It’s been a crazy year and Halloween has snuck up on us again! Are you ready to get in the Halloween spirit? Want some spooky snacks? Is it not Halloween for you if there isn’t pumpkin carving? Head over to the Halloween Project Archives for inspiration and ideas.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and … we’ve organized dozens of our Halloween projects into categories: costumespumpkinsdecor and food.

Featured Artist: Michelle Chandra

Michelle Chandra holding a gold and black plot on white paper in front of her

Michelle Chandra is an interactive and generative artist who currently works primarily with AxiDraw making often radially symmetric art reminiscent of spirograph drawings.

radial design in blues and red on white paper

Her work can be found on instagram and twitter as well as at her website, Dirt Alley Design.

bright blue design on dark paper

She wrote up an excellent article full of tips and tricks on how she draws generative art using the AxiDraw. She shares generous documentation on many of her explorations on her blog, which can be useful to anyone interested in generative art. Each post is chock full of explanations, such as this one on her favorite pens and techniques for alignment for multiple color plots. (I’m definitely biased, but “Should you buy a pen plotter?” won my heart.)

deep red and blue design with white space ribbons

I enjoy her dramatic use of color, with deep fills or combinations of cyan, magenta and yellow that bleed into reds, greens and blues where they overlap.

four pointed stars in cyan, yellow and magenta

She has prints available on her site, and many more beautiful artworks she shares there as well.

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your art with us!

Linkdump: January 2021

CMYK embroidery

The AxiDraw MiniKit 2

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Today we are introducing a major refresh of the smallest member of the AxiDraw family of pen plotters: the new AxiDraw MiniKit 2. The AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is our special compact DIY-kit version of the AxiDraw lineup.

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Versus the original AxiDraw MiniKit, the MiniKit 2 has been redesigned for easier assembly, better precision, and higher performance. The key change is that the long linear rail that forms the base of the machine — a custom aluminum extrusion in the original — has been replaced with a solid bar of 6061-T6 aluminum, machined in the same precision process as our top-of-the-line AxiDraw SE/A3, and then anodized to a satin-silver finish. This change simplifies a number of the assembly steps, but more importantly has a cleaner overall look and tighter manufacturing tolerances for improved precision.

AxiDraw MiniKit
In addition to be being “Mini”, the MiniKit 2 is also still a kit.

Unlike other models of the AxiDraw family like AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw SE/A3 (which come assembled, tested, and ready to use), the AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is a machine that you assemble yourself.

We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build, own, and use.

AxiDraw MiniKit

The new version is also heavier than the old one, which helps it to stay stable on your desk at higher speeds and gives it a small boost in effective speed, in addition to the upgrades in precision. Small but sturdy, The MiniKit 2 is built with machined parts, just one custom aluminum extrusion now, attention to detail, and care.

Halloween Project Archive

Array of Halloween Projects

This year’s Halloween may be a little different from years past. But maybe you’re doing a Zoom costume contest? Want some spooky snacks? Or want to get in the mood with seasonal decor? Is it not Halloween for you if there isn’t pumpkin carving? Head over to the Halloween Project Archives for inspiration and ideas.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and … we’ve organized dozens of our Halloween projects into categories: costumespumpkinsdecor and food.

Lemon Plum Jam Revisited

Jars of jam

It has been a great season for plums, so I’ve updated the lemon plum jam recipe that I’ve been gradually refining over the years. The new basic recipe is below along with other tips I’ve gathered.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cut up pieces of plums, pits removed, skins left on, fresh or frozen
  • 3 lemons, (optionally peeled) cut into small pieces, seeds removed
  • juice from 3 more lemons
  • 6 cups sugar

Lemon and plum pieces in a pot

Procedure:

Put the plums, lemon pieces and lemon juice in a sauce pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to soften. At this point, you can use a potato masher to crush the fruit pieces for a more even consistency.

Holding potato masher above fruit cooking in pot

Add sugar and cook, stirring regularly, until it thickens. You can test the consistency for doneness by putting a spoonful in a cold dish in the fridge for a few minutes. After chilling, it’s ready if it holds its shape a bit when you move a spoon or finger through it. You can also follow your favorite canning procedure for longer term storage. Makes about 4-5 pints.

Tips and techniques:

For cutting up the fruit, I like to put a small cutting board inside a baking sheet. This catches the juice much better than any cutting board with a moat that I’ve ever used. It makes cleanup much easier, and you can pour the juice from the baking sheet into the cooking pot.

Most jam recipes call for approximately equal quantities of sugar and fruit. I prefer my jam a little more tart, so I’ve revised down the sugar.

I’ve stopped adding water to my preserves. It cooks a little faster without as much liquid, and there’s enough liquid in the lemon juice to get it started cooking even if the fruit isn’t covered.

I also often leave the lemon peel out for the preserves I make (other than marmalade). The peel gives it a stronger lemon flavor, but keeps the jam from gelling as well. If you want a thicker consistency that gels a little earlier, you can leave the peel out. If you want zingier lemon flavor, leave the peel on and cook a little longer.

During fruit season, I try to preserve as much as I can by making jams and chutneys, but I usually run out of time and end up cutting up the last of the crop and freezing it. Using frozen fruit for jams seems to work just as well as fresh. I measure out 8 cups and store it in a one gallon freezer bag. Then it’s ready to pull out start a batch of jam. I also recently revised my Plum Chutney recipe, and it starts with 8 cups of fruit as well.

An EggBot Brunch Party

Eggs in basket
Photo by Raka Mitra

Heather Seeba wrote in to let us know about a gathering she has hosted around the EggBot.

EggBot set up for Brunch
EggBot set up for Brunch: Photo by Heather Seeba

The EggBot brunches have been big hits with my friends. Seeing the fascination and excitement showing new people my EggBot has to be my favorite part of playing with it. The inspiration came when I took the ‘bot to my (engineering) office so colleagues could make eggs for their kids: people were skeptical then couldn’t stay away. Thus for an EggBot brunch, invite awesome nerdy people over, feed them, and gather round the EggBot.

Heather told us about her events earlier this year, before the advent of physical distancing. Many of her suggestions can be adapted for family groups living together and we’ve added some suggestions for remote attendees as well.

Egg with flowers
Photo by Raka Mitra
Flower pots as backdrops
Photobooths for Eggs: photo by Heather Seeba

Some recommendations for an EggBot brunch include:

  • Print outs of suggested (speedy) designs will engage interest quickly.
  • For in-person attendees, buffet and easy lap food works better than a sit-down meal so the focus can be on the drawing.
  • For remote attendees, have a camera set up pointing at the EggBot so they can see their design being drawn.
  • Print some outline designs in advance and let folks color eggs if they like.
  • Make a photo shoot station for guests’ creations. Flower pots with herbs and blossoms are a great example.
Eggs in the herbs
Photo by Raka Mitra
Eggs in grass
Photo by Heather Seeba

The photo booths can be used even for eggs decorated without the EggBot!