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.
Michelle Chandra is an interactive and generative artist who currently works primarily with AxiDraw making often radially symmetric art reminiscent of spirograph drawings.
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.)
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.
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!
- Using a Sharpie can make gummy metals easier to cut. And we’re learning why.
- Online Digi-Comp II emulator (via The Computer Museum)
- Analyzing Solorigate from the Microsoft Security blog
- Exploring with Microscopes + Drones: San Rafael Bay, part of a new video series by Ariel Waldman
- The story of a community cannery in Portland, Oregon
- Quickly Sketch Escher-type Repeats Using Inkscape
- Pompeiian snack bar with guard dog excavated
- Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine
- The Fighter Plane That Shot Itself Down
- Desktop Wind Tunnel (via The Prepared)
- Monitoring municipal water quality with clams
- A green flash while observing Jupiter at SpaceWeather
- CMYK Embroidery
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.
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.
We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build, own, and use.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Heather Seeba wrote in to let us know about a gathering she has hosted around the EggBot.
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.
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.
The photo booths can be used even for eggs decorated without the EggBot!