four walls, no walls, you and me.

the boys and the beach
December 21, 2009, 4:53 pm
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Some pics I snapped this past weekend with my new (used) lens. Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5.

We went for some fro-yo after. Not the best photo in the world but this cracks me up! Homeboy loves him some fro-yo.


Kombucha Lives!
December 21, 2009, 3:39 pm
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After not so much research, I got fed up with how little info there was on brewing kombucha using heat mats. All the websites that had info were basically trying to sell you something. Boo to that. I decided what the heck, I’ll just go get one and learn by trial and error. Sounds easier than it seems. I scoured all the local Lowes/Home Depots (ok, so maybe just 3) looking for a heat mat but each time all I got was a weird look and directions to the garden department where I got another wierd look. Finally one nice lady at Lowes told me to try a real nursery. I didn’t know of any nursery’s in the area so I googled and found that Hydrofarm has a list of distributors! One of then was even located conveniently down the street from my work!

I ended up buying a seedling heat mat from a hydroponic store (not a nursery) which was probably why I never noticed it was there even though I’ve driven past it probably a million times. I called ahead and found that they had it in stock and for only $20! I drove down after work to pick it up.

First, let me say a few things about this store. It’s a hydroponics store which means they carry supplies for people who grow plants in water, hence hydroponic. However, one’s understanding of the word “plant” can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I’m not making any claims, I’ll just leave it at that.

So I walk in and all 8 people behind the counter immediately stop what they’re doing and stare at me. Not weird at all. Also, I’m the only customer in the place. Also, if I were to run into any of them in the street, I might be a little afraid. However, the woman who I spoke to on the phone and who handled my order in the store was very nice. She had misquoted me the price but honored it, although she said she would have given me a discount anyway so it all ended up being the same in the end.

Anyway, I went home and immediately plugged it in, dumped a bottle of GT’s Original into a glass jar, and made it nice and cozy on the mat. Online retailers that market these mats to kombucha growers will charge you an arm and a leg, but also sell it with a thermometer for temperature control. In my opinion, you don’t really need all that. The wattage is low enough that it never really gets *too* warm.

I have all this set up in a wooden box since there’s nowhere really dark that’s also close to an outlet. Works really well. On the bottom of the box I have the heat mat, on top of that the jar of kombucha, and the lid held slightly open by the cord that is attached to the mat. I was afraid that it wouldn’t get enough air with such a tiny opening but it wasn’t a problem.

The warning says you shouldn’t put anything directly on top of the mat but I did and it’s fine. Also, if you don’t do it that way, I doubt it will ever really warm up the mix enough to get it growing. At times I thought it got a little too warm since there was condensation on the inside of the jar, and it was warm to the touch, but I guess it ended up being just right because within the week I had a nice thin SCOBY! It has a hole in the middle but it is definitely a SCOBY! The hole was caused by the shape of the jar, which curves up toward the middle. It’s a prety big jar (2 gallon) so one bottle of GT’s wasn’t enough to fill it up past the curve in the middle, thus a donut shaped SCOBY. No big deal.

A few days ago I brewed some tea (organic white tea), mixed it with sugar, and let it cool overnight. It showed a slight oily film but not as much as other teas. Last time I used white tea I got great results so I’m not going to mess with a good thing! Right now I’m just waiting to see what happens. Hopefully the SCOBY will get thicker and in a few weeks I’ll have some nice new kombucha to drink!

Sashimi and Screen Prints
December 11, 2009, 5:33 pm
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Per usual, Hanna came over for our weekly art time. It was such a cold miserable day outside, I was kind of out of it and not really in the mood to do any work. On top of that, one of Hanna’s screens didn’t work out right, so she had to start over on that one. We spent some time trying to clean that screen, which was nearly impossible, even though I tried 3 types of solvents that usually get the emulsion off our screens at work with ease. Finally we drove to Lowes down the street and bought a bottle of Greased Lighting which did the trick. Here’s Hanna scrubbing her screen.

So, this is the part where I accidentally lock us out of the building, or so I thought. Turns out the key was in my backpack the whole time. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I was all the way home. 😛 It worked out for the best though, because I got there just in time for dinner and I was STARVING! One of my dad’s work buddies is a fisherman and had just caught a HUGE Bluefin so we had fresh sashimi. It was SO delish. I was too busy eating to take a pic, it was THAT good! I made us some Intelligentsia to go, and we headed back to work. It was definitely a huge pick me up because we ended up working until 11 that night!

Here I am either checking to see if there were blocked areas or trying to clean out some smudges, can’t remember! Photo Credit: Hanna

Paper, meet Screen. Trying to not dirty the nice paper with my ink stained hands. Photo Credit: Hanna

We were working in the kitchen so a spoon filled in for a spatula. I love this pic! Photo Credit: Hanna

Love this pic too! We used Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Ink. The consistency was very weird, kind of like thick pudding. Here I am applying a thin coat over the entire image (called flooding) before actually printing. This helps to ensure that you get an even print since it takes a lot of energy and pressure, so if there isn’t an even coat of ink and you rely solely on the ink on your squeegee, then some areas may be light, or not print at all. Photo Credit: Hanna

Finally printing! I didn’t bother using the manual press we have at work, or any of the DIY mounting methods. It came out fine. I guess it might help to have it mounted but this way works too. Photo Credit: Hanna

Finished print! Yayee! Photo Credit: Hanna

Hanna prepping her screen with a light coating of ink.

Trying something new. Hanna wanted a marbled effect, but then also realized that secret messages could be placed in the print too!

A tooth to go with the heart.

To get this to work you need to make sure the screen is NOT flooded with ink. If you flood the screen then only the ink that is in immediate contact with the screen will print.After you make the design, you can spread the rest of the ink out to cover the whole screen, like Hanna did above, or you can fill in the rest with the color of your choice.

I loved watching the way the colors mixed and the way it looked with the letters of her design.

Pulling the print.

Finished print! It looks soooo good in person. We traded prints so I have one of these, although I think I got the better end of that deal!

New Art
December 9, 2009, 5:15 pm
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I just bought a painting today. It is my first real art purchase. I am very excited. 🙂

saturday is artday
December 6, 2009, 12:45 am
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Today I finally made it out to the Japanese American National Museum for the Giant Robot Biennale, part duex. From all the pictures I saw I thought it was going to be a lot bigger than it actually was. The work was great though. Deth P Sun’s work was a surprise. For some reason I thought his work was small scale but to my surprise it wasn’t! I hope there are still some piece available at the GR webstore, I totally want one now!

Albert Reyes, an artist in the Biennale, was also there showing people how he makes some of his art using a transfer technique. Here he is with the drawing I made. The process involves an image (either drawn or a photo or any other type of image) which is then photocopied. The secret is to use a blender marker on the back side of the copy, and to burnish it onto your chosen medium. Deceptively simple, yet great results. I remember learning this method in printmaking class. Anyway, the work he does using this method is phenomenal. Check it!

Here’s the finished product. The darker one is the original. Albert made the little drawing. Oh! Also, this is the inverse image so if you want it exactly like the original he says to use the mirror image function on the copier. For people with ghetto copiers like me, you can also draw the inverse image and then copy that to get the original orientation. Good times. I always like when artists know how to share, it’s something that doesn’t happen enough and is something I always try to do. I already have a project in mind that would benefit from this, but it may have to wait two weeks until I’m done with my screen prints. 

Was going to round out the day by going to the Post-It show at the GR store but got delayed taking headshots for a friend and there was ZERO parking anyway. I seriously hate parking in LA. I had to go to THREE different places to get change today. No one would give me more than a dollar in change. WTF? It’s quarters people! Also, what happened to the good old days when a quarter would get you one whole hour? Now all I get is 8 minutes? Lame.

December 3, 2009, 1:00 am
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Yesterday Hanna came over to work on prints. I didn’t get much done since I forgot to bring my teeny tiny #00 brush and had to resort to using a TOOTHPICK! Not very easy, let me tell you. Hanna on the other hand, got TWO screens done. Next week we print, which is very exciting. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot done before then. In the meantime, here are some snapshots from today taken with my new camera. I’ve got a LOT to learn about this beast of a machine, but I LOVE it!

Hanna working on Screen #1. She says it looks like a Bloomin’ Onion but I think it looks great!

This is me trying to fix a mistake. Thank goodness drawing fluid is water soluble! Photo credit to Hanna on this one. 

This was all I got done today 😦 Hopefully it will go a lot faster with a brush instead of a toothpick!

Hanna hard at work on Screen #2. It looks awesome in person and I can’t wait to see it printed

December 1, 2009, 2:39 pm
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Just got my new D700 today! Props to Amazon for super fast (and free!) shipping. The battery is charging as we speak. No pics with the new cam yet but here’s a pic of that glorious gold box!

The one on the left is the 70-300mm VR and on the right is the 50mm prime, aka my new baby.

Now…what to do while I wait for the battery to charge? I know, get a start on the 400+ page manual!