Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahhhh ... Maker Faire. My Happy Place

Here's (most of) the CRAFT team at the Maker Happy Hour on the Friday night before Maker Faire opened. Such a happy place and time. Cool air, cold beer, giant rockets and some of the most amazingly creative and innovative people in one place? Yes. Please.

Since summer is so nutty, I find myself blissing out in my mind and going to my Happy Place: Maker Faire. I just realized that I never reported back after the big event - mostly 'cause from Maker Faire it was a quick downhill slope to summer.

As usual, Maker Faire was amazing. More than amazing, really. I walk around Maker Faire and have that "Where have you people been all my life!?" feeling. I want to look at Maker Faire in the face and say, "YOU COMPLETE ME."

Not really. That's the heat talking. I think I need to have one of Jote's Blackberry Smashes ... STAT.

Anyway - here are some of my favorite pictures from Maker Faire. Enjoy! I'll look at them, wishing I was back in the 60-degree temps of the Bay Area with all my rad CRAFT pals, surrounded by (as the most awesome Lish says) Robots and Glitter. (most of these pictures were taken by the lovely Natalie Zee Drieu and are linked to her Flickr accordingly.)

Look, Ma! It's me with Han Solo in Carbonite! Natalie took me to meet the seriously awesome Bonnie Burton over at Lucasfilm, and it. was. awesome. I was just sad my son couldn't be there, though I think his little brain might have exploded at the awesomeness.

Here's me and Nat with the Burda Style gang! Love these folks! They put together a fantastic booth, were crazy kinds of organized and were all around awesome, stylish, nice and fun. And how rad is Alden's shirt?

This is me with artist and designer, Laura Cesari. I wrote a profile on Laura over on CRAFT, and fell in love with her solar system necklaces. I not-so-gently hinted that I wanted one for Mother's Day, and thankfully my husband took the bait. I have to say, the necklace was ten times more gorgeous in person. It's weighty and tactile - I love it! Laura did a demo on making a solar system necklace in the CRAFT booth and it was awesome to see how she works. She was so nice, and it was great fun to meet the person who made one of my very favorite pieces of jewelry.

Here's Bonnie Burton - Star Wars Craft Woman Extraordinaire! Bonnie does all the crafts for StarWars.com, has a few Star Wars books under her belt already and has a Star Wars Crafts book coming out this fall that I can't wait to get my paws on. She and Terri Hodges made Star Wars Sack puppets with kids in the CRAFT booth on Saturday, and the kids had such a blast, I decided we're making them at my son's birthday party this weekend.

Here's me and Lish, swapping glasses. Lish's Ray Bans are her Trademark, so I'm pretty sure I freaked her out by suggesting we swap, and I seriously can not rock the Ray Bans like she does .. but it was fun! I love Lish and wish we could hang out, craft and eat cupcakes every day.

Hey look! It's Becky and Collin! Two of my favorite people on the planet! Becky and Collin were roving video reporters all weekend long, and have produced some fantastic videos that help you feel like you were at the Faire. I particularly enjoyed their Raygun Gothic Rocketship video. Nice work, guys! (Also be sure to check out Collin's nutty sci-fi videos that instantly endeared me to him and his rad wife)

One of my very favorite things about Maker Faire is getting to meet so many of my "Internet/Blog" friends in person. I was thrilled to meet Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made. She had her whole family with her, and they were awesome. Cathe was about a million times nicer and more wonderful than I could have imagined. (which reminds me that the only downside to Maker Faire is leaving and wishing I could hang out with these people all the time!)

Me 'n Moxie! Y'all. This woman is really a gem of a human being. The first time I met her in person (at last year's Maker Faire) I came around a corner and almost bumped in to her. When I realized who I was looking at, I balled up my fists, squeezed my eyes shut and squealed like a 4-year-old. This is the effect she has on me. She's one of the most patient teachers I've ever seen, and gives like nobody's business. I. Adore. Her.

Ahhhh yes, conjuring up memories of Maker Faire always makes things better.

Friday, June 11, 2010

John Grunsfeld-Inspired Hubble Cross-Stitch

UPDATED! My project won First Prize in the Funniest category of the ESA Hubble Pop Culture contest! Read about the win and why you should trust your crazy ideas after you finish reading this post. Mmmmmkay?

We all draw inspiration from different places, and it's obvious that much of my inspiration comes from space and astronomy. This latest project came to mind months ago when I first saw the Hubble IMAX 3D film (which, by the way, you must go see as soon as you finish reading this). Hubble is amazing and inspirational in its own right, but I really love hearing stories from the people who work on the space telescope. John Grunsfeld is one of my favorite astronauts. He's a brilliant astronomer, and from interviews I've read or seen .... he just seems like an all-around fascinating person.

At one point in the Hubble IMAX film, he talks about a particular portion of one of his spacewalks that involved unscrewing more than 100 tiny screws on a part of Hubble.

Now, just take a moment to imagine with me, if you will: Put giant oven mitts on your hands. Now slip a tiny tool between your fingertips. Know that you have more than 100 screws to unscrew on a piece of equipment that is worth millions of dollars and holds great scientific significance. Oh, and don't forget that you are more than 300 miles above earth on a spaceship that's traveling at roughly 17, 500 miles per hour.

Feeling a little lame complaining about the intensity of your to-do list today yet?

Here's where Grunsfeld impresses once again. He talks in the film about how, at this point in his spacewalk, he switches to zen mode. He focuses only on the one screw that he is unscrewing at that very moment. Never how many he's already undone, never how many he has left.

Just one screw at a time.

For some reason, this brief part of his interview really stuck with me. It's so easy to get overwhelmed with daily tasks, life dreams, everything going on each day. My last post about summer glossed over the stress and overwhelm I feel with trying to keep up with work while entertaining and enjoying my kids during the next few months. Inside, I start to freak out.

It seemed the perfect time to tackle this project that had been pinging in the back of my mind since March. I could use a nice visual reminder to not let overwhelm get the best of me.

I'd never designed my own cross-stitch project before, so it was a bit daunting, but I just kept reminding myself, "One Screw At A Time." I found a cross-stitch alphabet I liked, and practiced sketching it out in my handy Maker's Notebook (grid paper FTW!) Once I stitched the words, I realized it needed something else - a little something that would bring Hubble in to the picture (and, hopefully, keep those gutter brains from making jokes about screws). I knew I wanted to include an image of Hubble, but was stumped on how. I didn't have time to do a full-scale Hubble stitching. I needed something simple.

Then I remembered one of my favorite finds and posts over on CRAFT this last year: a Hubble-Shaped paperclip. I pulled up the image and sketched it on my grid paper, cross-stitch style. It worked, for the most part. I did goof on one part while stitching, but I'll just pretend it's not so obvious.

Hopefully this is a good reminder for you, too. Don't get overwhelmed. Just think, "One Screw At A Time."

Monday, June 7, 2010


It's fun. It's hard.

Balancing the kids and work for the summer can be nuts, but it's worth it. Before long, they'll be sleeping 'til noon and not wanting anything to do with me. So - while it may mean working late at night to get my stuff done, not caring what I look like in a bathing suit at the neighborhood pool, and seeking out every cheap or free thing to do with them in the area, I reckon I'll take that challenge while I can. The house will be messy, I won't feel as sharp in the work world, but I'll also have moments like this.

PS - So not usually this sappy. Blame the lack of sleep and high temps, y'all.