Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And now I'll let the Husband speak

So, I was painting and playing and putting ideas together and there was this big stack of 1" x 3" wafers of glass coated in some intense jewel tones, glittering and sparkling with duo-tone colours. And the husband was sitting across the table from me; soldering iron in hand with wires and circuit boards, resistors and all sorts of electronic gew gaws spread around, building stomp boxes for his bass.

And this is where the idea to work together started. The rest of this post is about the Husband's role in the process and because it's all about the work he's putting in I figured it should be in his words; Reader's meet the Husband:

I guess it started as my sweetie said idea about glass pieces bound together with soldered-copper. When she asked me if I could solder them, I said (of course)...sure. Of course, I had no idea how difficult or different copper foil soldering would be from electronics soldering.

Soldering itself is a bit of an art form. I got into basic electronics a few years ago, and I'm probably still not as good as I should be (even after 50 or so projects). That's why I push myself to do as many as possible; to get myself better. Soldering electronics or art pieces isn't something that can be necessarily taught. It just takes lots of practice to get the perfect bead.

The main difference between electronics and the sun catchers that we are working on is the type of solder used. When I'm working on my electronics I use a 63/37 mix of tin and lead. For the sun catchers, I use a tin/copper or tin/silver copper solder, otherwise known as "lead free". Lead is not necessarily good for the environment, or me for that matter (maybe that's what's wrong with me), but lead-free solder is a royal PITA to work with. Actually solder in general is a royal PITA to work with.

The trick with soldering is adhesion, and that depends on two factors: the getting the right temperature and keeping your surface clean, clean, clean.... If you do not have either, then the solder does not flow and becomes an ugly blob called a "cold solder joint"; more of an electronics term, I know, but seems to apply to doing art pieces as well. The metal (or copper) and the solder have to be at the right temperature to flow properly. Either way, blobs are not good and look ugly. What you want is the solder to melt onto your copper foil in a smooth liquid finish called a bead.

My biggest challenge with doing our project was getting the solder (PITA) to stick to the copper. At first we experimented with different sizes of lead free solder. When we started, the glass supply store where we got our stuff sold us this plumber-sized stuff which was essentially useless. It was quite thick and I could never get it hot enough. After doing a little digging, I switched to a 1.0mm lead free solder (bought at my local electronics store), and that was easier to work with. I have more control of the bead I'm producing and it gets to the right temperature quickly.

The other part is the "clean, clean, clean" part. Metal, specifically copper becomes oxidized with exposure to air. "Flux" (a chemical cleaning agent that facilitates soldering) is used to clean the joint before soldering to remove the oxidation. At first we used liquid "acid" flux which we bought at the previously mentioned glass arts store. In Electronics, the solder is typically impregnated with flux, and it is usually "rosin" based as opposed to acid. Over time, I found the acid liquid flux hard to work with, it was messy and because I had to apply it as I was soldering it lengthened the process. Through trial and error I ended up switching to the impregnated flux, and I found it made a better (cleaner) solder joint which was much quicker.

The copper banding that we use for our project tends to oxidize very quickly, so we started to rough up the copper using scotch-pad it as well. Another PITA, but necessary for everything to look good. I'm reminded of a post on a electronics forum with respect to why a member's pedal wasn't working. The obviously-experienced response was; "well, it could be one of three things"

1. Bad or cold solder joint
2. Bad or cold solder joint
3. Bad or cold solder joint

Meaning your solder wasn't the right temperature to connect or there was no connection made with the solder. I guess my biggest challenge (once the equipment and supplies were sorted) was just getting a nice bead without "lumps". In electronics, you just need a nice little "volcano" where the component meets the circuit board. With a sun catcher, I am actually working on a much bigger surface and I want it to look nice as well!

All in all, it's lots of fun (like I need an excuse to solder) and it's great to be doing something together with the love of my life (and no, I'm not talking about my bass).

Monday, September 27, 2010


The Husband has written a little something that will be posted soon...

This weekend was chock full of busyness from meeting the Bean's future play mate (two weeks overdue no less) and enjoying an afternoon and evening of live music, good food and great friends to a little cleaning frenzy and further work on some new items our time just trickled away.

Today was a Dietitian day, where the Peanut and I traipsed out so I could :
pee in a cup (blood sugars normal)
get weighed (we're up about 25lbs above pre-pregnancy weight)
be chastised for my choice of breakfast (must eat more protein first thing)
and told that the Bean is very well behaved (says the specialist who didn't get the shot in the sciatica that I did last week; in her defence as a fetus she really doesn't know any better so I'll lay off).

Then it was off to meet the Husband for lunch and a quick trip in a torrential downpour home.

And at the end of the day I'm worried that I'm not promoting the new line as well as I could be; So I'm stalling a little with some of the postings so I can review how I'm doing this... I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal and the drawback there is that there's the danger of not thinking things out completely (which also has it's drawbacks; spending too much time thinking and not doing for instance).

I'm looking for a happy medium... In the meantime, the husband's post will be up soon and I'll be posting some images of what I've been putting together over the last little while. A little taste to whet your appetite as it were.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

walking and other stuff

we're doing a lot of walking around here. Yesterday we walked about 20 blocks with a break for lunch and the library and another 8 after dinner. The Peanut was so worn out she slept in this morning.

Even with all that walking my blood glucose was a little high after lunch. I have plans to ask the dietitian about that; if I need to worry. In other pregnancy news the Bean hit the Sciatic nerve today while I was walking with the Peanut. Can I just say that I hope that it's not a reoccurring condition? Youch! I can no longer see my feet when I stand up unless I lean forward. I'm suffering from daily bouts of acid reflux and dosing myself with antacids to put out the burn. Putting on socks has become a gymnastic event and the jeans I bought have a little too much stretch in them so I'm constantly yanking them up when I'm walking. and other than those, things are going pretty well; from the back you can't even tell I've got a baby on board...

In the product launch area, we are still working. The husband has been working on a guest post that talks about his part in our collaboration. I'll put it up here sometime this week to keep you all in the loop.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It all came together because...

I think I've mentioned once or twice that the husband is a musician . When he was younger (in his reckless teens) he played guitar but he never really stuck with it. A few years ago while hanging out at our good friends place he picked up a bass and they started jamming together. In those days the husband's hobby was open wheel kart racing.

Racing took him out of town on weekends where he spent a lot of time working on his kart and very little time inside it because of break downs, and tune ups. It was an expensive hobby what with the traveling, racing fees, engines, tires, safety gear and speciality tools; and it was stressful. Normally a hobby is something you do to bring joy into your life; racing was like a second job; one that demanded that he pay the wages with very little job satisfaction.

Once he picked up the bass he was hooked; it wasn't long before the kart was up for sale and the husband's new addiction er, I mean hobby was in full swing. One side effect of playing music was the search for the perfect sound...

Enter Stomp boxes. First there was the buying of stomp boxes and then came building them himself. Building boxes included some soldering and that's where our collaboration took root.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dinosaurs, Foxes and Meerkats

It's raining, it's pouring and the husband is still snoring. The Peanut so far this morning has been a T-Rex, a burrowing fox and a meerkat; she's a busy girl the Peanut. Right now she's regaling me with tales of a numbers based preschooler show and showing me what colour her tongue is turning as she eats some frozen berries for breakfast.

I'm sitting near the window, listening to the Peanut's stories and the rain's tap tap tapping on the roof of our back porch and enjoying the almost constant nudges and pokes the Bean insists on performing. They're comfortable moves unlike the ones that she sometimes aims downwards into the bladder area. It's a good morning so far.

Today is a blood Glucose day for me; which means that I test before and after breakfast; after lunch and after dinner. So far I've been able to keep things under control with diet and exercise. I've had a few spikes here and there; mostly when it was super hot and the idea of moving more than neccesary was a torture unto itself. In the few cases where that hasn't been the case five to ten minutes of Dinosaur dance party or piggy pack the Peanut around the house has brought things back down nicely.

The rule of thumb is that after lunch and dinner I must do something; go for a walk (for at least 2o to 30 minutes) change the sheets on the bed and fold laundry, clean the bathroom, fold and put away two heaping baskets of laundry, dig in the garden for potatoes.... something physical. Simple right?

Sometimes not so much. The other day, for instance the Peanut and I shared some lunch, the carb count of the meal was within my guidelines but an hour after eating; a period in which I'd folded towels, put them away and hung some more towels out on the line to dry; my blood glucose was very high. Enter the Dino Dance party. The Peanut and I turned on some dance music and danced like T-Rex, Brachiosaurus, Spinosaurus, Pteradon and Triceratops for ten minutes. I retested for blood sugars after ten minutes and my levels were well under where they needed to be.

It's a balancing act, and one I want to stay on top of until the Bean makes it to the outside.

So what else is on the agenda for the day? A trip to the library lost and found to retrieve a stuffed dino then on to look for a red hooded sweatshirt and pants for the Peanut's Halloween costume. Thread, stuffing and decorative felt will come later. A stint of fall cleaning in the bathroom and hopefully a little nap. How is your weekend shaping up?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Thousand Words

This is about the only place that I like to see a spider this size

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tickety -Boo

The Husband and I have set up a release date for our co-operative project. We have a handful of tree ornament/sun catchers in near completion and on the to do list is packaging, photographing and shipping research. Not to mention description writing, tagging and pricing that will cover all the photographing, packaging and shipping. On top of all that, I have the Peanut to occupy; unfortunately she's spending an obscene amount of time sitting in front of the TV. So wish me luck in the balancing act.

I'd like to say that things are going tickety-boo but I'll maybe save that phrase for once the release is all done and I'm adding things to the shop. I don't want to jinx myself.

Today I'm researching boxes for shipping. On my mind? buying boxes vs making my own. I've come across some excellent templates that I can adjust to make the size of box that would be perfect for shipping the ornaments, my fears are that they won't be sturdy enough and that making my own boxes will be too time consuming and expensive. If I buy boxes that takes a lot of work of my plate but the boxes will be slightly too big for the ornaments (not really a bad thing packing wise as the ornaments will have added cushion to keep them safe) and won't fit into the dreaded slot of doom at Canada Post (not such a good thing because that will raise shipping prices considerably which is something that I've wrestled with since day one on Etsy)

I'm also feeling a little guilty about all these photographless posts. I promise some images soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This is how we started

It's a bit of a family tradition that we get a new tree ornament each year. Growing up I always had a new one to put on the tree Christmas morning (in fact my Mom still sends a new ornament every year attached to a gift), it's something we've been doing with the Peanut since she was on the inside and something that we'll be doing for the Bean starting this year.

Last year I bought some glass microscope slides with the intention of sandwiching some hand sewn illustrations on the inside (which didn't work the way I wanted it to and is still on my work table collecting dust while I adjust my plan to accommodate the snag that came from my first try). I did happen to have a stash of glass paint from a stint of wine glass painting we'd done as gifts another year so I pulled them out to do a little playing.

I brushed and smeared the paint onto the glass, added some pigments to the mix and smooshed the slides together while the paint was still wet to see what would happen. I put some paint into an applicator and doodled, I pulled out a stamp I'd cut out of safety cut for thank you cards and stamped into the paint... I played. Which as any other creative type knows is how new projects and techniques are born. Some of my attempts were awful, others pretty and still others simply stunning. All that was left was to get some stained glass supplies and solder the edges for a cleaner look. And that's where I hit a snag... the little procrastination monster reared his head and the new stuff just got put off and off until my birthday rolled around. By then I'd decided the danger of me wielding a hot soldering iron was too much and the collaboration between myself and the Husband was born.

Once we got our fist batch finished we had some pretty fantastic tree ornaments for our holiday tree. I'll be posting a bit more on the project over the next few days with a guest post from the husband in there so he can explain his process and why I roped him into this project.

How about you? have you ever started working in a collaboration with another? What was that like for your process?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shifting the balance

My posts lately have been very heavy on the family life theme. It's been easy to get into that vein, what with the Bean growing daily, The Peanut snuggling up to us every chance she gets, family moving close, parents coming to visit and the myriad of related activities that go along with all those things; there's not much time to focus on the creative side of life.

It's not that I haven't been doing anything creative, I just haven't had the chance to write about them until now. I have been working on a few projects over the last few months. The hand embroidered ladybug curtain I started 2 years ago for the Peanut is nearly finished, with less than a foot left to fill with ladybugs and then finishing off the back the end is in sight. I opened it up for my parents to see when they were here and it is stunning. I can't wait to hang it up in the Peanut's room.

I've also been working on some Fairy Godmother blessings for some new arrivals and one overdue little bundle. I've created small pieces of nursery wall art that incorporates the babies names as well as some special wish gifts for the babies whose walls will be adorned with my little paintings. I first did a nursery blessing a few years ago when my oldest friend gave birth to her first child. Each little ladybug had it's own little wish attached. My latest paintings are a little more illustrative; for the painting I am working on for my Cousin's baby, who was just born last week I've painted a small landscape with a tree, grass and sky where a little husky dog sits. My newest cousin's name is Connor (strong willed, hound lover) Russel (little red). I'll be adding my wishes today and tomorrow and then I'll be sending the finished product off in the mail with a few more baby goodies. Once it's made it to it's destination I'll post a picture here, until then I'll keep it under wraps so that the new parents get the first peek.

But that's not all that we've been up to around here. I mentioned a little while back that the Husband and I have been working together on a new project for the currently empty PeanutButterPie (PBP) on Etsy. We were fortunate enough to find a buyer for our first batch of sun catchers through a contact of the Ma-in-Law. Since our full inventory was cleared out, PBP has remained sadly empty. But not for long. The husband and I have been busy working on more inventory and I have plans to unveil our new product line to PBP in the next few weeks; just in time for the winter holiday season!

I'll be posting some project specific posts over the next little while to share with you what we are making, how we're doing it and some of the ideas that led us to our new project. I have to say that it's been an incredible growing experience for the both of us as well as a fantastic way for us to spend some time together.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Schrödinger's Bean

was neither pink nor blue but then we went to the Dr this morning and the nor was struck from the possible outcomes and we were left with the neither, meaning the Bean will be dressed in as little pink as we can get away with considering we'll be the happy recipients of plenty of previously worn baby girl clothes.

We're very pleased, excited even, except for the Peanut who is a little miffed that the brother she was absolutely sure was in my belly kicking up a storm is now a sister. Luckily we have a few months to bring her around to the idea that teaching the Bean to roar like a proper T-Rex while wearing a tiara and princess dress will be just as much fun even if the Bean is a sister instead of a brother...

Friday, September 10, 2010


Well, I drank the prescribed amount of water two hours before my appointment. I am a stickler for following the instructions... except when following recipes, or if I'm playing around with art supplies or (insert significant pause here) you know, pregnant with a Bean bouncing on my very full bladder before my second ultrasound appointment because I promptly ran to the bathroom 3 times within the first hour of hydrating. and then twice more before I was supposed to leave for the clinic.

A quick (and to be honest) frantic Google search netted a long list of suggestions for the amount of water really needed for one of these things, and the interesting tid bit that it only takes 20-25 minutes for a bladder to fill up. So... I downed a full glass on the way out the door to catch the bus to the clinic (which was along a very bumpy and jarring route I might add) and waddled my (and the Peanut's) way down to the corner, across the street and into the clinic where they very kindly ushered me into the examination room right away.

Have I mentioned that I love these people? For our first ultrasound I made it to the clinic 15 minutes early, and if the Husband had been there already they would have had me on that table, gooped up and totally relieved that the Bean was a singular instead of a plural as soon as I walked in then too. Instead we waited an extra 10 minutes for the Husband and we all (Peanut included) went in together.

But, back to this appointment, you know the one where we find out (and please excuse my ladies hand bag metaphors) if the Bean has a handle or if she's a clutch. And then, before they kindly lead me down the hallway the receptionist informs me that any findings on Gender would not be shared with me then and there, and I would have to wait until I spoke with my Dr.

So at the moment the Bean is like Schrödinger's cat except the Bean is neither and both pink nor blue instead of you know, dead and alive.

I'm taking bets on handle or clutch. Leave your thoughts in the comments and I'll be sure to give the results on Monday morning if the results have made it to the mat clinic by then that is...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's time for that dance again

I'll be chugging water this morning and deliberately ignoring my body when it tells me I should visit the bathroom. I'll be doing the squirming at the bus stop and hoping the bus doesn't hit any big bumps... all in the name of seeing the Bean again and possibly learning if we should be referring to the Bean as a he or a she.

I'm not sure if I'll be sharing our findings here or not... Sometimes it's nice to keep some things a surprise. Then again I might not be able to keep it to myself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Fair!

While we didn't get around to all the things that we had plans for while my parents were here we did hit the fair.

The Peanut danced her tushy off to Bobs & Lolo

She rode the carousel, train and the helicopter rides

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Having some Mommy Time

I'm spending some quality time with my Mom, the Peanut is getting some quality her Grandparents and the Bean is hopefully making enough waves so that Grandma and Grandpa can feel her/him.

before I get to my plans for the week: I wanted to do a quick follow up on my post on Sunday about the super fun and not annoying at all kids album Do Fun Stuff. We and by we I mean the huge wave of bloggers and social media aficionados who got behind Ryan's project, posting, sharing on facebook and tweeting managed to bump Yo Gabba Gabba out of the #1 spot in the Children's Genre Itunes charts. How awesome is that? Since Do Fun Stuff doesn't have the a big ol' marketing machine behind to make sure that it stays in the #1 spot the fact that it made it there at all is amazing. You can read about it in an article Fast Company asked Ryan to do when Do Fun Stuff bumped one of the big boys off the top spot.

And now back to me:
This is what I'm expecting for this week:

A possible meeting of the Beans future play date buddy (sending "go into labour" vibes to Auntie P.)

Mommy hugs for me

Arguments about who is sleeping where

Long car trip across the border and shopping

Trip to the fair where I will eat a corn dog slathered with mustard and then a long walk to burn off the sugar, the Super Dogs, Prize Home, Sand sculpture, Kids Farm, Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Cindy Lauper (maybe, if we can handle a long day)

Lots and lots of time with my parents.
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