Sunday, January 15, 2012

More fun with power tools

So much for anonymity
Over the summer I saw an idea for a  monogram photo collage on pinterest which was perfect for brightening up an empty corner of a kid's room.  With hundreds of free photo print credits at an online retailer (long story involving my bargain-hunting brother), it was a matter of minutes to get a stack of photos ordered, but it took until after Christmas (but before the broken arm!) for me to find time to work on this project.

I'd initially planned on just making a large "J", but with so many photos and a 2'X4' sheet of MDF, it seemed the best way to use up the space was to go with the whole name.

To make one like it, you'll need:

--1/4" medium density fiberboard
--photos (in b&w or sepia)
--modge podge or white glue
--paint (black or dark brown)
--jigsaw & drill

I started out letting John pick his favorite font for his name.  The fastest way for me to get the letters right next to each other was to print it out and then fold the paper - I'm sure there's a more involved way to manipulate the text and print it out just right, but it wasn't worth figuring out for me.

To help me enlarge the name, I divided each letter roughly into halves, then sketched out a similar grid on the MDF.  Chalk is a nice forgiving medium for this task, followed by sharpie after you're satisfied with the result of your sketching.

If, like me, you are using antiquated (i.e. older than me) tools and a jerry-rigged set-up on clementine crates, then the easiest way to cut around all the bends and sharp corners is to drill holes ( a 1/2" wood boring bit is nice for this) at all the sharp corners or interior cuts, and then go dot-to-dot with the jigsaw:

The dots don't have to be followed sequentially or unidirectionally - the easiest way to handle an inside corner is to come at it from opposite directions.

Having the recipient there to help hold the MDF steady is a nice bonus

After the name is all cut out give it a light sanding and paint the edges your desired colour.  (If you are concerned about the MDF off-gasing, a coat of paint over the entire exposed surface of the board will help with that.)  Then comes the fun part of gluing on your photos.  I used modge-podge, but a thin even layer of white glue should work as well.  I didn't take pictures of the process, but what worked for me was to lay the photos over the name, then crease them by pressing your finger along the edge of the MDF - this will give you a nice bend in the photopaper that you can cut along.  Glue on your photos, let it dry, and if you want you can give the edges  another light sanding to distress it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Life Imitates Art

Yesterday Little Brother was poring over a playmobil catalog and commented "Look, Mom, this boy fell off his bike and broke his arm."  I was mildly concerned that he was so traumatized as to be projecting his own life onto an advertisement, until I looked closer and saw that our life is now indeed mirroring a playmobil scenario.

Last week, the Eldest and the Ninja managed to, with a bike, a scooter, and a tow rope, give the Ninja a compound supracondylar fracture of the humerus.  The Ninja stayed incredibly collected and calm through the whole ordeal, while the Eldest, who had cajoled his brother into this adventure (complete with a guarantee of payment if he got hurt) and who felt responsible for disregarding Dad's express orders against tying ropes to bikes, was near hysterical with grief.  Which all makes the Eldest sound worse than he deserves.  He has a soft heart and a strong conscience to balance out his harebrained ideas.  Privately Dad and I call him the Instigator... and he's also the one all the little kids flock to, because he is the most exciting playmate.

The Ninja is the contemplative, deliberate one in the family, the one who often lives in his own mind in a world governed by logic.  The risks he takes are, if misinformed, at least calculated (hence the request for a guarantee).  Once, when he was 3, and not believing me when I told him that he couldn't tell by looking at it whether the stove was hot, he watched for me to turn off the stove, and then, when I was busy with his brother, went to deliberately test it.  I had no idea until he didn't come when called to do his chores, and going to look for him I found him running his fingers under cold water in the upstairs bathroom, tears streaming down his face and crying defiantly, "I don't want to tell you what I was doing," which turned soon enough into "Mommy, why was it still hot after you turned it off?"  And so I found myself, while assuaging his wounded pride and bandaging his blistered fingers, trying to explain thermal conductivity to a 3-year-old. 

With such different personalities in the house, coexistence is not always a peaceful thing, and so often I am called in to arbitrate irreconcilable disputes.  Which may explain why I could be calm at the scene of the accident and through the ambulance ride, in the ER, and at Radiology, but narrowly escaped bursting into tears when the Ninja asked to talk to the Eldest on the phone through a pain- and narcotic-clouded haze, and said, "I forgive you.  I forgive you.  I'm all right.  No, it doesn't hurt too much."

We are home now, held together with a few pins, plaster splint, and the closeness of a shared trial.  A little frailer, a little more aware of our fragility, but oh, so much stronger for it all.