Lately, my dad has been making beautiful carved wooden lamps. And every now and then, he asks me to cut some mirror acrylic on my laser cutter to place into his lamps.
Tonight was one such occasion, and since I was going to head to my parents’ place for dinner, I thought I’d take the opportunity of the laser machine being spun up to also make a lamp of my own and test it out with the LEDs that dad has been using to test his lamps. This is the result.
This is a real speed build. While I’ve been wanting to do something like this for ages, o hadn’t ever managed to bring it to fruition because of the little decisions required. What size should it be? Should I cut tabs for a better piece alignment? What opacity of acrylic should I use? What should the silhouette design feature?
With a tight turnaround time imposed, I threw all those questions aside and went with a simple design. I realised I could also speed up the prototyping by using both the positive and negative shape of the silhouette for the adjacent faces, thus cutting down on wasted test material. The design was drafted on the bus trip home from work, and the light box was test-assembled using sticky tape. It’s very shoddy but proves the concept!
I was planning to use 2mm white acrylic for the leaf shapes, but it turned out I didn’t have a large enough sheet. By chance, I had a bit of cardboard on hand AND I guessed the correct settings to cut it on my laser cutter. The cardboard does the job fine!
From here – I guess I should properly glue up the box and work out how the light will be positioned and how it’d turn off and on… but I suspect that those questions may be left hanging for a while.
Two paintings inspired by “A Short Hike” – one from last year, one from more recently. I really love this game and recommend it wholeheartedly! Maybe at some point I’ll draw Claire doing something other than sitting and taking in the sights.
Took my first crack at making meringues (or at least, the first try in my adult life). The rest are currently sitting in the oven (recipe says to let them sit in the oven as it cools) but I couldn’t resist grabbing one to try now.
What started as a flippant remark turned into a little project! Thanks to Toad for inspiring this undertaking.
The suits are: Eggs, featuring golden eggs from Salmon Run. This is a nice, simple substitute for the original “coin” themed suit. Bamboo,featuring the old-men of Splatoon. While Captain Cuttlefish is represented via only his bamboozler gun, DJ Octavio stands in proudly as the 1-bam. A traditional Chinese set would depict a sparrow perched on a branch; here Octavio holds a stalk of wasabi. A Japanese set would more commonly depict a peacock – I enjoyed working some of the concentric circle details that might normally go into the peacock’s tail into Octavio’s helmet. Snails, featuring my morphed rendition of a sea snail, doing its best to look like the character 萬 – ‘myriad’. (Toad said it initially struck him as being a boat – I guess as a nautical theme it works, though it doesn’t scream “Splatoon”). The character suit represents currency increments of 10,000 – when I was thinking about high-value stuff in Splatoon, sea snails sprang to mind!
I think these suits give us a nice little tour around some of the main areas of the game.
It took a bit of brainstorming to work out the dragon tiles but John suggested tying them into their loose suit associations – the green dragon is most often associated with bamboo because of the green hand, which leaves the red dragon paired with characters and the white dragon to go with balls. Luckily by the time he suggested this I had revised the eggs suit to contain more blue, so the colour association was present when he made the suggestion – though now I want to make them even more blue!
Following the colour patterns, John suggested a Steel Eel could be used to depict the frame of a white dragon. He also suggested using Inklings and Octolings for the remaining two suits – while I took an inkling for the red dragon, I decided to try something different for the green.
With the bamboo suit being inspired by the rivalry between Captain Cuttlefish and DJ Octavio, I preferred the idea of giving a little more limelight to Cuttlefish rather than a generic Octoling. In addition, the Octolings you encounter in Octo Canyon tend to be red, so I didn’t really feel right making them green.
I decided to play with the Cuttlegear logo and hint at that while also attempting to mimic the 發 character. The left side of the character is meant to represent one of Captain Cuttlefish’s medals. I’m not totally happy with the current draft but it’ll do for now.
The winds are currently placeholders – I think that my handwriting is a bit ugly. I’d like to think of some thematic stuff to replace them with – so far I’m dwelling on thoughts of locations in Inkopolis Square… or something with the great Zapfish, since it got bumped from being one of the dragons…
Finally it might be fun to include a few extra tiles – perhaps the idols as season/flower tiles? Though I’m not sure how well I’d be able to pull them off with this colour palette.
I’ve been on a yuzu kick of late. This lovely citrus was introduced to us at our favourite Melbourne restaurant. With travel seemingly off the cards for a while, and the restaurant itself rotating various dessert items in and out, I decided to address my cravings for yuzu crème brûlée by making some of my own.
3 egg yolks 300ml thickened cream 3 tablespoons yuzu syrup Pinch salt Sugar to top
Note: my tablespoon was probably a little closer to 25ml than the 20ml Aussie standard…
The recipe is designed to nicely scale – 1x egg yolk, 1 spoon yuzu for every 100ml cream. Feel free to experiment with the quantities to suit your own preferences!
I don’t own ramekins so I made my crème brûlées in Chinese teacups. These quantities should fill 5 tea-sized serves. The recipe should work in ramekins but I haven’t tested – these quantities would probably would fill 2 Ramekins, maybe use a x5 scale (5 eggs, etc) to fill 4 ramekins?
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan forced
Heat 300ml thickened cream in saucepan on the stove with a pinch of salt. As soon as it appears slightly frothy, remove from heat. Do not let the cream boil.
While the cream comes to heat, separate 3 egg yolks. Whisk together the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons yuzu syrup
Pour warm (not boiling!) cream into the yolk mix, stirring to combine. Take care to not cook the eggs! I recommend using a spatula to scrape up the yolk mix from the base and sides of the bowl so it can be entirely integrated.
Evenly portion the custard mixture between teacups/ramekins, place the filled containers in a deep dish/roasting tin
Pour boiling water into the outer dish until it is 1.5cm from tops of the teacups/ramekins. The custards will be cooked in this water bath
Transfer the custards in the water bath to the oven – cook for 30 mins or until tops are slightly darkened
Remove the custards from the water bath and allow to cool before transferring to a fridge to set
Before serving, top custards with sugar. Spoon half a teaspoon of sugar over the top of the custard, and then rotate it gently to distribute the sugar over the surface. Caramelise the sugar with a kitchen blowtorch
Where to get yuzu
I got my syrup from Mountain Yuzu – they are an Australian grower of yuzu, and they also import a number of yuzu products. Using the syrup makes the recipe really easy – because there’s already beet sugar in the syrup I skip adding any sugar to the custard mix.
My first experiments with this recipe used Yuzu Tea – I was lucky enough to snag the last jar they had in stock at the time. While I ended up deciding that the syrup was easier to use, the yuzu tea has proven itself a tasty accompaniment with toast, cereal and as a drink. I also finally decided to give this Yuzu Ice Cream recipe a shot despite not owning an ice-cream machine, and it came out great!
As many people have probably found, the pacing of this year’s been all out of wack. And so we’ve hit August, a time where I’m usually feeling at least some… kind of restlessness… and it’s taken nearly half the month for me to even feel like I have anything worth saying.
I did want to make some kind of post this month. The only other time I’ve missed Blaugust entirely I ended up regretting it. Seeing the archives completely lacking in a waypost for 2017 felt wrong, and it’s something I really wanted to avoid repeating. I know I’ve used this this turn of phrase before, and I expect it will return in every August to come – in fact I hope it does – so that I can guilt myself into making some kind of contribution.
When I opened the blog to start making this stream-of-consciousness mind-dump, I found a left-over from last year. Did I double post this? Did it miss publication? It seems to be the post for 21st August that…. just didn’t make it out into the wild. I guess I’ll hit publish on it once this post is up.
I haven’t been very disciplined about my art of late. I haven’t done any crafting in the last year really either. There were a couple of high-activity moments – I participated in Inktober last year and mostly got a piece done each day of the month. It was good to just draw for the sake of drawing, but perhaps it fostered too much of a disposable attitude towards art – the same things that made it so liberating – “this piece doesn’t matter beyond today” perhaps made it harder to return to long-term projects.
Thus the projects that I’ve had that would take multiple sessions to bring to life haven’t gotten off the ground. And my desire to post things here on my blog is almost entirely gone – after all, the ease of posting something to Twitter for instant gratification leaves this blog rather disadvantaged.
Besides that I’ve also been… I guess disenfranchised. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t really have a unique perspective or special story to tell and… it’s hard to create when those doubts linger. Plus so many other clever people are just out there making mindblowing art. It’s not that I’m indulging my competitive side it’s just… I don’t feel the need to compete on this playing field at all. I’ve been thinking of dropping out of Artists Alley if I’m accepted for the January AVCon, because I just don’t know if I need to do it. I have a day job and I don’t intend to turn my art side-hustle into anything bigger, so tabling is purely an exercise to feed my ego.
Holding Up the Mirror
The alternative path that I should possibly put more thought into is that… my creative mind doesn’t have enough space for nourishment at the moment. Maybe Inktober was successful because of the ratio of brainstorming/concept development to actual art creation was really high. I could spend time in advance thinking of a prompt and then do the actual art in a single session.
It’s harder to consider larger pieces at the moment because if they can’t be done in a single session, then other factors come into play. Each time I return to a piece I’d have to find my rhythm with it again. Plus I’d have to intersperse the completion of the piece with the day job – and an outstanding piece of art can be quite the distraction to work with.
Is it possible to cut down on other demands on my time in order to focus on art? One would think that these recent periods of isolation would have been a great field to explore this in, and my failure to do produce any art in this time perhaps proves that it isn’t the solution. But on reflection I just failed to put any focus on art – I’ve been setting speedrunning goals, twiddling with coding side projects, I taught the cat new tricks, I invented some new recipes, I practiced my accordion, I played quite a few rounds of Terraforming Mars.
My father, a retiree, said a couple nights ago that he too thinks up too many projects and can’t make enough time for them. Oh woe, I thought that was only a problem for me presently because I work during the week! To think it will forever be like that. I guess I may need to stop indulging my wandering mind and examine if I truly want to be doing more art, and set goals accordingly.
Still, I can’t help but envy John – who is presently working 2.5 days a week – and wonder what I could achieve if I had the same amount of free time, if not more.
Looking Into the Mirror
I think at this point in life, I’m no longer struggling to carve out my identity. I just… am who I am. So I don’t feel a need to prove myself in art (or coding, or getting a top spot on the Untitled Goose Game speedrun leaderboard…). And while it’s comfortable to not need to pursue those things I’ve failed to find alternative sources of motivation.
Maybe I’m less upset about the lack of art specifically, insomuch as my actual concern is mourning this lack of motivation. What used to drive me to post during Blaugust?
After all that rambling I think I’ve finally thought of a couple things that I ought to put up here. I made a dang fine yuzu crème brûlée recipe that should probably be properly documented (Twitter threading didn’t treat it well). Maybe I should scan and touch up some of my Inktober pieces. Maybe some other old art ought to be documented here too. Maybe some of my coding escapades could afford some introspective blog posts. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find it in me to make some new art.
Thanks for reading, hopefully I’ll see you again before the end of the month.
Well, it’s taken me this long into the month to resort to old art, but I guess the floodgates are open now. Here’s a sketch I did while on our company retreat in Cancun, Mexico. It was drawn from the ground floor of the hacienda we were staying at, looking upwards at the first floor.