Category Archives: General

Bringing New Life To Board Games

Here’s a quick and easy idea to breathe some new life into the tired old board games your kids want to keep playing over and over. Use Lego minifigures as your game board pieces!

 

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After my kids trashed the paper cutout players for Chutes and Ladders, and have almost somehow lost all of the Candy Land players, I finally realized that I had a treasure trove of exciting new players at my disposal, Lego minifigures! Just grab your favorite characters or maybe you can create personalized figures of yourselves to play your games for you! My kids are obsessed with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” so we used our Jack and Sally minifigures this time. These are custom made by the fine folks at minifigs.me but any minifigs you have will do perfectly! Maybe Yoda and Darth Vader can duke it out in a game of Monopoly!

Have fun digging into your minifig collection and remember, board games are not dead. 🙂

 

j.

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Homemade gifts. Wooden toy tools.

My wife and I have a love for wooden toys. They have such a timelessness and warmth to them, and will often last through generations. We have bought wooden toys and keepsakes for our kids in the past, but this Christmas, instead of making the usual Etsy purchases, I thought I would take a shot at making them myself. My son is almost 2, so I thought some toy tools would be fitting.
I headed to my brother’s place where he has a shop, so would be easier to do the work with all of the large tools handy. I had some basic tools that I traced out on some scrap pine boards that he had laying around.


Once I had them traced out I seperated each template and took them one by one to the bandsaw to get a rough cutout. After cutting each one out my brother would hit it with the drill press to make any necessary holes, we ended up putting a hole in the bottom of each tool (except the saw) for hanging.


The saw was a bit interesting because the handsaw I had to use as a template was quite larger for a little 2 year old hand, we had to shrink it down. My brother took a picture of the full size saw, took it into the computer and printed an image as big as would fit on a sheet of paper, so that became our new template.

New saw template, shrunk down.

To get the feel of the “blade” being separate from the handle, we shaved off a bit from each side with the bandsaw. Some more intricate dremel work and sanding was able to shape the rest of the handle.

The rest of the shaping was done with a belt sander, spindle sander, dremel sanding attachments, jigsaw to cut the inside of the saw handle, and random orbital sander. I also used a router to round over all the edges which really gave it a nice feel and professional look. Some sanding by hand with a finer grit paper finished them off. I have plans to seal and finish them with a Beeswax & Olive Oil concoction I found by researching online. But for now, they are raw and enjoying being manhandled by an almost 2 year old. 😊

They even compliment his little tool belt he got. 😊

 

It was a pleasure going through the process of making these toys, extremely satisfying experience. But the joy of watching my boy playing with and enjoying something I made by hand, is incomparable.

 

j.


Bear Metal Project

I recently had a week of school for my Scaffold Erector/Carpenter apprenticeship program. This time the class was Welding and Cutting. It was nice to do something different, and the shop had a really fun tool, a plasma cutter! This tool cut thin sheets of metal very quickly and accurately, so you could cut things that were fairly intricate, but you had to do it by hand, so still tricky. Since I was new to this, I wasn’t expecting great results, but I was able to tackle something fairly difficult and I felt very satisfied with the outcome.

I wanted to leave class with something cool, so I thought of an idea to incorporate something with my kids’ names. I did an outline of a bear, because my son’s middle name is Bear (we call him Bear and often forget he actually has a different first name). Inside of the bear, I did the silhouette of a fire engulfing a tree, because my daughter’s middle name is Wildfire. I found the image of the bear online and traced it out an a couple pieces of paper roughly the size of the metal I was working with.

I traced the outline onto two sheets of paper.

I traced the outline onto two sheets of paper.

Then I found an image of fire that I thought would work, and traced that also.

I traced the fire image inside the bear.

I traced the fire image inside the bear.

I looked at a picture and drew out a tree in the middle. And added a moon up at the top. I now had a template I could transfer to the metal, the shaded area is what will be cut out.

This is the template I will use on the metal. The shaded area inside will be cut out.

This is the template I will use on the metal. The shaded area inside will be cut out.

The shaded area would need to be cut out on the zsxpaper, carefully, using a blade of exact zero. Then I traced the outline with a sharpie onto the metal.

Tracing outline with sharpie onto the metal plate, still need to cut out middle section to trace that also.

Tracing outline with sharpie onto the metal plate, still need to cut out middle section to trace that also.

Here was the final transfer, ready to try and cut.

Ready to cut.

Ready to cut.

The cutting went quick, and had to be done with a stead hand and a certain amount of confidence. As long as I kept the cutting tool moving, I was ok. If I stopped or paused, I risked not getting a smooth cut. I only had one hiccup really, and it was fixable. Cutting the flames was more difficult, I couldn’t keep it exact to the template, I had to quickly improvise and go more free form with it, but basically kept to the outline, it just couldn’t cut as precisely as I had drawn it out. The tree was actually pretty easy because it naturally has jagged edges and was very forgiving. Below you can see each cut piece, the bottom of course being what was being kept.

This shows everything that was cut.

This shows everything that was cut.

And here is the final piece by itself. I still need to take the grinder to it and probably a wire brush to smooth out the edges and make it more finished, and probably a coat of paint or clear coat to keep it from rusting.

Final cut. Not finished.

Final cut. Not finished.

This was fun and something totally different for me! I’ll probably mount it to barn wood or pallet wood or something and hang it up in the house somewhere. But it’s a nice sentimental piece for the family, and a great opportunity to create something new and different!

j.


My first Lego set review!

I am what is known as an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego), yes, this is a real term. I frequently visit a website called Brickset, which is a great site for Lego enthusiasts! Content includes constant up to date news on all things Lego, a database of all Lego sets past, present, and sometimes future, a tool to see what Lego sets you own as well as those you want, a user forum, reviews, and so much more! They also accept user submitted reviews. After reading some it got me thinking, I should submit a review! There was a perfect opportunity with a new little seasonal set I had that I was about to assemble, set #40056 Thanksgiving Feast. So I documented with pictures of the process and took notes (NERD!) along the way about things that stood out to me as noteworthy. I just thought this would be something fun to create, so I did it!

Here’s the link to see the review! Brickset Thanksgiving Feast review by jaitheartist.

j.

Lego 40056 Thanksgiving Feast Polybag

Lego 40056 Thanksgiving Feast Polybag


Lego: Mini-Fig Myself

I freakin love Lego! To celebrate the DVD release of The Lego Movie, I thought I’d share the custom Lego mini figure I had made of myself by the fine folks at minifigs.me.

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The body has a custom decal of my first album cover. It came out really well! Pretty impressive considering how small these things are. Recently they upgraded their equipment to print directly onto the Lego pieces themselves, so they can make some pretty amazing and super custom stuff now. Check out some musicians and bands they have already created here. To name a few you can get Lego versions of The Beatles, Queen, Metallica, and a few brand new ones including Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and The Boss himself Bruce Springsteen!

I also put together another mini fig using standard Lego parts for my shaved head era. Here is a look at what I was trying to copy.

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Now that there are two of me, I can jam with myself!

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The Lego guitars, cases and amplifier I got from Firestartoys. They have a huge selection of mini figure parts and custom accessories. Huge.

Go mini fig yourself.

j.


Defining artist…

Art is the projection of ideas which, just as water, present themselves in different shapes and forms. Artist is the one, who is not but a conduit reflecting what has always been, into a new subjective form of an experience, a unique contribution to the Universe.

This, is the cycle of life, the reincarnation of a creator.
– Agah Bahari

At its core, this blog is about creating, which I believe to be what life is all about. I document various personal creations on here,  music, guitars and the like, since it is, in fact, my blog. But I wish to promote and encourage creation in general. After all, the most important aspects of life are based in creation. Creating relationships, creating love, creating life, are of course deemed more important because they bring us the most emotional experience of living. But also, creating art is important because it is an expression of us taking place in the creative process, which is very God-like, and puts us more in touch with the Universe. So I’m always interested in finding ways to describe what this is that we feel we must do, as creators.

I saw this recently, and wanted to share because I love this definition of art and artist. It popped up on my Facebook feed the other day from my friend Agah Bahari, an artist of many forms, including music, film, photography, and writing. He first grabbed my attention while happening upon his first album, “The Second Sight of a Mind” from 2008. This is a progressive, instrumental rock guitar record that really impressed me. It’s an amazing and beautifully complicated work of art. After reaching out and talking to Agah a little I learned that he, like myself, was a left handed guitar player, so naturally my affinity for him was written in stone from that point on. 😉

I believe this to be a very accurate definition of what an artist does when creating art. It’s not creating something from nothing, but rather interpreting what is already there into a new representation, their art. We see different kinds of art, in different mediums yes, but look at all the variation within particular mediums. How come there are so many different styles of painters, or musicians, or photographers even? A dozen different photographers could take a picture of the same island sunset and they would look different. It is the artist, the creator, that is the key here. The art is a product of how the individual experiences that thing at that particular time and place, which is unique every time.

Anyway, I find it interesting and thought it was worth sharing and speaking on to others that find this stuff interesting. And thanks Agah, for the intellectual stimulation!

Click here to find links to download Agah’s album as well as get info on his other music projects. Or visit agahbahari.com

 

j.


Walter White: Guitar Salesman?

20131005-155320.jpgPerhaps while he was getting his chemistry degree, prior to co-founding Gray Matter Technologies and subsequently bailing on them and regretting it for life, or perhaps in the interim while getting his teaching degree, Walter White did time as a Guitar Center salesman. I know this for a fact you see, because I have proof in this receipt I recently found while looking through some old records. In the summer of 2000 I headed down to Seattle to the Guitar Center to pick up the first guitar I ever bought, a Black Fender acoustic guitar (left handed of course). I didn’t notice at the time, this nobody taking my money, since this was prior to his meth-cooking hay day, but as it turns out, it was Walter White that sold me my first guitar. (See bottom of pic).

Just a cool little tidbit for ya, be a good trivia question. 😉

j.