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Archive for July 2009

When Driving Becomes Writing / The IQ Font

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IQ font – When driving becomes writing / Full making of from wireless on Vimeo.

A couple of talented font designers get together with a pin sharp stunt driver to produce a new font using Toyota’s IQ.

Custom software, designed by interactive artist Zach Lieberman, tracked the IQ from above to produce the final font.

Typographers: Pierre & Damien –  plmd.me
Font Driver: Stef van Campenhoudt
Interactive Artist: Zachary Lieberman – openframeworks.cc

FlickR Photographs

iqfont01

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Written by rufdog

July 18, 2009 at 10:04 am

Posted in Design

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Sleeping Dangerously

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sleepingdangerously
Whilst trawling the internet’s soft underbelly, I stumbled across this astonishing photograph by Bend to Squares. The mix of beauty, relaxation, danger and potential horror makes it mesmerizing to me. A stunning photograph and a work of genius.

Bend to Squares’ Flickr site

Written by rufdog

July 16, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Photography

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Paving the way in Afganistan

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pavingtheway

Like many, I watched with emotion, the news broadcasts of the recent eight fallen soldiers being taken through Wootton Bassett on their last homeward journey. I sense a change of mood about this war, I sense the people are sitting up and taking notice.

I don’t normally get political with my posts, but this poignant cartoon from The Times’ Gerald Scarfe says more to me than all the political and news commentary put together.

Sourced from The Times’ Cartoon section

Gerald Scarfe’s Website

Written by rufdog

July 16, 2009 at 9:09 am

Coming of Age

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blue028Relaxing after a mad run around. The sun bringing out his newly acquired brown whiskers.

It’s been a while since I mashed the keyboard about the adventures of Blue.
To kick off, several weeks ago he stopped pissing like a girl. Yes, he now pees like a proper man-dog. I’ll be honest, I was starting to get a teeny bit concerned about his ladylike peeing antics. So I’m quietly chuffed.

It’s always a comical time to watch a growing puppy learn the man-dog peeing business. They don’t always get it quite right. Cocking the wrong leg, falling over, peeing on their own foot are the chief pitfalls. But, it’s fair to say that Blue seemed to take it all in his stride.  Starting from a standard lady-dog-peeing position, he would suddenly remember, mid-flow, to cock his leg a little. Each time the leg got higher, until he got the hang of it and is now peeing like a full on man-dog.

blue029Playing ‘Sticks Top Trumps’

Sticks. The other thing I’m quite pleased about is Blue’s ability to select big ass manly sticks to carry around. No, non of your wussy half foot twigs, no sir… proper sticks that are so long and thick they bloody hurt as they clatter into my legs when he walks alongside me. Brilliant. When we go past another dog with a stick, it’s like a secret game of stick Top Trumps. The other owner knows it too, eyes narrow as we weigh up opposing stick sizes… yep. You’ve been well and truly trumped.

blue030First time off the lead

Energy. As I’ve documented in the past, Blue has some serious energy. Any thoughts of him calming down have been tied to a lead weight and thrown out the window. His energy levels are now at Defcom 4. Six mile walks aren’t enough. This has led to a big step in his growing up…  running off the lead.

With a pinch of nervousness, I selected a location miles from roads and, with not a soul in site, unhooked his lead and dug into my pocket for the all important tennis ball. Jeeezzzus, he can run. He moves so fast he can’t brake in time. In fact, the first few times he needed to learn how to stop from such a speed. He still overshoots the ball by about ten feet, legs scrambling to change direction, occasionally falling over, tongue lolloping.

It’s great to see him running free, although I don’t think it’ll ever get to the stage of walking completely off-lead along side me, he’s just too much of a nutter. On normal walking duties, he seems happy enough to be on the end of his new 8m retractable lead, it doesn’t bother him one bit.

blue031Catching his breath after a good ol’ game of fetch the tennis ball

Shagging. After a few hours walking and bolting after tennis balls, what better than a quick kip followed by a quick humping session. Dunno why, but I find it highly amusing when he grabs his cuddly toy and gives it a humping. It usually catches me off guard. I’m slumped on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table watching the TV…  in the corner of my eye I see his furry ass pumping away. The toy in question is a fluffy dog he has had from around 8 weeks old. He throws it around the room a bit, then grabs it by the neck, in the correct orientation, and gives it some. The toy is too small, so his humping is pretty unsuccessful and momentary, but funny as hell nonetheless.

Health. He went to the vets last week for his full dog-MOT. Weighing in at 11 KGs at seven months old, all is as it should be, all is in order. The vet said he was ‘a beautiful dog’, not in aesthetic terms (which he is too), but in body shape, muscle mass and all over condition. He is apparently pretty much all muscle. This is good news, but I fear that my new walking shoes aren’t gonna last too long. I wonder how his brother and sisters are getting on. I wonder if they too are stark raving bonkers.

Communication. He talks, or rather sings a lot too. Especially when he doesn’t get his own way. He chews my sleeve, I tell him ‘No’. He sing-howl-warbles at me, it’s brilliant. I’ll have to get a recording and post it on here.

If you mimic him, the decibels increase, culminating in a good ol’ bark. An incredibly deep bark. This is due to his Tibetan genes. They are renowned for possessing a bark of a much larger dog. This is one of the reasons why, historically, Tibetan monks used them as guard/watch dogs around their temples. Probably not Blue though, he’d probably eat the temple, run up Everest, shag a mountain bunny then sing about it.

Written by rufdog

July 10, 2009 at 10:28 am

Posted in Blue

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Project Hex: Building an Hexagonal Bird Table (Part 4)

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hex029

Having got the roof fully tiled, focus shifted to the finish of the roof. As previously mentioned, I delved online to research  staining and weatherproof wood.

I could have simply slapped on some standard woodstain, but I wanted a more natural finish, something that lets the grain of the wood be the star.

A technique that caught my interest was one which naturally ages wood. Wood greys with age, just look at an old garden fence, or the oak timbers of a Tudor house. Some woods darken more than other, like English oak. This is due to it having higher levers of tannin than other woods. Over time sunlight and the environment darkens the wood.

The technique I found is pretty simple. You pop some wire wool into a jar of malt vinegar and leave it for a few days to a week. Brush this onto the wood and a chemical reaction occurs. The wood darkens with a beautiful grey-silverish tint, which deepens over a few days. If the wood you want to ‘age’ has low levels of tannin in it, then you need to add some… simply use stewed tea bags. Tea has high amounts of tannin, yes the wood gets a tea colouring to it, but the main aim is to get the invisible tannins into the wood. This is what I did to the roof of the bird table. Maybe red wine would have the same effect?? I didn’t try it.

The beauty of this technique is that it isn’t a stain, it is a chemical reaction. In essence, it is aging of the wood in fast forward. The effect is wonderful, the vinegar/steel mix collects and pools in grains, grooves, nick & dips. Here it darkens more than other areas, giving a very natural effect. The ‘aging’ vinegar concoction is pretty potent too. Apply it ‘neat’ and wood can go jet black in seconds. Whilst testing on some off-cuts, I found 1 to 20 dilution gave a slightly tinted effect. This is the technique I used, applying tint, allowing to dry, then repeating until I got the look I wanted.

hex021The first treatment of the vinegar/steel wool mixture, you can see the wood darken slightly.

hex024After a few treatments, the wood dries to a greyish-brown. You can see that the wood looks ‘aged’.

hex025Another shot showing the ‘aging’ process.

hex026The first treatment of tung oil goes on one aspect (the left hand side of this picture)

For weatherproofing, my research highlighted tung oil as the best option. The Chinese have been using the stuff for 1000’s of years to waterproof their boats. The reason it isn’t commonly used today is that it is a laborious task to achieve a good level of waterproofing. It isn’t difficult, it simply takes time. You have to apply it thinned down 50/50 with white spirit, so it soaks deep into the wood. Wait for it to dry, then repeat, gradually reducing the amount of thinner used. To do it properly, layer after layer after layer needs to be applied, eventually using it neat for several top coats.

The results are worth it, plus it has other benefits. It is not harmful to wildlife, as tung oil comes from a nut. Maintenance of the wood is easy, no sanding or scraping every year or so. Instead, every six to twelve months or so, simply brush some more tung oil onto the wood. It should be completely water tight, as the oil fills the gaps and fissures in the wood grain, then cures over time. I’m looking forward to seeing the rain bead off it in the garden, with the same satisfaction you get from a downpour on freshly waxed car bodywork ~ maybe that’s a bloke thing?

hex027The ridge joins were filled with black exterior sealant prior to applying the tung oil.

hex028The entire roof after a few applications of tung oil.

hex030Outside, drying in the sun.

hex031When the sunlight catches the wood, the natural translucent grain is brought out, giving a golden sheen.

hex032The untreated (‘un-aged’), but oiled base and pillars have a lovely golden colour.

hex033Reverse birds eye view… looking up into the eves.

The process has slowed down somewhat. As each application of tung oil needs to be left to thoroughly dry, it takes longer and longer between ‘coats’. This is due to the deep wood grains filling up with oil, so in soaks in less. It’s taking over two weeks for each application to dry now. Any ‘excess’ that is left on the wood surface will be ‘sanded’ down with 1000 grade wire wool – it’s more of a polishing than a sanding, plus it removes dust and contaminants that have stuck themselves to the oil. This result should be a satin gloss finish. I’ve periodically wiped away any excess on the roof tiles as I want a matt finish, plus ‘polishing’ the tiles would be a nightmare.

I am now at the stage of applying the third pure undiluted tung oil to all areas. I reckon that it will be waterproof in one more application, I will test with some water.

My focus is now on designing the stand and base. As the table is moderately heavy, the idea of having an integral hexagonal planter as the base seems the best way to go. When filled with soil and plants, there will be zero risk of the bird table blowing over in the wind.

Written by rufdog

July 5, 2009 at 11:34 am