$6 Upcycled Dog Bed

We needed a new dog bed. OK actually, the dog needed a new bed. Here is the sad “before” state.


Dog beds cost like $25-40. That’s just silly. It’s some fabric and stuffing. So, we got some supplies. A throw blanket from Wal Mart ($2.87). Iron-on seam tape ($3.97). And the best part – we had a couple of old study-buddy pillows that were ready for donation to the thrift store, where they would no-doubt sit endlessly waiting for one of the tens of people in the world who buy used pillows to stumble on them. Since everyone has some old pillows of some type lying around for stuffing, total cost for the dog bed: $6.00.


We were a little worried about the seam tape, whether it would be permanent, and whether it would adhere well to the blanket material. This ultrabond stuff worked well.


Fold the blanket in half. The seam tape is double-sided, so you put it between the blanket seam and iron it down on one side. You can press the iron for just a few seconds at this point.


Then fold the blanket over, pull back the other side of the tape, and iron it down. At this point, you need to press down hard with the iron for about 10-15 seconds to get adequate heat to transfer through the material.


Once you’ve done 3 sides, you’re ready to stuff away!


Then you iron closed the final seam. Of course you could have turned it inside out before stuffing it, and then closed it up, but we liked the visible seam edges better. And our approach seemed like it put less stress on the seamed edges than if it were inside out.

And now for the after-shot!  Happy dog.


FlipBooKit – Mechanical Flipbook Art and Kit

I backed the FlipBooKit project on Kickstarter.


My kit showed up last week and I had a chance this evening to assemble it. I thought everyone would enjoy seeing it in action.

What’s a FlipBooKit? Here’s an excerpt from the Kickstarter campaign that explains what they are and where the inspiration came from. The video of mine is below.

“Flipbookit.net is from kinetic artists, Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel. They create moving art that tells stories and tickles our sense of nostalgia. In late 2011, their series of motorized flipbooks based on the motion studies of Edweard Muybridge began touring with galleries, art shows and at special events internationally. MAKE magazine is featuring the artists in their January issue and a few of the boxes were on display at Maker Fair 2012 (you can see the original flipbooks at http://www.mechanicalflipbook.com).”

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Swiss army knife engraving

I bought my daughters two identical swiss army knives for Christmas.  To tell them apart, I wanted to mark them in a permanent way.  I decided to engrave the plastic with the laser to give it some relief, and then fill in the impression with acrylic paint.

The neon green paint was somewhat translucent and the dark red showed through.  Had similar results with the other colors we tried.  The solution was to fill the impression with a metallic silver base coat, which gave it a shiny base, and then reapply the color coat.

I used my own knife as a test case (so I wouldn’t mess up theirs), and here is how it turned out:


The font is a little jagged, especially the small flourishes.  The girls opted for simpler fonts and they came out a bit cleaner.

Phone Engraving

One of the first things I thought when I saw the laser cutter was “I wonder if I can etch my phone with it?” Naturally, I placed my phone in it without a second thought, found a picture, and tried to engrave it. The only problem is that the pictures DPI (Dots per inch)was too low and it looked like a giant blob, so my dream was delayed. I eventually got some lessons on how to use it from various members (thank you, by the way) and with a little practice, I cut out my name on some scrap acrylic. I made that light up and change colors, and with that success I threw my phone in there and had some great results, so good in fact I did it to another phone. Both were such a success, I engraved a phone case, and the front glass on the second phone. Soon I am going to engrave an Ipad case and maybe other phones too! Hopefully I am going to upload a video of the ipad case getting engraved soon and some more pics.

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Experimenting with the Sublimation Printer

Paint color chart shows what colors look like on colored backgrounds.

Using a sublimation printer is new to me.  One of the concerns I had was learning how different colors on the computer would translate into colors on my colored t-shirt.  Instead of trying colors one at a time or as needed, I decided to just print a 1-inch color wheel on the bottom and side of a test shirt. If the test shirt turned out well, the color wheel would be no more obnoxious than the print registration markings that appear on all sorts of products we use all the time.  While I was at it I decided to see how much deterioration of appearance would occur if I used the print-out a second time.  The image on the right shows a much dimmer image, as would be expected.

The color experiment worked very nicely and effectively informed my design decisions.  You really cannot get yellow on a blue shirt.  Broad patches of yellow ink look green (as you might suspect).  Orange print results in a brown image.  The main thing you have to watch out for is that your brain tries to adjust, so at first glance the place on the wheel where yellow should occur looks yellow, but if you isolate that spot and look at what is really there, you will see that it is green.  You can then adjust the colors that are printed to get the colors you really want on the t-shirt (provided you are not fighting physics by trying for yellow on a blue shirt).

Color wheel close-up

Color wheel close-up

The color wheel is a cropped screen shot right out of Microsoft’s Paint program.

Space reorganization

We decided to stop talking about it and start doing it.  Got some good work done, but there are still some final details and cleanup/setup activities to attend to.

To keep dust down, the wood shop has been moved into a separate room.  The PVC “tent” supports have been removed, freeing up this space.

All of the fabrication stuff (3D printer, Laser Cutter, CNC router/mill) has been moved to a common location. The mill has been checked out and the electronics are sound, so a PC is being set up to get this operational.

The Animation center is now sporting dual 28″ monitors, and its new location is better suited to group presentations.

A presentation machine was moved to the table between the couches and meeting tables to make it easier to make presentations.  The platform on the other end is being cleared so the projection screen can be set up more permanently as well.

Did I miss anything?

Girl Scouts Savannah T-Shirts

A couple of Girl Scouts came in to do a T-shirt for their trip to Savannah, celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouts.

In fine Girl Scouting tradition, they did all the work themselves.  Created their own artwork, printed, and pressed their own shirts.  We were just there to teach and supervise.

7hills Passport and Stamp

This was a fun project. Borrowing from Mitch Altman’s Hackerspace Passport Project, we decided to put together a passport stamp for our makerspace.

One of our members is great with woodworking, carving, lathes and so on — and he made us an awesome wooden stamp handle in the shape of a resistor! You can see it in the photo. He even painted the color bands on the resistor so its value would be 74, a play on the 7 from 7hills, and the fact that a 4 is a backwards h.  He’s our little Dan Brown of woodworking.

I took our raster logo and set out to laser engrave some rubber material for the stamp itself. This was a bit more difficult than expected. We’d never done anything with rubber material before, so we had the typical trial and error to get the speed and power settings right on the laser (we have a 40W Full Spectrum Laser). On about the 6th try, we got the right depth, size, etc. right. Another issue we had was that the laser material stunk up the place a bit more than expected.  A couple of us got mild headaches from the fumes, but we still have our retinas intact, so all is well.

We cut a piece of wood to the same dimensions as the rubber stamp; roughly about 1.5″ square. This was matched to the approximate size of the “Visa” stamp areas in the Passport. Then we attached that piece of wood to the end of our resistor-stamp-handle and glued the rubber stamp to it. A little ink pad action and we were stamping anything that moved.

A nice bonus was that we had some visitors from Chattlab, the new makerspace opening in Chattanooga, the next day, so we were able to stamp a passport for them!

This is a really fun and cheap project — you end up with something functional, sentimental and “ceremonial” for your space when you’re done.  You get to apply a few different tools and disciplines around the space, and across your membership.

Costs. Assuming you have a woodworker, there’s no cost really in the handle and stamp base. The Passports are under $2 each from Sparkfun.  The rubber material is about $12 from Laserbits. You’re all-in for about $20. Oh, and you have enough rubber material left over to torment your political opponents.