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).”

This video doesn’t exist

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.



to know people is wisdom,
but to know yourself is enlightenment.
to master people takes force,
but to master yourself takes strength.
to know contentment is wealth,
and to live with strength resolve.
to never leave whatever you are is to abide,
and to die without getting lost-
that is to live on and on.

Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)


OK, who says marketing has to be all about Myfacing and Tweetering on the Interweb these days?

Well, Steve showed up at our make-night last night. He made this AWESOME plinko board for friend-of-the-space SAI Digital to show off a cool inbound marketing technique at the recent Business Expo event here in Rome. Um, they won best of show. No wonder.

I will try to get him to do a write-up on it, but for now, here’s a pic. It’s Arduino-controlled, has these cool clicky-sounding relays for the lights that give it a great carnival feel, and the woodworking looks like it was done at Yankee Workshop.

iPhone 5 Engraving

Well got the new iPhone 5… Now what to do with it…. I have an idea! Lets try the laser cutter on it!!!

Another Furniture Hack – Easel Lamp

Dude, what’s up with the lamp fetish? Two weeks in a row? I know, right!

Here’s the deal. I will be moving into a new apartment after the first of the year. I want to fix it up and make it stylish and comfortable, but the industrial, architectural stuff I like is just too expensive. No self-respecting maker would pay $2,200 for one of these. So, I decided to try and make my own this weekend.

I started at Hobby Lobby. They have these awesome wooden easels for $50. I happened to have a coupon for 40% off on a single item, so I got one for $30. Schweet.

Next, I found an old ugly lamp in the basement and salvaged the hardware.


I picked up a 15-foot lamp cord at Home Depot for $3.50. The longer cord is important because of the height of the lamp. And I grabbed a can of wood stain (the easels come unfinished) for $8. So, total cost for the lamp: $40.

The easels have a nice flat surface at the top. This was perfect for drilling a 1/2″ hole for the socket post.

Wire up the socket.


Install the halo.

I wanted a more distressed look, so before I stained it, I drug a planer across the legs of the easel at random places.  This creates nice gouges.

Then I wrapped some bolts, nuts and screws in a rag and beat the crap out of it. This creates dents and dimples that look like genuine wear, and they cause the stain to be absorbed in an uneven way. I also took an awl and scratched the wood in random places, and I created some deeper holes and dents.

Finally, I disassembled the easel parts and made a big mess with my stain.

Here’s the finished product.  I’m darn happy with it, especially for $40!

Pipe Lamps


Ethan and I decided to make some steampunk’ish desk lamps out of black pipe this weekend. There are lots of various designs and tutorials out on the web, but we just got ourselves a bunch of parts and assembled things until we found a structure we liked.


The main parts you need to create one of these are pipe lengths (we used 10″ and 3″ sections), elbows (we used 45 and 90 degree ones), flanges (the round, flat base things), lamp sockets, 1/2″ to 3/4″ reducers (for the little feet as an alternative to the flanges), Tee shapes, and some old electrical cord/plugs. Ours was made of 1/2″ parts, but you could move up to 3/4″ for a larger lamp. Depending on your design, you might also find a use for the end caps.

We added the brass water water spout to break thing up, but ended up not liking it. I think we’re going to replace the water spout with something less modern-looking.


Oh, and you need light bulbs of course.  Check out these two versions. They are vintage, filament-type bulbs that GE sells and that you can find at most home supply stores. They really help to give your lamps that vintage, industrial and/or steampunk look. Beware, these bulbs put off a lot of heat and get very hot, so you’ll want to be careful about the type of fixture you put them in (see below).


For the bulb covers, we used a couple of those hanging portable lights that are common in auto shops, garages, etc. The ones we used came in bright yellow, but a little black spray paint did the trick. You could re-use the whole thing by re-purposing the bulb socket and cord for your lamp, but we didn’t think about that till it was too late.  So, we ended up with a couple of cord and sockets for another project.


Ethan took advantage of this phase to do some “graffiti” in the 7hills kitchen. :-)