Gingerbread hockey arena

It’s nearing the holidays and it’s time for a gingerbread project. Every year there is a theme and since hockey is a much loved sport in Canada, an outdoor hockey arena was what we worked on.

A sketch was created to scale and it took a few iterations to get the desired size.

 

Outdoor rink sketch

Outdoor rink sketch

 

Stencils were made out of paper, the perspective used was that of a child in the rink, looking outside, hence the boards are high.

 

Stencils

Stencils

 

I tried a different recipe this year and the baked pieces were very soft. It was tricky working with such soft pieces as the large pieces cracked. If you want pieces that are harder after baking, then use the recipe that I used last year from Better Homes and Gardens.

 

Baked pieces

Baked pieces

 

I did not have any hockey player cookie cutters so modified the Ninja cookie cutters to get the effect of players and goalie.

 

Ninja Cookie Cutters

Ninja Cookie Cutters

 

A candy cane was iced onto the hand to look like a hockey stick.

 

Hockey player

Hockey player

 

In the past I found the royal icing to need a lot of drying time and the structure tended to fall apart easily. I tried a new approach this year and used an edible glue that worked extremely well. Take sugar, water and boil it down.

 

Boil sugar and water

Boil sugar and water

 

Take it off as soon as it’s gets a caramel colour. The recipe can be found on Martha Stewart – Swedish Gingerbread House How-To. It continues to cook so you have to work fast and in small batches.

 

Glue ready to be used

Glue ready to be used

 

Be careful as the glue is very hot. You have to work fast as it dries instantly.

 

Quick dry glue

Quick dry glue

 

To simplify things the bench was made with long rectangular pieces of gingerbread stuck on top of a stand. This stand was made out of cardboard covered with aluminium foil. The stand was built using the templates and the thickness of the pieces were not factored in.

 

IMG_3106

Bench

 

I did not make the icing from scratch this year and used a packet of instant royal icing. Since the icing takes a while to dry various aspects of this arena were iced and left to dry for a few hours.

1st was icing the largest section i.e. the rink.  Red and blue candy were added for the lines.

 

Skating rink

Skating rink

 

The christmas lights were a combination of licorice strings with small candies on top.

 

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

 

The christmas trees needed to be iced on each side and left to dry.

 

O Christmas tree, o christmas tree

O Christmas tree, o christmas tree

 

Here is what it looks like looking at the spectators (jelly beans) on the bleachers.

 

Outdoor arena view 1

Outdoor rink – view 1

 

An official NHL puck a.k.a chocolate. Psst who is that waving?

 

Who is that waving?

Who is that waving?

Yup, there is someone on the penalty bench.

 

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Outdoor rink – view 3

 

We took this to a party and let’s just say it was gone in the blink of an eye.

 

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Nom nom

 

The good news is that the rink was very tasty!!! So I might consider using this recipe again next year as it made for a very soft, chewy and tasty cookie. It was harder to work with however the quick dry edible glue works very well.

Headless, handless and footless monster

Headless, handless, footless monster

It’s time to make some halloween decorations. I decided to try something new this year and the results were quite spooky. This is an easy project, does take a couple of hours and the participant gets very hot. So the challenge is to find 1 willing participant.

Monster

Monster

Wrap saran wrap around the participant. I cut some corners here and worked in sections so that the willing participant did not have to have their hands up for a couple of hours.

Wrap 3 layers of packaging tape. Wrap this loosely as you have to cut it out at the end. I started off with the legs so that the hands could be down and the participant did not get tired. Note they get very hot fast so try to have an open window or fan on to keep things cool. This was then followed by the torso, hands and neck.

IMG_1664

It was super hot at this point so I asked which area should be cut out first and the request was the neck and hands. So this is what I started off with followed by the legs. This is very tricky so make sure you don’t cut the participant or their clothes. Use a scissor that is somewhat blunt at the tip.

Working in sections

Working in sections

You will now end up with a transparent mould of the monster. Set it to the final pose and start to stick back the parts that were cut out.

I added some led lights. This part was tricky as well as some sections at the wrists and ankles were super thin. I tied some long string to a section of the string of lights and pulled it in with a long pair of tongs. This worked well and I was able to get the lights through the hands and legs.

Here is the final result, a headless, handless, footless monster, booooo!!!

Headless, handless and footless monster

Headless, handless and footless monster

Try it out, it did slow down traffic in the neighbourhood. Happy Halloween

IR Sensor

The next sensor I have been experimenting with is an IR (infra red) sensor. This is the perfect sensor that can be activated with a simple TV remote control.

A 220ohm resistor in series with the IR sensor. This sensor is connected to the battery pack. Here is how it’s broken down.

Pin 1 is connected to the resistor and LED (anode or cathode??). Pin 2 (middle) is connected to the negative terminal of the battery pack. Pin 3 is connected to the positive terminal of the battery pack. LED (cathode, anode) are connected to the positive terminal of the battery pack.

IR Sensor

 

A random TV remote control button is pressed to activate the sensor and turn the LED on.

IR sensor activated

 

Troubleshooting

Ensure that the LED is connected with the correct polarity by testing it with just the battery, then with the battery and resistor.

photo

FSR Sensor

A while back I purchased an Arduino Uno with the goal of creating interactive art. It’s taken this long to get going and I am not quite there. The biggest challenge is knowing what to do and since the possibilities are endless it’s been hard to get started. The other challenge is having the right components to build what you want. I have decided to break this process up and experiment with simpler circuits and once I understand what they do and how to connect them I will tie it together into a larger project.

I experimented with an FSR sensor from Adafruit. This sensor lets you sense physical pressure or weight. The more pressure applied, the lower the resistance.

FSR sensor from Adafruit The sensor is connected to a LED which is connected to a CR2032 battery. photo The sensor is pressed and the LED goes on.

Troubleshooting

Before connecting the FSR test to see that the LED circuit works. Since the FSR is not polarized it can be connected in any direction.

 

Instead of using a CR2032 I can use the Arduino Uno to power up the circuit. I will post updates.

lil monster 5

Adding LEDs to a painting

I have had an idea for a mixed media painting for a couple of years now. The background has been painted and is sitting on the shelf. Although I have tried to make the project simple there are many little components that need to come together and a fair bit of time and a steep learning curve. I was speaking to Darcy about this and here are some bits of wisdom that he shared with me that will help me to move this project along. When you are stuck on a project, take a break and work on something else. Come back to this project later. The other bit was to break the project down into little components. So I have done just that. I decided that the project has to have a basic LED with battery and conductive thread. Being summer I thought making a little cottage that would light up would be easy and quick. So I found a paper toy template and modified it using Inkscape.

Paper toy cottage

Paper toy cottage

There were many challenges with this option, the first being that it was not very big and would be too flimsy to hold a battery and LED well. I needed to have a material that would hold both easily. The other medium that came to mind was canvas. I made a sketch of what I was planning to do.

Sketch 1

Sketch 1

It took a few tries to get something that was appealing with some further modifications in the final painting.

sketch 2

Sketch 2

I used mainly acrylic paints for everything and gouche for red and black. Once dry I added a matte finishing coat on top.

lil monster 1

Lil monster

I had a number of small LEDs however the big red one seemed to work best. Upon advice from Alison, I tested the circuit before I attached it to the canvas. I started out with conductive thread and note the polarity of the LED. If it does not light up reverse the connection. I poked the LED through the canvas and folded the pins on either side.

lil monster 2

LED – back of canvas

The canvas held the LED well with no further glue or tape being needed.

lil monster 4

LED – front of canvas

It was hard to use conductive thread so I opted for a thin, insulated wire instead. I stripped a little of the insulation off the wires at both ends and twisted them around the LED pins.

lil monster 3

Circuit – back of canvas

I inserted the battery in the groove of the canvas and twisted one of the wires into one of the sides. Again no glue was needed as the battery was secure. Connect the circuit by attaching the second wire to the battery.

“I am a scary monster, boooo”

lil monster 5

Minecraft, big boxes and a whole lot of fun

I was tasked with organizing a Minecraft themed party. The selection for decorations were few and not very appealing. I had this vision of having these characters some to life so to speak. Asia and Matt’s wedding was the only thing that I came across on the interwebs that fit this vision.

Of course my budget and timeline was much smaller. The cheapest materials were re-cycled boxes and it took a couple of unsuccessful trips to the grocery store before I hit the jackpot.

Raw materials

Raw materials

Combined with supplies I was ready to start.

 

My friend stopped by one afternoon to get started. Here are the results a whole lot of fun later.

Steve in the works

Steve in the works

Steve's torso

Steve’s torso

Steve with an almost face

Steve with an almost face

Steve and the pig

Steve and the pig

Creeper and TNT

Creeper and TNT

Finally the icing on the cake….

Minecraft cake

Minecraft cake

I came, I saw, I mined

I came, I saw, I mined

Arduino Uno

Arduino’s have arrived

I am fortunate to be surrounded by very artistic, innovative and talented people who amaze me everyday with their projects. I attend Nuit Blanche and in awe of the various interactive projects on display. Over the past few years I have had great discussions with Alison from Maker Junior and attended a Maker Faire or two. I had heard about the Arduino and the ability to make some interesting projects and finally took the plunge and attended a session by Darcy on Arduino Day.

Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno

Although I did not have an Arduino myself there were quite a few to go around so I got a chance to play. I managed to get Blink working and it was time to leave.

I have ordered a couple from Spark Fun and now that they are here I am eager to get started but can’t seem to make it out to any of the meetups’ due to schedule conflicts.

I am not sure what to do next.