Make Puppets with Jim Henson

Making Puppets With Jim Henson blog

This is a good intro to puppet-making, and a really solid lesson in pedagogy.
I love how chill Henson is; he doesn’t dumb down what he’s saying, and he also doesn’t amp it up (*HEY KIDS!*)–he presumes that his audience, regardless of age, is composed of interested human beings of average intelligence. It’s fun and it’s dignified (not in the sense of “stuffy,” but in that it respects the dignity of both the teacher and the student); in my experience, this is the best recipe for running a class where folks have fun and learn/make something they’ll value (again, regardless of age: 4-year-olds and 40-year-olds can all be spoken to basically the same way, you just have to squat on your haunches when addressing the former, and stand up straight when talking to the latter).
I also love that the puppeteers are clearly messing with Henson. That cracks me up.

FREE SAMPLE: Build, tune, and throw cardboard boomerangs

Learn to make, tune, throw, and catch two different cardboard boomerangs in this FREE SAMPLE from Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred:


PROJECT 18: Cardboard Boomerangs

Generations of American children wrongly grow to believe that building and throwing boomerangs is very difficult. This flies in the face of reason: Using less-than-ideal materials, human beings have been building, throwing, and catching returning boomerangs for more than 11,600 years. . . . They are, in fact, among humanity’s longest-standing ways of showing off. . . .

Boomerangs are absurdly easy to make; the real trick is in tuning and throwing them (all of which I cover in detail in this free sample). With the aid of the Print-n-Snip Templates (link below; includes two new tri-blade designs!) this is a great all-ages project: I’ve had a blast running boomerang workshops with teens and adults at sci-fi conventions, middle-aged family guys drinking beer, and dozens of elementary schoolers on the verge of Snow Day Insanity.

My Favorite Sock Cthulhu Yet!

ink spot: Sock Cthulhu
Dear friend Corey Johnson made several improvements when building her Sock Cthulhu, all of which I heartily endorse. I *love* these wings! Check the link for details on her mods.

If you make a sock monster–or anything else–feel free to drop me links, and I’ll add ’em to the gallery.
*Thanks Corey!*

What’d I do this weekend?

Busy weekend! On Friday I gave an hour-long webcast, walking folks through building their own $10 Electric Guitars (Project 13 in Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred) and on Saturday morning I was interviewed during the second half of GeekSpeak on KUSP radio (central-coast CA).
The folks at O’Reilly Publishing, who hosted the
Webcast: A Stick, Some Wire, A Can, and Some Wax: The $10 Electric Guitar, have made video of the whole hour available on YouTube (embedded below). Combine that with this PDF of the PowerPoint presentation (including nice sharp versions of all the charts and diagrams), and you’re ready to build your one-string axe. Get to it! If you need some 42-gauge winding wire, I can help you out.

As for the GeekSpeak appearance, you can check out the details here: Show for February 12, 2011 – GeekSpeak–or download the full hour of audio directly (I come in around the half-way mark; you’ll get to hear me blather, make weird yummy-noises-of-agreement, quote a +20-year-old Eddie Murphy routine, cough loudly into the mic, and wail on the $10 electric guitar through the Two-Transistor Fuzztone).
REMINDER: In about a week (Feb 22) I’ll be doing a two-hour all-ages cardboard boomerang workshop at the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Branch! See you there OR ELSE!

FREE ONLINE EVENT: “A Stick, Some Wire, A Can, and Some Wax: The $10 Electric Guitar”

The good folks at O’Reilly Media are hosting an hour-long webcast where I’ll walk folks through building their very own $10 Electric Guitars (Project 13 in my book Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids)

  • WHEN: Friday, February 11, 2011 @ 10am Pacific Time, San Francisco (or, for me 1pm, Eastern Time, in Michigan–for you, who knows?)
  • DETAILS or to SIGN UP: Webcast: A Stick, Some Wire, A Can, and Some Wax: The $10 Electric Guitar
  • COST: FREE!!!
    BONUS MICHIGAN EVENT: I’ll be running another cardboard boomerang workshop at the Main Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library on February 22 from 1pm to 3pm. Learn to build, tune, and throw cardboard boomerangs. Middle-school-age and younger kids are welcome with their folks. This one is also FREE!

  • Custom Steel Bikes: It’s All In the Jigs

    FROM STEEL: The Making of a Soulcraft on Vimeo

    FROM STEEL: The Making of a Soulcraft from michael evans on Vimeo.

    Mike Kessler (carpenter and founder of the Workantile Exchange–which is where I sit and type most days) points out:

    Making the frame looks like the easy part: setting up the shop and building all of the specialized jigs before the frame is built, that is the hard part. The quality of a craftsman is in the ingenuity of his jigs– that is what determines the quality and consistency of the final product; this guy is impressive.

    (thanks for the link, mike!)

    iPad and Kindle cases handmade by bookbinders

    iPad Cases by DODOcase

    Basically, these bookbinders are making a hardback cover for the device (iPad or Kindle). I was lukewarm on this at first (especially since I own neither device), but now that I’ve seen more of the craftsmanship–especially the bamboo fitting that holds the tablet in place–I’m really, really impressed. If they made a flip-top cover for the iPhone/iPod Touch (which I do have), I’d definitely be in the market (hint, hint).
    Incidentally, this is what I carry my iPod around in now: Poor Mojo’s Newswire: I’m Concerned I May Have Crossed a Geeky Rubicon

    Video review of the DODOcase:

    Cross-country Skiing in -19 Degrees

    Spent the weekend near Higgins Lake, MI, visiting my parents-in-law, attending a carnival on and adjacent to a frozen lake, and cross-country skiing. When we went out this morning, it was -19 degrees with no windchill. Leaving the cottage I burned two of my knuckles on the sub-zero metal of the storm door.
    That ice in my beard is my frozen breath, as is the ice crusting my scarf, and in my hair by my ear (I breath like nuts when I’m trying to regain sensation in my thumbs, toes, knees, etc.) We were only out for ~45 minutes.
    Also spotted on this jaunt: Private land adjacent to the state park demarcated by 1) A large hand-painted “PRIVATE” sign and 2) a pair of deer rib cages rotted to the bone and hung ~10 feet up in the crooks of a pair of trees flanking the sign. Yes, Michigan!

    Continue reading “Cross-country Skiing in -19 Degrees”

    FREE SAMPLE: Sew a sock squid (and upgrade it to a Sock Cthulhu!)

    Wanna sew a sinister lovey for your kid or significant other? New to sewing and looking for a project to get your started? Get a taste of Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred with this sample project:

    PROJECT 3: The Sock Squid

    Mysterious, charming, and delicious, squid have fascinated and terrified humanity ever since Pliny the Elder reported a giant squid attack on seaside Spanish fish-brining tanks, with several dogs and fisherman bludgeoned in the melee (recounted in his Naturalis Historia, circa 77 CE). Hence, the squid is a natural subject for adorable handicrafts. . . .

    An Interview about Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred at LoveToKnow Crafts

    Crafts for Boys – LoveToKnow Crafts

    LTK: What advice do you have for moms who want to tackle these crafts for boys? Is it really possible to make these items if you’ve never picked up a saw or a soldering iron?
    DEN: Absolutely! First off, many of these projects were designed for kid who had likewise never touched a saw or soldering iron; everything here is within your reach. Beyond that, I’ve found that, especially with teens, a little humility goes a long way. Some of my best teaching experiences weren’t couched as “I know a lot about this, and now I’m gonna tell you,” but instead as “I have no idea what I’m doing, but neither do you; let’s figure it out together.” Working together is really powerful, especially when the ages of the people working together diverge greatly.

    I also did a guest blog post on making and throwing cardboard boomerangs for the MotherhoodLater blog: – World’s leading newsletter, website and community for midlife moms: GUEST BLOG POST: Free Craft Project: Boomerangs from Boxes by David Erik Nelson, author, Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids