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Bouchuu kan ari

Translation, “in the midst of busyness, there is free time.”

t3washibox

The Japanese have many traditions. The culture is old and therefore patient. I often wish I were more patient. However, one of the ways I do slow down and detach from the busyness of work is my T3 projets. This one ended up being a great opportunity for patience and going slow.

I read an article about making traditional Japanese paper boxes. The paper crafts, including folding (origami) and making small decorative objects, is very embedded in the cultural history. This article referred to the handmade and hand stenciled paper that was commonly used, Chiyogami, and went on to basically say you could use any decorative paper.

Not me. If I was going to make a traditional Japanese paper box, I was going to make it the traditional way. Short story: it took months to locate, select, order and receive the 2 full size sheets of handmade Washi stenciled in traditional Chiyogami patterns.

Originally the term Washi referred to Japanese handmade paper produced in a traditional manner. The term Washi translates to Japanese paper (wa=Japanese shi=paper). Kozo, mitsumata, and gampi are the three basic fibers most commonly used in the Washi making process.

Papermaking was first brought to Japan by Buddhist monks, but Japan quickly became the leading producer of paper. Traditionally the Washi making process was undertaken by farmers as a seasonal task and Kozo, mitsumata, and gampi crops were planted along with their regular crops. The farmers would process the crops into paper during the months when it was to cold for them to work outside. This had the added benefit of the availability of very cold water which is necessary for the process.

The word Chiyogami comes from the roots chiyo (thousand generation) and gami (paper). Chiyogami is Washi paper that has been hand stenciled or printed with traditional Japanese imagery using bright colors and patterns. Appearing during the Edo period, Chiyogami was traditionally used to craft paper objects, especially dolls. It gained tremendous popularity among origami fans because it offered a great visual presence and was less costly then some of the other Washi papers at the time. It still remains a favorite among folders and adds a richness to any paper craft project.

With paper in hand and an idea about how I would make the box itself, I got started.

Making the “T” box was not difficult. The bottom has edges that folded down to glue to the insides of the sides. Then I fashioned an inner liner that was taller in order to have something for the lid to fit over. The lid is like a traditional box, only in a not-so-traditional shape. The “3” was more complicated and it took a lot of work and molding of the paper board to get the curves in the three correct. Finally, I covered everything in black tissue.

Then it was time to cut and glue on the Chiyogami. Given the cost and difficulty in obtaining the paper, I was a little nervous to start hacking my beautiful, hand numbered, full sheets into bits and pieces, but that’s what it was for. Careful measurements were reduced by the margins desired to show the black tissue at the edges and corners, and piece by piece the colorful paper transformed the black form into art.

Box1

Box2

Box3

I’m very pleased with the result. Sayōnara

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You Spin Me Right Round…

t3spinners

My kids starting buying these “fidget spinners”, which are actually quite fun to play with. I got an orange one and a white one and saw the potential for a “T” in the three arms. Then one day I got an email from a company offering to custom skin a spinner. I took about 30 seconds to make that decision.

The result is both relaxing and fulfilling. (and it gave me the opportunity to reference 80’s music)

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Silent But Deadly

No, I’m not referring to a bodily function. I’m talking about the stage crew at a theatre production. Stagehands, or Theatre Ninja’s, as they like to call themselves are the unsung heroes of the theatre.

Without these hardy, creative, resourceful and patient souls, no production would ever see the curtain go up.

I was asked to design a shirt for them to wear while doing what they do. This meant a black shirt with a very dark gray or even flat black print so it would not show up while they move around on and back stage during the production.

Theatre Ninja2

I started with the front, deciding to minimize the ninja part, but threw in the glasses as a head nod to the obvious geek nature of set building, lights and sound and such. I selected Avant Guard as the font because of the round form for the “a” and then put the ninja in that space. I intentionally aligned the “t” in theatre with the “j” in ninja.

For the back, we tried a nod to gaff tape (which is stuck to everything on the set at some point) and a phrase that was actually part of a conversation my daughter had with the drama director. A lot has been written and quoted and tweeted and meme’d about stagehands. Having a design that has its roots in something that happened specifically in your space feels more authentic. In the end, there was a concern that as funny as the quote was, it would not be understood by very many people and would need constant explaining. The decision was made to repeat the ninja larger on the back. It’s a clean design and one that will hold up over time.

No Life Without Drama

Carol Poster 2

Our school has a fantastic drama program. My daughter is most often the stage manager for the productions. I offered to help create the collateral for the performances which includes posters, playbill covers, t-shirt designs and anything else they decide to brand.

Whenever I have a chance to work on a complete set of materials, I really enjoy it. I like the challenge of working through from concept to finished pieces while managing the various ways the design will be used.

I always start with the largest piece and work my way down. If I get to design several different pieces within a larger framework, I will start with concept work and then add refinements and details to the individual pieces once I am happy with the overall look of the set.

For this project I decided to tie all the plays together with a style: high contrast, 3-4  saturated colors, bold and monochromatic images.

In each case I will have to abide by the requirements of the performance license regarding use of the title logos and the information that must be included on marketing materials.

For The Lion King Jr. I posterized Mufasa to two colors and created a vector version of the resulting image. The color palette is from the required logo colors.

For A Christmas Carol I borrowed a line drawing of people celebrating behind a stoic Ebenezer Scrooge and created a two color vector of the silhouettes. Filling Scrooge with a red and the people with white all against a green background gives a Christmas sort of vibe, but clearly communicates that Scrooge is not connected to the people. The logo is a common standard for the production set in a lighter green.

For Into The Woods I used the hood and cape of Red Riding Hood to create the nose of the Wolf. Again, Disney requires their logos and information to be displayed in very specific ways. This play didn’t make the cut, so I won’t be developing this concept any further.

Into the Woods got replaced by Some Enchanted Evening, a review of Rogers and Hammerstein songs about love. I chose a large posterized moon in two colors of blue against a dark blue background to set the romantic tone for the piece. Cutting across the moon are two hands in silhouette, a woman extending her hand and a man taking it. Are they going to dance? Will they simply hold hands and gaze at the moon? Will they kiss? We do not know, but we sense they are in love.

In each case I will develop the rest of the collateral based on these concepts. I have already worked on the Lion King Jr poster based on the set of requirements we got from Disney:

The Lion King Jr Concept
The Lion King Jr Concept
Lion King Poster 4
The Lion King Jr Poster

Sign of the Times

We have a lot of construction going on around my home and business. Thankfully, the construction crews are nice enough to put up digital signs warning us of the changes in lane closures and delays. I drive by these signs everyday and so it was inevitable that I would think about one of them displaying my T3 logo.

I happening to be going the right direction at the right time of day to get a pic of a sign in the shade but with the background sunlit. This produced the best combination of the sign being visible without being too bright and the surrounding material being well lit also.

I pulled over, put on my hazard flashers and started taking pics:

T3 Digital Sign Raw image
T3 Digital Sign Raw image

Back in photoshop I straightened the image, reduced the width of the sign while leaving the surrounding material intact, then began editing the sign pixels to light the ones I needed and “turn off” the ones I didn’t.

t3digitalsign
T3 Digital Sign
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Knightingales have their song

Knightingales Web

My daughter is active in a lot of activities at her school. One is Show Choir. She asked me to design a shirt for them.This is the actual text message exchange that was the total creative input for the project:

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 3.08.08 PM

So I thought about the nature of Show Choir and the kind of music and productions they put on and decided the design needed to have a Broadway Musical feel to it. I found a font called Stret Cred that had a solid look with a line through all the type forms. I did not like some of the letter forms, so I modified several of them and changed some of the kerning:

Print

Then I added the Nightingale perched on the “I” and put the “CROSSINGS SHOW CHOIR” underneath in Arial Narrow and increased the tracking 200% to spread it out and lighten it up a little.

My daughter was signing a song from “Pippin” that has the lyric, “Nightingales have their song” and that seemed a fitting thing to quote for a back logo with a slightly different silhouette of the singing Nightingale.

They are printing in a dusty blue (PMS 290) and a darker blue shirt:

Broder Brothers

Space Cowboys

Space Cowboys
Space Cowboys

One of my sons currently attends Oklahoma State University. He and some friends wanted to start a social group of people who were interested in space, and thought “Space Cowboys” would be a great name, since Oklahoma State’s mascot is Pistol Pete and we are the Cowboys.

He was right, it is a great name. So great in fact that there are already several groups in the world called Space Cowboys including one at OSU made up of Engineers involved in designing things for space missions.

They are rethinking the name, but we already did design work. Pistol Pete carries a Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum with a 6.5″ barrel:

0316

As we played with designs we had a ray gun we were trying to work into the concept:

laser gun

Suddenly it dawned on me that we could make the ray gun look like a Ruger Blackhawk! Nothing says “Space Cowboys” like a pair of western six-shooters as ray guns.

We also played with Pistol Pete in space. One of the iconic parts of Pete is his mustache. That, along with his eyes and eye brows really define his caricature:

81118245da8882252cddfa811b631b3eSo we added the mustache and the eyes to a simplistic vector space helmet to get this:

helmetI’m not sure these designs will ever see the light of day apart from this blog. But at least they are here.

Grilled Cheese

My son asked me to do a logo for a group of his (music I believe). The name is Grilled Cheese Collective. He gave me the following:

“Grilled Cheese Collective”

“grilled cheese cut diagonal”

“simple colors, i.e. yellow, blue, purple”

I love this kind of work!

I started with a photo of a sandwich I liked:

ep_04082015_grilledcheese_sandwichtheory

and then created a vector outline in AI that looked good to me. Since my son had given me 3 colors he wanted and one was “cheese” colored, I used the purple and blue as dark and lighter bread.

Print

When I showed him the initial design he said, “that’s dope”, which I think means good. We played with the colors a bit before we settled on Cheese Gold (0,35,99,0), Bread Blue (64,14,16,0) and Crust Purple (68,86,0,0).

Next we needed to put the Grilled Cheese Collective text into the design. We went through several fonts and kept picking clean, solid almost formal sans serif fonts. The design kind of requires a condensed font and Steelfish ended up being the choice. The one problem with Steelfish was the capital “G”. The spur doesn’t really match the clean lines of the other capital letters, so I changed it:

Print

Then we played with placement and decided on two options:

Print

Print

This turned out to be a really good design. I’m sorry, a really “dope” design.

 

Joyeux Noël 2016

Another year swiftly passed and we found ourselves preparing for Christmas. This year’s card was to be a simple single piece (no folds or fancy layouts) with a picture of the whole family together in a single frame (first time in a couple years for that) and a simple message.

 

2016 Xmas Card Front
2016 Xmas Card Front
2016 Xmas Card Back
2016 Xmas Card Back

The front is a slight play on the MasterCard commercials, but with a count instead of prices. Slight problem occurred when people started getting the card and contacted us to find out who was getting or had gotten married. Answer, Rebecca and I, 30 years ago. The counts are our family’s counts since we got married. Oh well….

 

AK 47 vs AR 15

arvsak

I love guns. I am obsessive compulsive and therefore I collect the things I love. I have a number of AK’s and AR’s, most of which we never even shoot. So I decided to keep my best specimen of each as original and use a great specimen of each to build a really great gun modified to be easier and more fun to shoot. I will fund the builds by selling some of the other guns in my collection.

The AK-47

The Avtomat Kalashnikova Model 47, or AK as it is officially known, (also known as the Kalashnikov or in Russian slang, Kalash) is a selective-fire (semi-automatic and automatic), gas-operated 7.62×39 mm assault rifle, developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known in the Soviet documentation as Avtomat Kalashnikova (Russian: Автомат Калашникова).

For seven decades the AK and its variants remain the most popular and widely used assault rifles in the world because of their substantial reliability under harsh conditions, low production costs compared to contemporary Western weapons, availability in virtually every geographic region and ease of use. One out of every 7 firearms in circulation in the world is an AK-47.

From “Lord of War”, Yuri Orlov: [Narrating]

Of all the weapons in the vast soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It’s the world’s most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn’t break, jam, or overheat. It’ll shoot whether it’s covered in mud or filled with sand. It’s so easy, even a child can use it; and they do.

The AR-15

The Armalite Rifle Design 15, or AR, is a selective-fire, 5.56×45mm, air-cooled, direct impingement gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle, with a rotating bolt and straight-line recoil design. Commonly known as the “Black Rifle” because of the black parkerized finish and black and gray plastic furniture, it was designed above all else to be a lightweight assault rifle, and to fire a new lightweight, high velocity small caliber cartridge to allow the soldier to carry more ammunition. It was based on the Armalite AR-10 rifle. After modifications the new redesigned rifle was subsequently adopted as the M16 Rifle and went into production in March 1964.

So which gun is better?

AK-47 AR-15/M16 Superior Rifle
Maximum Effective Range 400 yards 600 yards AR-15/M16
Weight (empty) 9.5 pounds 7.8 pounds AR-15/M16
Weight (loaded, 30 round magazine) 10.9 pounds 8.8 pounds AR-15/M16
Muzzle Energy 1,500 foot-pounds 1,300 foot-pounds AK-47
Energy at 400 yards 462 foot-pounds 536 foot-pounds AR-15/M16
Accuracy
(16″ barrel)
8-12 MOA 6-8 MOA AR-15/M16
Reliability Functions under nearly any condition Prone to failure when exposed to dirt, dust, and mud AK-47
Ergonomics Safety/selector switch is a bit awkward requiring the user to break grip on the rifle; cheek weld is virtually non-existent Excellent cheek weld; safety/selector switch is manipulated easily without losing sight picture AR-15/M16
Recoil Noticeable but easily managed in semi-automatic Easily controllable, even under rapid fire AR-15/M16

Just looking at the side-by-side comparison, one has to give the nod to the AR-15/M16. It is more accurate and offers superior ballistics at long range. The AK-47 is clearly superior for reliability and short-range ballistics, making it an obvious choice for anyone who needs a short-range tactical rifle. Its traits clearly make it the better choice for close-quarters urban or jungle fighting in which engagements will usually be fewer than 100 yards.

Still, at the end of the day, the customer staring at both rifles has to make a decision. Do you go with fool-proof reliability at a lower cost and choose the AK, or drop the extra cash on the AR-15 (what many call “the Lego System of weapons”) and have an accurate, modular system  you can adapt to multiple roles and calibers? Which one you choose ultimately will depend on the role you want it to play.

Need the ultimate in reliability and close-range support? Get the AK.

More interested in an easily modified modular system that boasts excellent long-range accuracy and ballistics? Get the AR.

If you are like me, you will spend even more and get one (or several) of each.

The AK build:

oldak

 

For the AK I decided to keep my milled receiver Norinco MAK-90 and use a stamped receiver Norinco to make a really fun sporter and fund it by selling two other AK’s (another Norinco and a really nice Hungarian SA-85M.)

With the guns sold and cash in hand I started ordering parts:

I also needed an M14x1 Left Hand Die and Thread Alignment Tool and a replacement Front Sight Detent as the gun I was using for the base didn’t have a threaded barrel.

modak

After completely disassembling the rifle, we started with the alterations.

The new glass-filled nylon stock did not fit very snugly because the back of the receiver was canted just slightly inward from bottom to top. A little careful grinding got the back of the receiver square and tight in the stock. The fit of the top tab also needed some adjustment so we used a file to reshape the rounded end until it fit into the cutout perfectly. Then with the gun and stock carefully clamped in a vice on a mill table we milled out the hole for the original wood screw to be reused. Once fitted the stock was tight and solid and looked like it was custom made for the rifle.

The Forearm also needed extensive fitting. The tab that goes into the front of the receiver was significantly oversized (probably to accommodate the variations in stamped recievers). A couple of hours of careful carving with a chisel, sandpaper and sundry other tools and a very tight fit was achieved.

Threading the barrel and installing the muzzle device detent pin were delicate operations. After removing the front site, we threaded the barrel with relative ease. However, the step-up in barrel diameter was out too far from the front site face and therefore the muzzle break wouldn’t thread on far enough. Rather than attempt to reduce the barrel, we counter bored the muzzle device to fit over the step-up. If we choose to add a silencer to this gun, we will simply counter bore that device too so it will match.

Next we had to locate and mill the hole for the detent pin, which entailed getting the front site clamped up flat and straight and then determining the correct placement of the hole. We got it right and the detent pin fit perfectly and keeps the muzzle break from unscrewing as well as keeping it oriented correctly.

We polished the bolt carrier group and the trigger and will finish the gun by Cerakoting the receiver and barrel in flat black.

The AR build:

oldar

 

For the AR I kept a preban Colt in original unfired condition and decided to use a preban Colt Sporter Competition HBAR .223 (low serial number!) for the build. The base gun has a 20″ threaded barrel (1/2×28) with a rifle length gas tube.

Parts for the build include:

Unlike the AK, the AR is renown for parts exchangeability. Because of the military basis for the platform, many replacement parts and modifications are designed to meet the same MilStd or MilSpec criteria as a genuine U.S. military rifle. It is worthy to note that these parts and complete rifles are NOT MilSpec. To be MilSpec the parts or completed rifle would have to be inspected by the US Government AND the parts or completed rifle would have to be produced to fulfill a government contract. Since all these replacement parts and modifications are NOT inspected and the only firearms being built to a government contract are illegal for a citizen to own, it is safe to say that our AR will not be “MilSpec.” But that’s ok, the standards were developed and are available and many manufacturers adhere to them where it counts. All this means is that the extensive modifications and adjustments we had to make to the AK parts will not have to be made to the AR parts.

modar

The first case in point is the Butt Stock. Most AR stocks are designed to fit on the standard military buffer tube. The buffer tube houses the recoil spring which forces the bolt carrier group back into the forward locked position after the gas tube forces it backwards. Our sniper inspired fully adjustable wicked cool stock slid right into place in the Colt buffer tube and with a single machined screw was firmly installed and functional.

We removed the muzzle device and the handguards, then removed the front site/gas block and the gas tube, then the delta ring and barrel nut.  This left the bare barrel sticking out of the upper receiver and ready to reassemble with the new components.

First on was the adapter barrel nut for the UTG Pro free floating handguard. A free-floating barrel is one in which the barrel and stock are designed to not touch at any point along the barrel’s length. The barrel is attached to its receiver, which is attached to the stock, but the barrel “floats freely” without any contact with other gun parts, other than the rifle’s sights. On the original AR the handguard was attached to the barrel right behind the front site. Pressure on the handguard may cause the barrel to shift its alignment slightly over time, altering the projectile flightpath and impact point. There is also evidence that the stock constraining the barrel interferes with the natural and force vibration and oscillation and therefore alters the flight path from shot to shot. Bottom line: floating barrels are more accurate. Even more important: the UTG Pro handguard looks awesome!

After installing and properly torquing the barrel nut, we installed the low profile gas block, replacing the front site/gas block combination. This provides the clearance for the new handguard. We chose an extended gas block to cover the pin slots left from the way the front site is attached.

Then the handguard slipped over everything and was screwed into place.

We installed the new muzzle device which serves as a combination flash hider, muzzle brake and compensator, completing the barrel end of the AR.

To compliment the new butt stock, we also installed the new pistol grip that is adjustable to fit our large hands, and the expanded trigger guard to give us more room in the trigger area. We reinstalled the bolt carrier group along with the new ambidextrous charging handle.

Finally, we mounted the EOTech site and the BUIS pair on the top rail. We haven’t decided if we are going to Cerakote the receiver to match the handguard or not. We may like the two tone look …

 

A New Brand of Spooky

t3-o-lantern

Carving pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns is a time honored tradition of fall. My youngest and his grandmother went to the pumpkin patch and got several nice specimens and the “tools” to carve them. By tools I mean these really handy little saw looking devices in several sizes that are much easier to use than the huge kitchen knives we used when I was a kid.

After carving the designs the kids were interested in I thought it would be a shame to let the holiday go by without a T3 carved into a pumpkin.

A little adjusting for the spooky factor in Illustrator and the familiar brand was reborn as a T3-O-Lantern.

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