Buttons!

Oct. 21st, 2014 05:01 pm
terriko: (Default)
This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

Buttons buttons, rah rah rah


The first time I got to use a button machine, I was a kid. It was at the Ex (a fair with livestock, music, and a midway, not unlike state fairs in the US only with fewer deep-fried things), and I was kind of astounded by this giant button press because I’d never really thought about how a button was put together, let alone that this might be done by a human-powered machine.


Fast forward, years later, and one day it just occurs to me that as an adult with some income (not much; I was still a student) there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t just buy a button machine and make silly one-off buttons whenever I wanted.


Buttons! (Push button; receive bacon)


I’ve used them for costumes, for befriending random people off the internet who like snarky kitten commentary, for hanging out at abq maker faire and helping people make their own, and for anything else that might amuse me.


Since I sometimes bring the whole machine with me to places like quelab or abq mini maker faire, I often get asked about where I got it and how much it costs, so I figured I’d make myself a post that contained all the info so I can find it easily. This is that post!


The button machine


Here’s what my personal machine looks like:


The button machine


I have a 1.5 inch button machine. It has a visible “top” area of around 1.37 inches, with a bit more visible space wrapping around the edge of the button. The circles I cut are 1.87 inches wide.


Although I realize this listing won’t stay live forever, here’s a current listing equivalent package I bought. It’s the Tecre model 150 1.5inch button machine with 1000 button blanks, and as of this writing it costs $264 (although I think it might have been a bit less when I got it).


For when that link no longer works: The vendor is called “button boy” and goes by the username “politicsstinks” on ebay. Here’s a link to the ButtonBoy ebay store. The latest stuff I bought from them also recommended the ButtonBoy etsy store.


It’s a small machine although very heavy, but I did a lot of research and the Tecre machine seemed to be the best type of machine for my needs: It’s physically easy to use, hard to damage, reasonably well designed so that with a bit of adult supervision kids can make their own buttons. I went with the 1.5 inch size because it was large enough to have reasonably legible text or enough space to colour, but small enough to be cuter and easy to fit on a bag strap.


If I were to buy a second machine I’d probably go with the 1″ because I’d love to try the magnetic jewelery stuff they have now, but I expect I’d still want my 1.5 inch because visible text is important a lot of the time!


Recommended Accessories


Button punch


My number one recommendation is that if you’re going to do any larger runs of buttons, it’s worth investing in one of the button hole punches. Especially if you’re letting people colour their own buttons, it’s annoying to colour a teensy piece of paper, so I find it’s more pleasant to punch things out on the spot after the colouring is done rather than cutting the circles in advance. The punch is also great for using magazines or wrapping paper, like I did for these Christmas buttons (although I didn’t have the punch at the time so these were done by tracing circles with the mylar and cutting them out with scissors):


Christmas Buttons


Alternatives:


Scissors work just fine. Invest in a comfortable pair rather than doing like my sister and I did on our first big button run where we gave ourselves bruises cutting out 200 buttons by hand, though.


I do *not* recommend trying to use a a cheaper adjustable circular cutter from the craft store. I have one, and there’s a couple of problems with it:


1. The center has a point, which makes a teensy but noticeable hole in your design. I can feel this through the mylar cover on the finished button and it annoys me. I stuck a piece of rubber on it to compensate, but that just makes it more finicky.


2. It’s very hard to line up the design nicely (at least compared to a hole punch or scissors)


Basically, it turned out to be more annoying than drawing circles and cutting them out with scissors. The punch, however, is way better.


Some folk at my former hackerspace have pointed out that a cricut machine would be excellent for this, and probably the laser cutter would work as well. Both of these are a lot more expensive than a punch, but if you’ve got them, why not? The only downside is that neither is as convenient for on-the-fly button making using magazines or quite as convenient for maker faire purposes.


Paper Guillotine


If you’re printing 8.5×11 sheets of buttons to cut out, you may also want to invest in a paper guillotine. This is handy if you want to hand out smaller segments for kids to colour, and great if you’re using a button punch that can’t punch holes in the middle of a piece of paper.


Again, scissors work just as well, but when you’re spending all day making buttons, little things that make life easier like that are worth it. So once again, I recommend it if you find you’re doing a lot of buttons, but it’s not needed for small runs.


Inkscape


I’ve found inkscape to be the most consistently good tool for making buttons because it’s so easy to whip up a template (1.85in circle with inner 1.375in circle) and import things into it. It lets you do things like fit text to a path, trace bitmaps so they can be converted to fewer, easier to read colours, etc. It’s fast for duplicating buttons and laying them out as a sheet for printing, too. And it’s free software that runs on linux, mac, and windows, all of which I occasionally use to make buttons. http://inkscape.org/


Really, any drawing program will do, but I think Inkscape is particularly nice for letting you set sizes and fix alignments quickly and easily, so although I’m also reasonably capable a few other art tools (I use photoshop, for example, to do photography work), Inkscape is my tool of choice for buttons.


DSC_6775.JPG


Non-button things!


If you look through the Tecre catalog, you’ll notice that depending on the size of machine you have, you can make a few things that aren’t buttons. Not all of them are available for my size of machine; for example, some of the larger machines can be used for small hand mirrors and some of the smaller machines can be used for jewelery-buttons.


I’ve thus far tried the flat-backed magnets (the magnet goes inside the button) and the smaller split-ring keychains. Unfortunately, neither came with instructions so here’s some notes on what did and didn’t work for me:


Flat-backed Magnet instructions


The way the button machine works, you crimp the top half together, then you crimp the top onto the bottom. In the case of these magnet blanks, the magnet part goes with the bottom half (because the machine doesn’t have space for it in the top half die). It’s a nice strong magnet… which unfortunately means that it can pull the top half down if you’re too slow when you flip the machine around and crimp it the second time, and if it gets pulled out of alignment you get a messed up button. I messed up two before I figured out what was going on, and since then it’s been pretty easy to avoid the problem, but hopefully I can save someone else some annoyance.


I don’t know if this is true with other magnet backs, which may have less strong magnets, but if you’re having trouble it’s worth trying to go faster and see if it helps!


I am *very* pleased with the feel of the flat-backed magnets. They’re smooth and strangely pleasant to hold in a way that I was not expecting.


Short split key-ring instructions


In this case, the bottom half of the blank has a small hole in one side. You crimp the top and bottom together, then insert the keychain clip into this hole (note to self: take some pictures of this later).


Things to note:

1. The instructions I found online implied that you had to be super careful about how much you crimp. It seems like the version I have is pretty well designed to avoid this problem, because the bottom half has a slightly raised edge over where the hole is, and clamping the machine all the way down does not seem to squash the hole, so don’t be *too* nervous about getting it right.


2. While the clip can be inserted either way, if you insert it so the sticking up part of the clip faces the front of the bottom, the piece sits more flat relative to the back of the button.


All in all, I found the magnets harder than expected and the keychains easier.


Button jars, overflowing


Conclusion


When I bought the button machine, I really wasn’t sure how much I’d use it, but it’s turned out to be even more fun than I hoped. The highlight was probably that first big giveaway my sister and I did at the Cute With Chris show. When we walked down to the front to give out buttons before the show started, people actually cheered for us! And then we went around talking to each person at the show while they chose their designs, which was pretty neat.


But there’s been lots of fun stuff since then. In the past year alone, I’ve made buttons for open source projects (real and most desirable), given out slightly subversive buttons at defcon, made silly buttons for one-off jokes and IRC bots, watched literally hundreds of kids and adults make buttons with my machine, even wound up making some blank ones to serve as a temporary whiteboard-style expression-changing doll face for a friend’s guerrilla photography and crafting project!


It’s a bit of a weird hobby, but each button is so cheap that it’s one you can share with a lot of people! (At the current rate of blanks, each button costs me under 10 cents) And as someone who always enjoyed getting free stuff, it’s fun to be on the side of designing and giving! :)

terriko: (Default)
I was in France last week for work, but I've been home for a few days now.

I am pleased to report that my French was adequate for basic stuff like getting directions and translating menus into English for my Polish colleagues. My French colleagues were highly amused that I spoke the language at all, since I guess no one warned them that I was moderately fluent. No one was offended by my weird accent, or even seemed to have much trouble understanding me. I couldn't handle full on eavesdropping on the train, but I could get the gist of a lot of conversations when I had some idea of the subject.

I didn't try to carry too much stuff because my ankle is still sore from hurting it after my trip to Poland, but I was able to walk quite a bit even if I had to do it carefully and a bit slowly. 100k steps! It's especially impressive given that my leg still hurts all the time. Walking, as always, is much easier than standing still, so the 30 minute walk to the office was easier than standing in line at the airport. I am sore, but it seems to be mostly the usual chronic constant thing plus some bonus knots from sleeping on planes and trains and strange beds.

They stole my knife-free Leatherman at the Charles de Gaulle airport. It was especially frustrating because several of the agents pointed out to the guy who took it that it was absolutely fine under their rules, but he decided it wasn't despite their best efforts. The thing's under $20 and I sort of assumed I'd lose it eventually, but I was still upset because it was just so unnecessary and wasteful. Have ordered a new one. I may give up on traveling with it outside north america, though, as I expect I'm going to have to fly through France again. (Amsterdam, mind, had no problem with it.)

Jetlag is hitting me hard this time, with the headaches and all. I miss when this wasn't a guaranteed thing, but at least I have Serious Painkillers and coworkers who are pretty understanding about travel miasma. I did not donate blood this week because I was not well enough and not because I am miffed at the red cross for phone harassing me all week (seriously, I think they called 7 times without ever leaving a message) and then after I told them I was unwilling to schedule an appointment because I often get sick when I travel, they gave me two days of silence then called me at 4am while I was adjusting to the time zone in France. So now they're a blocked number, and I'm not sure I'm going to unblock them, although I'll probably donate again when I'm not cranky about it.

Anyhow, recovery will go better with more sleep, so I'm going to do that now!
terriko: (Default)
You might have thought I'd given up on my subscription boxes, but no, I just take pictures and forget to post them, like usual. And then I write posts and save them and forget to post those too.

Here's August's box, though!

Birchbox August 2014

5 samples, 4 of which were random and the 5th of which I actually chose.

Let's start with the one I was least excited about:

Birchbox August 2014


Harvey Prince Ageless Body Cream

This is perfectly reasonable body cream, not terribly-strongly scented once applied, although I think it's still a bit too volatile to be a good choice for me to take to work where it might irk others. And frankly, it smells like grapefruit (not my favourite scent) and it's hideously pink. But it *does* contain shea butter, so it's pretty pleasantly rich. So it's fine, and I'll use it, but I don't think I'll be ordering more.

Actually, one weird thing to note is that unlike a lot of the birchbox samples I received, this one had a little tinfoil "sealed for your protection" thing. which wouldn't be that notable, except the darned thing left a glue film that became a flap that blocked all flow of product. Inconvenient, and something I've not seen in many of my boxes. But then I saw exactly the same separating-glue problem with the next product in my box:

nügg Beauty Revitalizing Face Mask

Birchbox August 2014

So yeah, I'm sort of wondering if their warehouse got a bit dry or something.

Anyhow, here's what it looked like before that:

Birchbox August 2014

This is an absurdly minty face mask, enough to make your face tingle and your eyes water when you first apply it. I find this amusing and kind of fun, and enjoyed sitting around with it on (unlike some face masks I could mention...).

Unfortunately, I'd be lying to myself if I said I thought it did anything for my face. Here's three shots:

Before:
20140907-IMG_8024.jpg

With face mask applied (mm, slimy and minty...):
Wearing face mask

After:
20140907-IMG_8029.jpg

(Aside: this is one of those series of pictures where I wonder what the heck is wrong with the people who say I don't look very Asian. Even if you don't recognize the facial structure of my awesomely mixed genetics, have you *seen* my eyes? Really?)

The redness in the after picture is mostly from washing it off my face (note abq sun damage pattern showing when I'm warm), not from a bad reaction to the face mask. No particularly noticeable difference in my skin to an outside viewer, but my face felt slightly slimy for hours thereafter, even after I had a shower that evening. It was a bit better the second time when I applied a bit less. I want to say that maybe this would be nice in the winter when I could use a bit more moisture... but honestly, I'm not sure if I'm just making excuses for it because I thought it was fun to apply.

Bottom line: if you want to play around with a fun minty face mask treatment, thumbs up to this! If you want it to be useful and not feel like you applied face lube afterwards, maybe not so much. I am actually more in the former category with face masks ("was this an excuse to lie around for a while with goop on my face? score!") so I'm pleased by the product, but probably not enough to buy more unless I was hosting a girl-style sleepover and wanted something I'd tested and not hated to share.

Birchbox August 2014

Neil George Shampoo 3.38 oz
Neil George Conditioner 3.38 oz

This is supposed to be gooseberry scented, but I don't know where Neil George gets his gooseberries because it doesn't smell much like any gooseberry I've ever noticed. I like to imagine that this is the concentrated attempt at a weaponized version of gooseberry scent. I actually quite liked it: it's sort of a spicy and less fruity scent, and while it's much stronger than real gooseberries, it's still gentle enough that it doesn't linger once my hair dries or overwhelm me in the shower. It feels a bit more masculine while still being not overly gendered, and I like it. I actually sort of wish it lingered a bit more because I enjoy it so much.

As products, these are both nice but not overly remarkable:

- The shampoo is a bit thin and does not lather much, but it cleans quite well.
- The conditioner is a bit thicker and leaves just enough slickness on my hair to make combing it out after a shower easier, but not so much that it feels weighty.

All in all, pleasantly effective product with an unusual scent. I might actually consider buying this again!

Birchbox August 2014

Laura Geller Beauty Cool Lids Cream Eyeshadow

I'd never tried cream eyeshadow, and if this sample is representative, I have been missing out. Goes on smoothly, lovely colour, lasts better than most on my eyes (that's not saying much actually as I've never had much luck with eye makeup).

I haven't taken pictures of myself wearing it on account of my insane "let's travel every few weeks and eat all your weekends" schedule, but perhaps I'll do that later.
terriko: (Default)
This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

With my travel and work schedules, I haven’t had time to hack my original MicroView, but the replacement ones arrived while I was out at ABQ Mini Maker Faire! So of course, I had to try *something* now that I can actually flash things to it.


Here’s my current very simple program: a smile with a wink!


microview_wink


Although it’s probably better with video



And of course, it’s more fun if you can also check out the code so I dumped it into my git repository. Here it is in case you’re not feeling like clicking through:



/* 
 * microview_wink: a simple winking face animation for the MicroView
 * 
 * Created by: Terri Oda 
terriko: (Default)
This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

In that way that we have, John and I are working together on a last-minute project for our next event, the Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire. I’m too tired to write a whole lot of text, so I took some photos instead. With no explanation, can you tell what is starting to take shape in our house?


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