DIY Seinfeld TV Aqaurium

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If you’re a fan of shows about nothing, then you may be hard pressed to find anything more entertaining than this old television that’s been outfitted with an aquarium featuring a model of the set from Seinfeld, as well as the entire cast played by fish.

Luckily, Matt Davidson thoroughly documented the process he used to create his spectacular feat of upcycling in this Seinfeld TV aquarium tutorial.

There are a ton of old school TVs for sale now that flat screens TVs are a dime a dozen. [Why] not repurpose that old TV in grandma’s house into an awesome fish tank[?] With some basic tools and some common sense you can be watching your own fish on the small screen. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan so [I] turned the set into Jerry’s living room, complete with furniture and cast.

Davidson even outlined all of the materials costs in a spreadsheet, which clearly indicates that watching this aquarium is much cheaper than paying a monthly cable bill in the long run!

[via Neatorama]


Dollar Store Hack: The Hunger Games Gold Collectible Plate

Does anyone out there remember the passion people had in acquiring collectible decorative plates back in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s? Names like The Bradford Exchange, The Franklin Mint and Royal Doulton were pumping out limited edition decorative plates destined for the dining room hutch and our parents’ ‘do not touch anything on there’ tables everywhere. Ah, those were the days!

Since that time, collectible plates have lost a lot of their luster as sought after collectibles due to over-production. However, there’s still a unique allure to having a fancy looking artistic display piece you will never ever eat food off of. To me at least, collectible plates still have a niche appeal to them.

After discovering my local dollar store sells real tempered plates for $2 apiece, I decided the time had come to create a one-of-a-kind decorative plate based on a more personalized sense of style, versus the over-produced dust collectors that killed the collectible plate market in the first place.

My first collectible/decorative plate is a homage to The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence’s iconic character Katniss Everdeen.

I will honestly say that I do greatly enjoy The Hunger Games franchise. I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the first installment after my young niece dragged me to the theater kicking and screaming (I was still traumatized from the forced Twilight movie outing nightmare). But now thanks to my bragging niece, I love The hunger Games and was excited to make my first collectible plate about the strong and respectable Katniss character!

Making a collectible plate is ridiculously easy! Just get a quality dollar store plate (sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist now), spray paint of the color you want and create an image on your computer. Spray paint the plate and while it dries, print the image, place double-sided tape on the back, cut out and stick down on the plate. Easy-peasy!

The finished plate will look gorgeous and will make a great personalized gift for Christmas. This technique can be used to make a collectible plate about anything your heart desires.

So happy designing and let’s fill that hutch or shelf with some amazing and personalized one-of-a-kind masterpieces!

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13 Things That Make A Maker’s Day

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When talking with friends and co-workers you may notice a tendency to bring up things that bother you. Its normal, we generally share the negative sides of things and identify and empathize over our similar frustrations. It is a really easy thing to do, to start a conversation with “I really hate it when …”. Usually there’s no shortage of annoying items on our lists.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the little things that really feel good. These little things happen all the time around us and maybe we haven’t taken the time to even realize that we enjoy them. What part of making brings a smile to your face? What do you look forward to?

Here are 13 things that make my day, I’d love to hear yours.


From The Gift Guide: Toys! Toys! Toys!

 

toysToys are loved across age groups, genders, and geographical locations. There will never be a shortage of people in your life who enjoy toys. We want to make sure you’ve got the best selection of toys for the maker in your life, so we’ve put together a whole category for toys in our Annual Ultimate Maker’s Gift Guide.

gg-prettyIn the Toys category you’ll find a wide range of things from card games like Strain to Robot Kits like Herbie the Mouse Bot. Carmingly Magnetic will please the artist in the house and a Kit trebuchet will appease those with a bit of a destructive streak.

We’ve got more where those came from! Head over to the toy category of the Ultimate Gift Guide to see what else there is!

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PieceMaker Factory: A Glimpse Into The Future of Toys?

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Late Friday night I saw what may be the future of toys, or at least something completely unique at my local Toys’R’Us. Additive manufacturing, often referred as 3D printing, has become common place in the maker movement. However, there is hardly a day that goes by where I don’t meet someone who has no idea what it is, or what it does. Well that’s about to change thanks to PieceMaker and Toys’R’Us.

Our mission at PieceMaker is to empower all people to personalize the world around them. To do this, we have created the PieceMaker Factory, the first and only system to deliver custom 3D printed inventory on-demand to retail stores. The PieceMaker Factory leverages cutting-edge, open-source 3D printing technology, custom robotics automation and proprietary software created specifically for retail to offer shoppers an unlimited range of personalized products, made on-demand and at the point of sale.

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Even my daughter was impressed to see a 3D printer in a toy store, and she built her own from a kit at the age of nine. However, once she saw the interactive kiosk where you can select a model, customize it’s color, and add a name, she was totally hooked. Now she wants that kiosk at home, hooked up to her own printer.

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All the items are designed by PieceMaker so they are guaranteed to print well, and in under 30 minutes. They all cost about $10, which seems to be a fair price for a customized toy that’s printed on demand. The overall process from design to print was really easy and went without any hiccups. While we were waiting for our first print, I was able to ask a few questions about the machine. First and foremost, “Who makes the printer, and what’s inside?” The short answer is, they make the machines themselves in-house, and it’s powered by Arduino.

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We ended up with the ever-popular whistle, and a slight migraine from the concert played on the car ride home. But more importantly we left with a renewed enthusiasm for designing and making our own stuff. What will we make next? I don’t think it really matters too much. I’m just happy that the notion of making has once again become more important than TV, texting, or just surfing the Internet.

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If you happen to live near Totowa New Jersey, or Cranberry Township Pennsylvania, stop on by the local Toys’R’Us and check out what may be the future of toys. I’m really looking forward to the day we can pick up an affordable printer at the local toy store, not just the prints. Any thoughts on how long until that happens? What does everyone think of toys-on-demand?


10 DIY Thanksgiving Mason Jar Ideas

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Thanksgiving is coming up quick! If you’re looking for last minute DIY decor ideas, here are some that using mason jars. Mason jars are great for crafting because of all the things you can do with them! You can paint them, stuff them, hang them, and give them as gifts. And since there are lots of fun things involving painting, baking, and making, you can even get the kids involved too!


Talkin’ Tinkering with the Masters of Automata

Keith Newstead's pieces "In the Garden with Charlie" and "Sing Cats Heads"

Keith Newstead’s pieces “In the Garden with Charlie” and “Sing Cats Heads”

The Exploratorium Tinkering Studio invites all of you to join a Hangout this Friday, November 21st from 9am to 10:30am (Pacific time) to talk about one of their true specialties—Automata!—with some of their favorite masters of this art/technology.

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Joining the Tinkering Studio team will be a star-studded group:

  • artist Keith Newstead (whose pieces are at the top of this post)
  • Gautham and Vanya from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology
  • Monika and Allan from Lawrence Hall of Science
  • Brooke from Oakland’s International High School

While this will be tailored mostly for those who are teaching others to make automata, anyone and everyone is welcome. Karen from the Tinkering Studio writes:

We’re huge fans of automata here in the Tinkering Studio and think we could dedicate several hangouts to this topic alone, since it’s such rich territory for exploration. It’s one of those activities we think holds tremendous potential for making and tinkering, but isn’t the easiest one to facilitate in an open and “tinkerable” way — that’s why we think it’s worth thinking more about.

You’ll hear from an interesting mix of people, who will share their experiences working with automata in different contexts and thinking about the educational implications. We have a rough outline of what we’ll cover below, but it’s likely to change based on where collective interest takes us.

This hangout will be useful to both education and exhibit folks and those with an interest in arts education in general (think STEAM).

On the agenda:

  • Material possibilities / wire, cardboard, trash, flotsam, food
  • The importance of examples – figuring out what the right selection is
  • Automata Workbench: An interactive exhibit prototype
  • Trying to move it away from being step-by-step
  • Mini-revelations related to construction
  • Transition from intensive workshop to doing it on the floor
  • Automata artists
  • Training someone else to facilitate the activity
  • The tradeoffs in terms of creativity
  • Automata as part of arts education
  • Incorporating circuitry and linkages

Participate

This promises to be a visual delight. Join live or if you have to miss it, watch the recorded archive.

To be able to ask questions live, use the Google+ event page. You’ll need a Google+ account to participate.

Or view the hangout via YouTube, but viewers won’t be able to ask questions of the presenters.


DIY Backyard Ice Rink

If you’ve got the open space in a large backyard, freezing cold temperatures, and a love for ice skating, you could make you own ice rink. Imgur user legojerry created his own with lumber and polyethylene plastic.

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Using 2×4s for the perimeter, he first laid them all out to create his outline. He used 50 1″×2″×18″ stakes for stability, and 1×4s on all of the seams for added strength, inserting the screws from the inside and screwing them in flush so that they wouldn’t interfere with the liner. To correct the 5½ inch incline of his yard, he added 7/16″ oriented strand board to add height, since water self levels and since it was such a large level difference. After it is all inserted and screwed in, you can add the plastic liner. He used 6 mil 20’×45′ polyethylene plastic, but adds that a bigger liner would ensure at least a foot of excess on each side of the boards.


In Search of the $10 Kit

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It’s easy to get making if you have unlimited funds to set up a great makerspace and outfit it with all the newest tools, but what if you had just a sawbuck to spend? What would you make and how?

That’s the question that James Cunningham recently asked us on behalf of an elementary school in Mamaronek, New York, where he works. Serving a low-income student body, James is planning a Maker Night for about 70 students. His budget? Ten bucks a head.

We immediately thought of Squishy Circuits, which saves money when utilized with homemade Play-Doh, can serve four to seven people with one kit, and is a great introduction to the wonders of LEDs and motors, but wanted to turn to the higher minds of the Maker world.

What project do you suggest James do with new, young Makers for $10 or less? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.