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DIY B&W Developing

Slowly but surely we collected all the materials and chemicals needed to start developing our black & white film at home. While I helped out with the first few rolls of Kevin James’ film, mostly measuring, timing, and keeping temperature, it wasn’t until I got to do my own roll that I realized how great, and easy, it is to develop at home. Check out this post for some of the resources and instructions we used.

I think the most stressful part of the process is loading the film onto the developing spool in the dark. No matter how many times you practice with your eyes shut, it’s never quite the same as doing it in the pitch dark. I may (I did) have dropped the film onto the floor once, maybe twice, trying to load it onto the spool, so some of my negatives have some fluff marks. I’m still learning! Once the film is developed, we use our DIY DSLR film scanner to create digital copies of the negatives that we can upload to Flickr. We’re working on finding a better, yet still affordable, solution to the scanning process.

Here are some of the negatives from my first home-developed roll of B&W. More to come soon!

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DIY Holiday

I can’t believe it, but it’s already December. As it gets closer and closer to the holidays, I thought this would be a good time to highlight some of my favourite holiday DIY gift ideas. I’m definitely going to be making use of some of the tutorials and recipes for my own gift giving – it’s inexpensive, fun, and it adds such a nice personal touch to each gift!

Are you going DIY for the holidays this year? What recipes or tutorials are you using?

Here are some of my favourites:

Paint chip wall art

Tote bag

Maple, citrus, and ginger cranberry preserves

I’ll try to build on this list as it gets closer to the holidays, so stay tuned!

Using Illustrator, making outlines and some new ideas

I decided a few days ago that instead of doing more homework, I’d start trying to work on a possible new design for the blog. I wasn’t really sure what l wanted to make, but I had been collecting ideas, making some notes and knew the general direction in which I wanted the design to go. It was recommended to me that I start experimenting with Illustrator – I’ve used InDesign and Photoshop quite a bit, but not Illustrator. One thing that is really helpful for becoming familiar with the tools available in these programs is to start doing some tutorials. I really like the ones on Abdozeedo, but there are lots all over the web for all kinds of programs. The first tutorial I experimented with was making outlines and watercolour-style designs. This was okay, but I much more enjoyed making the outlines. Instead of using the brush tool, which is was I was using for the watercolour tutorial, I started using the pen tool. After spending a while trying to get a handle on how to properly use the pen tool, I was able to start making outlines of some of the tools I use when making the things I post about on this blog. 


I’m going to keep working on this design, adding more tools, cleaning up the outlines, but I think it will probably make it’s way into the new design of the blog. The new design is still a ways away, though. I’ve decided to learn how to make the website from scratch, writing the script, and I still have a lot of learning to do. All that to say: look I learned something new, but stay tuned cause this will take a while!

Why pay for cable when you can make your own digital TV antenna?

It’s true, you can and you should make one of these. It’s much less expensive than purchasing the prefabricated product from a store, it uses materials you can find easily/around your home, and it will be great when tv signals switch from analog to digital (September in Canada).

I’ve made two of these now, one for myself and one for a friend. Interested in making one for yourself? Here’s how, as adapted from this tutorial:


  1. One piece of wood, 3″ wide x 20″ long x 3/4″ thick (I bought a long piece of wood (3″ x 3/4″ and had it cut by the store into 20″ sections – most hardware stores should do this for you)
  2. Four wire coat hangers
  3. Ten round head wood screws 3/4″ long
  4. Ten washers (screws should fit inside and they should be wide enough to hold the coat hangers/copper wire in place)
  5. Two 22″ lengths of insulated copper wire
  6. One 75 to 300 ohm matching transformer with spade clips on one end and female F connector on the other
  7. One coaxial cable (available in a variety of lengths)

All of the above items are readily available at any local hardware store.

Instructions (open this .pdf instruction file obtained from this website to go along with the below instructions – note that I have made some modifications to the instructions, which are reflected below):

  1. On your 20″ piece of wood, mark out the dimensions making note of the placement of screws.
  2. Pre-drill holes for your screws using an electric screw driver (if you have one) to make assembly easier.
  3. Screw in the screws half-way, with the washers in place.
  4. Cut the corners of your coat hangers to make 8 “V” shapes with each part of the “V” being 8″ long.
  5. Sand the area where the “V”s bend to ensure contact with the copper wire.
  6. Bend the copper wire around the screws as seen in the diagram and make a 1″ mark on the plastic covering at each contact point.
  7. With an exacto knife, cut out the 1″ pieces of plastic covering on the copper wire to make the actual wire have contact with each of the screws.
  8. Attach the copper wire and coat hangers as seen in the diagram, holding them in place with the washer on top. Tighten the screws to secure everything.
  9. For the middle screws that don’t have coat hanger “V”s, attach the two ends of the transformer – the tips of the transformer should be between the copper wire and the washer. Tighten the screws to hold them in place.
  10. Finally, attach one end of the coaxial cable to the transformer and the other end to your tv.

Now that you’re all hooked you can prepare yourself for some awesome digital viewing. Use the “tv tuner” on your tv (located in the menus) to “search” for digital signals. Try a few times, placing the antenna in different locations, to find the best results.

I hope you try out this project. It’s definitely rewarding when you can build something yourself and, with the additional benefit of no monthly bill, you’ve got the best hook-up in town!

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DIY button necklace & homemade business cards

Well, my sewing machine has temporarily failed me again. I was all optimistic after my last post because I got the bobbin holder to stay in place. Now, though, it turns out the bobbin holder is missing a “notch” or “groove”, necessary to keep the tread in the right place while sewing. Anger! Rage! Okay, it’s not that bad, but I’m bummed that I won’t get to sell many sewn things at ravenswing next weekend…

On a more positive note, I did get a few crafts done today for next weekend’s DIY festival. I finally found a way to successfully make a button necklace that stays together well. I “simply” wove a long piece of medium-thickness metal wire though the button holes. I have “simply” in quotes for a good reason, though – it takes a long time to do this well and is very finicky. I had previously made this type of necklace by weaving a stretchy plastic string through the button holes, then lining the back with a thin wire attached by hot glue. This method will eventually fail and fall apart. It’s far better to spend the extra time to weave with wire from the beginning. I would recommend a pair of needle nose pliers to help keep the wire in place while you’re feeding it though the button holes.

Aside from the button necklace, I also got started on making some business and product cards to be attached to the items I’ll be selling at the festival. I used water colours on plain tags that can be found at any office supply store (around $4-$5 for 100 tags). I tried to use a colour/style similar to that of the blog and will write the price, website, etc on with a fancy pen once they’ve dried. Attach them to the product with some ribbon and you’re set! I think this is a great way to make sure people know who they’re purchasing from, without having to spend to spend very much at all. It’s simple and definitely goes with the theme of the festival – DIY.

DIY Aprons – fabric selections

So, I’ve made a few more pairs of button earrings, but have now temporarily moved on to making aprons. I want to test out my new, used sewing machine… which has sadly been acting up (SIGH). I think I may have to get it repaired…!! Regardless, I wanted to share what I’ve done so far.

To make the apron:

  • Make a pattern – sketch out some possible designs and once you’ve found one you like, decide on the appropriate measurements
  • Draw the design on large sheets of plain newsprint paper (or whatever else you may have lying around)
  • Cut out the pattern
  • Pin the pattern to your freshly ironed fabric
  • With a fabric pencil, mark out the shape of the pattern onto your fabric
  • Cut the fabric, leaving about a 1/2″ of room from the edge of the pattern
  • Repeat with all the pieces of your apron

This is the stage I’m at right now. I have the main portion of my apron ready to be sewn, but sadly the bobbin part on my sewing machine is being a jerk… Anyway, you can see the two fabric selections I have made for my first two aprons. Hopefully I can make more progress on this project soon!

DIY button earrings

Well I’ve finally started actually getting some things ready for ravenswing!

I’m starting simple – button earrings. Because all the buttons I’m using are recycled (aka from a basket of buttons given to me by my grandma…), it’s taken a while to sort through them, find matching pairs and make combinations that work well together. Nonetheless, I’ve got the first 10 pairs picked out and they’re ready for assembly. I bought some earring clasps – the kind with the flat surface, not the dangle-y kind. Deciding the best way to hold everything together, I was first thinking of just using hot glue, but I wanted to make sure that they’d stay together and last for a long while. I settled on sewing them. I placed the earring clasp through a hole in the larger button, placed a small circle of similar-coloured fabric on top to cover the silver, then put the smaller button on top. I sewed through three of the four holes to make everything stay together and BAM! You have an earring… repeat, repeat, repeat. Once you get started it goes pretty quickly and I’m happy with how they’re turning out so far.