Thursday, 30 August 2012

Compliance and Conformity

Yesterday, I crossed something off my dread list. I guess we all have something like it, the tasks that make your heart sink just to think of them, so you put them to one side for a time when you feel "stronger".
One half of my list is the physically difficult stuff. I suffer chronic pain as a result of a degenerative spinal condition, so I have to plan these carefully with an eye on what I will be able to do in the following days.
Strangely, though the other part of the list, the petty admin trifles that I whinge about on Twitter, is more of a trouble to me.
Top of the list for a while has been PCI DSS compliance, required for merchants taking credit card payments. I've known I needed to deal with it for ages but put it off, knowing that there would be loads to read and understand; references, documents and passwords to recover. Predictably, it turned out to be not all that difficult. We are compliant.
In setting up the new lights on new sales platforms I've been asked for cutout images. The shame - I had to ask "what are those?" Simply, it's "whatever it is" with the background completely removed and it's the press / industry standard, apparently. White backgrounds, square images.
I'm not a massive fan of conforming but it hasn't taken too long to learn enough Photoshop to make a decent attempt.

That's cut from a photo taken on black. I'm working with photos taken on a on a white background, too but I think they lack impact.

We've complied and we are trying to conform. The only good thing about it is I'm learning more Photoshop than I would otherwise - the bad thing about it is the temptation to get up to some proper cut and paste mischief. I can think of a number of words that would be hilarious to "shop" into the often outstretched arms of certain politicians. But for now - this.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A New Model Army?

Back in April, among the themes for photos I tried were some using small architectural figures. Flowers and twinkles are not for everyone and we don't want to "over feminise" the lights, if that makes sense.
Here's one of the images; it's pretty ropey but you get the general idea.

Poor though it is, there are some things I like about it, in that there's a human connection - the sense that there is a shared experience. The figures themselves are wrong on many levels, so I'm setting out to make "the right people".
 Physically, they need to be bigger. I'm planning that they will be androgynous, stick people. I want figures that I can make quickly and put into interesting positions.
I'm choosing to make them from Fimo polymer clay because it will be quite opaque at the thickness I'm using it. 
I've started out with a couple of little material trials, to try to decide how they'll go together before I start sketching. The first, flesh coloured one - too chubby (no offence) to go into the positions I want, as well as a bit Telleytubby. The white one is more of the proportions I want; the length of the limbs will help me make them look more animated in poses.

(Excuse the grubby finger marks - I'd just swept the chimney.)

I'm undecided about faces, as I don't necessarily want to have them have a set expression, plus I think I would make them look "gawky" on this scale. Figure drawing and (human) portraits have never been my strong point, though I can sketch you a nifty dog.
The plan for now is just to leave them with a plain, round head and make tiny masks, if they need facial expressions. It's not possible to leave them in their "soft state" to work with them as models, they're too fragile and they pick up dirt too easily.
Of course, this has to fit  in alongside making lights, and doing all the admin that I moan about on Twitter. I doubt it will be a new model army, it's more likely to be just some polymer people having a groovy time in the bright lights.

Monday, 27 August 2012

We All Make Mistakes

There are a couple of cast letters put to one side in the workshop. They taunt and irritate me but I thought I would share them.
I've been wondering about casting names into letters and one of the things I've tried are these little alphabet beads.

As you look at them with the letter the right way up, it is upside down on the other side. You have to lay them up into the mold in reverse, so you work from the back.
Among my attempted samples were "TIGGER" and "GOD I'M GOOD" .
Which I laid up like so.

Which, from the front looks like this.
It's one of my funnier mistakes, in that nothing was broken or glued to anything important.  I did manage to make a couple of working examples in  the end.

Lisa in the letter L

Suzanne in the letter S

Olly in an O

We don't know if we will make them available as an option but making them has given us new ideas to try out as well as giving a couple of people a laugh.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Something completed ... Whee!

I'm feeling pretty pleased, as I've reached one of my goals and for once, it's happened sooner than I expected.
I'm pleased to say, that at long last, the new range of name lights is not only completed but photographed, catalogued and available now on Names In Lights.
 I have to say, that for me, the administration of cataloguing, editing and updating it all to the web was actually a bigger headache than designing the new lights and making the molds.
Now we can go right through from 1 letter or character, starting at £14.95... the biggest of the new lights, the six letter or character, which costs £59.95

As well as our own site we are launching soon on three new, exciting platforms but I'm keeping my gob shut about the details for now; you never know what falls by the wayside.
In an attempt to co-ordinate my shambolic online presence, I have syndicated the blog to auto-update to Facebook & Twitter. I hope that it will at least make me blog a little bit more often. I was hoping to fill the blog with posts about other interesting creatives and Twitter is where I find them, because I find very little time for much other than a little Twit & Pin when I'm online.
I'm really starting to enjoy the photography, now that the standard is improving. I've got quite a few ideas for  "setups" and I'm wondering if I will be able to get it up to print quality.
New video is also on the list but for the time being I'm trying to catch up on a few outstanding promises and sort out some tedious admin trifles.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Competitions, casting & under-catalysation

Firstly, to competition updates.
The winner of this months twitter / Pinterest draw is @BE_DAZZLED1
The new draw run started on August 1st & I'm pleased to say that we have plenty of entries coming in.
Toby, winner of the competition in the last but 1 post, is still waiting for his prize - it all went horribly wrong but it will get re-made and sent to its' rightful owner, I promise you.

This month, we are holding an extra competition to win one of our spiffy new-style word lights, hosted by our friends at

You can enter the competition HERE and special thanks to @TheToolBoxShop for featuring us in their .li

As we work our way up to ever longer bases, the process is becoming harder to manage; we are casting into flexible moulds but we need a good level of accuracy, so we are really having to up our game and think hard about how we structure our moulds and their casings.
The technical is featuring heavily at the moment, with each original model taking a fair while to make, spread over several days (having multiple pieces, original builds and mould pouring all on the go at the same time).
As an activity, mould making with silicone is special. The silicone comes in the form of a thick, white, rubber-like liquid, to which you add a catalyst for it to set.
Previous silicones that I have worked with come with a coloured catalyst, that you add at 10%. You can see when it's fully mixed. The new 5 litres, however, has clear catalyst to be added at "2-5%", which has made life harder and, if I'm honest, cost me some hours and frustration. A drip more than 2%, it will set before you can pour it. A drip less and it takes days to set.
I think that about covers the moaning. The new format lights are going to be great fun to make once we get into the mold set completed but the most satisfying thing for me is how very reasonably we are going to be able to price them.
If ever you come across any similar products we would be really interested to hear about them (or any brilliant hand-made goodies using leds). I spent a long time searching and I was surprised that no similar products appear to exist. I am not counting uplit acrylic sheet cut with a cnc machine.

Thank you for reading, it's been an utter

For me, if not for you x