The design process applied to office sanctioned crafting

design processCreative problem solving isn’t about sitting by yourself in a little corner hashing out some rigid step by step plan of action. It’s about responding to your materials, interacting with your environment, and fearlessly risking your time and ego by challenging your ideation at every step of the process.

When my boss asked me to design paper gauges for our two giant printers, I was thrilled; especially considering that despite my background, I’ve deliberately chosen a job that strictly confines me to rolling said paper when it comes out the other side of said behemoth printers (but that’s another story).

“Ooooo yes please!” I said, always eager to engage in any office sanctioned crafting. And really, is there any better kind?

I quizzed him on the design criteria: show amount of available paper (two sizes) without having to open the machines. And set to work, scouring our office for any potentially useful materials. A key exercise in creativity – feel free to try this at home – is to look at objects in terms of their inherent physical properties, not just by their associations (click here for classic candle/box experiment). For example, an elastic’s basic properties can allow it to become be a shock absorber, a vice, a sound generator, a friction enhancer, a weapon, a hinge, a sex toy… etc.

First attempt: I cut out the center of two paper plates (using small ceramic plate template), used Sharpie coloured wood coffee stirrers as indicators around a central pivot made of a paper clip (by first creating holes with thumbtacks and securing potential wood splitting with packing tape), then partook in label making to obscene excess. Brilliant!!

Except… for the fact that the resulting gauge looked exactly like two paper plates with coffee stirrers sandwiched in between, and carried the ugly evidence of someone with an obsessive fetish for label makers. And then there was the embarrassing discovery that moving one indicator influenced the rotation of the other. Sigh… not so brilliant after all.

Solution: Back to the drawing board. Always a sharp physical pain, but part of the creative process that must never smell your fear. There can be no mourning period. Huzza! Onwards and Upwards! I extended my foraging area to include resources available within walking distance on my lunchbreak.gauge design Brass spread-leg fasteners obtained! Cardstock… cardstock? After waiting for an eternity at the counter of a print shop, I’d almost given up hope. Then low and behold, a miracle! A dashing, ever so gallant, white knight of customer service came to my rescue with a stack of backroom off-of-stock-list sheets of two different weights. Huzza!

Sometimes, when you go out into the world with excitement, openness, and a clear mission, that world gets excited along with you and gives you what you so desperately need without asking anything in return. The gift of those few sheets were more than enough motivation to re-energize my demand for perfection from this project. No more compromises! This gauge was going to be perfect down to the mm… who are we kidding… the 1/2 mm!

Final design: So what if the heavier cardstock jammed the printer. I simply laminated the lighter version with packing tape and got on with X-acto-ing and blending my pencil crayons to a professional blur with strips of Kleenex. Brilliant! Perfection achieved! Perfectly proportioned, eminently easy to read, two super pro looking paper gauges = Mission accomplished?

“What do you think?” I asked my boss, proudly showing off my brand new twins.

“Hmmm,” he said, “I was thinking of something maybe a bit smaller.”

…oh for the lova’ pete.

DIY Jewelry Ideas – UFC Themed Necklace

Hooters girls are going to be there!” heralded my Viking in his sales pitch for a friend’s upcoming UFC party. Hooters girls, eh? As if watching the gnarly, bloody mayhem of Ultimate Fighting Championship wasn’t enticing enough… add giant breasted hot chicks and we’ve got a recipe for severe testosterone overload. Now, I’m not without my attributes, but wit, charm, and blonde hair can only take a gal so far when the surroundings are 100% eye candy. Solution? Parlaying some of said wit and charm into an eye grabbing, chest focused… craft project!! Because nothing’s sexier than a gal who can ‘bead’ down the competition.

DIY UFC themed necklace instructions:
Components modeled by a very manly, and surprisingly willing, neighbourhood construction worker – working on, yes, those are train tracks.
2 mini wrestler action figures ($10 for duo at Walmart)
2 lengths of 22 gauge wire (length of your leg) (Dollar Store)
1 package white/grey/black pony beads (Dollar Store)
wire cutters

1-Dismember wrestler action figures. Trim joints and scrape off unwanted paint.
2-Beginning at center point (see legs in detail pic), wrap both strands of wire around 1st body part. Secure by twisting wires together (three twists each time – to resemble UFC chain link fence around ring)
3-Working outwards from center, alternate beads as shown in detail pic. Thread each bead onto one strand (leaving other wire on outside of bead), then twist wires (three times) to secure.
4-Once all body parts and central chest area beading is complete, bend to form desired shape (see detail pic). Continue beading on either side until desired length.

Note: Eye protection is heavily recommended for this DIY necklace project!! I admit, dear readers, there was a moment halfway through this bizarre beading adventure when I had to ask myself: “Is this awesome or… just weird?” In my defense, I did promise you I’d do something radical over the weekend…