Category: Experiments

the glory of flight

plane and a glorious sky at dusk

We’ve all got a List of Things. What I’m referring to is similar to what some may call a “bucket list”, or things one may want to do during his time on this earth… similar, but not quite. My List of Things is things that I want to do in life, but I never want the list to become too concrete. The list is fluid, dynamic: it’s not written, it’s never going to force me to do something, and I can always remove things if they cease to spark my interest. It’s a “wow, it would be really awesome if someday I got to ” list.

sam's flying the plane!

Learning how to fly a plane has been on my List of Things for quite some time now. After choosing to pursue my mechanical engineering degree, and learning how to change my oil, all while maintaining a business peddling cute stuffed animals and undoubtedly girly things, I had a desire to add another “thing that boys usually do” to the List.

clouds & lots of windmills

The long, long term goal on my mental List was to earn my Pilot’s License. Of course, I knew nothing about the process. I know now that it costs around $15,000 in instruction and plane rental… that, along with the time investment, slides the goal to the bottom of the List. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t eager to hop into a plane when a pilot friend of mine offered me the co-pilot seat!

sam and the tiny plane

Here’s me and the plane. In his words, “we pilots like to take pictures with our planes because we love them. and, if we end up crashing to the ground, they will see how happy we were before the flight.” Such optimism in my flying ability!


I got to steer the plane and keep our altitude steady (or as steady as i could get it!) for the majority of the ride – it was certainly challenging! I can’t imagine flying solo! It was a really fun and wonderful experience and I learned a ton about what it takes to be a pilot. I’m not sure I’m brave enough. And I’m not sure I could ever have the confidence required for a takeoff or landing. The thought of piloting the plane myself terrifies me, so much so that the actual License bit may no longer be included on the List.

But it is an amazing thing to be floating so high above the earth, yet close enough to see every ridge and river. Little planes are awesome. I will certainly never pass up a little plane ride!

basking in kiln glory (and heat)

Lately, I’ve become a bit of a craigslist scavenger. In and of itself, this is not the greatest hobby: both because the craigslist crowd can be full of creeps, and because I really don’t need more stuff. But I’ve found my gem, my diamond in the rough, and it’s so wonderful that I think I can abstain from craigslist searches for a while. I like to call this The Craigslist Score of the Century.

delphi ez-pro deluxe kiln (15-6)

There she is!

delphi ez-pro deluxe kiln (with gloves and molds)

Meet the Delphi Ez-Pro Deluxe kiln. It’s a small kiln, with a firing chamber that’s 15″ wide by 6½” deep, and the exterior footprint is just a little larger than a 2 feet square. It runs off standard household current, which is wonderful. But the best part, and what makes it such a keeper, is that this kiln has the ability to switch back and forth between ceramics and glass.

box of beautiful glass for fusing, melting, slumping... After signing up for a ceramics class at the local community college, but bailing when I realized I didn’t have time, I’ve got a bunch of clay sitting in the basement and it will be wonderful to be able to put it to use.

But it’s the glass I’m excited about. I’ve been wanting to get into glass fusing for awhile: partly because it’s absolutely beautiful, but mostly because it’s such a unique art form. With what I’m used to– sewing, beading– it’s relatively easy to predict the results of my project based on the fabric or beads I’m using. But glass seems so very unpredictable, like it’s got a mind of its own. And I’m excited to conquer this new medium.

And what better way to start a new hobby than the craigslist score of the century? Half price for a kiln that’s never been used – oh, and the very nice lady gave me this gorgeous box of glass along with it. She said “that should be enough for a few projects” but I could barely hear her as my brain said “eeeeeee!”

box of beautiful glass for fusing, melting, slumping...

So it was with great joy that I drove the 3½ hours to Maryland and back, with great joy that I handed over almost half a paycheck’s worth of cash, with great joy that I lugged this 80 pound beauty into the house. Because soon, I will be making beautiful things.

Now I’ve just got to find someplace to put it, because somehow I don’t think it will do well sitting on the living room carpet…

silhouette digital cutter: a review

I had first heard about the Silhouette SD Digital Cutter back in November, right before Christmas. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s the scoop: it’s an electronic cutting machine that cuts shapes out of paper, vinyl, fabric, and more. And unlike the Cricut or Sizzix machines, you don’t need any dies. You can download designs off their server for 99 cents or less a pop, you can use your own fonts for free, or you can draw your own shapes.

I was completely sold on the whole “no die” front. I’d always loved the Cricut machines from afar, but the dies are so expensive, and you’d have to buy a new one for every project. And I’m a college kid. Do I have the money for that? Almost the more pressing issue: do I have the storage space for that? No way! But every once in awhile I’d think, “man it would be nice to be able to cut out paper shapes…”

silhouette and rhinestone starter bundle

So when Silhouette asked me if I’d demo a Silhouette and blog my review, my reply was a resounding heck yes!

silhouette digital cutter - rhinestone whale

I’ve made a few things with it now, and I must say – it is a very awesome machine. Almost all my cuts have come out absolutely perfect, and I’m very happy with it. I’ve cut through thin paper, thick paper, cardstock, cardstock with my own adhesive backing, Silhouette adhesive vinyl, and Silhouette rhinestone template paper. The adhesive vinyl has been my favorite so far – it cuts beautifully! But I’ll give you more details on that this weekend.

Right now there’s a huge promotion on Silhouette rhinestones. That’s what I tried out today.

First things first – I’m not a rhinestone person. But the idea of making any shape I wanted using rhinestones was exciting. There’s a great tutorial on the silhouette blog, plus the illustrated instructions in the rhinestone starter kit are very thorough. How could I go wrong?

The free shape of the week (yes, there’s a free shape every week!) is a rhinestone owl, so I just went into the program and copied the rhinestone-sized circle from it multiple times to draw a whale shape. The software is very easy to work with for anyone who’s got just a tiny bit of computer savvy.

Then I cut out my template using the Silhouette, and it did a beautiful job. It’s so fun to hear the blade whirring around in there – it’s not loud at all, and it gets the job done so quickly! And it’s such a small machine… everyone’s got room for one of these.

If you can’t tell, the Silhouette and I are friends. But the rhinestones and I… not so much.

I used the nifty Silhouette pickmeup tool – that I love – to help place my rhinestones. One end has reloadable sticky tack to help pick up rhinestones, or beads or whatever – and the other end has a reversible chisel tip that swaps out with a super pointy end. It’s like magic… it only has 2 ends but it can really do 3 things! I’m sure I’ll be using it for all sorts of things, both with and without the Silhouette!

But to make a long story short, placing the rhinestones was not my cup of tea. I spilled a ton all over the floor. I used the brush and half of them ended up upside down. Then, when I finally got them all right side up and in their places the first time, I bumped the table and they flew everywhere. The second time, I set the brush down without enough gentleness and they moved again. The third time, I peeled away the sticky transfer paper and set it overtop of my design…only to have my rhinestones be sucked up onto it in random formation due to static cling. It was frustrating.

silhouette digital cutter - rhinestone whale

But look! I finally did it! I made a pretty whale! Don’t you like it?

Once I’d managed to get my design, with all the rhinestones right-side-up and in formation, onto the sticky transfer paper, ironing it was simple and I was done. Beautiful. You can download my template file at the bottom of the post!

Since I’m not a huge rhinestone fan, it was difficult for me to not be extremely frustrated with the tiny rhinestones flying all over the place. But I am very tired today, and I probably shouldn’t have started out using the smallest size rhinestones. They were just so cute and pink! And they’re staying on very well – I ironed them to super stretchy fabric, and not only did I stretch it to its limit without losing a single rhinestone, but I also tried as hard as I could to peel one off with no luck. Your rhinestoned-clothing is machine-washable as long as you turn it inside out, so that’s pretty cool.

Silhouette Electronic Cutting Tool Even though I wasn’t a fan of the rhinestone process, I think that it was mainly because that isn’t my crafting area of expertise. I can deal with tiny threads, and tiny beads, but tiny things otherwise tend to drive me crazy very quickly. If you like rhinestones, or have a young daughter who would love some custom rhinestoned shirts, this would definitely be the best way to do rhinestones that I can think of. And rhinestoned bridesmaid t-shirts? Those are pretty popular, and you could customize it to fit your style – make a couple shirts, and the machine’s paid for itself. There are tons more possibilities – let me know what you think of!

And now we’re to the awesome part! From now until April 26, all the rhinestones on the Silhouette website are 30% off! Which is great if you have a Silhouette already, but if you don’t….
A Silhouette runs for $299.
The Rhinestone Starter Kit is $30.
But if you buy the Rhinestone Starter Kit & Silhouette Bundle and use code FLUFFY at checkout, you get a Silhouette, a Rhinestone Starter Kit, and 3 extra packs of rhinestones for $229! That’s $125 in savings!

Here’s what you get in the bundle:
· The Silhouette SD (which includes a sample CD, a $10 download card, software, blade, 2 cutting mats, and the machine itself of course)
· 2 sheets of rhinestone template material
· 2 sheets of rhinestone transfer tape
· 2 rhinestone backing boards
· 1 rhinestone placement brush
· 1 CD of rhinestone images
· 1 pack of clear 10ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of clear 16ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of clear 20ss rhinestones
· 1 pack of pink 10ss rhinestones
· 1 Pick-Me-Up tool

If you like making cards, scrapbooking, or paper crafting, this is a great machine for you. If you like applique, this machine will cut out your shapes for you. If you like the idea of using adhesive vinyl to stick removable shapes to your wall, or use it to make stencils, this machine will make your life easier, too. And if you’re like me, and all of those sound fun, well… you would love a Silhouette.

whale silhouette rhinestone template

click here to download my whale rhinestone template!