31 August 2010

In the News: Robot sorts socks!

Another robot themed 'In the News' this week. I just couldn't resist it, and the video below is hilarious! So, basically, a team of experts from the University of California have programmed the PR2 robot to identify a pair of socks, work out if they need to be turned inside out, and then bundle the pair together. This sounds impressive, but the whole process does take almost 15 minutes! Still, that's faster than me sometimes. This video has been sped up 15x!

Apparently, this PR2 robot has been taught to do all sorts of things - play billiards, fetch beer, fold laundry and clean up after a party! God knows how long that would take though. The PR2 robot goes on sale soon! For more information visit the Willow Garage website.

30 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 47-50

Day 47

A trip to the dentist today for the 365 Scientist. He was very well behaved and even managed to smile about it! Of course, he started discussing the science behind the perfect smile with the dentist. 

Day 48

Looks like it's not just me thats all excited about using an old rescued Zenith EM SLR camera then! The 365 Scientist couldn't wait to get it out of the case and read up on the instructions - and there certainly are some instructions to read up on, this thing looks super complicated. Maybe he can show me how to use it then.

Day 49

I know the 365 Scientist is anti-smoking but I don't think our guest will appreciate him throwing away his new packet of tobacco!

Day 50

After reading up on the benefits of making your house more energy efficient, the 365 Scientist looks like he's going to insulate my loft for me! Wow, thanks! 

26 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 45-46

Day 45

The 365 Scientist tucking into his fajita dinner.  I do hope that other one is for me - I've had a tough day!

Day 46

Just like me, the 365 Scientist had a migraine today, so he stayed in bed with his eye mask on. Time for more tablets!

25 August 2010

Dubious Science Fact 3

The fastest speed a falling raindrop can hit you is 18mph.

23 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 43-44

Day 43

After learning to take fingerprints yesterday, the 365 Scientist spent today tailing his suspect. That was me. I'm not quite sure of the crime I'm accused of yet though. 

Day 44

The 365 Scientist was shocked at the state of my window frames! Good job we've got the double glazing salesman round then!

Plush Vegas - Please vote!

The Etsy Plush Team is asking for votes for a Plush Vegas challenge here! Please take a minute to look through the fantastic fun plushies inspired by Las Vegas, and cast your vote for your favourite!

Thanks very much!

22 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 41-42

Day 41

I'm working on a brand new secret design for my new shop coming soon, and the 365 Scientist is now a skilled sewing machine operator so I roped him in to help me. He's probably better at sewing than me now.

Day 42

Inspired by an episode of CSI, the 365 Scientist is dusting for prints. Hey, isn't that my make-up brush?!

20 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 39-40

Day 39

A friend brought back some authentic and yummy pastries from Portugal, and I caught the 365 Scientist happily tucking into them! He's even got icing sugar all round his mouth. I hope there'll be some left when I get off the computer.

Day 40

Mr Blueberry was starting to be overwhelmed with weeds in his pot so the 365 Scientist stepped in. He loves his botany!

18 August 2010

Dubious Science Fact 2

Each person sheds 40lbs of skin in his or her lifetime.


17 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 37-38

Day 37

Inspired by my latest attempts at art, the 365 Scientist decided to have a go for himself. I had just the right size canvas and easel for him to work with too.

Day 38

The 365 Scientist was amused by this giant shuttlecock so we had a bit of a knock about. He's quite nimble so I'm ashamed to say he won hands down.

16 August 2010

In the News: Teddy bears at bedtime!

Yay, it's official, a third of adults still take a teddy bear to bed! I was obviously drawn to this fab headline on the Telegraph website and simply had to share the story. 

The hotel chain Travelodge has surveyed 6000 British adults and come up with some very cute statistics on our furry friends:
  • Over half of us still have a teddy bear from childhood
  • The average teddy bear is 27 years old
  • A quarter of men take their teddy away with them on business
  • In only the last year the hotel chain has reunited over 75,000 teddies and their owners!
  • 35% of respondents said that sleeping with a teddy was a comforting and calming way to end the day, and it helps them to sleep
According to a psychologist, cuddling a teddy bear is an 'important part of our national psyche' and it 'evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort'. I totally agree. While I don't cuddle a teddy or stuffed animal every night, there does come the odd occasion when I've had a tough day, feel poorly, or just can't sleep, that a teddy makes it into the bed. It is a nice warm comforting feeling, just like when you were little. It hink it's great that people are taking their teddies on business trips and holidays, and I would be frantic if I lost mine so I'm glad to hear Travelodge are reuniting teddies and owners up and down the country!

While I am partial to a stuffed animal or hundred (!), I'm not particularly a teddy bear person. But for all you teddy lovers out there, this is the official teddy top 10, as voted by the British public:
  1. The classic Teddy bear 
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. Paddington Bear
  4. Tatty Bear
  5. Sooty
  6. Care Bears
  7. Yogi Bear
  8. Fozzie Bear  
  9. Rupert the Bear
  10. Super Ted / Baloo
My most precious childhood toy is Goldie the knitted doll. We literally went everywhere together, and I used to carry her round by the neck! I'm sure she didn't mind too much. She looks a little 'loved' now, but she has pride of place on a chair in my house, and I'd go crazy if I ever lost her. I have posted about her before, but here she is again:

If anyone would like to share their childhood teddies or toys, please leave a comment on this post! I'd love to hear your stories.

Now I don't want this post to become an advert for Travelodge, but here are 2 adverts for Travelodge (!). They are obviously the inspiration behind the survey, and quite cute, so it's only fair we take a look:

15 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 35-36

Day 35

Can anyone guess what film the 365 Scientist went to see at the cinema today? He's made some great new friends and won't let go of his cinema ticket! He thoroughly enjoyed Toy Story 3 and so did I!

Day 36

It's harvest time again and the 365 Scientist is picking the yellow dwarf beans we planted back in June. He enjoyed eating them for dinner too.

14 August 2010

Journaling for a cause - Prompt 2

As a newbie to journaling and a lover of lists, this prompt was very easy to create. I found some beautiful mottled paper from a pile of books to throw away, and drew out a scroll shape. I confess, I had to copy a scroll image found on google, as my first attempt looked more like a splodge. Then I wrote out my goals using a Sepia Pitt Artist pen. Simple but effective I think.

13 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 33-34

Day 33

After a tough day investigating and analysing stuff, the 365 Scientist fancied chilling out with an episode of the Simpsons. It was the one where Homer teaches major sports stars his victory dance! 

Day 34

The annual Perseid meteor shower was in town, and the 365 Scientist wanted to make the most of it. He was out in the garden until after midnight and managed to spot a few shooting stars. Not as many as he'd hoped though - damn light pollution!

A charity shop find!

I love a bargain so it stands to reason that I love charity shops, car boot fairs and secondhand shops! I can spend hours scouring them for a quirky item to add to my collection or for unusual crafting supplies. Well since I've been getting into journaling and have been cutting up old books for my mixed media creations, I have reignited my love of fairy tales and big pretty princess dresses! I was really chuffed when I found this picture hiding in a charity shop for only £1.50!

My house is a bit of a mess at the moment, but I am going to be sorting and tidying the spare bedroom soon and putting in a new desk to create at. As soon as I do I will be putting my unusual pictures and mirrors (all rescued from such shops) in pride of place near my work area, and this one will definitely join them. 

I also found these gorgeous deer prints for £2 the pair in the same shop, which are just the right colours to go in my bedroom (when that is finished too - oh dear, so much to do.....).

12 August 2010

Plush Team Virtual Book Tour

The Plush Team annual is embarking on a Virtual Book Tour to let everyone know how great it is, and the next stop is with me, Fur Will Fly! So put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea, join a queue and get your bowler hat ready, because your headed to England........

I joined the Plush Team in April 2008 after only 4 months of plush making, so I was quite a novice really. Since joining the team I've learned so much, and have had the opportunity to take part in some really fun challenges and shows. When it came to choosing which of my plushie creations to feature in the annual I was a bit stumped - we had to choose those creations that were our favourites or those which best represented our style.

A lot of my plushies are based on something from the world of science, and I've made all sorts of things; from chromosomes to blood cells, and from Prozac capsules to anatomical organs, so I thought I'd share some of these in the annual! I threw in a few of my other favourite creations, including Tigsy the touring Tiger-Moose, and my double page spread was complete!

One of the things I get asked a lot is where do I get my inspiration from? I tackled this question in the annual, explaining that I draw my inspiration from anything and everything I see (and some things floating in my imagination too)! I love making plush versions of normal things - giving them a smile and an eye really brings those everyday things to life, and I figure, if it amuses me it might make someone else happy too!
To give you a better insight into my creative process, I've enlisted the help of my 365 Scientist, also referred to as 'Science Dude'. He and I are going to show you how we make an idea into a real life plushie.........
1) Have an idea!

2) Do some research.

3) Scribble the idea down.

4) Gather the fabrics and equipment.

5) Draw and cut out a pattern on greaseproof paper.

6) Cut out all the fabric pieces using the patterns.

7) Pin all the details onto the main pattern piece and sew into place. Add any other details including the smile and the button for the eye.

8) Pin the back and front together (right sides together) with the pattern, and tack around the shape of the pattern.

9) Sew together, leaving a gap.

10) Snip around the edges so it will look neat and turn the right way out.

11) Stuff using a knitting needle for those tricky parts.

12) Say hello to your new friend!

The completed plush red blood cell
We hope you've enjoyed your peek into the making process, and that you will be inspired to delve deeper into what the Plush Team has to offer. You can do this by picking up a copy of the Plush Team annual here, and by visiting the Plush Team blog for details of all the members' shops and all our challenges! 

Thanks for stopping by. I'll make sure to say hello to the Queen for you the next time I stop by for tea! Stay tuned to the Plush Team blog for details of the next stage of the tour.........

11 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Days 31-32

Day 31

The 365 Scientist woke up early to rain, so he raided the cupboard and made himself a poncho and rain hat! And all before I'd even got out of bed. 

Day 32

What a great sight for me to come home to - the 365 Scientist making me a lovely cuppa!

Dubious Science Fact 1

I say dubious science fact because apparently, the internet can't always be trusted! I know, it was news to me too. I get most of my knowledge from Wikipedia, so never believe what I tell you.

The first dubious science fact is...........

......10 percent of all human beings ever born are alive at this very moment!

09 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Day 30

Day 30 was a warm one so the 365 Scientist decided to cool down with an ice lolly. Just like me he likes the red bit on top the best!

In the News: Meet Nao, the emotional robot!

A news (!) addition to my blog is to find fun and cute news items to share with you! This one really caught my attention - meet Nao, the emotional robot.........

This little guy  is a humanoid machine which hunches its shoulders when it feels sad, raises its arms for a hug when it feels happy, and cowers when frightened until he is comforted! How adorable is that?


Developed by Aldebaran Robotics, he was designed to  mimic the emotional skills of a one year old child, and he can even form bonds with people who show him kindness - this is amazing stuff. Nao uses video cameras to work out how close a person is and sensors to detect how tactile they are. He indicates how he is feeling based on understanding non-verbal interactions with people, and from exploring his environment. 

Nao can also be programmed to have different personalities - whether an independent nature or a more needy and fearful one. Nao has even competed in the RoboCup, and has performed Star Wars!

So, where does this lead us? The scientists behind Nao say that in the future robots are likely to act as companions, maybe to provide support for the elderly, or to integrate with the internet to order groceries online. I don't know whether robots like Nao will ever be looking after the elderly or ordering my shopping, but what I do know is that I want one!!!

08 August 2010

Doodle Schmoodle - Days 8 & 9

Day 8 was about the place you like to go - I had loads of ideas but I finally went with the woods!

Day 9 was to doodle the animal you would be - I've always said I'd like to be a white horse living wild on the moors!


The 365 Scientist - Days 27-29

Day 27

The 365 Scientist attempting to find nirvana by making friends with Buddha. I think there might be a bit more to it than that though.

Day 28

This morning I caught the 365 Scientist frying 4 eggs for his breakfast! His excuse was something about needing a lot of brain food when you're as clever as he is....hmmm, convenient!

Day 29

The battle with the ants and flying ants in the garden continues, and the 365 Scientist is on the front line.

05 August 2010

The 365 Scientist - Day 26

No, 365 Scientist, I know you're desperate for a soak in the tub, but you can't have one in the laboratory water bath! Even though it is nice and warm (unlike our water at home, grrrrr). You'll just have to wait like the rest of us.

Welcome to me: Journaling for a cause - Prompt 1

As a way of freeing my busy mind and being creative at the same time, I've started journaling and have signed up to the Journaling for a cause 30 day challenge hosted by Janel at Runs With Scissors (see my previous post on the terror that is the blank journal page!). Well, I'm ready to share the details on my first page with you.......

I wanted to create a vintage feel to the page, and decided the best way was to use pages from some old books. Yes, I know, I felt the same way at first - it felt really wrong tearing the pages out to start with, but I had rescued the books from a lifetime on the shelf and years without even being opened, so I figured it was kind of OK. Now they get to live on!

I wanted to base my page around the picture from Sleeping Beauty. I had this Ladybird book as a child and I loved looking through all the beautiful pictures. I still have all my original Ladybird books but I wanted to leave them free from the scissors, so I scoured my local vintage toy shop and found a few for £1 each. One of the other books was called Your Body, from which this great advice came (worringly, it also describes me):

I also have a Big Book of Needlecraft from an Oxfam book shop, which the sewing machine came from (obviously to introduce myself as someone who enjoys sewing!), and the rather demure lady drinking her cup of tea. There's sometimes nothing better than a nice cuppa. The vintage style floral fabric adds a little flash of colour and hints at fabrics I enjoy working with.

As my first attempt at collage, I think it was a success; and a lot of fun too. 
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