Bored? 3 Free Online Resources for a Creative Jolt.
I’ve reached a new level of boredom. Restless and useless only begin to express what it’s like waiting for this baby to be born. I know I should be ‘cherishing my last moments alone’. But when at the point when you seriously consider whether or not to bother with elastic pants for the hassle it is to get into them, all those fun things that would make for a truly cherishing moment seem a little less appealing. Especially things that require pants or even moderate mobility.
And so I turn to the interwebs for new ways to get entrenched in a project and learn a little something. I thought I’d share my top three sources this week for some quality time spending. Bank them for when you are sick, awaiting an event you have little control over, or when you are just a bit bored and need new thoughts in your noggin.
Do you guys know about this. So many incredible classes and some of them free. The image above is my class project from an Adobe Illustrator course that makes collages out of fruits and veggies (instructor Lydie Petit). Thanks Seattle Wholesale Growers Market for the local flowers. Lydie’s class is with a paid membership (which is totally reasonable) and other topics range from How to Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee, Baking Essentials, Branding your Business, Coding, and Writing a Screenplay. I also learned a technique to illustrate monsters and took a bomb and FREE patterning class from Jenna Frye
Here’s another collage thing with a message that an old man told me when I was eleven (and nagging my mom to entertain me). I’ve made a motto of sorts and still remind myself of this on a regular basis.
Second: Creative Mornings
This is a live lecture series that is carried out in cities all over the world. All the lectures/ talks are filmed and stored on their website. The lectures AND the local events are free and cover a wide range of topics. Search by city or topic. The next live talk in Seattle is at Galvanize in Pioneer Square on September 11th with speaker Marcy Sutton. It’s sort of like a TED talk but more casual and with local talent, business owners, and movers-shakers.
My favorite lecture is from Ben Chestnut (founder of MailChimp). This lecture received lots of laughs and a couple of fist pumps to the air. Is there an emoticon for that?
Finally: MIT Open Coursework
A bit more of a time commitment is MIT’s free coursework online. Oodles of topics to geek out on but one that has me interested is this one: Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra. Just check out the applications in the course description:
- Automated design of new and complex origami, such as
- Freeform Origami, Origamizer, and Rigid Origami Simulator by Tomohiro Tachi
- TreeMaker by Robert J. Lang
- Transforming robots by self-folding sheets or chains
- How to fold robotic arms without collision
- How to bend sheet metal into desired 3D shapes, such as
- Unfoldable polyhedra with convex faces
- Understanding how proteins fold
I mean, you really just never know when you will need this stuff. If you have any other ideas of stuff to do while waiting for baby, ugh, please, pass them on!!!!!!!
Rulz for throwing a crazy fun bash- the Bamboo Beats 411 Party
This is the second year we’ve participated in Bamboo Beats’ yearly bash and it’s always high on the ridiculous fun meter. We’ve compiled some of the best shots of the night courtesy of Alante Photography to assist in describing what I think is BB’s winning mix of freak and fun.
The reason for this may be obvious. We want more of this dancing on one’s head business…
…and less of what this orange shirted gal has to offer. This is me mastering the good ole clap, stomp, wiggle, wiggle. My other move is the shaka-legga-shaka-legga-shaka-legga-shaka. But for some reason Alante Photography decided not to document that.
Number 2: Have a little “Whuuuh?!” Factor
We love the Bamboo Beats parties because they allow us to make the stuff that typically aren’t requested. Unexpected decor is key to an unusually fun party. Have expected decor and you can have a usually fun party. When people walk into a party, I want them to feel like anything could happen. It drives up the adrenaline, opens up awareness, and sends the guest exploring for more uncommon details. Pull together some appropriately “out-there” looks and you are on your way to priming your guests to be jumping in anticipation for the night to come.
For this 9 foot tall cardboard, street art-astic flower urn, we partnered with artist Eli. Eli is a mysterious artist and so we don’t know what his last name is or if Eli is even really his name at all. He provided us with the night’s motto, “GET WEIRD.”
We set up the back room of Within Sodo as a ceremony set with 9 foot tall arch-screen sprayed up by Eli, our racetrack aisle runner, orange tree, and decals on the chairs with words from Digital Underground’s 1991 hit “Kiss You Back”
Number 3: Good Eats
The importance of the unexpected is transferable to food as well. Here we’ve got Baked Custom Cakes with adorable cupcakes in a shocking color palette, but whuuuuh? A boombox cake and a splatter paint cake? Can’t wait to put them in my mouth. And by the way, those are our newest vase acquisitions with metal flower armatures. So cool.
This guy clearly loves street food.
Number 4: Drinks for thirsty dancers.
Nothing like a Hilliard’s to sooth a break dancing injury.
Number 5: Freak Show
What’s he doing? taming a rabid rhino? Making furniture levitate with his eyes? Is he a human statue? No, he’s Valentine of Valentine’s Men’s Grooming Salon. So he’s not really a freak but his skills are freakish. Just his meticulous care for these dude’s heads leaves crowds mesmerized and turns manscaping into a spectacle. And this sort of unexpected spectacle goes a long way in making people remember a party.
Number 6: Document!
Scottish Moorland Themed Arrangement at the UW Botanic Gardens
Open and airy heathlands, lush textures, and a deep earthy feel. These are the elements we at Lola Event Floral & Design portrayed through our Scottish Moorland inspired centerpiece displayed at this July’s UW Botanic Garden Vendor Showcase.
Every texture and color conveyed richness and movement. Since we were located at the Botanic Garden, what a great opportunity to display landscape plants that are uncommonly used in floral design.
Here we show local physocarpus, willow, Mexican feather grass, and Blue Star Juniper in a copper trumpet vase. Also shown are orange coffeebreak roses, green hydrangea, spanish moss, faux pheasant feathers, and grapewood. Table, runner, and furnishings beyond are by Vintage Ambiance– Vintage and Antique rentals.
This arrangement began (as they all do) with a sketch.
More yummy, rich, fall colors were displayed on Vintage Ambiance’s display. They featured their new farm tables, gold toned vintage vases, and amber glass vessels.
I just love those ruffly Coffeebreak roses.
Waterlilies a.k.a. Nemesis Jerklips var. “Drama Queen”
Possibly one of our greatest strengths, and biggest draws over here at Lola Event Floral & Design, is that we take on and work out some pretty challenging endeavors.
Original ideas with unclear approaches? We find one or three.
No information on where to find or get something unique? We find it… or make it.
You don’t think we can strap that to our pickup truck? Oh, we think we can.
You saw a waterlily arrangement at a Los Angeles event and want to do something similar for the Pacific Science Center King Tut Gala? You’ve heard they are difficult to work with? And you need them for not one night but two?- Puh-leez. It’s a flower, we can figure it out. This thing is going to be Tut-tacular.
We’ve not worked with waterlilies before, and as it turns out, not a lot of people have. Apparently they are difficult. But, we figured, it has been done. No ambiguity there. So, if there is a solution, we are the ones to find it. And the lack of information out there was just fuel to the fire to jump into a floral experiment that can be shared.
For challenging tasks, we try to fail early and often to work out the unknowns. I, personally, love this process. It’s like little clues to a multi-dimensional puzzle that always comes together. THIS process, however, had me in a battle with a flower- a flower I expected to figure out on Round 1: Waterlily, meet Human. But after Round 2: Waterlily Pamper and Coax, the flowers were given a new name “Jerklips”, though “Pond Scum” was also a contender. Round 3: Waterlily and Human Accord had me thinking we were going to be all right, but after the Final Round: Humans are Slaves to the Waterlily it was clear I was still being schooled by a swamp grower.
Here’s our story… (you can skip to the bottom if you don’t want the play by-play)
We would need about 100 white waterlilies. Two months before the event, we found a local grower. Done. Commence online and phone research. At this point we learn that waterlilies are pretty short-lived to begin with. We learn that they open up every day, and close up every evening usually by 4pm. They have about a 5 day life. They are cut on the first day of opening, shipped the second, so we’ve got a 2-3 day window. They are happiest in warm weather under direct sun. So the challenge is… get them happy enough to open and get them to stay open well after their natural inclination is to shut tight.
Hmmm….warm and sunny, tricky.
One month before we checked in on our supplier to see how our little lovelies were growing… They were NOT growing. What was an “Absolutely they will be ready” turned into a “No way they will be ready”.
Our new supplier was found in Texas where warmth and sun abounds. Texas Waterlilies is a privately owned aquatic plant grower and not only had more waterlilies than I would ever know what to do with, they also had a wealth of readily available knowledge, top-notch customer service, experience selling cut flowers to floral designers, patience, and a man named Dusty with a way of speech that a Texas man named Dusty should have. Finding these people was relief and happiness. I immediately ordered about 10 of their hardiest, toughest, awesomest waterlilies.
Round One: Waterlily, Meet Human
The lilies were shipped overnight and arrived around noon wrapped in wet newspaper and sealed in a plastic bag. The plastic bag was packed in bigger box with some extra padding. The day was what, we Seattleites, would call a sunny spring day. Probably around a high of 60 degrees F. We immediately cut the stems under water and put them out on a sunny ledge- half in flower solution the other half just in water. The tight buds nudged open just a little tiny bit. As the afternoon wore on, we switched them around to the warmest areas of the lot, finally landing on the hood of my pickup, the hottest spot I could find. Not a budge. We moved them to a hot plate- formerly used for my sweetie’s awesome buckwheat pancakes. (You owe me, waterlily!) Still nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G .”They must just be totally shocked”, I thought. “Poor little guys,” I thought.
Oy, more research was needed. I floated the waterlilies in the shop and frantically called Dusty, who was nice enough to return my call on a weekend. “Just get them above 80 and in the sun, ” he says.
I also learned that the stems have to stay wet. (Oy, that shoulda been a given)
The next morning, I opened my shop (which gets pretty warm with the doors closed) and what did I find? Half open waterlilies in the dark. So apparently it’s more of a warmth thing. I can get warmth better than I can get sun. Day two I put them in warm water but it was too late. they were done. Time for Round Two.
Round Two: Waterlily, Pamper and Coax
Round two came like the first, but with some extras (thanks Dusty). This time they were kept in the sunniest place in the house since it was clear warmth is what we were after. I put a layer of plastic wrap over their water bath and I cranked up the heat. Fifty percent of them opened- a little. The others, nothing. And at 4pm they were all shut. They received the name Jerklips because they when they shut, they really do shut all the way, there is no visible sign that they intend to open again at all, ever. There is no communication to the human caretakers. Jerks.
Then something happened. On day two with the same conditions the lilies that were half-opened on day one were ready for business on day two. (the other half never opened). Good enough! They are absolutely glorious when they are open. We melted down some waxed and applied the wax at the base of the petals with a squeeze dropper.
We drove some over to our clients for a meeting so that they could determine for themselves if the level of openness was going to be sufficient. We found that even with wax, after 4pm they closed in a little- and sometimes wonkily. After 10pm they were just “okay”. We suggested an alternative flower, but our client was firm that it had to be waterlilies- MORE WAX!
Round 3: Waterlily and Human Accord
We chose to use only the white waterlilies for their color and because they stayed open the longest. We received the waterlilies and immediately put them in warm water inside a bath with plastic covering. The lilies had the rest of the day to relax in water before they were open enough to wax. Be prepared for them to close up after their day of rest. This is a horrifying time because they look like they will never open again. They will.
The next morning (about 7am) we added more warm water to get the water temp back up. Around 11am, most of them were open and glorious! The duds (buds that don’t open) improved to 40% instead of half the shipment. This time we waxed more heavily, filling up large pools of wax, not only around the petals closest to the middle, but in every petal clear down to the base of the flower.
The entire waxing and wait time was about 8 minutes PER FLOWER! Since we would need about 120 lilies, that’s a lot of labor. We tested a 6 minute lily just to see if some time could be saved.
By the way, check out how much the flowers close just during the waxing process. Pre-wax is on the left and immediately post- wax is on the right. And here is a cross-section of the stem. Be sure to cut the stems under water. I’m not fully sure how this plant works but you can tell by looking at the cross-section where the water is. If you see water pulled up into the quarters, that is good. If the capillaries are open and free of water, I’d keep cutting under water until you see water.In the photo below, the end closest to the camera is free of water while the other end has water trapped. Not totally sure, but I assume that is good.
For our needs, we wanted the waterlilies to last two nights, so we did not have to replace our 8 minute waterlily with another for the second event. Here is what the lilies looked like at midnight on day three! Not bad at all! As you can see on the right that the 6 minute waterlily did okay, but not as open and stunning as the others.We figured we could reduce some of the browning by fussing less with the extraneous wax.
Final Round: Humans are Slaves to the Waterlily
This event has taught me that, when you figure it out, don’t change ANYTHING. We ordered enough lilies for slightly less than the best case scenario. We needed 90-110 waterlilies and ordered 220 to account for the duds and have a few left over to change out any particularly frazzled lilies for night 2 of our event. The 80 degree worked so well, I wondered what would happen if we increased the temperature. Afterall, a Texas spring is in the 90s, not the 80s. I wondered if we got the temperature up to 90, if we would have more success with the buds that did not open. Long story short, that was a bad idea. The humans and the lilies sweated it out and we ended up with a lot of stressed out flowers and a greater fail rate than even round 2 had produced. Luckily, we set up the waterlily arrivals in two shipments to optimize the lilies preferred timeline. The second delivery we shifted back to the tried and true method with great results. We ended up still having to substitute some lilies on night two of our event with peonies.
Waterlilies, we appreciate your tenacity. Please know we are your friends.
In summary, here is our recipe for getting great waterlily cut flowers in our cool climate:
- Order about double the waterlilies that you will need. Texas Waterlilies was incredible to work with.
- Get waterlilies in 80 degree water bath as soon as you can. Indoors or if sunny and cool, under a plastic row cover or greenhouse .
- Cut stems underwater and remove floating bits.
- Use cups, or some other device to anchor the stems under water. The curved stems will want to curve up sometimes with the exposed end out of water. Ensure most of the stem stays moist.
- Cover bath with plastic and let rest until the following morning.
- The following morning, add warm water early (we did about 7am) to get the water temperature back up to 80. We kept water temps between 80 and 85 and air temps between 70 and 80.
- Between 10 and 12, all the waterlilies that you will get will probably be open. We’ve had some luck opening lilies that are almost all the way open by transferring them to a new fresh warm water bath, with recut stems.
- Move waterlilies from water to a cup or class so that petals can dry out of the water. Keep stems in water- recut stems
- Prepare a hot plate and dropper. Keep a stash of droppers in a glass of hot water on the hot plate. The droppers get jammed and it’s faster to grab a new one than it is to unclog the dropper.
- With a dropper and melted wax, apply wax to the inside of the flower just under the very first little petals. Move outward and as wax dries, apply more to create thick pools. Tilt flower as needed to get wax in between the very bottom petals.
- We found that 8 minutes was optimal to get lilies to stay full and open the longest.
- Take care not to remove wax, touch the petals, or generally fuss with anything that is not the base of the petal. The petals bruise easily. Once dry, place back into water bath or keep in glasses for transport.
* We did not use floral solution after Round 2. We seemed to be getting the same effects without it but more experimentation would be useful here.
If you have some other experiences with waterlilies, we would LOVE to hear about them.
Salvage and Survival
This morning I cautiously popped my head out of my sliding front door before heading out. Not to see if it is raining, no. To size up the perils of my backyard and what lies beyond. Birds chirping, check. Appropriate level of street noise, check. Piles of leftover construction wood- unkempt, but in an organized sort of mess that would make sense to only me and my sweetie. No OCD intruder has come in the night to organize our yard. Wood, Check. On the way to the car, I suspiciously eyeball the people at the bus stop before jumping in the safety of my Korean hotrod (it’s actually closer to a old boot on wheels.)
Why am I acting like a freak? No, we haven’t been burgled. I stayed up all night reading the Hunger Games and now I’m obsessed. Tired and hungry, too. That just makes it all the better to feel like I’m on some sort of quest. A bird flies into the understory and I think, “Ya, you better get out of here… or I’ll eat you.”
I don’t read fiction often because of the life disrupting effects. Not only have I not eaten, slept, or completed any urgent work, this morning I have an overwhelming need to go to the metal scrap yard. Work will have to wait again. On the drive down, each person I pass is a competitor, and I throw them a glance as my Korean hot rod passes them at a cautiously fast but clearly superior speed. Breakin’ the rules. Stickin’ to the… well, I guess I don’t really have a point in passing everyone. To win, I guess.
I haven’t been to Pac Iron since I was a sculpture student in college and now I have a hankering to see what types of junk can be remade into cool stuff. I need fodder for a post but more importantly, I can’t help but think this place would be like a treasure world for a survivalist. So I’m off to Pacific Iron and Metal.
A whole bin of machine screws. Like candy.
Hefty sheet metal- protects from all sorts of elements including poison fog.
These are cool. I almost brought some home, but the face on the container was a little scary.
Nothing jumped out at me to take home and remake, though I may go back for some of these chains for a chandelier project we’ve got coming up at Lola Floral (stay tuned for that!).
I had forgotten how much I like the smell of burnt metal, but overall I was underwhelmed. I remember this place having a lot more cool junk- from boats and stuff. But then it hit me. Of course. The rebellion. It’s all being melted down to support the rebellion.
And since I didn’t find something I wanted to remake into something else, here are some great uses of repurposed materials from the nation’s rebels.
Wishing you all a mental vacation and some salvage inspiration.