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Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Ennis Tile

Meeting a Movie Star in Los Angeles

Maybe I don't go out enough, but since living in Los Angeles, I've encountered very few celebrities.  One time I walked past Seth Green near the Ikea in Burbank.  But this past weekend I made it a point to seek out a star I've long admired.  She's been in a couple of my favorite films-- The House on Haunted Hill (dir. William Castle, starring Vincent Price, 1959), and Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, 1982).  And she's actually a house.

The Ennis House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Perhaps the most curious geometric construction I've ever seen.  Those tiles you see behind Harrison Ford (though that's actually a recreation of the house for the interiors in the movie) are a unique design to this home that repeats all over the inside and outside.

I really wanted to see the house in person, and I found out that it's actually just below Griffith Park, and makes a rather nice stop on a walk through the area.  Bam.  There it is.

There are a lot of unique houses in the neighborhood, but the Ennis House certainly stands out.

And while I did come to admire the place, I also had a plan.  A plan that involved photos.  A lot of photos.

There are actually a lot of the signature Ennis House tile along the street, acting as a fence around the house.  I was surprised by how big they actually are.

Many are severely worn and crumbling, but some are in better shape.  A few are pristine replacements from the ongoing restoration of the house.  I picked out the cleanest of the original tiles and took about 90 different photos of it.  I then continued to the Griffith Observatory, looped back to the car, and returned home.

Autodesk has a remarkable piece of software called Memento that can stitch together a 3D model of just about anything if you provide it enough pictures that it can see all angles.  I imported all 90 images of the tile, and waited a couple hours for the software to work its magic.

You can't tell me that isn't cool.

Now, my real purpose for this is another project, but when I printed out a small sample version, I happened o notice it was the same size as a drink coaster.  Hmm... That actually ties in very nicely with Ford's character in Blade Runner.

So I checked to see if a glass would sit level on it.  It did.  Then I did what anyone else would do in the same situation.  I cleaned up the print to hide the layers (or "grow lines"), molded it in fashionably pink silicone, and cast up four copies in tinted ultracal stone with cork backings.

And the result... very satisfying.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Making Dark Mark Temporary Tattoos

Hmm... what to wear to a "magical" themed party?

This was the question on our minds the night before, so my girlfriend and I needed to come up with something fast.  And that's when we said, why be a good wizard, when you can be evil??  We needed Dark Mark tattoos like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter.  But we didn't really care for the design from the movies, so we started sketching alternate versions.

sultry snake, anyone?

We liked the sideways skull, the snake body from the upper right, and the snake head from the upper left, so I did a ten minute photoshop and pulled together those elements, played with the color and contrast, and printed it out on tattoo transfer paper that we found at the local Hobby Lobby.  It's even the stuff that works with inkjet printers.

I printed four of them (just in case) and cut them cleanly off of the rest of the paper so we could still use it for other occasions down the road.  You lay and thoroughly press an acetate sheet over the paper, which sandwiches the ink in thin layers of plastic and adhesive, then peel off the acetate to reveal an adhesive layer, then apply it by pressing with a little water, just like a store bought temporary tattoo.  Seriously, it's that simple.  I was about to write this up as a tutorial, but it just works on its own.

Unfortunately the plastic layers are a little thick, so you can see it wrinkle, but for a last minute project, we were super pleased with it!