Sunday, September 17, 2017

Two-stage Cryptex: Fabrication and build

As it turns out, it's a lot harder to fabricate things when you aren't a student that has a 24 hour machine shop at your disposal (or a free machine shop anywhere, period). Bemoaning my separation from the CSAIL shop/stockroom and the ever-helpful staff of the Pappalardo machine shop, I began my lengthy search for outside resources. 

First up were the two endcaps, which absolutely needed some portion, if not all, of them to be CNC machined. I shopped around at a number of fabrication services (as an aside, why does every place require you to submit a model and then wait around for a quote? It's incredibly awkward to ask for a quote from someone for a tiny one-off personal project, knowing their answer will be way outside your budget and use case). Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the companies I'm going to mention, I'm just a broke recent-grad who designed a thing way beyond her means to produce at a reasonable price.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Two-stage Cryptex: CAD Design

It is a truth universally acknowledged that raccoons like puzzles. Raccoons like, in fact, touching all things:

raccoon (n.) Look up raccoon at
also racoon, c. 1600, arocoun, from Algonquian (Powhatan) arahkun, from arahkunem "he scratches with the hands." Early forms included Capt. John Smith's raugroughcum. In Norwegian, vaskebjørn, literally "wash-bear."

Whether I like it or not, I have long suffered (like, for two whole years) an excess of raccoons and abundant inevitable raccooning from my boyfriend, who is absolutely three raccoons in a trenchcoat. And we both love puzzles. One of our first dates was an escape room, which, while having the possibility of turning out horribly, we absolutely destroyed. He introduced me to Myst via Steam gift while I was bedridden after surgery, and I in turn introduced him to the style of puzzle hunts, e.g. MIT Mystery Hunt. For my birthday/christmas last year, he gave me an ingenious Japanese puzzle box, inside which he had hidden a puzzle hunt that he himself wrote. Thus, I was inspired to create my own physical fiddly puzzle box, complete with puzzles and a small gift inside, to satisfy both raccooning and puzzling tendencies. But a single puzzle to fiddle with was too easy, and so I began to investigate a double-stage puzzle box, resulting in the design of this two-stage cryptex.

SolidWorks model 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Burning Man Jacket

I've wanted to go to Burning Man for many years. Unfortunately, living on a student budget on the east coast made this mostly impossible. But after I moved to Berkeley for grad school, the community and opportunities were hard to escape. I applied for a Low Income ticket in April, after a longtime burner friend of mine convinced me to go, and, to my immense surprise and gratitude, was granted one. In July, this friend got in contact with the people who built Dr. Brainlove, and suddenly, I was on board as one of the core crew to build an art car (post on that forthcoming). 
Two weeks in the desert loomed up in a month and a half, when I'd never been to a festival before or even gone camping for more than a weekend. And in the desert there are no coat checks; my usual strategy of multiple layers for warmth under a leather jacket against wind would probably be suboptimal for long nights that wavered between biking and dancing and sitting out in the open. I looked online for a while and hit up thrift stores, but didn't find a jacket that really met my needs and aesthetics. So I dusted off the Singer sewing machine my father gave me and made a custom jacket. 

Finished product first. Appropriately cyberpunk (shaved half hawk? check. Weird shapes? check. Military inspired lines? check. 120 degree angles? check. Asymmetry? check. Low life? uh, do the PJs and dirty bathroom count?)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I baked a lot of things in this past year and learned to work with royal icing. This post is going to be updated as I make more things.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sheik Cosplay

Man, grad school is kicking my butt. But not for the reasons you might believe. No, what's happening is I'm maintaining a really nice work-life balance...and the BART to SF takes 40 minutes. BUT despite all this, I decided to do a cosplay for Animation on Display (AOD) in Santa Clara, due in some part to habit of the season because of the typical PAX East timing (/cry). 

Tuh! Tuh-tuh! /vague spitting noises as I dash around

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keira Hagai Cosplay Part 2

After finishing the crop top and pants, it was time to get the rest of the cosplay pulled together, including little details like the straps around the knees and shoes, the belt, and the choker.

While I was on a budget for this, I did do one little splurge since I wasn't spending as much on making a prop. I bought some really nice, disturbingly well-integrating elf ears, because for some reason the characters in this franchise can't be expected to ever wear a helmet. And I also bought a huge pair of goggles because extraneous goggles are about as ubiquitous as extraneous belts in 90s character designs.
Believe it or not, I've actually used these ears a few times after this cosplay for completely unrelated events.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Keira Hagai Cosplay Part 1

I knew all along that senior year was going to kick my butt. So I purposefully chose a low-key, non-prop-based cosplay, a throwback to simpler times of my youth: Jak and Daxter. I spent a lot of time as player 3, the strategist without a controller, watching my brother and his friends play video games. That's where my love of being a video game spectator began; it was like watching your friends star in interactive movies. So when I was staring at my hair in the mirror, wondering how I'd be able to not use a wig or a helmet, I immediately thought about Keira Hagai, the awesome mechanic (and Jak's eventual love interest) in the franchise.
Image from