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A Plotter and a Dreamer

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Craft | 0 comments

In case you ever want to print some really big stuff, there’s now a plotter at Gangplank that prints on 3-foot wide rolls of paper. Not like photos, more like black-and-white line drawings. It would be great for patterns, maps, large schematics, and probably lots of things we haven’t thought of yet.


I was looking for ideas of something we could make with it during the May CraftHack meetup. I’m not sure I found anything that would work for that, but I did come across some interesting stuff.

Modified Plotter Art

XY LED Plotter (University of Illinois) – Stephen Cartwright creates abstract long-exposure photographs with an LED plotter.


Coal Drawing Machine (Belgium) – Carlos Amorales created an art installation in a former coal mine that features a modified plotter printing with charcoal.



Cardboard computer and plotter (School of Art and Design Offenbach, Germany) - In an electronic media class, students were able to use cardboard to construct a tiny working computer and plotter.


Print and fold

I wondered if we could use the plotter for printing larger versions of foldable projects like this Paris city scene or these VW buses.


Then I fell asleep and dreamed of looking for plotter crafts.

Really. In the mall, there was a store that still had a Christmas display in their window with 3 paper figures that were as tall as I was: an angel with beautiful paper cut wings, a boxy snowman, and maybe a Nutcracker. They had been printed with a plotter, cut out, and folded up (Folidify craft style). So I went to ask the store owners if they would let us have the files for our CraftHack project. They showed me this adorable little papercraft camper that was a cross between a paper VW bus I’d seen and the Fisher-Price camper I had as a kid. (Remember those?) Of course, I still don’t have the files. Because it was a dream.


But if you have any fabulous real-life ideas for projects that start with a plotter printer, let me know!

Photos via sites as noted, except for the top one, which I took of the actual HP DesignJet 600 at Gangplank.

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3 Phoenix Spots for Excellent Coffee Roasted On-site

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

We’re not Seattle, obviously. But Phoenix does have its hardcore coffee devotees. We also have an increasing number of independent shops run by people who care about where their coffee comes from, the way it’s brewed, and who even roast the beans themelves to make sure they meet their standards.



1. The original Cartel Coffee Lab  is what my friend Anne affectionately refers to as “the hipster epicenter of Tempe.” That may be true, but hipsters usually know where to find good coffee. Roaster Paul Haworth II has started the Coffee Bureau site to help people make better coffee and is currently in Central America visiting farms and sourcing beans. Cartel has expanded to also serve beer at its Tempe location, as well as opening several other locations in Arizona, including in Tucson and Sky Harbor Airport (Terminal 4, past security checkpoint C).



2. Echo Coffee came to be after founder Steve Belt heard a talk at Ignite Phoenix and decided to make a career change. These roots may have something to do with the strong community vibe of the place. There are different areas within the shop for conversation or work and large windows filling the space with natural light. Steve only hires people passionate about coffee, but they also tend to be really friendly and great about answering questions without the pretentiousness you get from a lot of baristas who take coffee (too) seriously.



3. Newly-opened Peixoto Coffee in downtown Chandler imports their coffee directly from a 100+ year old family farm in Brazil. They tell me the family name is pronounced “pay-sho-to”. Even though it’s been open under a month, it feels established, like it’s been there a long time. There’s a salvaged-wood counter, coffee bag cushions, and chalkboard-painted tables with coffee puns on them like “Espresso Your SELF” [sic]. I didnt see food on there online menu, so I was surprised to see they also offer empanadas and really good Brazilian cheese biscuits.

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Colorful pallet backdrop

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in Craft | 6 comments

I can’t take credit for making this – just appreciating it.


Our church shares a building with several other groups, and the main meeting room had been kind of bare for awhile. It’s great to have a multiuse facility, but sometimes it feels like no one really has ownership over it.

One day this upcycled pallet art was just there at the front, made, I heard, by one of the churches that meets earlier in the day.

The colors remind me of the sunrise. I like looking at the way they bleed into each other while I listen to a message.


Microblog Mondays is about sharing a little something every week. More at Stirrup Queens.

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Finding wildflowers in the Arizona desert

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Travel | 3 comments


There’s something particularly breathtaking about wildflowers in the Sonoran desert. Maybe because of the way they transform the landscape. Maybe because their season is so brief and precious. Maybe because some years Mexican poppies turn entire hillsides gold, and other years there is only a sprinkling of color. The best years become part of local lore.


People try to guess when we’ll have a good year for wildflowers, but they’re hard to predict, like the weather. Actually, it’s the weather for months before wildflower season that has the largest impact on what you’ll see in March.

wildflowers  in South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona

Because of their unpredictability, knowing if/when/where wildflowers have arrived depends on someone spotting them and spreading the word – which is much quicker with the internet amplifying the message.


Where to find Arizona’s spring wildflower sightings online

  • DesertUSA covers regions throughout the Southwest and as far north as Oregon. People submit notes (and sometimes photos) about where they’ve spotted wildflowers. There are also reports from Arizona State Parks, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and Grand Canyon National Park.
  • The Desert Botanical Garden has a Pinterest map of Arizona wildflower sightings. The DBG itself is a great place to see wildflowers.
  • During the season, Wild in Arizona has more detailed field reports from two nature photographers.


Even though it’s early, Phillip and I have already been spotting wildflowers. There were a few as we headed north from town on the 17 over the weekend. A week before that we spotted a single yellow flower while hiking at South Mountain. It might’ve been the first Mexican poppy of the season or an earlier-blooming desert sunflower.

Either way, it looks like it could be a good wildflower year.


– More info –

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Questions for me?

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

I’m working on putting together an FAQ page. So I’m wondering what burning questions you have about this site and/or me.


I’m posting this on a Monday to include people dropping in from Microblog Monday. (Hello, Microbloggers!)

Whether you’re a regular or it’s your first time here, I’d love to know what you want to know. What piques your curiosity or doesn’t seem clear? What have you always wondered but hadn’t gotten around to asking?

Ask away!


Microblog Mondays: Don’t overthink it. Just write something. And then read Stirrup Queens.

PS Due to a scheduling error, this accidentally posted a day early – whoops! Hopefully, we can still count it as “Monday” this once.

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