Posts Tagged ‘A. Catherine Noon’

A Good Egg or, What Happens When Hackers Celebrate Pysanky Day

Okay, so first of all, Pysanky Day is a very special day celebrating the thousands-of-years-old art of Ukrainian egg decorating (a “pysanka” is one such egg, “pysanky” is multiples of them).  Now, there’s not an actual Pysanky Day; folks decorate the eggs traditionally around Easter time.  In my household, however, we celebrate several different holidays around Spring:  Passover, Easter, and Ostara.  Each year we decorate eggs and it’s grown from just Paas dyes to pysanky.

When I asked one of my fellow hackers if they’d like to learn the art, they got totally excited about using the Egg Bot.

The what?

The Egg Bot!

Of course, there’s a bot for eggs.  Why?  Because Hackerspace.

And thus, Pysanky Day was born.

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A celebration of the ancient:  the plain egg is drawn on with melted beeswax using a tool called a “kistka.”  Based on technology that’s about four thousand years old, it just consists of a stick or dowel with a hole drilled in one end, into which is inserted a metal funnel.  The funnel is held in place with copper wire.

After heating the tip of the kistka in a candle flame, a small amount of wax is scooped into the fat part of the funnel.  It takes some practice to get the wax to flow smoothly without making drops of wax on the egg.

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One of my favorite designs, this is from one of the series of five Ukrainian Design Books available from the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Roseville, Minnesota. Part of the design was done with a traditional kistka, and part was done with an electric kistka.

In principle, the electric one works the same as the manual one; I like it better because the flow of wax is much more even.

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We got to playing with the Egg Bot, which brings us up to present day technology. Using a pen, it writes on the egg. The writing is completely programmable.

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And finally, in true hacker style, we used the 3-D printer to print an egg holder in the shape of a bunny rabbit. One of our members, walking through the space toward the end of Pysanky Day, commented, “Oh! Rabbit Pants!”

Yup. Hackerspace.

 

All egg images used by permission, copyright: CC-BY-SA Everett C. Wilson ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/).

Image of the Egg Bot from the Egg Bot site, (http://egg-bot.com/)

05

04 2014

Prompts with the Writer Zen Garden

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Tonight the Writer Zen Garden met in the lounge for another Prompt Circle.  Using various kinds of writing prompts, we write for between 10 and 20 minutes at a time, experimenting with lots of little new ideas or linking each of the ideas together. This is a great, low pressure way to get onto the page, whether you’ve always wanted to write and haven’t taken the plunge or if you’re a seasoned writer but need some new inspiration.

We started with a freewriting exercise to “prime the pump.”  Freewriting is just like it sounds:  start with where you are right now and just write.  We set the timer for ten minutes but if you’re trying this on your own, use whatever time works for you.  Write whatever is in your mind, and let it flow out of your pen.  Freewriting exercises are better done with a pen and paper because it more intimately connects you to your thoughts than the keyboard (working on a keyboard involves both hands and therefore a cross-hemispheric operation on the brain).

We then experimented with some prompts from Ursula K. LeGuin’s book, Steering the Craft.  The first was to write a scene with no punctuation whatsoever.  A good scene to write is something that has a lot of action; she suggests the opening of a revolution or a one-day sale.  I have found that when we read what we wrote out loud, it naturally develops its own syntax and is much easier to understand.

Next we wrote a scene with sentences of seven or fewer words.  This forces the writer to focus on the words used to get the story across and trims the fat, so-to-speak.  After that we experimented with one from Josip Novakovich’s book, Fiction Writer’s Workshop.  Describe a scene with a party or gathering that you observed, and see if you can fatten it up with imagined details.  We then switched gears to play with a dream; writing a scene from one of our own dreams and peppering it with fantastical elements.

The final prompt was a light one: write a scene of a space opera (think Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).  While no one at the table self-identified as a science-fiction writer, it seemed to be the most fun prompt of the evening.

If you’ve been tempted to write before but don’t know where to start, or you’ve always wished you were more creative, then join us for a couple hours of fun, conviviality, and writing prompts.  All you need to do is bring a pen and notebook or, if you prefer, a laptop.  We’ll do the rest.

How does it work?  That’s easy!  We bring an assortment of writing prompts (a “prompt” is something that gets you started with a story, scene, or description), and we write for short bursts of ten to twenty minutes.  You’d be surprised at how much you produce and how fast the time flies.

Why not give it a shot?

The next one is Saturday, 01/11/2014, 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. in the Lounge.  Hosted by PS:One members Amanda Clothier (writing as A. Catherine Noon) and Lyn Cole.

Hope to see you there!

For more information about Writer Zen Garden, please check out our Meetup page.  We are an online and in-person creative community with a forum, blog, and supportive members.  You have nothing to lose but your skepticism.

Write on!

28

12 2013

Writing the Night Away with Writer Zen Garden and NaNoWriMo!

20131113 Pic 1November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  The objective is to write 50,000 words or more during the month.

One of the ways to do that is to attend a Write-In, an event where participants support each other, engage in word wars, and commiserate on the vicissitudes of the writing life – and otherwise abuse their vocabulary.

Tonight’s Write-In in the lounge was no exception.  We came, we wrote, and we played Go to unwind.  Writers worked on short story compilations, manga, speeches, and novels.  If you’ve always wondered what it’s like to write a novel, then by all means join us!  The next PS:One Write-Ins are Wednesday 11/20 and Wednesday 11/27 from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. in the Lounge.

The Writer Zen Garden hosts a number of events at PS:One, including our popular Prompt Circle, Artist Way Clusters, and Plotting Workshops.  Check us out on Meetup or stop by an event.

Write on!

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11 2013