Wire Cutters (Watercolor Speedpaint 01)

Welcome to a new video series on my YouTube channel, all about watercolor painting. I’m working on a series of illustrations of beloved tools, like these flush diagonal cutters.

What I like about watercolor is how relaxing it is. Finding time to paint a little each day helps me unwind. In case you want to get into watercolor painting, I’ve made a post cataloging all the supplies I use to create watercolor paintings.

When I’m done painting, I scan it in, touch it up, and upload it to my print shop, in case you are interested in owning a copy of this design. I’ve also made a poster featuring all the tools in this series so far. You can get a discount to my print shop by signing up for my email newsletter or joining my Patreon.


Watercolor Tools Poster

I started trying to paint a tool every day in the month of December. I did ok, holiday travel notwithstanding, and made 22 paintings in 31 days. The best of this set went into this watercolor tools poster, now available on my Society6 print shop. What tools should I paint next?

Vegan Chocolate Tart Recipe

Crust ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine such as Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sugar such as coconut sugar or Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 ripe banana (I keep some on hand in the freezer)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Ganache filling ingredients:

  • 9oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1.25 cup coffee (I used decaf)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Tools used:


Cat Food Access Control with ESP8266

This project goes over the process I used to create an automated cat food bowl, for my elderly diabetic cat Chaz. See, he needs to eat breakfast before he can get his insulin, but I often forget to pick up his food dish before I go to bed, which spoils his appetite and throws off his insulin schedule. This dish uses a servo motor to close a lid over the food between the hours of midnight and 7:30am. The NodeMCU ESP8266 microcontroller’s Arduino sketch uses Network Time Protocol (NTP) to control the schedule.

This project may not be suitable for younger, more active cats. Chaz is so old and frail, he isn’t inclined to try to pry the bowl open, but it is possible.

Tutorial: https://www.instructables.com/id/Cat-Food-Access-Control-ESP8266-Servo-Motor-3D-Pri

If you’re new to the Arduino or the ESP8266, you may enjoy the following prerequisite guides:


Design derived from Ardy Lai’s bowl holder on Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2699099

File on Tinkercad: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/49HoW04XYVq-cat-food-access-control-bowl


Best Gift Ideas for Makers 2019

I’ll admit, I’m proud of my small-but-efficient workshop, and it’s thanks to some key items I can’t live without. Here are my suggestions for what to get the maker in your life this holiday season.

Canary Box Cutter

The Canary box cutter is safer than a utility knife for opening boxes and cutting cardboard, and allows you to cut curves in cardboard more easily than a regular blade. I like the versatility of the Canary and find myself reaching for it more often than any other cutting tool. While it is still possible to cut yourself with its serrated edge, it’s much more difficult.


Emergency USB Power Supply (3D Printed)

This project makes use of a 12V battery, like you would use for a vehicle, for charging USB devices in case of a power outage or camping trip. It’s as simple as affixing a USB car charger to the battery. After Hurricane Sandy, I was without power and used an inverter/battery setup at home, but it was huge and heavy. This project revisits the concept with a smaller battery (meant for motorcycles/ATVs) and DC-only charging.

I’ve also created an optional 3D printed battery topper to cover the battery contacts and hold the USB ports. The design is available on Tinkercad so that you may modify it to fit your specific battery and USB charger.

The compact design makes it easier to transport and store. There are many situations where this device could be useful:

  • power outage
  • camping
  • off-grid living


Find the full tutorial on Instructables