Sister Marda Tsai

I went to a catholic junior high school and took sumi painting from Sister Marda.

She could be very tough in class but joked with me one day after critiquing one of my studies “are you sure you’re not Chinese?” Followed by a big laugh.

The kids used to joke about her all the time. They didn’t like that she forced you to hold up your work, and take your crit on the chin. That was the first time I ever did that with my work – hold it up in front of the class.

I used to get literally KICKED because of it. Not because it was bad. But because other kids didn’t care. I hear tons of stuff about kids getting beat down in life into some less creative versions of their preschool selves. We were no angels by junior high.

Sister Marda ran a tight ship, no one was ever allowed into then storage room. My friend and fellow artist Ji Jae Sang were the first to be allowed to get supplies directly from this room.

Hanging in an honored portion of this thin back room/studio was a ceremonial Chinese sword. It was ornate, clean and SHARP. Imagine a 40 odd year old NUN wielding a deadly Chinese BLADE. Likely wouldn’t be allowed today.

I can’t tell you what her guidance meant to me, but I am showing you. Every chance I get.

Makerbot removed from iMakr stores

The following is a link to something everyone who has followed my printing experience with the Makerbot Mini has known for most of the year:

Customers of the bots they got at iMakr are not happy with the 5th gen Makerbots. I’m not happy with mine. And it’s been another week of waiting on support.

The 5th gen machines only need two improvements to make them credible and reliable. Unfortunately both of those changes are expensive because they involve all the things that make it a 3d printer – the extruder, and the stepper motors.

It’s loud as hell and jams too easily. That’s it. If Makerbot as a company can resolve these two things they’d really have it made because they spent so much effort lining up deals to get the products into every possible space they could, if they actually had a KILLER product they’d be running the world (or at least a small part of it).

It doesn’t help that the company gets accused of actually stealing ideas and patents from their users, it’s bad enough they how bad they look now. I honestly chose a Makerbot because of their previous reputation with the cupcake and rep 2’s, and because they were backed by enough money to ensure they wouldn’t disappear overnight which is the fear I have for 90 percent of the 3d printer gold rush companies flooding Kickstarter with stuff.

Even the venerable Form 1, the SLA printer I initially wanted and seriously considered has struggled with it’s fair share of FULL machine replacements. If you think a failed print on Makerbot looks bad you should see some of the fails from a Form 1 or other SLA printer. It’s something which makes the 5th gens so hard to swallow – the ideas in them are actually REALLY good – just poorly executed. Make it quiet, reliable and easy to get back up an running again. PLEASE!

Even if they do get this settled, the accusations by users of idea theft still bugs me. It was the biggest reason I’ve never contributed anything to their so called ecosystem that isn’t an ecosystem. If anyone in tech is going to use that term it better include better ways for users and not just filament re-sellers to make some coin.

I want Makerbot to succeed for two reasons – the first being so I can actually make back the money I blew on the Mini by making something worth buying, and two so they can repay the users they allegedly stole from should that ever become a thing they need to do. THEN. Then, I can feel comfortable buying something other than filament from them again.


Pareto principle in action, sort of

This could be the biggest mistake I ever make in my life online but I just can’t stand the lack of engagement for the amount of effort I have put into facebook.

I bought into a lot of internet guru hoopla about it being so good for marketing and it’s been a complete loss. So it’s obvious I bought the snake oil, drank it and died. Figuratively speaking. It took five years but hey, I have a thick skull and a high tolerance for pain.

I have spent so much money and time just keeping my anemic website live that I finally said screw it, I better do something here.

To tell you the truth, the tools now are so much better I wish I had done it sooner.

I had coded my own website before. Done the whole fancy Flash based thing, too. I even went full stripped down for mobile when that was the thing. Now comes WordPress and the real rabbit hole opens up.

Truth is I spent a week or two in it and finally thought, I might be able to make this work and provide some value to people who are just too worried about their own projects and work to get into the game.

So watch me screw up all kinds of crap so you don’t have to. Or not. But at least I won’t be making Mark Zuckerbeg any richer than I have to anymore.


A Carbon Fiber Inkwell?

So while Inktober is over, I had some ideas and developed a few prototypes for a new inkwell while working on my daily pieces.

One of the posts caught the attention of a filament company – it was my coffee drawing of Superman.

A few weeks later we agreed to trade wares – a drawing for some filament samples.

I think I owe Alex at Proto Pasta some money! This stuff is the most interesting filament I have used. A spool of 2.85 mm gauge filament for the Ultimaker in 750 gram spool is $60 US. By comparison, a 900 g spool of basic blue from Makerbot cost $56. Both of these prices do not include shipping.

Carbon fiber filament sounds like something out of science fiction. To be fair, it is not exactly like making carbon fiber parts for cars where sheets of fibrous material are layered together to make something stronger than steel. This is basically thermoplastic which has been made with small amounts of carbon fiber to reinforce the final melted product.

Since carbon fiber derives its strength from linear fibers being layered together I am not sure this aaccomplishes the same strength effects. But what it DOES do is something pretty close.

One of the problems I have with almost every FFM filament type is that it is very difficult to photograph with simpler cameras. There is an linear sheen from the build lines which causes strange hot spots and highlights and can obscure details without a better lighting setup.

The carbon fiber reinforced filament Alex sent me is beautiful up close. The finish is just matte enough to diffuse light evenly across the surface and even the courser 100 micron resolution I printed this sample at produced an even and diffuse surface.

Truth be told, the final product feels like wood – this can be said of various filaments usually but in particular the carbon fiber reinforced filament has the feel of stained wood. Cleaning up the brim – part of the printing support settings puts a small “skirt” around the base of the print – with a sharp knife confirms the woodlike feel and even the sound of wood while carving. It’s subtle but it’s something I noticed right away.

There are some caveats on the label to using this filament because it does contain elements which can be a bit abrasive on printing equipment. My tests for now are rather small in scale but given the comparative reliability of the Ultimaker so far I will continue the tests.

For more information:


Value proposition

I have never really had good metrics on the usefulness of this website. It serves as a backup plan for the most part – a place where I can point people when yet another social network eventually fails or just stagnates.

But it’s been a creature with two heads for an awfully long time – part portfolio website for various visual effects purposes and part comics shilling porthole.

There are any number of solutions available – just add another blog with tools that are free which would effectively cut the two headed beast in half.

Either way, it still feels like starting over again … again. So far I like the manner in which the WordPress version enables the two headed thing to at least be somewhat cleaner and organized. I have to face the fact that I do an awful lot of stuff lately – and personally I like people with tons of different interests and the ability to manage all of them.

With WordPress in the guts of all of this, it makes it easy for people to dive in wherever they want – kind of like the menu at a good deli, hehe. It’s a giant menu, but everyone can drill down to where they want to without being overwhelmed because you always know where they keep the meat.

Age of Ultron leak release party

Yeah there was a generally funny sort of leak immediate release kind of thing that happened today. Sometimes it makes you wonder, right? Should make for a great story because it’s obvious the youtube version was just ready to go seemingly moments after
the leaked version started to gain steam.


Inktober was started by an artist and it’s really become quite a new animal. I started using coffee for various reasons, but the biggest surprise is that I have never liked drawing cars and preferred depicting them in cgi or more precise mediums.

The coffee mixture is very simple – a teaspoon of both water and whatever blend is in the pantry and then adding more coffee to darken things up. It behaves very much like regular watercolor pigment with the added bonus of there being a lovely aroma as you ink. Paint. Draw.

I can’t guarantee other blends will have the same coloration – I am actually using instant coffee crystals from Stater Bros. It’s decaf if that matters to anyone, but the bigger issue is that it is far cheaper than ANY pigment I have ever used. I think I can get many times the volume of usable ink out of it than I could ever afford for the same volume of actual ink.

Of course I doubt it can ever go completely black unless I started using a darker blend, a mixture of coffee and real black ink, or combine it with other household pigments to add up to black.

All I know is I really enjoy the final color it leaves and of course the aroma while drawing.

Inktober indexing

It’s strange how different I feel people react to my work on different platforms. Just between instagram and facebook, this image indexes very differently. Part of me thinks the age of people I know on facebook is higher and their tastes differ as a result.

Blogging inktober?

Boy, for someone who wasn’t intending to do Inktober it certainly has taken up an enormous amount of my time! But that’s okay, it’s been nice after working on so many fully digital pages for so long.



I didn’t really intend to do Inktober but I ended up getting rather hooked on it. At Long Beach this year I ran out of ink in my best brushpen and didn’t have a backup. I did however pick one up a week later and started inktober-ing. Then I rummaged through old art supplies and found an old sumi painting kit I bought at the Japanese Garden in Encino years ago. If you are familiar with sumi painting, grinding the ink is something that isn’t particularly Con-friendly – but I am going to try and use some brushpens refilled using the sumi ink as well as find some sumi style brushpens.