Birth of Dogwood Designs

IMG_5814Last weekend we participated in our first Craft Show. It was a small one that a friend had organized near our home. Seemed a long shot that we would be able to find enough to show, but in the end we decided to go for it. I made some crocheted items, the older girls made potholders/coasters and scarves. Also on display were some lovely lip balms and lotion bars.IMG_5821

The night before the show, as I was working on tagging all the items, I was trying to design labels for things and Lars suggested “dogwood” being in the name. So we found clip art of a dogwood flower and thus, Dogwood Designs was born. We figure that it will work well for our crafting: crochet, tatting, weaving, woodworking; as well as Lars’s web app work. Perfect.IMG_5825

More on Dogwood Designs and photos in future posts. Maybe we will even get an Etsy store set up someday!

PS: Having done a web search, I see several other “Dogwood Designs.” Hmmm…not too surprising, but we will have to see if we can make it original. Any suggestions?

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Weaving finished

Here is the finished project, as promised! IMG_3372

It was great fun to weave and I can’t wait to start the next project: tea towels. Unfortunately, I have other projects that must be finished first, so it will have to wait.

More on that project when I get it warped and start weaving. 🙂


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Initials shadow block, using POV-Ray

Gödel, Escher, Bach: cover

Many of us (geeks?) who grew up in the right era were inspired by Douglas Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (“GEB”). My dad introduced me to it via his copy. (If you haven’t read it … it’s fascinating stuff.) On the cover was a photo of some cleverly-carved blocks of wood, shaped just right so that spotlights shining through them along each of the three axes cast the shadows of the initials in the book’s title: E, G, B.

Like probably many other GEB fans, I tried my hand at designing shadow blocks like these, for different sets of letters. About 20 years ago (!), while working for a software company, I used POV-Ray to mock up a shadow-block logo for the product we were working on. That was done by designing the letters manually, using virtual cylinder and sphere primitives. The result was satisfactory, but I didn’t really go beyond those three letters.

Then yesterday I ran across a neat Instructable about making this kind of shadow block out of wood. The author astutely notes that designing how the letter shapes intersect each other is “actually the most important, but also probably the most difficult [step]. All you need to do is draw your initials on each side of the cube, and imagine what shape will result when you cut them out.”

As much fun as it is to imagine 3D shapes, I got to wondering how well the “imagining” step could be automated. If you get letter shapes of the right size, and could use CSG to intersect them, you could often produce something that fulfilled the requirements, even if the resulting shapes were not the most aesthetically pleasing. (Not always… because, depending on the choice of letters, the ordering, and the characteristics of the typeface, it’s sometimes not possible to design a block that casts the right shadows.)

As I looked into doing this automated version in POV-Ray, I was pleased to find that letters made from True-Type fonts were primitives that could be manipulated by CSG commands like Intersect. That made it pretty easy to plug in the desired three letters, and attempt to construct a shadow block. Here’s the code:

// 3D monogram, by Lars Huttar
// Inspired by the cover of Godel, Escher, Bach
//   by Douglas Hofstadter

// Declare your initials here:
#declare L1 = "G";
#declare L2 = "E";
#declare L3 = "B";
// You may need to reorder the letters for best results.     
// Try thicker (blacker) fonts such as "IMPACT.TTF" or "CARBONBL.TTF",
// or "cyrvetic.ttf" as a fallback.
#declare FontFile = "IMPACT.TTF";

#version  3.6;
global_settings { 
  assumed_gamma 2.2

#include ""
#include ""
#include ""

camera {
   location  <3, 2,-3>*0.7
   direction <0, 0,  1>
   up        <0,  1,  0>
   right     <4/3, 0,  0>
   look_at   <0, -0.35, 0>

background { color rgb <0.5, 0.5, 0.5> }  

#macro Make_Letter(letter, rotation)
    #local Letter = 
        text { ttf FontFile,
            letter, 1, 0
    #local Max = max_extent(Letter);
    object {
        scale <1.0 / Max.x, 1.0 / Max.y, 1.0>
        translate -0.5 // put center at origin
        rotate rotation

// Define each of the three letters, with the lower left corner at origin.
// Scale so that the opposite corner is at <1,1,1>.

intersection {
   Make_Letter(L1, y*-90)
   Make_Letter(L2, 0)
   Make_Letter(L3, x*90) 
   texture { T_Wood19
     finish { specular 0.50 roughness 0.1 ambient 0.25 }

#declare Brightness = 0.8;
light_source {<100, 0, 0>  colour White*Brightness spotlight radius 0.2 falloff 0.5 point_at <-1,0,0>}
light_source {<100, 0, 0>  colour Orange*Brightness spotlight radius 0.3 falloff 0.6 point_at <-1,0,0>}
light_source {<0, 100, 0>  colour White*Brightness spotlight radius 0.2 falloff 0.5 point_at <0,-1,0>}
light_source {<0, 100, 0>  colour Orange*Brightness spotlight radius 0.3 falloff 0.6 point_at <0,-1,0>}
light_source {<0, 0, -100> colour White*Brightness spotlight radius 0.2 falloff 0.5 point_at <0,0,1>}
light_source {<0, 0, -100> colour Orange*Brightness spotlight radius 0.3 falloff 0.6 point_at <0,0,1>}

union {                          
   plane { <1, 0, 0>, -2 }
   plane { <0, 1, 0>, -1.75 }
   plane { <0, 0, -1>, -2 }
   pigment { color rgb <1, 1, 1> }
   finish { ambient 0.2 diffuse 0.6 }

And here’s the result, for the letters GEB, using the Impact font that comes with Windows:

It’s interesting to me how similar this automatically-constructed wood shape looks to the manually (I assume) designed upper block on the cover of GEB. Maybe there are not that many options. Here’s how it works with a less “black” font, cyrvetic.ttf that comes with POV-Ray:


Note that this POV-Ray code scales each letter to the size of a unit cube. If you use a skinny letter like I, it will get stretched wide and will look pretty strange. Also, serif typefaces don’t work very well:


I plugged in the initials of each person in our family…



etc. Lots of fun!

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Tadpole rescue

IMG_0603In the last few weeks, there was a lot of rain. The girls played in mud puddles in the alley, and found frog eggs in one of them.

But when the rain lessened, the puddle began to dry up. Not wanting the eggs to die, we tried adding water. But over the course of a few days, as the ground around the puddle dried, it was clear we weren’t going to keep up. Some of the eggs seemed to have popped when exposed to air. The good news was that some eggs had already hatched into tadpoles.

Anna and Jo made an attempt to rescue some eggs by scooping them up, along with mud and water, into a yoghurt container that we would keep in the shade and keep filled with water. But in the process, the eggs seemed have popped anyway. However, they did catch over a dozen big tadpoles.

IMG_0608Around that time, some friends were selling a small aquarium cheap, and we bought it. Now those tadpoles are enjoying the aquarium and we’re enjoying them. We feed them shredded lettuce, and they seem to be happy with it.

The girls are having a good time watching the tadpoles push lettuce across the surface. They pointed out to me that the tadpoles not only have legs (which they call arms), but you can even count their toes!

Soon we’re going to have to build them a ramp so they can get out and breathe when they grow up!

Categories: Lars | Tags: | 1 Comment

Completely warped!



Some will know exactly what I am talking about. Others may think I’m talking about my new Kromski harp loom. You will all be right. 🙂

On Saturday, I finally managed to get my rigid heddle loom warped. I had been rather intimidated by the seemingly endless steps to warping the loom. Much more complicated than the simple frame looms I have used before. But I came across a beginner video on Craftsy and the $10 was well worth the confidence and excitement returned to get it warped and ready for weaving. It was actually fun to warp and the weaving is coming along. Now I am only having a hard time deciding which yarns go well together in this “scrap yarn scarf” project.

Look for more photos to come as I make progress. 🙂

Pretty loom, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks to both sets of parents for this beauty.

Categories: Kate | Tags: | 1 Comment

Welcome back, blog!

We have been thinking in recent months that sometimes we want to post something on our blog, which has been woefully neglected.IMG_2948

I had completely forgotten how to post, but here I am back at it. 🙂

I hope to post about family, books, crafting, and homeschooling. Lars will likely post about stuff like science, intelligent design, Bible knowledge, and his woodworking. 🙂 Maybe even our girls will get into blogging and you’ll see a post from them from time to time.

So to anyone who might ever read this, hope you enjoy keeping up with our family.

Blessings, Kathy


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