The top 5 projects for coding in schools

The Micro:Bit microcomputer is first & foremost an educational tool. It introduces students to coding and computer sciences with a simplicity of use and a high fun factor. Learning through doing is the best form of education possible and this economical, practical device has a huge part to play in delivering the new School curriculum subject, computer sciences.

One of the best things about the Micro:Bit is its huge satisfaction level for beginner programmers, as they complete cool projects while learning the basics. You may well be surprised at what its 16MHz ARM CPU is capable of!

At SG Education we are pleased to present some handy little projects to make the school days more interesting.  All projects have easy to follow instructions and most will take under an hour to complete.

  1. A Virtual Pet:

Get started with the Micro:bit. If you are feeling nostalgic for the famous, and now retro, Tamagotchi virtual pet, or you just want to introduce a fun project – why not make a virtual Pet. Use the Python programming language to make a virtual pet that can be fed and played with!  So simple and satisfying that you might say it is your ‘pet project!’

  1. A Combination Lock:

This is really popular with the teenagers, who can find lots of practical uses, such as keeping siblings away from private stuff and ensuring diaries stay private! It’s a really easy way to protect your things and can even be used to warn you of burglaries. The project relies on using the micro:bit to detect whether a circuit is complete or broken. By creating a circuit of copper tape with a buzzer attachment, the micro:bit sounds an alarm once the protected door, drawer, or box has been breached. What student would not want to set up their own lock and passcode?

  1. Frustration:

This simply but addictive game is aptly named. A new version of the buzzer wire loop game it is indeed, frustrating but also very addictive game. A metal hoop or loop is    guided along another metal wire, without the two touching. If contact is made, a buzzer goes off and you have to start again. This project shows you how to make your own version of the game using the Micro:Bit and with the added option of showing the number of attempts instead of making a noise.

  1. Flashing Heart:

This is one of the easiest Micro:Bit projects and is best suited to absolute beginners. By following the simple instructions you can make the device’s LED grid form a flashing heart. The code is created in the Microsoft Blocks graphical editor. This BBC tutorial is very helpful and guides you through the steps in an uncomplicated and clear way. Once the heart shape has been mastered, the same principals can be applied to make other shapes, letters etc.  Great starter project for any classroom setting.

  1. Milk Carton Robot

An exciting and fun project for any group of young coders to enjoy. The instructions state that this project can be tacked in less than three hours, so it may not fit into one time table slot for the classroom. However, the results of your labour would be very satisfying.

https://youtu.be/Ah4fEbJtklU

Micro:bit versus Raspberry Pi

The Micro:bit It is half the size of a credit card  and is a pocket-sized computer.  70 times smaller and 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro computers which were once used in schools. It has 25 red LED lights that can flash messages and be used to create games.  It is used for computer coding and simple robotics projects.

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a device that enables people of all ages to explore computing and to complete simple projects, learning how to program in languages like Scratch and Python.

In examining the best tools to be used in school curriculums and with hobbyist interested in computer science, coding and fun robotics projects, the choice of device is Micro; bit or Raspberry Pi. Which is the best for your needs?

It should be said from the outset, that its extremely difficult, and not entirely fair, to compare the merits of the Micro:bit to the Raspberry Pi 3. They are completely different devices.  The Pi resembles a rudimentary PC.  It has a board which can be connected to a keyboard and mouse, while the Micro:bit is essentially a circuit board used for hooking up to other devices.   It is comparing a micro controller (Micro:bit) with a microcomputer (Raspberry Pi).  A microcomputer has an interface that you can access by plugging it into a monitor of some kind, even a television. A micro controller has no interface, you write a program on a computer and upload just the code to the board.  So, rather than urge comparisons, we need to examine the intended usage for each device to see which is your best fit.

The Micro:bit is the darling of the school system and a joy for those beginning to code.   The device was front and centre of a large UK scheme to teach the basics of computing to a new generation. The results were spectacular and have led to Micro:bit being the go-to platform for educators across the pond and here. Luckily they are reasonably priced for those of us without generous benefactors. The Micro:bit is simple to use and is perfectly aimed at entry level coding.  There are Inventor kits and cool robot Binarybot kits to add to the creativity, fun and sense of achievement of learning. It is ideal for young coders well suited to the secondary school computer coding curriculum.      They are a micro-controller that neatly bridges the gap between screen based block coding, like Scratch, and programming physical projects.  While it operates at a much more basic level than the Raspberry Pi 3 and is designed to interact with other devices rather than acting as a stand-alone system, the Micro:bit is an exciting affordable piece of technology.

The Raspberry Pi 3  is a much more advanced and device, and is aimed for the more experienced coder. So, if you are at the very beginning of your programming journey, the Micro: bit is a first step before the Pi. However, the Raspberry Pi was also designed to teach children how to programme and it does this well.  It runs Linux, a free system, and is powered by a phone charger, while connecting to a keyboard and monitor. This makes it the use a familiar one, of typing and screen visuals.
Compatibility:  Games industry veteran, Ian Livingstone, told the Guardian Newspaper that he feels the Micro:bit is a gateway device to the Raspberry Pi.

“It’s an entry-level device that will enable kids to code and program, and if they enjoy that, clearly they’ll move on to devices like the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi,” But more than that, the two systems are very compatible. The fact that Raspberry Pi runs on Linux, and the Micro:bit’s embedded software platform allows for the compiling of project’s on one system and running it on another, ensure  a compatibility between both devices.

What is universally agreed with both devices, is that they are set to ignite huge creativity, inventiveness and enjoyment for the next generation of coders. Learning by doing is the way forward and the Micro:bit, and Raspberry Pi are the perfect tools for the job.

References: trustedreviews.com

 

A General overview on The Coding Curriculum for Irish Secondary Schools

Coding as part of the Leaving Cert

Ireland has a skilled and highly trained workforce and as a nation, we are excelling in the sciences.  To continue this tradition, The Irish Department of Education has invested in the relatively new coding curriculum for schools.   The new Computer Science course for leaving certificate students will begin in September this year.  While coding is currently being taught in selected primary schools and has been part to the junior cert cycle for a few years, this commitment to coding and computer science has been welcomed.  Cranna College in Co Donegal are one of the innovative schools who have invested in coding as part of their school curriculum, since 2016.  Thomas Boyle, Technology and Coding Teacher explains “We strongly believe in giving our students the opportunity to study coding. We do not want to produce a class full of coders but we do want our students to learn coding, team work, communication and computational thinking. These skills are essential in the world that is full of technology” Learning to write computer code helps them to make sense of how things work, explore ideas and make things, for both work and play.

But the introduction of any new subject is not without its issues, and this complex topic is no different.

Upskilling of educators, good broadband and an awareness of good internet security are some of the issues to be considered.  Coder dojo, the free computer programming clubs for young people, have welcomed the introduction of the computer science to the Leaving Cert Curriculum.  Prof Brian MacCraith of the Irish branch said it is “crucially important” that the proposed new subject be computer science/coding, rather than a more general one on digital competency.  He also noted that the enthusiasm and aptitude which Irish children and teenagers show for coding needs to be built on and encouraged.   While the new curriculum does focus on computational thinking, programming and creative design, it is clear from attendance at Coderdojo’s and from the NCCA’s short course on coding, that the students are more than ready for the challenges of this subject. There has, however, been some concerns about the skillset of teachers and the need for up-skilling prior to the start of the courses in September 2018. Even when students have access to the right technology, it is imperative that they be taught properly how to use it. In 2015, most in EU countries it was reported that fewer than 30% of children aged 10-15 yrs were taught by “digitally confident” teachers. One in four teachers said that they did not have enough ICT training. (Statistics found here)

Fortunately, the classic Raspberry Pi and its accompanying kits make programming fun, with practical projects and hassle free operation, any teacher worth their science salt can easily become familiar with. Micro:bit is a low cost, tiny programmable computer that make computer coding easy and fun. 90% of students said that it showed that anyone can code.  85% of teachers were pleased that it made Computer Science more enjoyable and 70% of girl students said that after using it, they would choose Computing as a school subject. Our expert staff at SG Education are happy to introduce you to the wonderful world of the Micro:bit and Micro:bit add on’s/kits. Whether you are a teacher, a student or a family pursuing a very worthwhile hobby, you will love the usability of this product.  It can be coded from any web browser in a number of languages, including Scratch and Python. It is clear that accessing good practical tools for the classroom will not be a problem.

The Government have recognised the need for excellent Broadband connectivity in schools and have stressed the need for rigorous internet safety procedures for each school. To date, 40 of Ireland’s 723 Post Primary schools will begin the Leaving Cert Computer Science curriculum this Autumn. But there is no doubt that this is just the vanguard of an exciting new learning experience for post primary students countrywide. Once colleges fully appreciate the enthusiasm from the students and parents, coupled with the learning value of the subject matter, it is certain that it will become the norm on the classrooms of the future.  First Year students at Crana College have benefited greatly from the new course. Teacher Thomas Boyle notes “Learning how being able to write computer code helps them to make sense of how things work, explore ideas and make things, for both work and play. What’s more the course has helped students to unleash their creativity and work collaboratively with students in their classes and indeed all over the world.”

 

Top Ten Films About Artists

Just as fine art is inspirational, the lives of the artists themselves have intrigued, entertained and fostered creativity in the public for decades. Many films have been made celebrating the fascinating lives and the creative process of artists of all kinds.  We list here a short guide to the best of the best.

Lust for life (1956)     
This film has stood the test of time and is based on the novel by Irving Stone and follows the tortured life of Vincent van Gogh. Starring Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn it is a wonderful depiction of the intense life of this incredible painter. Van Gogh only managed to sell one painting during his lifetime, yet he is arguably the world’s best-known artist. This movie is still very watchable sixty years after its release, with its sensitive portrayal of VanGoghs passion, mental illness, and genius.

https:// https://youtu.be/2Z3xHMNHQUs

 Frida (2002)
Salma Hayek gives a wonderful performance as the tragic Frida Kahlo, who channeled crippling injury into her bold, colourful self-portraits.  Her complex and passionate life with the artist, Diego Rivera. Her affair with Leon Trotsky. Frida was political, uncompromising, brave and brilliant. The film follows her life from a feisty schoolgirl to being a celebrated artist in Mexico.

https://youtu.be/uOUzQYqba4Y

Basquiat (1996)     
This film on Jean-Michel Basquiat is wonderful and not just because a Basquiat painting sold for a staggering $110.5 million this year, and not just because the film stars David Bowie (as Andy Warhol). It is wonderful, as it is the story of an American artist who achieved fame as an informal graffiti artist. It celebrates the unique work of a creative genius.

https://youtu.be/GsWZyvtX5tU
 Big Eyes (2014) 
Drama, comedy and a true story combined with the quirky direction of Tim Burton combine to make Big Eyes an entertainment package that everyone will enjoy, It is the story of Margaret Keane, an artist who went unrecognized for years as her husband, Walter took credit for her paintings of figures with big eyes.  You either love or hate her artwork, but the tale itself is mesmerizing.

https://youtu.be/2xD9uTlh5hI    
Pollock (2000)  
Jackson Pollock became the greatest American painter of the 20thCentury. This film charts his life from struggling artist to successful artist achieving selling some of the most expensive works of art ever sold.  He battles with alcoholism and an interesting love life (seems to be a common theme among the famous artists) and enjoys success as the world’s best known abstract expressionist painter.

https://youtu.be/z0xiovbDML0

 Exit through the Gift Shop (2010)
Banksy is the most well-known street artist in the world.  His identity is still private and yet, he remains a rule-breaking guerrilla artist.  Exit through the Gift Shop is a celebration of this artist’s ingenious, original, controversial, political and brilliant work. Banksy has left his mark all over the world, including London, Palestine, New York, Canada and beyond.

https://youtu.be/oHJBdDSTbLw

Mr Turner (2014)  
The eccentric and difficult English romanticist landscape painter, Joseph Turner is brought to life wonderfully by the actor, Timothy Spall and director, Mike Leigh. A controversial figure, Turner changed the face of landscape painting, while living a very unorthodox life.

https://youtu.be/Tn4zSR_5ioI

 Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) 
Vermeer, the Dutch painter of the 17th Century story is expertly told through the lens of the young servant, Griet, who was immortalised in the famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. An exciting dramatic movie which captures the life and times of the famous painter, his household and the world of the artist at that time.

https://youtu.be/8awflTA4QYE
Klimt   (2006)  Woman in Gold- Adele’s Last Will (2015)
John Malkovich stars as Gustav Klimt. Klimt lies in a hospital, dying of syphilis as we recall, through flashbacks, his life in art. A varied and turbulent love life, his muse and frequent visits to Austria. It was not a huge box office success. The film, Woman in Gold was a more popular film on Klimt, although it did not concentrate on the artist uniquely opplulent artwork, but on the recovery of the Bloch-Baurt Klimt collection and the restitution paid by Austria to its former owners. Starring Helen Mirren, it is the true story of the legal battle to have it returned.

https://youtu.be/_hPdN2QBTeY

Caravaggio (1986) 
Caravaggio is of Particular interest to Irish people as the Caracaggio exhibition in the National Gallery comes to its close. The drama which is evident in his paintings is reflected in the life of Caravaggio himself.  The film opens with the death of the great painter, and tells his story as a renegade teenage to his rise as an iconic painter.  The film is noted for its errors, in that a motorbike and a manual typewriter are seen in this and a car horn is heard at some point. However, it captures the incredible, melodramatic life of this master painter who celebrated the lives of ordinary people.

https://youtu.be/Z5ZvKnLNZpg

The Gift of Giving – Art Books

 

Share the joy and power of Art

Socks and underwear may come and go, but these beautiful art books will be enjoyed for years to come. These books and what they teach will give both a physical gift and the pleasure in the act of practicing art, to experience the power of art to take us beyond ourselves. These books are given as a call to use the gifts & talents we have been given.

Giving true Gifts

The poet Walt Whitman, believed “the gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him – it cannot fail”, so give yourself and someone you care about a gift today. That is many many gifts in one!!

The Best Books to Gift to the Art Lover or Art Practitioner in Your Life.

  1. The Oil Painters Bible

Oil paint is such a responsive and versatile medium that no two painters need use it in exactly the same way, and since its invention in Renaissance times it has never lost its popularity with artists. Amateurs also find it appealing, both because it is enjoyable to use and because mistakes can be so easily rectified so there is nothing to fear. This compact book explains all the materials, techniques and different approaches to painting with oils. Step-by-step sequences show how to paint a range of themes, from still life to portraits and landscapes, with advice on more difficult subjects. There are also suggestions for presenting your finished paintings and how to go about getting your work seen and exhibited.

Acrylic Fun
  1. Compendium of Acrylic Painting Techniques –

Brimming with expert advice, Gill Barron’s Compendium of acrylic painting techniques is perfect for all levels of artists to enjoy and treasure.

Broken down into carefully thought categories, this comprehensive guide will show you all you need to know: from what to do, and what not to do; mixing colours and creating effects using only one set of tubes; to setting up your own studio using household items to save money.

Aimed at all painters, from beginners to the more experienced, this book is packed with expert advice on all aspects of acrylic painting. Beginners can follow processes stage-by- stage, while more experienced artists can dip in and out for help with specific problems. A unique section on how to develop your art and take it to a wider public is full of professional secrets which can bring you success much more quickly. “Try it” and “Fix it” panels placed throughout the book suggest ways of practicing and developing new skills, and avoiding or correcting common painting errors. With over 40 years of expertise, Gill is well placed to pass on her knowledge, assisting you in becoming the successful artist you crave to be.

Ah go on, just paint it!
  1. Just Paint It!-

For anyone who has ever gazed longingly at a set of artists paints and brushes in a store and wished that they knew where to begin, this is the book for them. This companion to Barron’s Just Draw It! relies on the belief that anyone can paint, and encourages readers to not only learn, but to experiment and play with their art. Every exercise in this unique manual can be performed by artists at all levels of training and ability.

All exercises are designed to inspire, motivate, and break down any fears about painting. Covers a variety of techniques and approaches to expand and improve painting skills

A powerfully effective art course that never feels like a set of tedious drills. Lessons cover a number of subjects, including colour, tone, light and shade, compositions, textures, patterns, surface, and paint quality. Illustrations on every page are in colour and black & white.

Meditation, Relaxation
Colouring Book for Adults
  1. Derwent Unwind in the Wilds Colouring Book –

Made in collaboration with artist Sarah Taylor and inspired by the English Lake district, these nature themed images help with destressing and relaxing as you complete each page, while you improve your shading blending and colour skills. This book, like all derwent products has a high quality finish and a luxurious feel, it makes for a wonderful gift or calming personal project.

 

  1. Painting Abstracts: Ideas, Projects and Techniques

by Rolina van Vliet. This Painting Abstracts book is Clear, challenging and inspiring, it contains instructions for 65 abstract paintings that you can get to work on straight away, with no previous experience. All the basic information relating to picture elements, composition, theme and design is provided at the start of the book, together with an exploration of the meaning of abstract painting, and its importance as a means of self-expression and creativity.

Painting Abstracts

Share the Gift of Giving and the Gift of practicing Art, & the Power of Art to take us Beyond Ourselves, browse a full range of Art Books, Craft Books and Art Supplies here. Enjoy.

Video by wieziesz

Interesting and Unique Techniques by Emerging Artists

True originality is hard to achieve when we consider the legacy of Hirst’s formaldehyde tanks and diamond skulls and Tracey Emin’s unmade bed.  The rise of digital influences on contemporary art must also be changing techniques and methods of working.  But some emerging artists are still employing new and unconventional techniques and methodologies to unleash their creativity.

Christian Rosa, TBT 004
Christian Rosa, TBT 004

Christian Rosa has become one of the most sought after painters.  He works in pencil, spray paint and oil allowing instinct to create abstract painted worlds on large canvas. His paintings can be chaotic, dense, always eloquent and interesting, they have been compared to automatic writing.

Many artist are embracing the digital age and we now see the use of Photoshop and illustrator in the works of artist like Jeff Elrod who explores the relationship between classical hand painting and digitally created mark making. He has dubbed his analogue and digital combination method ‘frictionless painting’. His work is now keenly collected and is being called the ‘new abstract’.

artists MARCEL EICHNER Untitled, 2013
Marcel Eichner, Untitled, 2013

Mixed media is an all-encompassing description which may mean a combination of oils and acrylics or of buttons and crayons.  One of the most original and clever emerging artists currently working in ‘mixed media’ is Marcel Eichner. The Berlin based artist has gained notoriety with his haunting paintings where the surreal and the ordinary spin out in chaos. The artist uses ink, acrylics and gouache to produce unique art works which are not comfortable to categorize or enjoy, but they do provoke the emotions and draw the viewer into this world of dreams and nightmares.

Artists Ben Long Horse Scaffolding Sculpture 2013
Ben Long Horse Scaffolding Sculpture 2013

Street art has long since left its ‘graffiti’ title and the debate about art or vandalism behind to see the emergence of strong artists who command respect and admiration. Ben Long is one unusual artist who maintains that he is making the mundane marvelous by producing amazing travelling artwork on the back of dirty vehicles and creating sculptures from scaffolding poles. Long seems to embrace the impermanence of his art just as much as he embraces the diversity of his tools.

Artists Tom Deininger, self portrait
Tom Deininger, self portrait

Art can be made from practically anything. Some art is junk and some can be called junk.  Artist Tom Deininger uses all manner of discarded objects, metal, trash, car boot sale items to produce highly original art. Known as the junk artist, his sculptures and portraits are a joy to behold. The artist is an environmentalist and his work reflects his belief in the beauty that surrounds us. His rabbit sculpture made entirely from old cigarette butts, is a case in point.

It is astounding that creatives continue to find new techniques and tools with which to express themselves in unique and wondrous ways. The overall artistic vision is achieved regardless of, or with the incorporation of, any number of diverse art supplies and media.  We never cease to be amazed.

Top Arts and Craft trends and techniques for 2017

Now that the world of arts and crafts has so many new techniques, supplies and inspiration than ever before it is a much more exciting an innovative place?  Knitting, crochet, weaving and paper art are among the crafts which are not just experiencing a revival, but are thriving due to renewed interest and the imagination of a whole new generation of crafters. The internet is revolutionising the arts and crafts world. The artsy website Pinterest is just one place where crafters can exchange ideas and techniques and showcase their work as a catalyst for others to get making in a new and unique way.

Among the trending crafts at the moment is the very beautiful quilled paper art. This is paper art at its most elegant and exceptional.  New crafting tools make the process a little more accessible, although quilling is not for the faint hearted or those, like me, who stick themselves to all surfaces every time open a tube of super glue.  Quilling is a classy and most effective paper craft which is on the rise in popularity with more complicated patterns and amazing results.

Quilling
Paper Art

 

 

 

 

 

Upcycling is the process of taking an object and transforming it into something of greater value.  It is also very very hipster trendy at the moment. The upside to upcycling is that it can cost as little or as much as you want. (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/25-ways-to-upcycle-old-t-shirts.html) .  Some of the worst include melted crayon candles and sandals fashioned from flattened plastic water bottles, with the label as a strap. Upcycling also imparts the smug feeling that you are helping the environment by re-using something that might be destined for the landfill.uch as you want.  In fairness, there is a very blurred line between a successful upcycle and rubbish being presented in a different way. But one person’s treasure is another person’s sow’s ear.  The most successful upcycling are the repainting/varnishing and cleaning up of old furniture, mason and pickle jars as utensil holders and the countless uses for old t shirts.

Chalk Paint
Upcycling Furniture

 

 

 

 

Crochet and knitting have made a post boom/post Celtic tiger return in popularity.  Handmade is the way to go now and it is not unusual to see commuters crocheting their way to work on the Dart. There is a meditative quality to knitting and crochet and this is mirrored in one of the biggest hobby trends in years.

 

Meditation, Relaxation

Colouring in!  Yes, colouring in is now a meditative practise and templates for mandalas and decorative repetitive patterns abound as adult ‘meditation’ colouring books are available everywhere. Apparently, all those years ago when you spent hours colouring in, you were in fact practising mindfulness.

Try it for yourself and embrace the soothing meditation of intricate colouring.

Arts and crafts can only benefit from the advances in trends and techniques which are now a few clicks away.  Crafters only have to Google key words like clothes peg, egg boxes, acrylic paints or upcycling tin cans and a world of ideas and patterns are at your crafty fingertips in minutes.  Be inspired.

Click here to visit our website to browse Artist Hobbies and Crafts for ideas and supplies you may need.

Cool Summer Upcycled Crafts Ideas for Your Inspiration

https://www.lifestyle.com.au/diy/top-diy-craft-trends-for-2015.aspx

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/upcycling/

http://homesthetics.net/beginners-guide-on-diy-quilling-paper-art-43-exceptional-quilling-designs-to-materialize/

Video Credit = patioelf

Everything You Need to Know About 3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing
3D Printing.

In a nutshell, 3D printing is a manufacturing process that creates a three-dimensional object from a digital design. You may be surprised to hear that 3D printing has actually been around for over 30 years. There are a number of different materials and technologies available, but all are based on the same principle ie a digital model is turned into a solid three-dimensional physical object by adding material, layer by layer.

How does 3D Printing work?

3D Digital Model Design
3D Digital Model Design

The first step requires the creation of a digital model design file of the physical object (also known as a blueprint). This is usually done using 3D modelling software such as ZBrush or MUDBOX. This design file is then sliced into layers which are then used by the 3D printer. The printer will build the final object layer-by-layer based on the layers provided in the digital model. The materials and technology used in building these layers varies depending on the size or quality of the final object. For example, PLA Plastic Filament could be used for light weight biodegradable objects , whereas ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene would normally be used for more durable and slightly flexible objects similar to a LEGO brick.

Who uses 3D Printing?

In short, 3D printing is used practically everywhere. It’s is not a thing of the future, it’s happening all around us right now.
Aerospace – 3D printing has become a vital tool for aerospace engineers helping them to achieve rapid prototyping, tooling and even part manufacturing of aerospace components.
Medicine – Surgeons can produce 3D models allowing them to plan surgeries, lowering operation times and increasing patient recovery.
Manufacturing – Boeing has been using 3D printing technology for longer than most and has made more than 20,000 3D printed parts for military and commercial planes.

What are the different types of 3D Printers?

It can be very confusing differentiating between the types of 3D printers available. Below is a brief description of the 7 different types of printers on the market at the moment.

Colido DIY 3D Printer
Colido DIY 3D Printer

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling ) is the most common 3D printing method used in desktop 3D printing. Thermoplastic filament is heated and extruded through an extrusion head building the 3D object from the bottom up.

SLA (Stereolithography) works by exposing a layer of photosensitive liquid resin to a UV-laser beam so that the resin hardens and becomes solid. This is repeated building each layer on top of the preceding one in the desired shape.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) work s similar to SLA, however SLS uses powdered material in the build instead of liquid resin. A laser is used to bind the material together to create a solid structure and once the object is fully formed, it’s left to cool and harden in the printer. This type of 3D printer requires the use of expensive high-powered lasers, which puts it a bit beyond the reach of the average consumer.

SLM (Selective Laser Melting) uses a high-powered laser beam to fully melt metallic powders into solid three-dimensional parts. Typical materials used are stainless steel or aluminum. This style of printing is often used in the aerospace or medical orthopedics industry.

EBM (Electron Beam Melting) uses an electron beam at high temperatures of up to 1000°C. to melt layers of metallic powder. This is the least popular style of printing as it is very slow and very expensive.

LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing) uses layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic or metal laminates. These layers are fused together under intensive heat and pressure and shaped by cutting with a computer controlled laser or knife. After the excess material is cut away, the object can be sealed with paint. This style of 3D printing is one of the most affordable and quickest methods available.

MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) uses a blend of layering and spraying chemical agents to determine the physical outline and to create each solid layer. The process is repeated until the final 3d object is complete. This style of 3D printing is still being developed and the full potential is yet to be established.

What’s a 3D Pen?

 

Colido 3D Pen
Colido 3D Pen

3D Printing Pens work by heating soft plastic filament allowing the melted filament to run from the pen tip similar to ink from a pen. This melted filament solidifies after a few seconds. The aim is to create a three-dimensional picture making a 3D Pen the ideal tool for those with a creative flair.

Click here to visit our website and to learn more about our range of affordable 3D printers.

Ignite your creativity this Halloween at these Spooky Events!

Oiche Samhain is one of the most inspiring times of year for artists, art hobbyist and creatives everywhere. Traditionally the veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest at this time and our imaginations can be set free as freedom of expression and exploring new persona’s becomes mainstream.  Some cultural events are taking place around Ireland to celebrate our most famous pagan festival. Should you wish to be instilled with Celtic mysticism, scared out of your wits or simply looking for somewhere to enjoy Halloween, check out the following Samhain events.

LoughCrew Megalithic Centre: The Boyne Valley is steeped in ancient history and mysticism.  Check out Sliabh na Cailli, the hill of the witches, at Autumn equinox or at Halloween.  Walking in the footsteps of ancestors at this 5,000 year old site is sure to rejuvenate the creative juices. The stone carvings and incredible landscape will not disappoint.

Location: Oldcastle, Co. Meath
Website: loughcrewmegalithiccentre.com

Ghostly Tours of Hook Lighthouse.    Special Halloween tours at the lighthouse are designed for those who like the ghoulish and thehl-201x300 terrifying. Creeping through the darkened lighthouse where ghost and ghouls lurk and with the sound of the waves smashing against the rocks, certainly sets the scene. The faint light thrown periodically by the
lighthouse beacon adds to the atmosphere of terror, and the whole experience is well put together. The tours are suitable for braver kids and for much braver adults but are not for anyone, adult or child, of a nervous disposition.

Location: Hook Head, Wexford
www.hookheritage.ie

The ghosts of Wicklow Gaol:  More spooky shenanigans in the Wicklow Jail with a night tour of this creepy ancient building.  The normal interactive tour of this 300 year old jail includes holograms, visual displays and guided tours, but at Halloween you can join the ghosthunters and seek the restless spirits who walk the corridors,  beginning at 9pm and finishing sometime around 2/3am the Wicklow Goal - Halloween activities to spark creativityfollowing morning, if you can stand it that long

Location: Wicklow Town
Website: wicklowshistoricgaol.com

Nightmare Realm:Are you ready to face your darkest nightmares and experience the artistry of fear?  We are Ireland’s most extreme scare attraction, and are masters at creating horror and fear.  This is not your typical (boo) haunted house – there are no ghosts and goblins – our sets and live creatures prey on your darkest fears and bring your nightmares to life.”  So asks the organisers of the Nightmare Realm. A journey through the dark and downright nasty side of Halloween. Not for the young or the more delicate among us.

Location: Dublin and Cork.

Website: thenightmarerealm.ie

Derry Carnival : To celebrate the Pagan festivalspark in a more festive style, head on up to Derry where the Halloween Carnival attracts as many as 40,000 festival goers. All in full fancy dress and high spirits.

 

But for those of us who get our creative inspiration from the gentle side of nature Oiche Samhain itself, and indeed,  the days  which lead up to the festival,  can provide the most amazing tapestry of natural colours which feed our creative nature in a fulfilling and amazing way. The leaves turn from green to brown and the purple heathers bloom in the mountains.  Autumn is a particularly beautiful season. Get out and enjoy it.Organised walks can be found here.  Be inspired one way or another, this Halloween season.

Overcoming Creative Blocks

We have all been there. The creative juices are just not flowing and you are stuck right in the middle of a project. This is not unusual and in fact, it may be a positive thing. The point is not to despair but to take stock and revitalise that imagination, the elusive visionary ideas and unleash your imagination once more.

There are many types of creative blocks:

Emotional Blocks:   Creativity is very intense and sometimes you can unlock some difficult feelings or expose a raw nerve. If you continue on a certain path, you may fear of what you may uncover or reveal about yourself.   These emotional blocks, fears and misgivings can lead to downloadcreative blocks and procrastination.  To end this particular difficult period, you need to face things head on and come out the other side. Feel the fear and do it anyway, but ensure that you have enlisted supports to get you through.  Many people report a daily meditation session as helpful in unpacking and dealing with emotional issues. Seek assistance or download some guided meditations for home. Surround yourself with good understanding friends and family. On the bright side, when you have overcome this particular block you should be liberated and newly inspired.

Lack of Inspiration:  Everyone needs to be inspired and sometimes there is a lack of food for the creative soul. When there is nothing left in the cupboard, go shopping.  Mix it up. Go to new place, experience new things and find wonder in the things which you love, whether that is music, food, art or nature. Take time to immerse yourself in your own subconscious. Write down your dreams, doodle and day dream. Tap into what made you an artist in the first place. Nostalgia is as good a place to start as any.

Humdrum Work Space:  Add some fun, some colour and some pizzazz to you work space. If the space you wish to create in, is not the space you want to spend time in, then you need to make changes.   Creative blocks are just like any other condition and a few changes to your surroundings will go a long way to getting the creative juices flowing again. Consider headphones or a good sound system, if you are inspired by music. Revamp the space and it will send a message to the brain and encourage and motivate that sleeping visionary talent.

The Effect of Stress:  Stress can have an enormous effect on our creativity. If a problem, or problems, are taking such a toll on your life that your creative performance is affected, there are two solutions. 1. Coping skills.  Introduce some serious coping mechanisms until the issues are resolved. This may include the assistance of family and friends and/or some counselling.  In the short term you might consider redirecting all thecreative-blocks1 emotions into your work. This might not be pretty but it will allow an outlet, even those feelings which are difficult to handle.  It may help if you can treat your work as a refuge — an oasis of control and creative satisfaction in the midst of the bad stuff. Use your art to set your problems aside and focus even or a short time each day.   This may even ease your stress and allow you to view your personal situation with a fresh eye.   2. Take a break.  A short move away from work and the pressures associated with not producing,   may be in order. Turning off completely will provide fresh perspective and may be the best thing in terms of mental health.

Over-load:  A large workload and a long list of outstanding tasks can be very stressful and can impair creativity as you feel overwhelmed and panicked. If the weight of commitments is getting you down, it is time to prioritise. This overwhelming effect of workload makes us feel short of ideas and we lack that spark to do something really creative or extraordinary. So place some tasks on the ‘back-burner’. Dump some jobs and concentrate on the one or two priority projects. Just say no to any further projects or delegate work to others as you de-clutter your brain and allow the space needed for creativity to flourish.

 

Creative blocks happen to everyone. Just as with procrastination and time-management, a little  tweaking of your lifestyle and attitude, will  make a huge difference and should help to  your creativity flowing again