Friday, 13 December 2013

Happy Holidays from Fiber Lab

I created this festive, little stop motion film for the holidays. This delicious chocolate cupcake is made with almost 300 sheets of paper, all carefully hand-cut and meticulously stacked - whipped cream frosting and sprinkles included! Send this video greeting card to someone you care about this holiday season. :) Nom nom nom... PS. It is totally fat-free and zero-calorie.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Baking with Paper: Butter Croissant

I spotted these bark patterned wrapping paper at the art supply store, and immediately I knew that I had to "bake" some paper croissants.  
At the Fiber Lab Bakery, everything is vegan, gluten-free, and zero-calorie!
 Nom Nom Nom!
Disclaimer: real (and several) croissants were definitely consumed in the production of this paper sculpture and video. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Color Run & Company descends upon Taiwan

Here is a new topic guaranteed to get your runner friend's dander up: The Color Run - Happiest 5k on the Planet. Much like barefoot or minimalistic running, this untimed event during which volunteers blast the runners with dyed cornstarch out of spray bottles generates heated debate on its health effects. 

The Seed
I had picked my sides quickly: You can find a pair of Vibram Five Fingers in my shoe collection. And when my mom scoffed at the idea of willingly running through fluorescent sand storms, I thought, "Well, aren't you just a party pooper?" - I had excitedly told her about The Color Run and expected to hear praises for this event's creativity and positive, fun message. After all, it is pretty difficult to not be inspired by images of runners with rainbow colored smiles. What I didn't expect was what actually followed. And so, below is the story of how my mother (and a fellow teacher) brought down The Color Run in Taiwan. Okay, maybe not really. But feel free to read on anyway. 

The Build-up
August 18: The Color Me Rad run, a similar but unrelated event, takes place at the Dajia Riverside Park [大佳河濱公園] where my mom takes her daily stroll and becomes an accidental spectator. 
August 27: Dismayed by the post-race conditions at the park, she writes a blog post hoping to bring attention to the lack of proper clean-up. Photos also show nearby grass fields withering after being blanketed by powder. At the same time, she questions whether these airborne particles are, contrary to the organizer's claims, harmful to respiratory health. 
September 2: The blog post becomes somewhat viral and even gets picked up by several television news channels. Though a few people are skeptical of my mom's intentions (ie. does she work for The Color Run?!), it definitely got a lot of people talking:
Generated based on my not-so-scientific analysis of the comments

Most deride color runners as mere blind followers of whatever is currently popular, while about a quarter of commenters share my initial reaction. In this somewhat xenophilic yet nationalistic society, these sentiments often bubble up in great contrast. Some people agree with my mom's concern for the environment. And a small group of people criticize how these organizations are only interested in making money. It is worthwhile to note that although The Color Run has always been upfront about being a for-profit event company, they do highlight local charities in their marketing materials, but generally only donating less than 2% of its proceeds. 
September 17: Someone reports the Color Me Rad incident to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and they are instructed to clean up and restore the park. However, when my mom revisits the park, she found that sloppy repair had only led to an even more disheartening sight. 

New grass patches have also died.

September 28: Amidst controversy, The Color Run takes place at the same park. All eyes were on the organization to see how they will handle the clean-up.

The Linchpin
September 28 (right after the run) Alice Chen, whom my Facebook stalking confirmed to also be a teacher, posted the photo that says a thousand words. 
The Color River
The Aftermath
September 30: The EPA swiftly fines The Color Run $70,000 TWD (approx. $2,400 USD) for illegally dumping into the river. But in true corporate fashion, The Color Run PR machine claimed that only trace amounts of dust fell into the river due to strong winds when they were diligently cleaning up - despite photo evidence showing workers pushing dust directly into the river with pressure washer and brooms. 
October 3: The EPA says that it will not endorse this form of exercise and will consider regulating or even banning future events on grounds of its negative impacts on human health and the environment. 

The Cliche
Yes, yes, the power of social media and so on. Ok, these runs are extremely popular in North America and are continuing popping up in different areas of the world. Is Taiwan the only place that is incapable of executing a comprehensive clean-up plan? How is The Color Run in your city? Is Taiwan the only place that is environmentally / health conscious? Or should The Color Run organizers consider how densely populated a place is before going there?

Either way, it probably was not the happiest 5k in Taiwan.

Google Translate Time
The Color Run in: Bogota (Colombia)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Taiwan in Rubber Duck Yellow

Here is a quick check-in from Taiwan where there are colourful food trucks, street-side transformer, trendy cafe with laser cutting and 3D printing capabilities (as showcased by its high-tech, cubic menus), hidden danger on the escalator, total rubber duck pandemonium, and a giant rubber duck chilling by the dock. 
Songshan Cultural Park: many outdated buildings and structures in Taiwan have been converted into well-organized art / cultural districts, providing artists a place to work, exhibit, or sell their creations.
The Sany Excavator Transformer by Nova Design for the Design Expo.
Taipei FabCafe: the only place where you can caffeinate and fabricate at the same time.
3D menu: gabee means coffee in Taiwanese.
Yes, these signs really made me chuckle.
World's largest mass damper on top of Taipei 101
The adorable army of yellow rubber ducks invades the city of Kaohsiung. 
Rubber Duck Project by Florentijn Hofman with a big message that no one can ignore: The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My FIRST attempt at making videos

OK, I am just going to admit this. Ever since moving back to Vancouver, I have been increasingly obsessed with Youtube. In the beginning, it was just some random video clips here and there, to satisfy my need for some images that move (no cable TV in this house!) But like Alice in Wonderland, I followed one adorable puppy to the next laughing baby down that rabbit hole. Now, not only do I have an endless subscription list, I found myself also making assembly videos for my products... 
Assembly Guide for Bubble (no bottom opening) UPDATED
Assembly Guide for Bubble Lamp Shade (with bottom opening)

And I had a blast learning to shoot and edit these videos - that iMovie sure came in handy. I definitely plan to make DIY tutorial videos for the paper bracelet and bowtie. Please let me know if you have other ideas and stay tuned!

PS. Currently, I am watching: Vsauce, Sonia's Travels, Daily Grace, Wong Fu ProductionsAndrew Jenks, and it goes on and on.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Hold Taiwan in Your Hands

For the entire month of July, I have the pleasure of displaying some of my work at the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society. My mother helped me set up the exhibit a few days ago, and today we celebrated the official opening by inviting people to enjoy this wonderful space with us. By the way, my father won the "Most Dedicated" award by travelling all the way from Taiwan to show support!
 Somethings new, somethings old. And do gallery spotlights make everything look better? Yes, definitely.
As do nice little white frames.
We also held a workshop to show people how to make a mini and simple version of the Taiwan map. 
So pleasantly surprised by everyone's eager and diligent participation.
These boys were very proud of what they made!
 I love this photo.
 This tiny one opted to match the red heart (partially covered by her little fingers) to her outfit - totally adorable and a future fashionista.

Monday, 1 July 2013

From my little desk...

Happy July + Canada Day! This is a heart that is made with one single cut to a strategically folded sheet of paper. For more information on this cool paper trick, please check out this post!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

HOW TO: Keep yourself entertained while running

Doodling with the RunKeeper App while "training" for the SeaWheeze half marathon:  I "ran" a puppy today! 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Where West meets East: Ask me a question

Q1: Let's discuss this viral video that explores "What kind of Asian are you?" by Ken Tanaka, who despite having a Japanese last name, probably has never been asked this question. Because he looks Caucasian - and may or may not be merely a fictional character dreamed up by comedian David Ury. (In this interview at around 11:20, the actress and Ken referred to a "co-writer" named David. The circumstance is suspect to say the least.) Either way, I know all too well about this question. Naturally.

However, I really don't find it all that offensive. Deep down, I know exactly what people are trying to find out. (It's Taiwan, for me) People are curious, because they are making an effort to connect with you. And vice versa. But perhaps it can be asked in a more polite way... 

Q2: Back in University, a friend asked me, "Hey, how many pages did you write for the assignment?" Without any hesitation, I waved the sign for six (see below) with my hand. Or so I thought. He looked confused and said, "2?" No. I held my hand higher. Obviously, he just needed to see it better. He tilted his head and ventured another guess, "1?" No! Now it was my turn to be confused. Finally, he gave up and joked, "Umm... Just call me?" Then it suddenly hit me. This gesture I've been making all my life is basically unintelligible to most Canadians. And it's actually quite troubling that it has never occurred to me all these years - that there are different ways to count with your fingers due to culture and lifestyle.

Well, actually there are 27 types of finger-counting method depending on where you are from. Do a search on Youtube and you will find plenty of clips demonstrating just that. So maybe the next time you are feeling the urge, here is a politically-correct way to strike up a conversation: How do you count to ten with your fingers?

Q3: Fast forward a few years to Boston, I was visiting my roommate's mother's house and we had a delicious meal. Then before presenting me with the next question, she earnestly made sure that I answer it the American way. "Promise?" She explained that I was to be totally honest, and not just responding with whatever I thought she wanted to hear. But of course, in my non-American way, I never would have denied her request in the first place. So, I promised her that I'd be frank, and therefore creating a web of convoluted logic. Luckily, the question only had to do with dessert: "Are you sure you don't want another piece of cake?" Phew!

PS Want to explore similarities and dissimilarities of two of the coolest cities? Check out Paris versus New York - a tally of two cities. It's fantastic and what inspired me to design the above graphic!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Behind the Scenes

Our garden provides the perfect backdrop for summery photos.
 My ever growing ruler collection. And yes, I do need each and every one of them! Long rulers for when I feel ambitious; short rulers for when I feel meticulous; funky rulers for when I feel adventurous.
My cutting / scoring board has seen better days.

Friday, 31 May 2013

NEW at Fiber Lab!

I had been working hard on a new concept these past few weeks. This time, I am really hoping for a fabulous design that is fast to make (preferably mass-produce-able at some point in the future), easy to package, and cheap to ship. Not that I never kept those important criteria in mind before, but nothing is ever perfect. And we all keep trying.

That brings us to this hybrid of adorable crinkle fans and sophisticated maps. Meet Pancake, a collapsible wall decoration. Just spread it open and it's literally a yummy dessert for your wall. 
Some things I like about living in the United States, in no particular order of importance: USPS, Pandora, streaming TV shows, and Flour Bakery in Boston. PS it was not that warm this morning in Vancouver. As per usual, minus the rain. 

Each line radiates from the centroid of the contiguous United States, near Lebanon, Kansas. (Sorry, Alaska and islands.) This means that when you hold the map up by a string through the centroid, the map can perfectly balance itself. Here is a fun fact: apparently in 1918, the Coast and Geodetic Survey found the geographic center of the U.S. using this method as well: "by balancing on a point a cardboard cutout shaped like the U.S." Love it. Must have been a fun project!

I also made this map of Taiwan. In addition to being where I was born and grew up until age 15, it just has the perfect little convex shape that screams, "Pick me!" So, I did. Which country or what shape should I design for next? Please let me know! I will be making a list. 
Some things I remember about living in Taiwan: getting delicious street food on my way home from school with my friends, riding bicycle all day long at my grandparents' during the hot summer vacations, playing with fireworks, night markets, and lots of studying.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

HOW TO: Look sharp for the summer

Have you noticed that when it comes to paper folding, we mean serious business? See below. Yes, that is a bowtie made entirely out of paper! Also, just because summer is coming, it doesn't mean that you can't look totally dapper.
 Origami Paper Bowtie: sophistication with a twist!
Check out how it's made!

Want to try it out yourself? Download the PDF version here! Please download the file and print from your computer, and NOT straight from the browser to avoid weird formatting. And please make sure your PDF viewer is up-to-date. If you've tried everything and it still doesn't look right, you can always just print out the image above. 

I can't promise that this DIY is super easy. If you don't have a lot of experience with folding tessellations, I'd strongly suggest that you try this bracelet DIY first. It will help you get a sense of how these folds work. Good luck!

PS I'd love to see photos of your paper bowtie! Check out bowties by Ayako UyemuraJessica NevinaAll Things Paper, and la Fiancee du Panda.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Great Canadian Craft - my Afterthoughts

The Spring Fling 2013 Edition of the Great Canadian Craft was going to be my largest craft fair ever. (Okay, though it may not speak volumes, as I have only participated in one event beforehand, my expectation was high! Read on...) The venue at the Vancouver Convention Center alone conjured images of clustering shoppers in slick, bright exhibition halls. Also, there were two cruise ships entering and departing the nearby port over the weekend. Excitedly, I opted for the biggest space available (a 10' by 10), and even splurged on the option to have a corner booth. Fancy, right? But alas, it did not have the huge turn-out to match my perhaps unrealistic expectations. 

Nevertheless, I was really pleased with how our booth looked! Visualizing a design in your head doesn't always translate well in real life, but this (and chatting with cool people like Lisa Cinar of Draw Me a Lion, and Brittany van Dyck of type B) definitely made the weekend worthwhile. One lady even awarded me "Best Booth Design" unofficially, of course, as she walked by. Wee!
The Fiber Lab Family Photo

Looking forward, here are a few things that I will definitely investigate when deciding which craft fairs to sign up for:

1. Corner Booth Option:  Some craft fairs will give you an option for a corner booth for an extra fee. Whether it's worth it really depends on the layout of the entire space. For example, in a space with clearly defined aisles that force people traffic in specific directions, a corner booth definitely has its advantages. Shoppers are also more likely to visit each and every booth. 

Splurge for Corner? Go for it!

However, in a grid style layout, people tend to wander around aimlessly, with crowds gathering in the center. In this case, corner booths do not stand out at all. Exterior corner booths can even feel somewhat deserted. 

Splurge for Corner? Nope.

2. Electricity / Wireless Internet: If you need these, always check with the organizer or the venue for availability and fee. It can really add up.
3. Entry Fee: A cheap and affordable entry fee for shoppers helps ensuring a large crowd. 

Oh, another thing I learned is that I really love designing booths! I can spend months daydreaming about them. Please feel free to comment, or send me a message if you ever need display ideas or consultation! 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Chipboard Origami

Over the weekend, I made some display stands for a craft fair that I am participating in - the Great Canadian Craft is taking place on May 11 & 12, 2013 in Vancouver. Here are photos of one of the smaller ones. I think I want to name them "Cakes".
FACT: chipboard origami is an excellent finger strength training exercise.


Come check out the rest of the Cake gang at the show! 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

You dropped something...

Saw this photo on ARTECNICA's Faceboook page, and fell in love with it! I am totally going to sprinkle loads of paper circles next time I am at the craft fair. 
Display by KIZUKU

Friday, 5 April 2013

HOW TO: Get on the Etsy Front Page

Presenting a pseudo-scientific color guide for Etsy sellers aka image processing fun in MATLAB...

If you own an Etsy shop, chances are you have wondered (and most likely Googled), "Just how does one get on the Etsy Front Page?!" You know what I am talking about - that amazing, magical hour, during which your item is featured brings the kind of traffic you can only dream about. Ever elusive, how Etsy picks the winning treasury list is also kind of a mystery. The hilarious Regretsy likens this selection process to "throwing corn on a keyboard, and going with whatever the chicken pecks out".

Yup, it does feel that way. But is it? It surely hasn't stopped people from trying to figure it out. And I love that. However, it's not a total black box. Many people have noticed that the rule-of-thumb seems to involve photos with white/light backgrounds that create "a muted selection of desaturated creaminess". So in this post, I am going to try to verify this observation and explore other trends. 

Data is Everything
First, I downloaded 366 Front Page screenshots from Craft Cult - what a wonderful site for data lovers! Each image is taken at around 9 PM everyday in 2012. Like this one with a Fiber Lab Mint Bubble contributing to a collection of romantic spring hues. 
Hey, mint Bubble! You fit right in.

Now, why did I pick 9 PM? Tim Layton attempted to analyze the best time to list on Etsy, and it turns out to be around 9:30 AM and PM. (And I've been doing it all wrong. Oh well.) So, being on the Front Page during that time is the ultimate jackpot, right? 

Pixels Organized Neatly
Then I used MATLAB, a numerical computing software, to sort each pixel into color circles. Each ring shows a main color in the treasury list. The ring size is proportional to the amount of pixels in that color group.
Woah, hypnotic. 

This looks really cool and pretty, but not entirely useful at revealing any color trends. After trying out several ways to represent these color data, I decided to plotted each ring as circles on a color wheel.

The colors don't always match the color wheel due to variations in saturation. Front Page worthy pixels are usually less saturated. 

The straight line across the middle indicates the most dominant color pair, in this case, peach and mint. Repeating this method for every treasury that I have collected. The following are the monthly results. 
Jan / Feb
Mar / Apr
May / Jun
Jul / Aug
Sept / Oct
Nov / Dec

Do You See It?
So, I think it's safe to say that the observations are spot-on. You have the best chance if you go with whites with warm and earthy undertones. Sometimes pairing them with the complementary blue hues works. And honestly, don't even try to be creative and bother with the purples and bright greens. Apparently nobody likes them. There is little variation in what is popular throughout the year. Somewhat disappointing, as I was really hoping to see brighter colors in the summer and duller ones in the winter. Wouldn't that be a really cool trend?

Learning is Fun
Is there a point to this? Probably not a whole lot, but I learned a few tricks while playing in MATLAB. That is the important thing, and I am totally enjoying these pretty circles. If you want to know more about how these are generated, please let me know. Thanks for reading!