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    Swedish artist Hans Jörgen Johansen creates these stunning landscape photographs...made out of mold that he grows in his own studio using bread and flour.    

    Johansen's process centers around arranging organic materials on a tabletop and allowing them to mold naturally, which can take between two and four weeks. He then lights the scene and shoots it, bypassing any further manipulation in Photoshop. 

    Stunning. See more on All Good Found: Artist Creates Incredible Photographs Out of Mold  [via Kottke.org]

     

     

     

     


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    Plywood DIY Ideas

    Plywood. We love it. It's affordable, it's easy to work, and brings all kinds of warmth and texture into any masculine-friendly decor.

    Furthermore, it can really match a wide variety of aesthetics - left unfinished, it's bright and modern. Filled with knots, it pulls off a rural vibe, and oiled and waxed brings out the cabin-lodge feel.

    So, here's a collection of ideas to inspire you to bring in some ply this summer.

    1. Wall panels and texture (at top): this Melbourne home got a huge upgrade when their owners decided to go all out on the plywood. The addition of this material made the room super airy and bright. You can do the same by installing bare panels of plywood on your walls or by building storage room or cupboards without painting or staining. You could even have it as a feature wall of just plywood. (image)

     

    Plywood board

    2. Communication or Memo Board: Buy a huge sheet of plywood, bring it home, put it by the entrance or by your kitchen and use it as a communication board for your home - leave notes, place art, add some mementos. You can spruce it up with some cool lighting like the one shown in the photo. Also, black washi or electrical tape look sleek and cool. (image)

     

    Plywood desk / shelf

    3. Desk / Shelves: With just a few pieces you can create a little reading nook or work area. Try creating a few different modules at different heights for visual interest. A few other cubes at floor level can help you organize magazines and other trinkets. (image)

     

    Plywood Table

    4. As Furniture / Decor: Build your own table! All you need is a long sheet of plywood, some pin legs from the hardware store or sawhorses (or any other legs of your liking), and you're good to go. You can make your own - easily - in a weekend. Don't know where to start? We have lots of table DIYs over here. (image)

     

    Plywood tray

    5. Accessorize: If you don't want to have HUGE pieces of plywood around your house, then you can go for something a little more subtle, a few touches here and there, like this tray for your couch (on sale on Etsy btw). You can use 3 smaller pieces and glue/nail them together to do this neat little tray (which will save you from spilling your drink on the couch).

     

    plywood wall hanging

    6. Make Some Art: If you want to be a bit more creative, then make some art with plywood! You don't have to create an insane design, something simple and rustic like the frame above works like magic. Use the wood grain and any other imperfections as part of your design - instead of covering them with paint, use them to your advantage to create unique patterns. (image)

    See? Plywood. If you're looking for something cozy and modern, go for it.


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    Plywood DIY Ideas

    Plywood. We love it. It's affordable, it's easy to work, and brings all kinds of warmth and texture into any masculine-friendly decor.

    Furthermore, it can really match a wide variety of aesthetics - left unfinished, it's bright and modern. Filled with knots, it pulls off a rural vibe, and oiled and waxed brings out the cabin-lodge feel.

    So, here's a collection of ideas to inspire you to bring in some ply this summer.

    1. Wall panels and texture (at top): this Melbourne home got a huge upgrade when their owners decided to go all out on the plywood. The addition of this material made the room super airy and bright. You can do the same by installing bare panels of plywood on your walls or by building storage room or cupboards without painting or staining. You could even have it as a feature wall of just plywood. (image)

     

    Plywood board

    2. Communication or Memo Board: Buy a huge sheet of plywood, bring it home, put it by the entrance or by your kitchen and use it as a communication board for your home - leave notes, place art, add some mementos. You can spruce it up with some cool lighting like the one shown in the photo. Also, black washi or electrical tape look sleek and cool. (image)

     

    Plywood desk / shelf

    3. Desk / Shelves: With just a few pieces you can create a little reading nook or work area. Try creating a few different modules at different heights for visual interest. A few other cubes at floor level can help you organize magazines and other trinkets. (image)

     

    Plywood Table

    4. As Furniture / Decor: Build your own table! All you need is a long sheet of plywood, some pin legs from the hardware store or sawhorses (or any other legs of your liking), and you're good to go. You can make your own - easily - in a weekend. Don't know where to start? We have lots of table DIYs over here. (image)

     

    Plywood tray

    5. Accessorize: If you don't want to have HUGE pieces of plywood around your house, then you can go for something a little more subtle, a few touches here and there, like this tray for your couch (on sale on Etsy btw). You can use 3 smaller pieces and glue/nail them together to do this neat little tray (which will save you from spilling your drink on the couch).

     

    plywood wall hanging

    6. Make Some Art: If you want to be a bit more creative, then make some art with plywood! You don't have to create an insane design, something simple and rustic like the frame above works like magic. Use the wood grain and any other imperfections as part of your design - instead of covering them with paint, use them to your advantage to create unique patterns. (image)

    See? Plywood. If you're looking for something cozy and modern, go for it.


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    Ron Swanson Cupcakes DIY

    These Ron Swanson-inspired treats are an attempt to make "masculine" cupcakes. Which could end up badly, but these went far enough past the point of stereotype into humorous fun. 

    This recipe combines salty bacon, sweet white chocolate, silky cream cheese, and oaky maple syrup in one delicious baked treat. Extra added points for the Ron Swanson toppers, which you can print and stick on a skewer.

    If baking is not your thing, this is the perfect excuse to get your food geek friends over and make it a party. Why not? Some beers, some butter, and some cupcakes at the end? That sounds like an evening well-spent. 

    For the full recipe, ingredients, and steps, visit Tattooed Martha.

     

     


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    A little science-y paper craft project to give a shot this weekend (or to goof off at work on a Friday): a perpetually flying airplane.   The Smithsonian Air and Space blog offers this template and instructions to make a walkalong glider, " walkalong glider is a type of model plane that's kept aloft, theoretically indefinitely, by someone walking along with it as it flies, generating rising air using a piece of cardboard, paddle, or even your body."

    The project comes from the new book How to Build a Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnet Motors, and 25 Other Amazing DIY Science Projects by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe (Chronicle Books, 2013). 

    Get the tutorial and template at Air and Space: The Paper Airplane That Flies Forever 
    [via link and quote from BoingBoing]

     

     


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    Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, an attempt at creating the ultimate fully-loaded nacho recipe. The lineup: three kinds and textures of cheese, two kinds of beans, pickled chiles, crema, salsa, fresh veggies and aromatics for texture, and a healthy dollop of homemade guac.

     

    Add some clever techniques for keeping everything crunchy, yet integrated, and that's one heck of a plate of nachos. 

    Get the full walkthrough at Serious Eats: The Ultimate Fully Loaded Nachos

     

     


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    Eames Chair printable

    A staight forward, classy way to add a touch of modern design to your living room: print and hang!As much as we'd like to have our living decked out with a full bevy of Eames chairs, the price tag can be prohibitive, specially for original ones.

    So, Only Deco Love has a free printable that can bring the whole Eames vibe to your living room without breaking the bank. You could place directly on the wall, use binder clips, or snag an inexpensive Ikea frame.

    Oh and hey, if you want, get all Warhol-esque and print a few of them and switch the color a bit, a la Marilyns or soup cans.

    Go get your printable at Only Deco Love


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    created at: 05/05/2014

    You might notice things slowing down here a bit over the next few weeks. I'm about to embark on a serious new adventure and move 2500 miles away.    It's certainly the biggest life change I've ever taken on, and it's one born out of a sense of commitment to the things I try to share here on ManMade everyday: take risks, surround yourself with things that inspire you, and do what you can to craft and handmake the kind of lifestyle that makes you feel like the best guy you can be. 

    The move is intentional: I'm lucky to be able to work from anywhere with an internet connection and a place to put my tools, and my wife has requested a transfer for her career and is ironing out the details. When we got married and went on our honeymoon two years ago, we visited the Pacific Northwest, and we fell in love. The combination of outdoor activities and city life, geography and culture, innovation and creativity and intentional living encouraged us to set about creating the kind of home and community that we wanted for our family. I felt like I was home for the first time in my life. 

    So, we worked our butts off to make it happen: we paid off many thousands of dollars of debt and created a healthy savings account. We reduced our stuff and physical possessions by a great deal. We became a one car family. We set up a next-step plan for my wife's career and transitioning from her job as the founding director of a non-profit, and we began having difficult but meaningful and rewarding conversations with our friends and family. 

    And now, we're going. Next Tuesday, we're moving to Portland, OR. We'll be taking the long route, visiting several friends, four National Parks, a bunch of other National and State monuments throughout the Northern part of the US. We'll drive more than 3,000 miles over eight days. We'll sleep on floors and in tents, and if everything works out, our boxes will show up and we'll show up and we'll now live four time zones away.

    I know people do this kind of stuff all the time, but I've never lived anywhere than in the state I was born, and neither has anyone in my family for many generations before me. Some of our friends and family have been supportive, and some are pretty angry at us. I might even lose a few people over this. So, it's a pretty big cultural and practical shift for most of my world, and while scary and difficult (and expensive,) it's the absolute right move, and I suspect a good one for ManMade, as well. 

    I'll still be around, but if you notice things are kinda light around here, I appreciate your patience. I'll catch up with you in a few weeks, and hopefully will have some cool stories to share. 

    I'll be sharing my experiences on the ManMade Instagram page I've been thinking about trying a hashtag: something like #GoWestYoungManMade. Lemme know what you think.

    Thanks, friends. 


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    pack series by takehomedesign

    These simple images of the Pack series from Takehomedesign illustrates one of my favorite principles to create to make a huge difference in your decor:   wood grain + color.

    Takehomedesign is a rad furniture studio that specializes in stylish, minimal furniture design. The extra touches of colour here add a vibrant touch to these mid-century inspired pieces. As you can see you don't really need some huge and loud piece of furniture to make a statement when a few pops of hue will do.

    If you're looking to make your space more vibrant while maintaining a rustic, masculine look, this is guaranteed hit.. You can either get some of these great pieces OR you could upgrade your own with just a few tools like paint and brushes.

    For example? Say you have a dresser that's kinda outdated and makes you yawn ever time you see it. Simply paint the draws with color and boom, in less than 2 hours you got a new piece of furniture. Same for an old stool: paint the legs and call it a day.

    If you want more inspiration or want to get your hands on some of these original designs, then visit Takehomedesign

     


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    Most of us have a personal history of the pocket knife: that little folding multi-style you got after learning proper care in Cub Scouts, or perhaps a hand-me-down model from a relative. It went with you everywhere...well, everywhere it was appropriate for a little kid to carry a sharp object. And whether you still carry one everyday (I took nearly two decades off, but have recently moved it back into my daily carry items), there's no denying its proven utility...utility that's been appreciated for generations.

    Cool Material takes a look at the complete history of the pocket knife. And by complete, I don't just mean the last few centuries of variations on a design...I'm talking millennia.    created at: 05/06/2014

    See? Fascinating. Then, everything changes in 1660.

    A very worthwhile read. Check out the full visual history at Cool Material: The History of the Pocket Knife 

     

     


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    created at: 05/07/2014

    Starting a fire is an essential life skill, for sure, and most of us have our preferred technique: the lean-to, the tepee, the log cabin. But, even though most fires aren't started in emergency, or even in one-match situations, that's part of the fun. Once you've learned how to do it without turning a gas knob or lighting one of those Duralast logs, lighting a fire with one match (or spark from a starter) becomes part of the game, even if you have a whole box at your side.    

    This video from Backpacker magazine has the most thorough explanation I can find, so I'll let them do the talking. 

    As expected, success lies in the prep work. Here's to a whole new season of campfires, friends. 

    Top photo: Steven Leonti cc 2.0

     

     


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    spring lookbook

    Hibernation season is officially officially over and it's time to transition into the warmer months of the year. So, we've gathered a few essentials that will help you feel like yourself while staying cool. After all, spring is all about renewal of life..and looks! Oh, and allergies...but at least your look sharp. 

    created at: 05/07/2014

    1. A stepped-up t-shirt: For those times when you need to keep cool, but when the three-to-a-shrink-pack options won't do, even in solid. Look for something simple and cotton, with a finer knit. Neutrals work well as layers, and appear dressier than your standard crayon-colored shirt. This one's the Field Knit Tee from J.Crew. 

    created at: 05/07/2014

    2. Neutral Fitted Pants: by "fitting" we don't mean skinny and tight, we mean that should be YOUR SIZE. Lots of guys tend to buy pants that are a size or two larger (for some odd reason) thinking they'll be more comfy they end up looking puffy and it's actually super uncomfortable considering they'd be falling down all the time. Find a nice pair of neutral cotton pants, which you can wear casually with a t-shirt OR a bit more formal with a jacket or light sweater. This pair is from Bonobos. 

     

    spring look

    3. A Smart Looking Sweater/Jersey: time to put away the parka! Get a slim-shape sweater for cooler mornings and nights. By keeping the color and pattern classic you can mix and match with different pieces without clashing styles. This one is from Mr. Porter

     

    4. Versatile Shoes: get a pair of shoes that can be worn in different situations. This pair of Vans are the perfect example; you can wear them to the beach, to work, and with dressy pants you can wear them for dinner. Different looks, one pair. You can find them in here

     

    camo cap

    5. A Baseball Cap: If you're a hat guy, now's the time. it might not be 1000 degrees outside yet, the sun can get a bit intense during the day. Get a grown up cap that you can carry around to wear whenever needed. Avoid any shiny/bedazzled stuff that could like you're part of the cast of Jersey Shore. Lots of cool caps in can be found here.

    spring style

    6. Appropriate Fitness Wear: While it may be OK to lounge around in your PJs, it's definitely not OK to work out or run about wearing heavy fabric pants that will make you sweat like a pig. Get a pair of loose cotton shorts that can be worn in the house and also for running errands. Make sure to choose something without pattern so you can mix and match with all your t-shirts. This shorts are found here

     

    obey windbreaker

    7. Windbreaker or Lightweight Rain Cot: April showers don't stop on May 1. Whether you're heading to the bookstore or the hiking trail, get a windbreaker.. They're light and will work as a great shell to protect you from chilly wind and rain. This one is from Obey

    Don't be afraid to try something new! 'Tis the season for new things, dude. 

     


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    Now through May 31st, Lumber Liquidators and Family Handyman are running an awesome giveaway: a $1000 Lumber Liquidators gift card! All you have to do to enter is go to the giveaway Web site and choose your favorite style of flooring!

    Here's the Bellawood, our favorite. The other options are "Virginia Mill Works Co." and "Casa De Color" (pictured below). Entering the giveaway is easy, just fill in your info and choose your favorite style (you can enter once per day!).

    When the giveaway ends on May 31, three separate winners will be chosen (but remember, you can enter once per day). So head over and check it out, and of course, if you win, send us a picture of of your beautiful new floors!

    Enter daily to win a $1,000 Gift Card from Lumber Liquidators!

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Lumber Liquidators. The opinions and text are all mine.


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  • 05/08/14--14:00: Note to Self...
  • created at: 05/07/2014

    A Note to Self: Thursday, May 8th, 2014   This week, I'm moving to the other side of the country. We're taking the long way, visiting friends, and traveling nearly 3,000 miles in eleven states over eight days.

    There are lots of ways to get from one place to another, but when you're making a significant life change like this one, the best way is to go through every inch of it, and see as much as you possibly can. Our route is mapped, the camp sites reserved, and we have a place to live once we get there. 

    Now, all that's left to pack, and just go. I'll be sharing our adventures on the ManMade Instagram page with the hashtag #GoWestYoungManMade.

    I'll see you on the other side. 



    [Image: Glacier National Park, NPS.gov]

     

     


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    An easy and super affordable way to add some extra seating... 

    This DIY project is perfect for those who have a small corner or unused area to stash some extra sittin' space. Jillian Dee recently made this bench for her home and share the results with everyone, and the design could work equally well indoor or out. 

    You can even put away the bench when you're done entertaining, how easy is that? Also, you can't argue with the budget, since it only needs a few pieces of wood and some cinder blocks.

    simple wooden bench

    Go visit Jillian's site to get the list of materials and full tutorial.


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    created at: 05/29/2014

    Oh...Father's Day. Even if you don't remember it's coming, the barrage of ads will always remind you. The ads, the ads. The ads that seem to think the only thing you should ever buy your dad is either a lawn mower or a grill or power tools. Which, on one hand, isn't totally awful, because grills and tools (and lawnmowers?) are cool, but here's the rub: tools are a personal thing. They're bought for a specific project, or a skill set, or a desire to learn a new technique.

    Duluth Trading Co. gift card giveaway!
    (Yup, we're also giving away FIVE $100 gift cards to Duluth Trading Co. Read on to find out how to enter!) So, with that in mind, we invite you to forgo the entry-level circular saw sales and forgo the tape measure collection and get some gear to empower any of the men in your life to make some stuff and get projects done this summer. To bring you this Outfitted post, we partnered with the team at Duluth Trading Co., purveyors of original clothing, tools, workshop items and accessories, served up with a serious sense of humor. This collection features items of two types: stuff to wear to work safely and comfortably, and quality (but affordable) hand tools that cut stuff. Each can be used on whatever projects one wants to take on this summer, and will last for all kinds of DIYing to come.

    1. Shinwa Bakuma Slim Cut Hand Saw: Hands down, one of my favorite DIY best buys. These Japanese-style pull saws produce excellent quality cuts for such an affordable tool. The blades can be replaced as well, so when you buy one, you'll have it for life. $29.99 at Woodcraft.com 

    2. Klein Tools 20 in. Canvas Tool Bag: A great option for carrying a specific set of tools to a project or for long term storage. The flexibility of the bag allows to fit more and larger tools than you could into a rigid tool box, and the canvas, rivets, and leather styling is classic. $60.64 at Home Depot

    created at: 06/02/2014

    3. Duluth CoolMax Trim Fit Longtail T-Shirt: This shirt allows you to stay cool and dry throughout this hot, humid season by employing both the benefits of comfortable cotton and the moisture-wicking properties of Coolmax synthetic fabric. The "longtail" indicates that the shirt is longer 3"in the back, which allows you to bend over and work on projects (even plumbing without "sharing too much information." Bonus points for the pencil pocket. Shown here in graphite. $29.50 at DuluthTrading.com 

    created at: 06/02/2014

    4. DuluthFlex Fire Hose Carpenter Pants: Somehow both extremely tough and comfortable to wear, with plenty of flexibility that'll allow you to bend, work on your knees, climb trees or into tight spaces, or wherever your project takes you. I wore these pants exclusively during my recent move (4 full days of packing and furniture moving, and 3 days of the same on the other side) and they were the perfect fit for a variety of fix-it tasks and heavy lifting. The additional pockets are useful without being obvious. Shown here in coffee. $64.50 at DuluthTrading.com

    5. Spectacle Clear Lens Safety Glasses: You only get two eyes - take care of them. The Spectacle glasses are modeled after the old shop teacher style, with the classic wire mesh side-shields, and they look loads better than the wraparound 90s snowboard-style jobs they sell at the home improvement. These have been my personal go-to pairs since I bought them at the Hand-Eye Supply brick-and-mortar store two years ago, and I always seem to be able to find them when I need 'em. $20.00 at Hand-Eye Supply

    6. Klein Customizable Tool Belt: Unless you're a contractor, a fully-packed tool apron with hammers and drills hanging off tends to be overkill and more hassle than helpful. This system by Klein allows you to choose one belt and add just the accessories and storage you need. Klein Tools 5415S Leather Tool Belt and 5119 Leather 4-Pocket Tool Pouch at Amazon.com.

    created at: 06/02/2014

    7. Hori Hori Soil Knife: This traditional Japanese garden tools does the work of probably every handheld tool on the market, and probably some of the handle-style tools as well. Duluth Trading Co. says: "The pointed blade and curved shape work like a garden spade while the serrated edge works as a garden knife to cut plantings apart. Also perfect for weeding, transplanting and cutting open fertilizer bags." $28.95 at DuluthTrading.com

    8. Fit Wool Socks Medium Hiker Crew: The joke about giving your dad socks for holidays need not apply here. Proper footwear is essential to any project, and your socks matter just as much as your boots. Here, I've selected my favorite all wool socks, which are just thick enough to provide cushioning without overheating you. I'd wear nothing but these every day if I could. $20.99 at Fitssock.com

    9. Genuine British Army Knife by Rothco:  Large multitools are great for camping and keeping in your car or go-bag, but they can be too thick and heavy for everyday carry. The British Army Knife will handle most basic cutting tasks, and remains relatively thin so it'll fit in your pocket with your keys and phone and other goodies. $47.48 at Amazon.com

    10. 3M TEKK WorkTunes Hearing Protector, MP3 Compatible with AM/FM Tuner: I love listening to podcasts and even audiobooks while I'm working on projects, and so I don't have to blast the volume to overcome the noise of power tools, I like these hearing protection earmuffs with the built-in audiojack. They work just as well as standard ear protection, and, honestly, I sometimes wear these over normal headphones when I'm cleaning or washing dishes, cause they help me focus and avoid excess noise. Though, I'll admit I took the AM/FM antenna off mine...I never listen to the radio, and it just got in the way. $48.45 at Amazon.com 

    11. X-Acto Basic Knife Set: Most of us have a couple of these lying around, but a boxed set with a variety of handles and blade types can inspire all sorts of creative projects. As a man with average man-sized hands, I'm a big fan of the beefier #5 knife, which prevents cramps and soreness. From wood carving to print making, nobody that makes stuff can't use this set. $24.86 at DickBlick.com

    created at: 06/02/2014

    12. Duluth 6" Contractors Moc Toe Boots: From someone who, for years, just switched out my oldest pair of sneakers to DIY projects whenever I got a new pair, believe me: you need proper work boots. 1) You need to protect your feet, your feet bones, and your legs; 2) You need proper support and traction when your traipsing around on roofs and ladders, and whenever you're using power tools, and 3) when you're on your feet all day, you need to keep them warm and try. A quality pair of leather workboots with proper soles will do that perfectly, while remaining comfortable to use for days at a time. And since the Duluth boots include a Vibram sole, they can be resoled as needed while keeping that leather upper your worked so hard to break in. $179.50 at DuluthTrading.com

    13. Three Floyds Zombie Dust: To be enjoyed after a project or when using power tools, the Three Floyds take on an American Pale Ale is beloved by fans everywhere, and relatively available. It is hop-forward, which might stretch Midwest-based pale lager drinkers, but the overwhelming sense of this beer is its balance, amenable flavor, and pleasure in drinking it. It's not the best beer out there, but it's darn fine, and can be enjoyed by anyone. 

     

    Enter to win one of five $100 Duluth Trading Co. Gift Cards!

    How to enter:

    1. Leave a comment on this post telling us what you'd buy with your gift card, or just saying 'pick me!'.

    2. The giveaway ends on Tuesday, May 10th at 11:59 pm central time, so make sure to get your comment in before then.

    3. We'll pick five winners at random and send you the gift card. Sorry, only U.S. residents are eligible to win.

     

    GOOD LUCK!

     

     

     

    That's our 2014 ManMade Father's Day gift idea collection. Thanks to Duluth Trading Company for sponsoring this post. All opinions are ours alone. 

     


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    Penta-base Bookrest by TOC Studio

    Give your favourite books and magazines the royal treatment with a "bookrest" that provides storage for your current reads while showing off their cover art. 

    The Penta-base Bookrest by TOC STUDIO is excellent: It's simple, full of character, and masculine. Its mid-century vibe dribbles just enough to make it a touch vintage, yet it still maintains a contemporary design. Are you sold? We are! Well, except for a wee teeny little detail: it's totally out of our budget. Dang. 

    Still, we can save up, or we can take this as inspiration to create something similar at home. Obviously you would have to compromise and make a few adjustments (probably you won't be able to make the super rad brass base) and settle for something more affordable.

    For the DIYers, here are a few pointers to get started with a design for a bookrest of similar aesthetic:

     

    1. Grab a couple dark wood planks (the walnut used here is plenty affordable) or cut some plywood and apply dark stain to it
    2. Create an appropriately-sized base with a V-notch to rest the shelf from plaster, or a 4x4" post that you could paint. 
    3. Glue the rest the the stand, and done. 

     

    I think we should add this idea to our ManMade list for 2014 project, yes?

    Learn more about or snag the original at TOC Studio: Penta-base Bookrest

     

     

     


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    There are sorts of reasons a guy would wanna take great photos at home: an artist or crafter, online shop owner, Instagram power user, or just an everyday documenter extraordinaire.

    Manmade Guide to Better Product Photography

     No matter your focus, these easy and affordable tips will help you dramatically improve your photography skills.

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so when the photos are lacking, so are the words, and likes, and comments, and overall quality. With sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook driving massive traffic to blogs and websites (primarily through images), you gotta stay on top of your game and get your slice of the online cake!

    You don't need a super expensive set up to be able to capture great photos. All you is good lighting and a few tricks to get THE shot. Grab your camera and follow along this Manmade Guide to Better Product Photography. 

    Manmade Guide to Better Product Photography

    The Tools

    1. Product and props: these are the stars of the show. Make sure to have a couple extra products in case one of them gets dirty (.e.g food splattering). Select just a few props that will compliment your product. Keep it minimal and simple so the focus remains in the product.
    2. Light reflector (optional): you can buy one on Amazon or at any photography shop (though online might be cheaper). You can also look for second hand reflectors on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. Choose one that has white and a combination of either silver or gold (silver reflects "cooler" light, gold is warmer and great for portraits, white is neutral and works for everything). You'll see how to use it in a sec.
    3. White foamcore board or white cardstock paper: these will also work as reflectors and are super affordable, make sure the colour is pure white. Any other shades (cream, pastel, etc) will cast unwanted colours on your photo.
    4. Backdrop/background: you can get a piece of fabric or even some paper some the craft store. Craft paper works great, so does old chalkboards. This will be your products' "canvas" so make sure it fits the design and theme.

    Manmade Guide to Better Product Photography

    The Setup

    1. Use natural light: you can do wonders with natural light and there's absolutely no need to spend thousands of dollars in lighting equipment (unless you become and pro and totally ace at it..and have the budget). To get the most out of the daylight, place your setup by a sunny window. Best times are usually in the morning when the light is nice and soft or later in the evening (though it might cast a yellow-ish hue from the sunset). If it's way too bright, tape a white translucent shower curtain (yep!) to your window to act as a diffuser... or any silky white fabric will do, too. Again, go for white white and nothing tinted.
    2. Bounce some light: to get rid of harsh shadows place your white foam board or paper on the opposite side of your light source. Move it around a little to see where the light reflects. You can use a couple wooden blocks or even some books to keep it from tilting and falling.

    TIP: make sure all other light sources in your house are turned OFF. The more lighting sources you mix the harder will be to get a nice white balance. Also, avoid wearing crazy bright colours as this will also could bounce onto your product.

    Sure, you can fix these things when you edit your photo, but the less you have to edit, the better!

    If one white foam board is not enough and you still have some harsh shadows OR you want to add some light on a specific spot, then you can use the reflector we mentioned above (or a smaller piece of white paper). See example below:

    Manmade Guide to Better Product Photography

    You can hold the reflector using a clamp or ask a friend to hold it! (this one was taped to a lamp that has a movable arm).

    In the example above you can see with the lines and dots where the light is bouncing. This is basically the handiest tip: just - as the saying goes - chase the light! 99% of the time when you're like "oh this camera sucks!" It's probably your lighting. You can even do the same setup and take photos with your phone's camera and we bet they'll look great.

    Note how we use a piece of faux wood to frame the candle, this is when props really come in handy to make your product pop from its background.

    Now, here's a another example of how bounce cards and reflectors affect your image:

    ManMade Guide to Better Product Photography

    The image on the RIGHT was taken with the reflector and a bounce card and has softer shadows, also the colours look a bit more crisp. On the LEFT there were no bounce cards and you can see more shadows and the candle isn't as nicely lit.

    Mind you, in some situations harsher lighting might look cool (e.g. a tutorials that use rough materials). We suggest you master proper lighting techniques before venturing into crazy creative shoots, this way if anything looks wrong, you'll know how to fix it.

    And that's it! With these super easy steps and setup you'll be able to take great photos. Got any extra tips and tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below. 

     

     


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    Each Wednesday, I post some of my favorite can't-miss links, images, and otherwise mindblowing goodies from across the web.

    scrape:false 

    Is this the "most meta thing on the entire internet?" It's a "GIF of a Vine of a video of a flipbook of a GIF of a video of a roller coaster."So, there's that. See more about this piece by Televandalist on Colossal.

    What an athlete...

     Artist Paul Garbett's Cuppaday project is worth a look. 

    Pyramid Stones

    "Researchers from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam believe they have discovered the method by which ancient Egyptians transported statutes and large stones used to build their pyramids: wet sand." No rolling logs?! See more at Laughing Squid 

    "How many US states are at least partially north of the southernmost part of Canada?" It's way more than you think.

     


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    Father's day party blueprint
    Father's Day is just a week away, and this year, we're throwing a big, manly bash to honor all the dads in our lives. Today we'll share all our ideas for the party, tomorrow we've got a HUGE giveaway for you, and next week, we'll share the pictures from our big celebration. Click through to see what we're cooking up!

    Father's Day is one of those celebrations that happens at the perfect time of year. Summer is coming into bloom and the magic of longer lingering days is still in the air. For our celebration, we're going to give this perfect storm a big bear hug and host our party outdoors (if it rains, my wife will cry). We've teamed up with Lowe's to create a party that embraces ManMade's maker mentality by combining simple, tasty food with fun DIY projects.

    Party Decor

    father's day party decor inspiration

    Since our party will take place outdoors, we've decided to go with a woodsy, picnic theme. We're thinking wide blue and white gingham, wood slabs, and simple succulents in aluminum paint cans.

    Lawn Games

    diy lawn games ideas

    We're planning a series of lawn games for our guests to enjoy, including classics like ladder ball and bocce. We're also going to DIY a giant Jenga game and a huge lawn version of Bananagrams. 

    Menu

    father's day party menu ideas

    (Note: we're showing a gas grill here, 'cause it's pretty, but we haven't quite decided whether to go gas or charcoal yet. Opinions welcome in the comments!)

    The menu is our favorite part of this affair. We're grilling up a hearty hog dog bar with frankfurters five different ways (think: basic hot dogs with anything-but-basic toppings). We're also serving chips, coleslaw, salad, and homemade ice cream for dessert.

    We'll also have a simple bar with local craft beer and wine. Since it's a family affair, we'll also have lemonade and root beer for the young ones. 

    Everything will be served in fry baskets and jelly jars, using deli paper and bamboo serving ware.

    Extras

    father's day gift basket ideas

    We've put together some really special gifts for all the dads; this surprise is the element we're most excited about. Here's a sneak peek at some of the treasures we've gathered:

    Be sure to check back next week to see the photos of our celebration and get inspired to host one of your own! And if you tune in tomorrow, we're going to have a ridiculous giveaway for you to enter, courtesy of Lowe's. See you soon!

     

     

    To get some great father's day gift and DIY ideas, follow @lowes on Pinterest and @loweshomeimprovement Instagram

     

    This post was sponsored by Lowe's, and we thank them for helping make this kind of content possible. However, all opinions are mine alone.

     


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