Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trash For Stray Kitties

From all the books I find on the curbs there's a number I can't list in my on line shop because they don't have an ISBN or EAN number, either because they're too old or published by Time Life or Reader's Digest or such who for some reason don't have to publish under these official rules.

Which doesn't mean nobody is interested so I kept those apart for a long time, till a while ago I found an ad from a lady on a local website asking for books to sell on markets to raise funds for a foundation that neuters and feeds stray cats. We have several stray cats in the back who've been helped that way and are being fed by people at their own costs. I love cats and think it's very important to prevent more kittens from being born in the wild. It's really hard to socialize them and find homes for them. Remember Miene?

I contacted the lady and she was happy to come pick up the whole lot. I also love helping out such small foudations because I know they don't have any payed employees and every bit of my donation (even if it's not in cash) will go for 100 % to the good cause. I know larger worldwide organizations do good work and are necessary (WWF, IFAW and such), but think a part of your donation will always go to wages (and other costs).

When the lady came to my house she brought me some curb finds of her own, how cool! A vinegar and oil set in a rack and some magazines. Then seeing my work she told me she's a jewelry maker herself and later brought me beads and broken and deconstructed jewelry she had no use for. Most welcome!

Here are some necklaces I made using wax cords I got from my new trash picking friend. See my shop here if you're interested.

She may not sell all the books I gave her, maybe even just a small part. But if it's enough to neuter just one cat or buy some food I'm happy. What local group or micro-foundation do you have near you that you could help out in such a simple way?

Friday, October 09, 2009

My Antique Matrix Printer

(Find a tutorial for simple and cost free packing bags for small items at the bottom of this post)

Meet my antique printer. It’s a Star AX-20. Yes, it’s a dot matrix printer from the last century! It’s designed for chain paper but has an option for single sheets that have to be fed one by one. So that’s clumsy, slow and it only prints text and simple drawings in one colour. But before you start laughing out really loud let me explain why I love and keep my machine from the stone age.

When I found it in the trash about eight years ago bubble or inkjets were still fairly expensive and I couldn’t afford one. So I was more than happy to be able to at least print my own letters, invoices and so on at home. Or recipes or other instructions from the internet. If the web page look makes it difficult for my machine I just copy the text in a text document first.

It’s reliable. It’s strong and sturdy and just always works. Believe me I see countless broken inkjets in the trash every week. And I don’t have to clean up print canals after not having used it in a while.

But most important: It’s very low cost in use and eco-friendly. I doesn’t need expensive and polluting ink cartridges. The first time when the print started to fade too much I searched all over the internet to buy a new ribbon cassette but with no luck. And then found a simple solution. With a bit of stamping ink that I still had I just re-inked the whole ribbon by carefully dripping the ink on while turning it through by hand.

Last week at the office when we were clearing out a file cabinet I found some blue stamp-pad ink and took it home. No honest, nobody in my department still uses stamps, it would have disappeared in the waste bin.

Now my printer prints in blue.

My printer has a relatively fine print as compared to what most people know as a dot matrix print like this example I found on Wikipedia.

With a freshly inked ribbon in fact the result of my printer is almost as good (left) as that from a modern inkjet (right).

So yes, today I have a better printer as well. A few years ago I snatched a special offer for less than 75 dollars. But as it was a model that was going out of production I already found out by now I can’t get the cartridges in discount shops anymore. Hopefully I can still find them online. But as I’m carefully saving this printer only for photo’s, my business cards and such I’m afraid some day I will have to throw out a perfectly working machine just because I can’t get the ink anymore. Doesn’t that suck? That’s how even if you take care of your stuff progressing technology feeds having to buy new things.

Last month I got my third pc in ten years at home. I never had Windows 2000 and went straight from 98 to XP. I was a bit scared my printer wouldn’t be in the list of pre-installed software anymore, but it still was! I can tell you I was thrilled!

So I’m glad my stone age printer will serve me for quite a few years to come. I also use it to print the packing slips for my second hand book orders. Books that I take from the trash and sometimes go with a profit of less than a dollar so I don’t want to spend any extra money. For the paper I use the blank back side of non-confidential print work from the office or letter sized advertising that I find in my mailbox.

My cost free printer and paper are also very useful for this:

I’ve been selling at quite a few craft fairs lately and I started to run out of my paper lunch bags to pack up my items. So I had to think of something new to create a cost free and eco-friendly packing especially for small items like my flower brooches or bracelets.

To keep in line with the character of my art, fiber work, I decided to not just fold and glue the paper, but sew the sides together. This also is done much quicker as it needs no extra folding and careful cutting!

But that looked a bit to ‘blank’ and I would still have to staple my flyer to the bag. Though I still have enough of those I thought simply printing the information on the bag would be a lot more efficient. I cut the corners of the bag to open it more easily to put the goods in.

Of course if you are inspired by this to make your own packing bags you can still use a laser or inkjet printer as well. But Googling around I found in this day and age of laser and inkjet, matrix printers are still being produced and sold. Unfortunately at a much higher price than the inkjets you can find in consumer’s shops. But think about it, it may be an advantage to have one next to your colour printer. They are more durable and cheaper in use so if most of your print work is black on white text the initial cost may be worth it. On top think of the profit for the environment. And of course you can try to find a second hand, but some of the modern matrix machines may be faster and have better options for single sheet feeding.