Saturday, October 20, 2012

Security in a Creative Space

Over the past couple of years, I have had an issue with people of all ages trespassing through my yard at all hours of the night. The reason they do it is because I live in a cul-de-sac with an express way behind me. People will cut through my yard and hop my back fence because it is more convenient then having to go the long way around.

No, I wouldn't be such an ogre about it, except this has also lead to minor vandalism and my garage being broken into. Not to mention that I have two younger children who play back there. I don't need strangers appearing out of nowhere. In order to cut through my yard, you have to pass both doors into my house, both of my vehicles and my garage. Anything is possible if the wrong person comes through.

I have put up motion activated flood lights, fake cameras that blink when they see movement and even signs warning of cameras. Some people still ignore that. So, I decided that if I can't completely stop them other than to get a dog, I can at least keep an eye on my yard in case something does happen by putting in a REAL camera! The only problem with that is the outdoor units can be very costly. Especially the wireless style.

So, having a budget for a cheaper indoor wireless camera (works on your home wifi), I needed a way to protect it from the elements if I wanted to put it outside. I looked at plenty of options but couldn't really find anything related to my problem. While searching through my garage for anything that might work, I found a birdhouse that my youngest boy had given me for Father's Day sitting on the work bench waiting to be mounted somewhere. I decided that this is where I would put my camera.

I cut the front hole a little bigger, put an old flash-light 'clear' lens over the hole for weatherproofing, mounted the camera inside and hung it up on the garage. I know how a fantastic view of my driveway which also gives me a clear line-of-sight to the most vulnerable areas of my garage. I have a computer server that is always on, so I installed a free camera recording program and now, I can check the recordings later in the day to see what's been going on around the house.

Incidentally, the birdhouse was painted by my 7 year old.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Guinea Pig Corral from an Old Futon

My sons have two Guinea Pigs. Usually, on average, once a week, they need to be changed. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult task seeing as there is nowhere else for the little guys to go while you are doing that. In the summer, we can take the Pigs outside and let them graze on the back lawn. As long as they are supervised, they are fine. Unfortunately, one of them likes to randomly run for it. And he's a fast little guy. Makes it difficult, especially when he gets underneath something and we can't get him out.

In the winter, we have the same problem but indoors of course. And there are far more dangers in the house like stairs or the risk of getting tripped over if you don't know where they went. I had an old futon frame sitting in the garage for a long time that I finally took apart. There was a lot of good pine pieces that could be used somewhere else. In this case, I used the pine pieces to build the Guinea Pigs a large pen or 'Corral'.

There's more room for them to run around and investigate things in there. Guinea's are naturally curious critters who like to push light objects around or climb inside of things. After a few hours in the pen, they are ready to go back in their cage and sleep it off.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

If You Can't Get It, Make It! A Vintage Sign Replica.

I was renovating my office and couldn't come up with a theme that worked for me. I have always liked the industrial look and have a few artefacts around my house that would work well with the theme. I had an extra large 'No Parking' sign I found in an old barn which I grabbed (the site was about to be bulldozed anyway). I also had a yellow construction light and a few other street related things. So, I decided the street theme was the way to go.

One thing I have always wanted is a traffic light shell or something leftover from an old neon sign of any sort. I hit a few junk sellers and antique malls but couldn't find anything I liked (or could even come close to affording). Feeling a little discouraged, I moved forward with my renovation.

Along the way, an idea sprung to mind. If I couldn't have a real sign artefact, why couldn't I make one? With an image in my head and no plan, I dedicated a day to making myself an old neon arrow. I wanted this thing to look like I ripped it off an old weathered sign from some generic undisclosed location. I have to say that I was absolutely blown away with the final result. It turned out just as good as I imagined.

I made the arrow out of thin cheap pine, something they would normally just lay on a floor in a house. I used wood filler in the crevices to make it look like welds. I painted it with red primer which gave it the perfect weathered finish and followed up the simulated seams of the sign with silver paint. The silver gave it the illusion of paint flaking off to reveal steel or aluminium underneath.

Lastly, I went to the dollar store and purchased a bunch of glass night light bulbs and glued them randomly throughout the arrow to give it further neglect. However, the picture below shows Christmas lights I had originally installed. The lights seemed too new for the old arrow so I opted for the non-functioning version instead.

I fully intend on trying a few more projects like it because I really like the effect it creates. Maybe some full sized signs in the same sort of style.