Month: March 2017

Laser Cut Bowls For Fun and For Good

Each year, we do a fundraiser for local food pantries and homeless shelters. The aim is to raise awareness, and help address hunger in our local area. An integral part of this fundraiser are decorative bowls that are given out as keepsakes of each years events. This year, I was tasked with producing bowls, and needed to splice this task with getting the 6th grade confident in 2D design and laser cutting.

The result is simple laser cut bowls made of concentric layers that are rotated and glued to create the final form. The design process is simple and comes out intricate and quite beautiful.

The designs are done in, an amazing vector illustration tool that runs perfectly in the browser. To get my students into designing quickly. I put together a step by step guide, as well as a walkthrough video that you can use easily to get going. You can see the video and the guide here.

This lesson took two 70 minute periods, one to design and one to assemble. Most of the laser cutting took place outside of classtime in order to keep the project moving forward, but could certainly be done during class time with each bowl taking no more than 10 minutes to cut out. It would be a perfect introduction to the operation of the laser cutter as well.

In the end, these bowls were huge hit. In fact, we were asked to make an additional batch of 15 in a bit of a larger size as gifts for hosts during an Upper School exchange trip. It is certainly one of those rare and wonderful successes in the space this year.

Brew Day Debrief: Kitchen Sink Extract

I haven’t brewed in a long time, way too long. For plenty of reasons, it has been nearly impossible to carve out 5 hours on a weekend to make it happen. Plus, I’ve been prepping for the BJCP exam, so brewing as been second to drinking and studying leading up to that. But now I’ve taken the exam, and I’ve been pushing myself to open up the weekend shop and brewing time. So, I decided to do something quick and easy, an extract batch.

Heres the recipe for a 2 gallon batch:

  • 3.3lbs Briess Light Pilsner LME
  • 1lb rolled oats steeped for 20 minutes
  • 0.3oz Falconers Flight 7C’s – 60 minutes
  • 0.2oz each of Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe – 5 minutes
  • 0.2oz each of Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe – Whirlpool / Chilling
  • 0.6oz each of Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe – 7 Day Dry Hop

This is what I am affectionately calling the Kitchen Sink Extract Pale Ale. It is using up a few older bags of Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe I had in the fridge from my Hop Hands clone attempts, and a very old back of the 7C’s I didn’t even know I had. The oats were thrown in just for fun, not really expecting any real contribution…I just wanted to add something. Not sure really wether to call this a Pale Ale or an IPA. It doesn’t quite have the gravity for an IPA, but it has the bitterness.

I nailed that estimated gravity I got from Beersmith. Nice boil for 90 minutes. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of cooling. I have my wort chiller, but I don’t have a hose line to connect it to, so I use a simple submersible pump. Usually I’ll run that from a bucket in the kitchen, but that has been a bit messy at times, so I started running it in the shower. That has been much cleaner, and moving the 2 gallon container isn’t hard…however, I’ve had to move the vessel again after chilling to transfer into the fermenter bucket. This time, I took the time to plan a bit better and came up with this system:

The next step is to add a valve to this kettle to make transferring to the fermenter easier, and cleaner hopefully following the whirlpool.

On the brew system to do list for this week:

  • Make room in the beer fridge for a fermenter bucket to cold crash / dry hop next week. Maybe do a gelatin fining addition as well? This batch seemed super truby.
  • Put the a valve on this boil kettle.
  • Design / Order Parts for the recirculation sprayer on the electric mash tun system. Maybe clean up the pump arrangement rather than leaving it floating on the table. Maybe look into quick release fittings?
  • Move the fermenter from the hot water bath with the aquarium heater, into the fridge with the microspace heater.
  • Plan batch for brewing this weekend…if I have time over the weekend…maybe a snowday batch?!