Monday, December 30, 2013

The Carrot Monster

Dear Reader,

Life has a habit of offering up many magnificent tangents and new ideas, the trick - it seems to me - is to be open to them and see how they can connect. The other day Alien Two gave me this gem:


I simply love the hairy feet and in fact the whole wonderful playfulness of the carrot monster. I'm not sure exactly how or what her role will be, but you can rest assured she will make an appearance in the World of Dream when the dust settles around the kits and we get back to our story :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Patterns in the Snow

Dear Reader,

For those enjoying a white Christmas, here's a little idea for getting outside and making some art. Simon Beck's canvas is white and big and rather ephemeral. And his art is beautiful!
Enjoy the great outdoors whenever you can and remember possibilities are everywhere!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, December 23, 2013

Santa Squirrel

Dear Reader,

In the spirit of the holiday season I just had to share Alien two's squirrel accoutrements :)


While I was busy filling the first round of squirrel kits last week, she mysteriously disappeared, returning with these two little santa squirrels! I can't wait to see how others adorn their squirrels!

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday with family!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, December 20, 2013

First Acorns Gone!

Dear Reader,

Drum roll please, drum roll please ...

The first batch is gone!!

As you can see, beyond the love, time and care there are a lot of actual physical elements that go into our fantastic acorns :)

This first batch is sans hang-tags for those special Kickstarter backers who needed the kits for Christmas, and boy do they look handsome ... kids keeps your eyes out, the fun is about to begin :)


Alien Two helped us out at the post office and was delighted by the final receipt :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims
PS. If you are one of the lucky early receivers of a squirrel kit we'd love to see your squirrel; email us a photo and we'll start posting them, and beyond that we'd love to hear any and all feedback!

Email to: thesquirrelking@squirrelking.org

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Whirling Swirling Finale!

Dear Reader,

One of the wonderful things about big projects in life is that they have a habit of looking a long way off and then suddenly at the eleventh hour coalescing. After finally settling on a paint for our lids we quickly moved to industrial application methods - nothing like repurposing a pesticide applicator :) don't worry it was brand new.
The lids also have super lovely nubs on top now (though I don't have a photo handy and I need to start packing those for Christmas shipping).

And as you can see, the envelopes with the squirrel limbs and eyes are coming together too!

It's all so exciting!! Stay tuned for the final product :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS. Our first test run using the actual card deck of instructions resulted in three wonderful squirrels and a lot of laughs. Can't wait for you guys to have your turn :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Acorn Pickup!

Dear Reader,

Last week finished with the culmination of a couple of years' prototyping, planning and implementing. Yes, that's right, we went to a warehouse and picked up a pallet of molded pulp acorns!!

Turns out that a pallet of acorns looks small inside a cavernous warehouse, but a lot bigger in our cars and then subsequently our apartments :)

Fortunately we'll be shipping a few out to our first Kickstarter backers very soon. There's just the little job of branding them, painting the lids, and adding the twig branch ... oh, and filling them!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS. Yes, they had to use that forklift for us :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Inspiration from Two Wheels

Dear Reader,

A few years ago, I posted two videos of some biking action, one from Danny MacAskill and another of how the first inspired Alien One. Yesterday I came across another such imaginative display of two-wheeled technical prowess ... and I couldn't resist sharing again.


It's amazing to me how inspiring the combination of finely tuned ability with imagination is :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Season's Greetings from The Squirrel King



Dear Reader,

To celebrate this festive time of year we recently crafted red and green squirrels for the Aliens' handpicked wreath.

From everyone at The Squirrel King we hope your 2013 is rounding out well! Kisses and tidings :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, December 9, 2013

Coloring the Lid

Dear Reader,

We've had a wonderful weekend with family and friends and fun testing new looks for our acorn lids.

Alien Two was my enthusiastic assistant testing a vast variety of paints, thicknesses and means of application.

I'm pretty excited that we've landed on something that respects the texture of our 100% recycled acorns while giving the lid a lovely contrast to the nut itself. I hope your weekend was as fun-filled and rewarding!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, December 6, 2013

Woolly Bully Inspiration

Dear Reader,

First there was graffiti and then there came urban yarnage. Apparently this wool bull appeared a couple of years back, but she's still inspiring people like me :)

The New York Times did a lovely article on yarn bombing ... but what I'm sure you really want to see is the making of, so check it out:


Such a delightfully whimsical view of the world and what a great way to update the public perception of craft :) Have a great weekend and go forth and do some art!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Branding Our Acorns!


Dear Reader,

Our branding iron finally arrive and I immediately set out to test it.

The results ...

video

Obviously we needed more heat! So we turned the dial to the max :)

video

Super excited about the results! A squirrel with a crown on the side of a molded pulp acorn, who could ask for more :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS. As you can see, we've started testing paint on the lids too :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holidays with Old and New

Dear Reader,

The perfect holiday weekend is a delightful mix of the ephemeral. San Francisco was our home the last few days and we soaked up, tasted and delighted in a slew of experiences that have already blurred together in a magical soup of memories.

Not to be missed of course were traditional attractions that included the trolley cars, Chinatown, many of the parks, and the Exploratorium (an absolute must for anyone interested in exploring the mysteries of the world around them).
What we hadn't bargained for was our first encounter with claymation stop motion animation!

Way back when we first began exploring the world of The Squirrel King, I insisted to Justus that claymation seemed too labor-intensive (yes, I hear some of you laughing). The truth is I hadn't actually tried it ... well this weekend the aliens and I got a chance at The Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco.

 And the result: we had a ball shooting a raucous scene of a black and white dog chasing a pink and yellow squirrel! So now, we we think more about how our series will continue to unfold I might just consider adding some putty to the art direction ... of course with my two helpers the temptation is even greater :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, November 29, 2013

First Kickstarter Rewards Out!

Dear Reader,

The Squirrel King just hit a major milestone: our first Kickstarter rewards are in the mail! Kickstarter backers who ordered stickers, keep your eyes open :)

It feels so good to finally be physically sharing our rewards with our wonderful supporters!

For those of you who ordered kits, stay tuned, acorns are almost in California and the kits are becoming more real every day! There's still time to pre-order on this site for those who missed out :)

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Freshly Squeezed!

Dear Reader,

There's nothing quite like the joy that freshly squeezed orange juice can bring, and yesterday Alien Two took fresh to a new level with the inspired idea of simply slipping a straw into her clementine :)


It's nice to see creativity blossoming :)

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy some family time of your own!

Chin chin Ruthless Whims

Monday, November 25, 2013

Inspiration in Technique

Dear Reader,

Sometimes the behind the scenes work on animation can be even more inspiring than the final product. There's an ad running in England right now which fits that bill. Here's a review of that ad written by my cousin, including pics from the behind the scenes. And here's a little video:


Personally I think the ad would have been even more powerful if when watching we were aware of the technique behind it ... I guess that's what I like so much about Aardman :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, November 22, 2013

Great Balls of Yarn

Dear Reader,

Remember those tiny stickers that arrived a few weeks ago? Well they're starting to find homes on the little balls of yarn that come in our kits!

A lot have been rolled ... and a lot more rolling is still to come :)

Meanwhile the hoola-hooping squirrels that sit on my desk have been looking on hopefully that more friends will soon spring from the scraps ... and they might just be in luck as I turn on our high powered die-cutter today and try digitally cutting limbs for the first time! Stay tuned :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS Great excitement in other departments ... our molded pulp acorns are on a truck!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Big View from Olloclip!

Dear Reader,

The other day I heard about a Kickstarter campaign for a lens attachment for the iphone, the Olloclip. Well like our Kickstarter campaign, theirs was already over too. On the bright side, Olloclip now has a site where you can now order it yourself.

And look at the fun the squirrels and I have been having with it!

The 4-in-1 attachment has a wide angle, a fish eye and two macros! The possibilities are endless :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Mustache Dache!

Dear Reader,

As the sun rose on the weekend Squirrel King headquarters was devoted to the 'stache (and the fight against prostrate cancer)!




Bump pink pipe cleaners found a new use and on the trek to the start the Alien found some fine pre-race food!


At the start we found Elvis, aka Tom - The Squirrel King's magnificent cinematographer. And then we were off!

Shooting out of the gate Alien Two took out second place in her first road race. In the under 12's!!
Alien One was a close third and they shared the podium :)


A great day was had by all and even the clouds came out to support the event!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, November 15, 2013

Inspiration for The World of Dreams

Dear Reader,

In life it's often useful to percolate something important in the background. Work on The Squirrel King is quite like life :) While we've been very focused on our squirrel kits, I wanted to let you know we have not forgotten our work on the series that inspired them. Indeed here's a clip we came across recently that has inspired our vision for the World of Dreams!


I simply love the feeling of scope this clip has. Of course we'll be quite a bit more colorful! ... except maybe when the black void that's blotting out humanity's dreams starts enveloping the World of Dreams.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS To read about all the latest on the kits, check out yesterday's Kickstarter update :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let there be Light

Dear Reader,

With a view to many late nights of construction ahead -- and the base of the craft table long complete -- the need for lighting has been high.

Selecting the actual hanging fixtures took a little longer than expected and we had to figure out the electrics(!) but the final result feels like an awesome realization of the plans!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, November 11, 2013

What To Do with a Fu Manchu

Dear Reader,

As long time followers of The Squirrel King will know, a mustache is important! So is fighting cancer. In honor of both we will be partaking next weekend in the Mustache Dache!


If you live in LA, come join us. You'll see my Fu Manchu :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Math Behind Our Game

Dear Reader,

By popular demand, here's an explanation of the math behind our Squirrel Match card game!

On the right is an example of what our typical playing cards look like. The tricky thing is that for every two cards there is exactly one squirrel in common. How do we achieve that? ... Hold onto your hats, to understand we're going to venture to infinity and back :)

To start, here's some basics: As everyone knows, two lines on a flat surface always intersect at exactly one point ...

Except when they don't!

But anyone who's ever looked down a set of train tracks knows that parallel lines really do intersect, if only you could walk all the way out to infinity.

Mathematicians like all things equal if and when they kind of should be, so here's tricky step number 1:

To each line we add a point "out at infinity" that corresponds to the slope of that line. We've now made what mathematicians call "projective space" and parallel lines all intersect at their corresponding slope point out at infinity!

Soooo ... how does this relate to our squirrels? Each card correspond to the points on one a line. ... But there's only 8 squirrels on a card! So here's tricky step number 2:

Imagine that the whole plane is represented by a square, sort of like one of those old computer games - if you go off the right, that means you just come back on the left. Off the bottom, you come back on the top. So the line in the square below is one line.


This is all well and good, but there's still infinitely many points on that line I hear you say. Well yes, sure, but suppose we only worry about the whole number points represented by the dots. I've chosen a square with 7 dots across.

Now putting this all together is the last tricky part:

Because 7 is prime, a line that goes through two points in this square will go through seven points, add in the point at infinity corresponding to the slope of this line and you have the eight squirrels on a card! And the kicker!! Every pair of lines meet at exactly one point, ie every pair of cards have exactly one squirrel in common.

Now who said math isn't cool?!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims