Monday, May 20, 2013

STEP BY STEP | Build a Kite using Benjamin Franklin's Technique

In our second kite-building workshop, we distributed a manual showing the making-of kites following Benjamin's way. Whoever missed the workshop, lost the hand-out we gave last time, or simply is so excited to join 247 square team on the 26th of May 2013 (facing Rouche Rock, Beirut, Lebanon) to fly some kites, here is your chance to make one yourself.

Follow the complete how-to below. Build your kites and share them with us, be it on twitter, facebook, email, or simply at our kite-flying event.

poster designed and illustrated by Layla Smaili

Things You'll Need

- one 24-inch wooden dowel
- one 20-inch wooden dowel
- large piece of paper (at least 26" x 26") or a nylon trash bag
- tape
- lightweight string, twine, or fishing line
- craft knife
- ruler
- pencil, pen, or marker
- scissors

What You'll Do

Step 1: With the craft knife, carve a notch into both ends of each wooden stick.

Step 2: Take the longer wooden stick. Using a ruler, mark off a spot that is 6 inches from the end (or 1/4 of the way into the stick).

Step 3: Take the shorter wooden stick. Using a ruler, mark off a spot that is 10 inches from the end (or halfway into the stick).

Step 4: Place the shorter stick crosswise over the longer stick, matching up the marks you just made. When the sticks are laying down, all the notches should run parallel to the ground.

Step 5: Take the string and wrap it tightly around the center of your sticks, binding them together. You will be making an "X" shape with the string. Double check that the notches remain parallel to the ground.

Step 6: Thread the string through all the notches, creating a diamond shape. Wrap it around twice, making sure the string is taut. This is the frame of your kite.

Step 7: Pull the end of the string back towards the center of your kite. (Make sure the frame is still taut.) Wrap your string tightly around both sticks (mimicking the "X" shape you made earlier with the string) and tie it off with a knot.

Step 8: Cut your paper or plastic bag so that it is slightly larger than the kite frame.

Step 9: Fold the paper over the string frame, and either tape or glue it down.

Step 10: Reinforce the top and bottom tips of your kite with tape. Then, using a pen or needle, punch a tiny hole through these reinforced tips.

Step 11: Cut a 2 foot piece of string. Knot one end of the string through the top hole and the other end through bottom hole. This will form the bridle of your kite.

Step 12: Take the remainder of your string. Attach one end of it to the bridle (about 1/3 of the way down). This will be your flying string.

Step 13: Either tape or knot a 2 yardlong string to the bottom tip of your kite. Then, take your ribbon and tie bows around the string. The tail of your kite will add stability when it is in flight.


Now, it is time to fly your kite!

Find a breeze and an open space with no power lines or trees. Let the wind work its magic! 
(Hint: If your kite jerks or dips when you fly it, try moving the location of the flying string knot up or down the bridle.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

WORKSHOP | Stop-Motion Animation | LATC 2013

It was hosted by LATC (Lebanese Armenian Technical College, at Arax Street, Sophia Hagopian College, Burj Hammud), on Saturday, 27 April 2013, gave birth to my first experience at giving a public workshop.

What mostly worried me was the attendees' age. Expecting kids or teenagers, I soon realized that they were all almost my age, if not older. The lame jokes I prepared suddenly felt lamer when I said them in the workshop – the half I remembered, anyway. But the intensity and pressure didn't last long, and faded with the attendees' introductions. They all had a passion or a reason to know more about animation. From different backgrounds and with different interests (the audio visual student, the aspiring designer, the special effects fan, the actor, the web designer…), they knew what they were expecting.

clay character by Melkon Babeyan and Njteh Meqerdichian

The workshop started with a lecture defining animation as an illusion of motion. Stop motion, the main purpose behind the workshop, was the act of moving an immobile object or element or person… one increment at a time, one picture at a time (then repeating this over and over again for hours and hours).

After that, we covered a few basics. From keyframes, to anticipation, to overlapping actions, we learned about the principles of the walk and lip-syncing, watched a few excerpts from famous animation movies (and some of their making-of) (Coraline, ParaNorman, Corpse Bride…), a stop-motion ad shot with a Mobile phone (Gulp shot with 3 Nokia N8), a music video made with pixelation (Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie)… We even had a look at frame by frame drawn animations (example: Alice in Wonderland).

We concluded the workshop with applying what we briefly learned in the lecture. In our first animation, we threw Omar Talhouk out of his chair. Lots of fun for us, an extremely painful process for him.

After that, they divided themselves into groups of two, and each worked on their own animation idea using clay (claymation). Check out their beautiful results:

1- “Banana Revolution” animation by Vahan Yian and Joe Sahakian

2- “She” animation by Omar Talhouk and Shoghag Ohannessian

3- “7ayalla” animation by Melkon Babeyan and Njteh Meqerdichian

4- “Lord of the Rings” animation by Maria Bakkalian and Hagop Tashjian

workshop by Alaa Kabalan
post edited by Zeina Shaaban

Saturday, May 11, 2013


“Thanks for coming to listen to me blab,” Joe Sacco says to me as he signs my copy of his graphic novel, Palestine. A throng of people stand around us, holding books to be signed, waiting to catch a moment with the man who we’ve all been lucky enough to have spent the past hour listening to.

AUB’s Hostler Center is the venue of Sacco’s sit-down on the ninth of May with animator/comics artist Lina Ghaibeh as part of the Hay Festival. His visit to Beirut has also seen him interviewed by Mazen Kerbaj the day before. As a slideshow of selections from Sacco’s work begins to play in the background, Ghaibeh makes the introductions that are oh-so-unnecessary to an audience comprised of local lovers and makers of comics, congregated on the day out of particular appreciation for the Sacco variety. 

 “My books haven’t actually been translated into fourteen languages. I just made that number up. Don’t tell my publishers,” Sacco opens up with, garnering laughs, in reference to a point from Ghaibeh’s introduction. He’s easy and elegant and the rest of the interview continues along the same engaging note. Sacco discusses things like how he began – very much as a pioneer – his comics journalism, why he chooses to tell the stories that he does, how he puts honesty ahead of objectivity and his current project revolving around Mesopotamia. Each question Ghaibeh poses to him prompts a reflective answer and their dialogue has us laughing, learning and captivated. The only downside is that we’ve only got an hour with him, but Ghaibeh’s interview makes the most of it.

There’s even a bit of time at the end to take questions from the audience and the microphone gets passed from end to end of the auditorium to cram in as many of the many askers as possible. We get to hear about a new range of topics, from Sacco’s insight on how his books might affect the people in them to why he never draws his own eyes to the influences behind his style. 

In the end, I tell Sacco that his blabbing has been an enormous pleasure. 

Article and photography: Aya Krisht

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