Archive for January, 2010

How to make a Booger Ball

Here it is, the original story.  I’ve only modified it slightly since it was first written, adding the update note from my daughter.  I am keeping the old page intact here as it is fun to watch the counter.  This is the “product” I was talking about in the post about Product Development.

When my daughter Ellen was four I started teasing her that I was saving all of my boogers in a big booger ball. I don’t know why I told her that except that it was fun to watch her make that “grossed-out” face that kids make when they smell something bad or see a squished cat on the road. She always begged to see it so finally I told her that she couldn’t see it now but I would give it to her for her eighteenth birthday. Well, guess what – she’s turning eighteen and I’ve got to come through with a booger ball!
Here’s the basic steps to successful Booger Ball manufacturing:
1. You’ll need rubber cement. I used four 4oz bottles from a local office store to make a ball 2” in diameter (it cost around $6-7 total for the four bottles).
2. Colored markers are used to add color to the boogers. Rubber cement dries in a nice neutral mucus color which is great. Boogers, however, are not all the same color. If you’re sick, they might be bright green or if you’re working hard in a dirty building they might be nearly black – remember that your nose is your body’s air filter protecting your lungs from the junk in the air.
BoogerBallBrush-Blog If you pick too hard or if the air is especially dry, you might find a bit of blood in your boogers. The colored markers in an assortment of colors helps to simulate the array of boogers you might accumulate over 14 years if you were really saving them.
3. A plastic tray, a plastic counter-top or a lid to a plastic tub to spread the cement on is needed also. I used two plastic lids from some storage tubs I had LEGO in. The cement comes off fairly easily but you might want to use something you are not especially attached to just in case there are some unforeseen problems in the project.

4. Rubber cement doesn’t come out of porous surfaces so be careful not to get any on the carpet like I did. Take your time and work in an area suited for craft projects. Rubber cement is also a bit smelly and rather flammable – read the bottle and heed the warnings there.
5. Spread the cement on the plastic surface in a uniform layer that’s not too thick. I was tempted to goop it on but when I did the boogers did not turn out as well as they took much longer to dry.
BoogerBallPalate-Blog 6. Allow some time to let the rubber cement to dry. I used two plastic lids so while one was drying I worked on the other. This proved especially efficient.
7. Choose your color palate from the colored markers. Think of all the boogers that you have picked over the years and remember the colors. Purple and pink may not be useful (unless you’ve snorted dry Kool-Aid – ouch!) but the shades of green and brown with the addition of red and black or gray will work great.
BoogerBallLines-Blog BoogerBallLinesMore-Blog
8. Using the colored markers, apply thin stripes of color. I tended to use only one or two colors at a time. You will be making MANY batches of boogers so don’t worry about trying to add too much color in each batch. The rubber cement is a good natural mucus color that only needs an occasional accent from the markers. You may even make several batches without adding color as I did. BoogerBallLinesDone-Blog
BoogerBallRoll-Blog 9. Start in a corner and rub the dried rubber cement with your fingers making a rolled booger. Continue rolling until the booger roll is the desired thickness. Tear the booger from the plastic surface. You may end up with a long string that can be torn into smaller pieces. Roll some of the cement into little balls. Lump pieces together into interesting shapes.


10. MAKE BOOGERS – you’re a pro already!

11. Pile all of the completed boogers into one corner of your plastic surface or save them on a paper plate for later. You may choose to be truly artistic and make a booger painting. If so, I would separate the colors of boogers keeping all of the red ones in one pile with the greens and browns in other piles. BoogerBallBoogers-Blog
BoogerBallStartSmall-Blog 12. Start making your booger ball. These boogers stick together rather nicely without any added glue. Clump a bunch together to start the ball and continue to roll the ball in the pile until all of the boogers are stuck to it.


BoogerBallRough1-Blog 14. If you’re anxious to have a big ball without the time investment to really make a “real” one, you can start with a superball or other rubber ball. I haven’t tried this but I imagine if you coat the ball with rubber cement and let it dry, the new boogers should stick nicely and you’ll have a big fat ball of boogers in no time.
BoogerBallRough2-Blog BoogerBall-Blog
BoogerBallBox-Blog 15. You might find a cool box to put your booger ball in like I did at a craft store. If you get your ball big enough, you can use those display products designed for baseballs – that would be WAY cool.
16. Be careful – this booger ball is NOT edible!
There are some things to consider before you begin to make your booger ball:
• Why in the world would anyone want to make a booger ball?
• You may not score points with your significant other for taking on this craft project – no matter how creative your final creation ends up.
• Kids LOVE boogers and the idea of anyone really having a booger ball fascinates them. Keep your ball a secret, saving it only for special occasions. Your grandkids/nieces/nephews will think you’re the coolest grandpa/grandma/aunt/uncle ever.
• Life is too short not to make our own booger ball!
• This is a messy project using harmful chemical glue products – don’t let kids get hurt. The markers will stain your fingers for a time (even though they claim to be washable).
• Your fingers may become sore and a bit raw after a few hours of booger manufacturing.
• Please don’t eat your boogers.

So there it is; how to make a booger ball. If you enjoy this tutorial you might consider hiring me to develop one of your wacky ideas. Check out our site to see what else we do and how we can help you in the future. God gave us way too much creativity, but we’re willing to share! Send us a photo of your booger ball creation and we might add it to the Booger Ball Hall of Phlegm.

Update: Ellen loved her booger ball. Here’s the note she sent me:

BoogerBallResponse-BlogThanks for stopping by! -Amos

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Saturday, January 16th, 2010 Product Development, Swell Ideas 1 Comment

Product Development

Ever since I was young, I’ve had an obsession with the idea of  “product development”.  Every new idea I’ve had is accompanied by 10 more about how to manufacture, package, brand and market the idea.  I can’t explain the obsession, it’s just what rolls out of my brain next.  I’ve created products like CookieCrumbs, the Toad Stool, the KingKol and A Place In Your Heart.  My biggest frustration in all this is that I cannot seem to get even one of these products successfully to market.  Like everyone else, I blame lack of time and resources.  This year I want to try something different.  Like Captain Kirk who rewrote the Kobayashi Maru test, I’m going to redefine success.  All this time, I’ve been judging my self by units sold and since I’ve sold very few units of any of my products (except maybe LolliPop Toppers™), I feel unsuccessful.  One product of my design is going to change that.

The product I’m contemplating is the BoogerBall story I penned.

BoogerBall-BlogImageI know, roll your eyes and say, “Oh brother, what absurdity is he talking about now?”  Well, I wrote a mildly humorous story some years ago called, “How to Make a BoogerBall” for my daughter Ellen.  I posted it here, on my company website for the world to see.  To my amazement, the world has seen it.

So that’s my product.  Not a BoogerBall, not a book about BoogerBalls, but the story itself, How to Make a BoogerBall by Amos E. Avery.  Why does this redefine success for me?  Because it’s already a success.  My goal is not to sell the story, but to get people to read it.  My first website counter reached 4000 plus readers before I changed web hosts.  The new site has over 29000 hits on that page.  Blogs around the world have pages of comments about my story.  It’s already a success.  Anything I can do to gain more readers is a success and anything I can sell along the way is icing on the cake.

So here’s the plan.  Launch as a legitimate site (it’s just forwarding to a page on my company site right now).  Do all of the “product development” things I can’t help but do (you should see the pages of notes and drawings I have for just this idea alone).  Develop manufacturing techniques, logos, packaging, identities, marketing strategies, support products, tag lines, graphics and compelling stories.  Most importantly, write about all of it as I do it. will be the recipient of the finished product – the story and all of its supporting stuff. will be the recipient of this first entry and all subsequent entries along the way.  So, if you want to learn more about creativity mixed with faith mixed with foolishness mixed with practical product development insights, stay tuned.


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Friday, January 15th, 2010 Product Development, Swell Ideas 1 Comment

CSWP Advanced Weldments Specialist


I discovered yesterday from reading Mike Pucket’s blog that the SolidWorks certification team had released another advanced exam, CSWP Weldments.  Since I am scheduled to teach a hands-on session at SolidWorks World next month titled, “Non-Welded Weldments – Using SolidWorks Weldment Tools and 3DContentCentral to Create Cool 80/20 Structures”, I thought it would be a good idea to get certified.

The first thing I discovered is that SolidWorks is just like any other company – their website is not up-to-date.  The certification page in the Customer Portal lists a coupon code for subscription customers to take an advanced exam for free (one of the perks of being on subscription).  The code didn’t work.  It had expired 5 days ago.  The Weldments exam wasn’t even listed.  A quick email to brought a new code from Av (Avelino Rochino, Certification Specialist) that worked just fine.

On to the Sample Exam.  The nice thing about the sample exam which can be said about all of their sample exams, is that it is, in some ways, harder than the actual test.  I know Weldments fairly well after creating over 40 weldment profile library features of 80/20 extrusions and uploading them to 3DContentCentral.  It turns out that my weakness is 3D Sketches.  I really had to work to get my answer to match the key on the last page of the sample.  [Note to self, work on 3D sketch techniques.]  Next the sample exam showed me something I’d never done before, a 3 member miter.3MemberMiterIt’s possible to have 3 members come to a corner and miter all 3 together.  It was new to me and took a few minutes to master – a few minutes well spent.  So the sample exam was a challenge, but I did all right, so on to the real thing.

120 minutes, 27 questions.  I jumped into the first few with fervor and made a few profiles.  Something to consider if you work mostly in inches, make yourself a part template that is in metric as most every CSWP exam I’ve taken has started most exercises in metric units.  Another suggestion that I teach my students is to add the Weldment Profiles directory to your Design Library task pane.DesignLibraryIt makes it easier to create weldment profile library features (drag the sketch from the tree to the pane and drop it) and you get a nice preview of the profiles that you don’t get inside the weldment tools.

So I felt pretty confident after the first few consecutive questions and then I remembered my failure in the cave of 3D sketching.  I took my own advice from the Sheet Metal exam – stop and read every problem.  I’ve recently made lots of drawings with weldment cut list tables, so I jumped on those questions next.  Then to the advanced questions which focused on proper profile alignment and finally the big 3D sketch problem.  I was glad I saved this part for last because at that point I figured I had already passed the test.  I’d also wasted 15 minutes of test time on a quick bio break and an urgent discussion with a customer about their customer who wanted us to fudge our paperwork because they made a mistake on their paperwork.  There’s nothing like having someone ask you to throw away hours of work you did over 2 years to fix a paperwork glitch to distract you during a CSWP exam.

I tried hard, it looked perfect, but my 3D sketch answer didn’t match any of the choices.  I triple checked, redrew some of it and still no match.  Finally I chose the closest answer and the test ended.  Wow, 120 minutes are gone and I passed.  Not a perfect score, but I can proudly say that I’m the first person in Minnesota that chooses to be listed in the CSWP database to pass the Weldments exam.  Hmmm.  Well, my kids weren’t that impressed either.  The good thing is that I can teach my SolidWorks World class with official credentials.  And, I can now add CSWP-AWS to CSWP, CSWP-ASMS and of course, BSME.  Woohoo!

SW_CP_Advanced_Weldments_Specialist_horiz SW_CP_Advanced_Sheet_Metal_Specialist_horiz SW_CP

The exam was pretty fair.  There was one question series that didn’t specify a material in the questions but it was already chosen for you in the downloaded file you must start with.  The other exams are notorious for throwing in material changes to catch you up, so I’m hyper sensitive to this – it should have been in the question a least for verification.  Also, on my system, everything seemed to hang for an undetermined period of time after downloading a file (several times during the exam).  This is a bit unnerving for fear the exam is locked up and all of your time will be wasted.  Overall, a good test – glad I passed.  I’m not sure where you stand on divine intervention, but I can honestly say that I thanked God more than once during the test for showing me something in question 12 that corrected a slight mistake I made in question 8.  It’s a good thing you can go back and improve your answers.  Say a little prayer before you begin, it will help.


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Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 CAD, SolidWorks 3 Comments