Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Getting started with Wordpress Theme Customisation

I've been asked a few times by friends starting a small business, for information about getting started with Wordpress Theme Customisation as well as sorting out a domain and hosting. I thought I'd share some of the resources that will get you up and running.

You may be interested in the services I offer, which are perfect for startups, small businesses, organisations & charities.

It's an ongoing list, please feel free to share any additions.

Learning Code
You'll use HTML, CSS and PHP code with Wordpress. Don't worry, you will learn as you work with it, but you need to know the basics:
A free interactive website to learn to code

Much better code learning site, subscription.
Specifically, How To Build a Wordpress Theme track could be spot on for you.

Five Best Text Editors
You have many choices for code editors, my favorite is Sublime Text.


I use this almost everyday. For a beginner it's also good for learning the terminology so you can YouTube for tutorials etc.

Theme Customisation: A Beginner’s Guide to Customizing a WordPress Site
Great place to start for finding out where to start with themes - google/youtube to learn more.

Theme Customisation: How to customize a Wordpress theme
A comprehensive guide.

Theme Customisation: Customize any Wordpress Theme
Sometimes it's better to watch someone demonstrate - loads of tutorials on YouTube - go search!

Child theme: How to create a child theme
If you use an existing theme (free or paid) make a child theme to make edits.

Premium themes: Elegant Themes
I have a subscription to Elegant Themes, check out their theme Divi, one of the best adaptable themes I've found.

For domains and web hosting I usually suggest to get the Business Package from 123-reg.co.uk. There is also great options from TSO Host. Please shop around. Make sure you meet the Wordpress Requirements.

Uploading with FTP

Where to find your FTP username/password (123-reg)

After that really, Google is your friend :)

Good luck, any questions comment or email.

You may be interested in the services I offer, which are perfect for startups, small businesses, organisations & charities.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bells Project - Progress 2

I introduced the project in my last post with my initial progress, in this post I will summarise my development and the changes I've made since.
Campanology exhibition poster. Design: Rosie Carmichael 
4-11 August 2015
North Cabin, The Control Room, Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol

Five artists from across a multitude of disciplines all participating in this collaborative installation for one week. When the bells of St Mary Redcliffe chime, the piece will come to life.

Charlotte Biszweski, Aoife Barret, Lorna Sylvester, Naomi Greeves, Jono Sandilands.

Facebook event

Power & Motor
The motor I originally had my eye on was a stepper motor, the idea being that I could control the motor a bit more via Arduino, but in the hope to keep things really simple I opted for a straight forward 12v motor. So it would just simply be powered directly from a power adapter to run.
12v 14RPM motor from Amazon 
Really there's no real opportunity to test it properly until everything else comes together so I'm hoping it's all good!

The lift
Initially I prototyped a marble pump mechanism for lifting the ballbearings. It worked quite well with a drill, but when attached to my new motor, it was a bit much and was overloading... not surprisingly it's quite a clunky beast!

Introducing: Marble lifter v2
So a simpler mechanism is required, it would be better to have only one moving part. Here's what I came up with with a bit of research and a very quick turn around on some last minute laster cutting, thanks to my neighbour at my studio in Deben House.

It works quite well don't you think!?

The tower
I figured the best way to build the tower (to allow the marbles travel vertically to the top of the track) was to drill holes in smaller blocks of timber. In my studio I don't have many tools, just a few hand tools and a drill, I wanted to make use of my very basic setup to see what I can do.

Each block is 4-5cm, hand sawn + drilled. They are locked together with dowel plugs.
Starting ambitious I wanted to have 50 ballbearings in the run and be 20 blocks high, that would make the tower stand around a meter tall. When I finally got the new mechanism and motor hooked up, I realised I was going to have to cut back quite considerably as the motor didn't have enough torque to handle that lift.

Carved and ink blocks (left), printed on paper

I have also carved each block so when they are stacked together they create an abstract and simplified likeness to the architecture of St Mary Redcliffe's bell tower. The blocks have been used to make prints.

Building Frames
The exhibition is an installation, Charlotte who is organising it has been planning conceptually to have the pieces displayed in three dimensional frames. They act as a holder and a frame for each of the works, and also takes advantage of the space making it more visually appealing to someone walking by. Along with Naomi & Aoife, I offered my help for building frames and after a few days of planning, deconstructing pallets, testing, panic buying timber, building, failing... we eventually worked it out...

Breaking up pallets - is hard work!

Frame building pictures are a mix of Charlotte and Naomi, sorry guys I stole!

Final push
It was really difficult last few weeks, with a really close friend passing away. Working on this project during that time really helped me get through the lead up to the funeral. I have read about creativity being a positive and therapeutic outlet during the grieving. I've never really been sure how to deal with the death of someone close to me, but this has possibly been a step to finding my own way. I'd like to know more so if anyone has any links to articles or personal experiences to share, please do.

It also meant I needed to work extra hard in order to get finished up so I could walk away knowing I had created the best possible outcome. Some of my extravagant plans for the wire track had to be abandoned and simplified, I made an oversight in how hard it is to form wire, especially with very limited tools.

Sometimes working out the simplest route to take in a project pays off. I'm yet to process my final thoughts on the outcome, as I've only seen it working twice! Tonight is the first preview and it will be switched on for over an hour, I have no idea if it will hold up! A bit nerve-racking!

So the motor failed on opening night! Pretty embarrassing but it was semi expected. Not enough time to test and not enough money to buy a good motor in the first place. We live and learn.

The good thing is that it did work; the motor is just not strong enough for the load of the heavy ballbearings so after a while it just stalled. I went in a few times to restart it but it inevitably failed within a few minutes... so I had no choice but to switch off, it was really disappointing. Like I said I had kinda seen it coming, but with other things on my mind, I really just wanted and needed it to work and all be ok.

I couldn't sleep that night, which seems silly now, but at the time it felt like I had to get this working as soon as possible. If I didn't get the new motor ordered asap I wouldn't get delivered until the day the exhibition closed. Searching for hours online and trying to calculate the best motor to get for the specs I went around in circles from eBay to Maplin with no luck and no guarantee of delivery time.

I am of the belief (not a religious one) that things do work out, or fall into place. I was once told this is if you want something bad enough you will get it - through work.

So slotting right into that motto, I eventually found an amazing supplier of electronic and mechanical components to the hobbyist + education called Makertronics.

The site has the best selection of motors I've found, and lots of other electronics and parts that will be useful in future, so sure they'll come in handy again! They had the perfect motor at 15rpm and high torque - the motors are actually drill motors. I ordered at 5am Friday and I received on Saturday lunch time. Pretty cool.

It took a bit of time to retro fit into my piece as the motor shaft was a different size, but eventually it all worked out!

We're working on a video of the exhibition.