Friday, June 30, 2017

DIY Removable Flash Card Based On Sigur Rós Songs




How It All Started

I was sitting all relaxed one morning listening to Sigur Rós when a thought crossed my mind: "What if I could make you, a flash card that teaches you Icelandic, based on Sigur Rós songs?" I was about to tweet that, but instead I started working on it. Obviously 'cause I thought it was gonna be a breeze. Spoiler alert: it's not.

The Idea: It Has To Be Removable!

I'm gonna make a set of flash card consisting of five batches. One batch will consist of ten word entries that are taken from one Sigur Rós song. At the end, I'm gonna have 50 word entries derived from five songs: Hoppípolla, Starálfur, Glósóli, Ekki Múkk, and Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur.

But, because it's not enough to learn Icelandic or any language from only 50 vocabs, I decided that the entries should be removable and updatable. That's why the words and illustrations on my flash card can be pulled out and replaced with something new.

The Journey

Initial Phase: Solid Idea, Bad Execution

After figuring out the tools and materials I might need, as well as calculating the dimensions of the card, I started working on it without much thought. I knew I got the materials I needed. 

For the base, my mischievous self insisted that I make use of the last remnants of my failed startup, i.e., my business card.




And then origami paper will cover up the base and give it color. 

At each corner and the middle of the card, I'm gonna attach small pieces of poster board--but just on one side at the edge so they can serve as a clip that holds the word and illustration pieces. 

Lastly, I'm gonna slide the word and illustration pieces made of origami paper between the poster boards. This way, the words and illustrations can actually be pulled out and changed (into a new entry, or into another language) according to your wish.

The plan is good, the base cards are ready, time to insert the word and illustration pieces. 

But oh, because I made the cards willy-nilly, they're askew, their sizes inconsistent, and as a result, the pieces did not fit. 




An awful mess. I have to start from scratch.

Reborn Phase: Beauty Matters! Restart Everything!

Wow. Apparently, you cannot work willy-nilly when you're doing 50 pieces of cards by hand. Okay, I decided to redo everything, but this time, I'm gonna rely on something I know will be consistent: computer and printer. 

The first time I tried making the flash card, I cut up my pieces along hand-drawn lines. Wrong. Before you cut them up, just make the lines on the computer and print them out directly on your poster boards or origami paper. Saves you time and gives you consistency. Then for a clean cut, go with a sharp cutter.

Once I got my poster board pieces ready, I attached them on the base really carefully. As I learned before, askew pieces will fuck everything up.

Now I got a really neat poster boards accurately placed exactly where they should be. And when it's time to slide the word and illustration pieces, they actually fit.






Crazy Hidden Challenges

Now. I don't wanna talk about it, this is really painful and traumatizing, but actually, there's one more challenge in making a flash card. Not just my flash card, any flash card I believe. And that, is illustrating a certain type of word.

It is easy to select a picture to illustrate a hand, or a woman. But how exactly do you illustrate words such as "therefore" or "but"? 

I had to rack my brain and get around the problem. Eventually, I decided to get creative by getting philosophical, going abstract, and conceptualizing shits. Anything to survive basically. And the result is absurd cards like these:


Endalaust | Eternity. A wheel and its shadow. 
Because together they create the "eight" symbol. 


Öðrum | Other. Kids excluding one other kid. 
Because that's just how you behave towards other people.


And the most absurd one of all...


En | But. Scissors taken apart. 
Because it is a pair of scissors, BUT it is not functioning that way.


From Maker Movement To Open Knowledge Movement

As a user and fan of a lot of MOOCs, I'm grateful for their existence in the open knowledge movement. Now that I've completed my project, I'd like to give back to the community by making my design available to anyone who wishes to make it.  

Here are the downloadable files where you can find the ready-to-print designs and materials:

Materials and Tools
Poster Board Pieces
Word Pieces
Illustration Pieces

Credits and License

Special thanks to Sigur Rós for providing the inspiration and creating the songs.

Picture credit: 

A wheel and its shadow: Ravinder M A
Kids excluding one other kid: Robert de Bock 
Scissors taken apart: Eric.Ray 
Night: frostnip907
Down: Riko Jennrich
Standing: Thoroughly Reviewed
Yes: Pabak Sarkar
Dream: Emily Raw

Also thanks to Flickr users whose pictures I used as illustrations, whether they're shown here or not.

This flash card and its design are free for non-commercial use.

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