Smiling Akita

Year of the Dogs: Akita

Continuing this year of the dog let’s learn about another breed! 

Today its the turn of the Akita.

Akita on a porch

The Akita also goes by the names Akita Inu, Japanese Akita, and Great Japanese Dog. They are named for the Akita Prefecture where the vast majority of the breed originated. “Inu” is the Japanese for dog, making their name “Akita Dog”.

The Akita is a large dog, with adults reaching as much as 70cm in height and 60kg in weight. Their short double layered coat is thick and comes in a variety of colours. Japanese Akitas can be red, fawn, sesame, brindle, or pure white. There is also the American Akita, considered a separate breed everywhere except in America and Canada. The American version typically features a black mask around its face. All Akitas feature curled tails and pointed ears, bearing more than a little resemblance to a giant Shiba Inu.

Shibas & Akitas
Shibas & Akitas together

The modern Akita originated in the northernmost section of Honshu Island, in the area that is now the Akita Prefecture. Ancestors of the Akita were hunting dogs, helping to bring down deer, wild boars and even black bears. Later they were mixed with many of the larger European dog breeds to create powerful fighting dogs. They were also mixed with German Shepherds during WWII to attempt to save them from a cull of all non-military dogs.

Akita’s are a fiercely dominant dog, and need early training to be tamed. They are also capable of extreme loyalty however, such as in the case of the most famous Akita, Hachiko. Hachiko lived with his owner, a university professor, in Shibuya in the 1920s, greeting his owner at the station every evening. In 1925 his owner died while lecturing and never returned home. Hachiko never stopped waiting for him though, meeting his train at the station every day for next nine years, nine months and fifteen days. His vigil came to an end in 1935 when he too passed away, his ashes interred with his beloved owner.

Do you have a favourite breed you want to see featured next?

T-Shirt Production, How Can You Do It?

As the Livewire T-Shirt Design Competition continues, let’s have a look at how you can actually make t-shirts. There are a couple of different methods that can be used to get your image onto a shirt, each with their own Pros and Cons.

Screen Printing

Screen printing in progress

First up is screen printing, an oldy and a goody. This technique requires you to create a stencil (or template), which is then held in place by the mesh screen. Next you pour ink all over it and use a squeegee to press down and ensure that the ink spreads all over the screen. Excess ink will be wiped away, and then you take the screen off and voila!
It works great for images that are a single colour, or only a few. Since each colour needs its own screen images with lots of colours will be difficult and time consuming to transfer. The quality you get is gorgeous, but it’s expensive for anything other than mass production. Once again, every new print will need its own screen prepared. If you’re looking to make a ton of the same shirt though it’s awesome.
It takes a bit of learning and having the tools on hand, but you can DIY screen printing if you want.

Direct To Garment (DTG)

Epson DTG Printer

Next is a rather new technique, called Direct To Garment printing. DTG works a lot like a normal printer, but instead of paper you feed it t-shirts. This allows you to print full colour images super easily, and also makes one off prints quite viable.
This isn’t great as a DIY option, as you’ll need the expensive printer on hand. If you outsource your printing to one of the many t-shirt printers around though this is most likely what it will be.

Transfer Paper

Transfer paper waiting to be applied

The last of the options we’ll look at is Transfer Paper, this is one you may have tried at some point. Transfer paper works by printing your image onto the paper and then using heat to transfer it onto the fabric. For a professional job there are sandwich press style machines to put your shirt in, but your ironing board at home can also work. This technique is dead simple to use, and it allows for full colour printing. The major drawback is you need to make sure to use a fabric that can take the heat.
This one is totally DIY compatible, just remember to print your design reversed!

I hope this inspires you to enter the competition if you haven’t already, remember entries close at 11:59pm AEST on July 31st!

Outback road

Livewire Podcast – Rewind

Last year I had the pleasure of speaking with filmmaker Yolanda Ramke about her film Cargo. The film is about to be released in Australian Cinemas on May 17th, and the rest of the world will be able to see it on Netflix on May 18th. So I thought it would be a great time to revisit my chat with her about the film, and filmmaking in general! Enjoy!

The Livewire Podcast is a great way to connect with Livewire while out and about. So if you want to listen you can subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes here:

Download from SoundCloud:

Checkers game in progress

Board Games of The Ancient World

Board games are old, but have you ever wondered how old? Allow me to introduce some of the world’s oldest board games, all of which are still played today!

Played since: 7th & 15th centuries
Chess board with pieces ready for play
Chess in it’s current form was codified in 15th century Europe. However this modern form was a descendant of an earlier game called Chaturanga. Chaturanga originated in India, though some argue for China, sometime around 600CE. This version had the same checkered board, but used 4 divisions of pieces starting in the corners of the board. Throughout its life and in all of its iterations Chess has been a game of pure strategy, and remains world renowned for the complexity it offers.

Nine Men’s Morris
Played since: 1400 BCE (possibly)
Nine Men's Morris board ready to play
The exact age of this game is undetermined, but it has been around since at least the Roman Empire. It has a lot of alternative names, including Nine Man Morris, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels and Cowboy Checkers. Based around forming three piece lines that allow the removal of opponent pieces, the game resembles a combination of noughts and crosses and checkers.

Played since: 2000 BCE
A Go game in progress
Also known as Weiqi, this incredibly old game originates in ancient China. The game is compared to chess, although it is larger and based on adding pieces to create complicated spreading arrangements. It was one of the four arts considered essential for any cultured aristocrat to master, the others being painting, calligraphy, and playing the Guqin.

Played since: 3000 BCE
Backgammon board with pieces
Dating back thousands of years to ancient Persia, backgammon is one of the oldest examples of a “race” game. Player’s roll dice to move their checkers round the board in opposite “horse shoe” loops, racing to complete their loop before their opponent can. Rules on legal moves and allowing players to knock out each other’s pieces allow for deeper strategy.

Played since: 3000 BCE
Checkers game in progress
A relatively simple game of hopping over your opponents pieces, checkers has had several forms over its long life. Credited by multiple sources as being Egyptian in origin, it is also known as Draughts. Checkers rules vary considerably by region, with over twenty local variants acknowledged.

Played since: 3500 BCE
Game of Senet
Finally we come to the game that holds the title of oldest board game in the world, Senet. Originating in Ancient Egypt over 5000 years ago it is also known as Senat or Sen’t. No complete record of the rules of Senet exists today, though that doesn’t stop retailers selling modern sets. These modern Senet games use rules pieced together from fragments of text spanning a thousand years, and likely differ greatly from the original.