Mar 302015

Slick and I have really been out, enjoying the amazing spring weather in Cheyenne.
This weekend, we went to two different parks and explored some far reaches of town, now that everything is thawed out.
On Saturday, after meeting friends for lunch at a “new” pizza place (turns out it isn’t new! It is the same, mediocre Mondello’s pizza – they just changed the name on their sign) and checking in at Gryphon’s Games, we walked around downtown, then headed over to Holliday Park. That’s the one with the Big Boy engine and the small lake with three thousand geese.
Holliday Park

It was too sunny for me, but the cool breeze helped out.
Holliday Park
We both got too much sun. Slick was smart and had a hat on, but his neck got burned. My sunblock is probably expired, but more likely I didn’t get enough of it on enough of me because I ended up a bit pink on all exposed skin that evening and red on a couple shirt edges.

On Sunday, our first stop was Target for fresh sunblock. After that, we explored. It was even more sunny this day.
Antelope in the shade
This antelope near the WYDOT agreed that it was too sunny.

We finished our day with a shade covered picnic in, then scampering around Lion’s Park – with full sunblock this time. Probably too much sunblock, but better safe after the previous day’s burn.

There was a challenge involved, and Slick climbed one of the park sign posts.
Slick, sitting atop one of the Lion's Park sign posts.
We went home completely exhausted again, but it was pleasant. Soon enough it will be too hot to romp around like this all day and I’ll be hiding in my cool basement workshop. So, better to exhaust ourselves now.

Mar 272015

Praxis: Soft Carving
My own freshly carved alphabet stamps.
Yes, I am completely aware that driving to the local craft store, spending $1.06 on a premade alphabet set and driving back home could have been completed ten times over instead of carving my own. But, I like my own. And now I am better at carving text.

This took longer than I expected. In part, the long time spent was due to the meditative nature of carving. It is easy for the clock to tick away while the gouge is moving. The other part is due to distractions that keep me out of the workshop. I think the soft carving praxis I’ve set before myself is going to take multiple months to complete.

Mar 252015

This second project section concerns decoration of the plain, fused plastic. There isn’t a lot of technique here, so I’ll run through a summary of things I tried.

This is what the samples started off like.
Fused plastic bag decoration.
Plain, fused plastic – made from the unprinted sections of Target bags.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
A variety of inks. At the top we have solvent inks, under that Sharpies, Faber Castell Gelatos (pigment in a kind of creamy medium) and at the bottom, Ranger alcohol inks. All of these looked good going on, but all these failed the “rub hard with a paper towel” test. The best of the failures was the solvent ink and alcohol ink. These could be used in a protected area, I think.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Next is more alcohol ink, but this time applied to raw plastic and THEN fused. I used Pinata alcohol inks this time, which were more concentrated, and they were brighter before fusing, darker and more vibrant after they were condensed with the plastic. They didn’t blend well, at all, so this is a good solution if you want only one color or highlights. This method mostly passed the “rub hard with a paper towel” test, but failed the fingernail scratch test.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Acrylic paint, Golden heavy body. It went on like a dream, but after drying you could rub and scratch it right back off. Cool if you want to make a scratch-off toy, but no good for permanence.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Colored plastic bags fused onto already fused plastic. Not bad, but limited to what colorful bags you have. You can tell I don’t have many. If you have lots, this is great. As now-fused plastic, they were impervious to rub or scratch tests. Good durability.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Colored plastic bags fused onto already fused plastic with a clear plastic layer on top. This is part Ziploc bag and part protective shipping bag – it was all the clear I had. Looks pretty good and I think the clear top layer would give you good collage options. Excellent durability. Shiny, too.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Since the clear layer looked so nice, I thought I’d try it again. I was out of proper plastic bags, so I grabbed my Saran wrap, having no idea what sort of plastic it was made from. I tossed down glitter and mica flakes, put the wrap on top and ironed. It was a crunchy disaster! The wrap shrunk around the bits and only fused in other places. Also, the plastic was either the wrong kind, or way too thin, because after fusing it rubbed right back off, leaving glittery plastic flotsam all over. If I get some better clear plastic, I might try it again, but this piece was a total failure of durability and the glitter looked like crap under plastic. The flakes were pretty though.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Spray paint can be a miracle, so I tried some. This is, in L to R order, blue paint that claims it sticks to plastic, purple paint that claims it sticks to plastic, red paint that has no plastic-friendly attributes on top of a plastic spray primer and the same purple plastic-friendly atop plastic spray primer. You can see the rub and scratch test results in this photo – all failed. Although, the red did the best and could possibly be of use.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Finally, the odd ball. This is a black plastic garbage bag, fused to itself. I was tired of looking at the dull white bags. This looks good, like a pleather. Definitely useable for me.

Fast summary there. The next section is seams and closures, which will take some time to work up. Stay tuned!

Mar 212015

The other night, after a long and taxing day at work, I had only 40 minutes before bedtime. So, I pulled out some of my Betwixt Quilt blocks and gave them a gray exterior.
Betwixt Quilt blocks.
Those colors are an orangey red, aqua, and yellow centers – despite what my single fluorescent light tells you on your monitor. I think the gray looks fantastic. I will play around with some 2.75″ finished gray sashing between the blocks to space them out. I don’t like the way the points touch when they’re laid out like this.

These blocks are the most traditional and mundane thing I’ve ever thought of as a quilt, short of my first quilt ever – no pictures of that, way back then. I might have to embroider some dead birds in the centers to add some interest. Something!

Mar 202015

Here in Cheyenne, we’re having a sort of false spring. Yeah, it is 70F during the day, but next week we could have another blizzard. The cats are soaking up the sun, though.

Friday, soaking up the sunshine.
Friday was having a sunshine nap, so I took this shot.

The Captain, being nosy.
The Captain got nosy.

Friday, soaking up the sunshine.
The chit-chat with The Captain woke up Friday, but not enough for her to get up.

Mar 192015

Slick and I are fully enjoying the fine weather while it holds.
Royal Red, fox statue in Smalley or Mylar Park.
A visit to a park I’ve not been to before on the north side of town. Either Smalley or Mylar – the signage was jumbled. Neat fox statue.

Sloan's Lake in lion's Park.
Our lake behind the new Community House, Sloan’s Lake in Lion’s Park, is looking good.

Late Again, rabbit statue in Children's Village in Lion's Park.
Statue in the twilight.

Leaving Lion's Park at sunset.
After traipsing around all day, we left Lion’s Park on a bright sunset.

This must be what spring is like for other places.

Mar 162015

This Experimentation Project is for fusing plastic bags (LDPE and HDPE) such as come from the grocery or general store. This isn’t a new idea and I’ve even used the method before, but I want to find the boundaries of this medium, for my uses anyway. There is no tutorial with this, but there are about 10,000 on the internet, if you’d like to look around.

Since Target has the nicest bags, I’m using those. They used to be even better, with thick glossy white plastic, but they’ve changed over the years to the thin, smaller, matte and transparent plastic you see today. That’s fine by me, I’ll just use more layers. Plus, I have collected a flattened stack of bags over the years, so I’m using the supply I have.

Since we’re melting plastic, I’ll need something to protect from meltiness. The very best choice for this is parchment paper. I know some internet tutorials suggest wax or freezer paper, but DON’T do that. If you’ve got a couple brain cells worth rubbing together, you’ll immediately realize that the wax and plastic coating on these papers will melt off and onto your plastic project. Stick with parchment paper (oh, a pun!) which is made precisely for non-stick, heat applications. I was able to use the two sheets seen here for all my experiments – up until I painted on them. The Target bag printing doesn’t come off with heat – if you’re using something else you’ll have to check for yourself.

For the heat, use a “wool” setting on your iron, which is about seven out of ten. The number marking have long since been worn off my iron, but I’m doing a dial percentage type estimation here. Also, this is the most common setting stated in the pile of internet tutorials. Every iron is different, even among brands, so you’ll have to sort yours out yourself.

Experiments in plastic bag fusing.
Starting simply, two layers of plastic on a large sheet of parchment. I have a smaller sheet of parchment on top.

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Mar 052015

The piece of etched copped I showed you before is now a completed pendant on a necklace.
Etched copper pendant, done.
Since it was a large pendant and had a particular, bold and slightly rustic look, I needed the rest of the pieces to hold their own with it. The cord is suede and I added some small, textured copper pieces like ferrules spaced on either side of the center. All the copper pieces were patina’d, sanded back, and waxed the same way.

Etched copper pendant, done.
I kept the length short, so it is almost a choker.

Etched copper pendant, done.
Turned around backwards so you can see the closure. When jewelry pieces are for me, I tend to make the closures larger than I would for others. I despise fussing with clasps behind my neck, under my hair, with my zero-length fingernails to help.

This project is done and I can move on to the next items. Making jewelry doesn’t excite me much. I am not in the mood to work on that large (and growing larger) blue quilt quite yet, so I am going to slot in some smaller projects before that.

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