Sep 182014

Last night went somewhat awry. I voted to watch an extra episode of tv on the sofa, which pushed our evening constitutional out and thus, my workshop time. Bad me. But, I did get my patina tests done, at last, so I am ready to do work in class tonight. I’ll try to grab a photo of the patina samples. Until then, here is a shot of the diorama pendant pieces all cut out.
Diorama pendant in the making.
They still have the paper patterns on them. You can see the copper peeking out on that second piece with the tree. This shot is before filing and sanding the edges. Now that they’re mostly smooth, the pattern papers are in shreds clinging on to the metal for their very existence. They’ll be gone tonight when I work on texture and color. That is why I really wanted to get the patina samples done, so that I could make progress in class. I hate sitting there not being able to work on my project. Last week, I ordered my metal as soon as I got my project approved, but it didn’t arrive until Friday, so my whole class time on Thursday was for experimentation (which is cool, but I’d rather do at home) and for ring making (for the later chain for the pendant, which I’d also rather do at home).

Patinas done, I went over to spend a couple minutes on the latest Scrappy Cat while the metal cooled and set. One ear didn’t want to turn out, so I had to fight with it a lot more than I intended and then we had a blowout:
Scrappy Cat in the making
Oops. Easy fix; sorry Cat. Also, don’t worry that the legs are uneven; they’re not attached yet, only laying there. I wanted to see how it looked mostly together. I am really liking the paw shape now that I’m boxing the edges out and the extra batting in the paw pads makes them puff up in a pleasing fashion, like cat paw pads do. It will be tomorrow before I have time to get this fixed up. This is what I get for pushing on and working while I’m tired and overdue for bed!

In case that wasn’t enough, I had one more mishap. As I turned out all the lights, shooed the cats from the workshop, I gathered up the patina chemical bottles to take upstairs for class the next day. In my tiredness, I failed to put the lid on the blue dye-oxide and didn’t notice until it was all over the floor, table, and my arm and hand. UGH! Put everything down (everything I hadn’t dropped already), turn on the lights, shoo away the curious cats who magically reappeared at my sounds of dismay, get washcloths and try to scrub blue out of everything. I was mostly successful, but events like this make me glad for every time during the workshop building that I’ve told myself it was “good enough for a workshop; it isn’t a tea parlor, after all”. Indeed.

I did finally get to sleep around midnight. Today is a day I will have some coffee.

That’s what I’m up to. I need to remember to take more pictures so I can document my progress. I really hope that diorama pendant turns out well. I am fond of my original sketches, so my hopes are high.

Sep 152014

I’ve told you how much I love hiking the Turtle Rock Trail – at least four times just on the blog. Well, last week I had Monday off (due to some use-it-or-possibly-lose-it vacation time) and decided to go out to Vedauwoo for a picnic lunch and some sketching. We hadn’t been up there yet this year, and although Slick had to work, I really wanted to get out there.

After spending double the usual travel time due to road construction, I decided to start in the middle of what I refer to as the Parking Lot Loop of the Turtle Rock Trail. I call it this because if you miss your turn (on either side) of the trail, you end up off the trail and have to walk through the parking lots to get back to your car. It is much nicer to walk the trail instead of the hot asphalt. It was beautiful, of course.
The parking loop of the Turtle Rock Trail.
Here’s my trail start. The sun was mild, being partly cloudy out, and the breeze was gentle.

The parking loop of the Turtle Rock Trail
This tree is quite determined to grow.

The parking loop of the Turtle Rock Trail.
This was my view while eating lunch. It is a panoramic, so unless you have super-wide monitors, you might have to scroll to the right once you open it. It would have been a perfect nap spot, if one were snoozy.

Fall colors emerging on the Turtle Rock Trail.
I thought it would be too early for any fall colors yet, but you can see here that autumn is starting already. There were ripe rose hips on this rosey section of the trail, indicating the end of summer.

Memorial sign for Gary E. Rorvig on the Turtle Rock Trail.
Off the footpath and slightly up a hill, there was the pictured addition; a memorial plaque Gary E. Rorvig, the designer of this trail I love so much. He died earlier this year. This is a link to his obituary.

Fall colors emerging on the Turtle Rock Trail.
The yellow leaves looked like flowers bursting with color as I came around this particular corner. After I passed this bit, I stopped for a while to sketch out some ideas. I’d thought I’d draw inspiration from nature along the path, but my head was already so full of other ideas that I didn’t need more inspirations.

Brown squirrel on the Turtle Rock Trail.
This guy was also on the trail, although he retired to the tree when I passed. There were about two or three dozen ground squirrels, a number of frisky dragonflies and a fat robin on the path, too. It was wonderfully quiet; the most sound was the wind through the trees and my own footfalls.

This trail is still my favorite and I’m sure I’ll share more pictures of it in the future. I’ll try to make the views and subjects different so you all get a rotation of looks. If you’re around the area, I highly recommend it. Take your time, pack a sandwich and maybe share a couple photos with me if you go.

Sep 102014

By special request (from Slick), my August baking project was for square sugar cookies covered in chocolate. I wanted a chance to use my chocolate melting pot and this was it!

Bare cookies, ready for chocolate.
You can imagine that square sugar cookies were pretty easy to make. Roll the dough out, use a ruler to get your squares, then I simply used the ruler as my cutter, too. Sure, they weren’t perfect squares after baking, but they’re still squarish. On the right you can see the chocolate is melted and ready. I used Ghirardelli dark again – it is delicious.

Chocolate covered cookies
I had enough chocolate to do two thick layers on each cookie. Since Slick likes chocolate things cold, these went straight into the refrigerator for him.

Chocolate covered cookies
They stacked up nicely. It wasn’t a wild or exciting baking project, but it was pleasing to do some custom baking for My Love.
Now to consider the September baking project. I’m thinking cake.

Sep 022014

A couple weeks ago, Slick and I were thinking about ordering pizza and he thought it would be funny to pay for our delivery with pouch of coins, as if it were a D&D game. I thought that was a deeply amusing idea, and set about making it happen.
Did you know that your local bank or credit union keeps rolls of dollar coins on hand? I didn’t. I went in to have some ordered and they simply handed them to me. Cool. Next step – the pouch.

A leather pouch of golden coins.
Being a maker, people often give me things that they think might be useful. I have a whole set of oil paints and additives and palette knives, a box of tiny stuffed toys, a box of stretched canvases, and (relevant to today’s discussion) a few stained and worn leather coats. I selected a sun-bleached pale blue suede jacket for this project. It was thin and supple enough that I was able to use my sewing machine and regular needles and thread. Some eyelets and cording and I was done quickly.

A leather pouch of golden coins.
It is a small pouch, but a couple dozen golden coins don’t take up much space. Some of the lining was in good shape, so this pouch had a silky lining inside, too.

A leather pouch of golden coins.
The pizza delivery guy was fortunately excited about the whole thing. He delighted with the novelty of it and he got to take home his coin tip in the pouch after delivering the tab. Overall, a fun little project.

Aug 252014

My enthusiasm for workshop work is waning fast. Currently, I’m trying to complete some of the smaller projects that will have a high payoff in the short term, like a new ironing board. As a sewist, I use a cutting board and ironing board as equally (if not more) often as my sewing machine. The last time I gave attention to my ironing situation was when I made new padding and covers for my small, tabletop ironing board 3.5 years ago. Now that I have built myself a true workshop (albeit still in progress), I felt it was time to have an appropriate ironing surface. I’d planned to make it out of metal, ready for the decades ahead, but it turns out that I have a garage full of MDF scraps. Sure, MDF will warp from heat and swell from water, eventually, but it is free scrap and will last for many years. So, I made a small investment in some cover material and got to work.

Building a new ironing board, size.
A quick shot so you can see the size. This is two layers in. The next photos break down the process and I explain. With a luxurious, large surface like this, I also wanted a tiny, itty-bitty surface to keep next to the sewing machine. Why? Sometimes, you only need to press open a seam quickly before sewing the piece again. With a tiny surface next to the machine, I can use a tiny iron (yet to purchase) or my Clover mini-iron, (as soon as I find what box it is in) which was made for fast seam presses, without getting out of my chair and moving over to the large surface. Efficiency is the goal here.

Building a new ironing board, beginning layers.
Using the itty-bitty ironing board as an example, these are the first layers. That 2×3 will serve as the legs or stand, simply to keep it above the table a little. Then, the MDF base. Both bases are part of the recycled sewing table top project, so they have been painted and sealed heavily. That said, I left the cut edges bare. It will still be fine for many years. Next layer, right against the base is a low-loft cotton batting. At this point I should have put in a layer of Insul-Brite (a metal-laced, heat reflective batting) but quite frankly I forgot all about it. After the batting is a thin layer of white muslin to keep everything in place. A single layer of batting wouldn’t hold up to much stretching and stapling, so the muslin does the structural work for it.

Like that jagged edge there? Yeah, me too. It was done with a pair of hand-me-down shears that have about 1.5 inches of actual cutting edge. One day I might take them apart and see if I can sharpen them, but I don’t have high hopes. This is what you get reduced to when all your supplies are in boxes and your boxes are covered in sawdust. Although, technically, in this case it is sanding dust.

Not shown in the photos is the stage when you attach the legs to the base. You can probably imagine what gluing, clamping, and screwing wood onto wood looks like, though.

Building a new ironing board; stapled back, felt on legs.
Once the batting and muslin was stretched tight and stapled all around, I put strips of felt (more recycling!) on the legged base so it wouldn’t scratch up the sewing table. Truly, I’ve already Scratched The Fuck out of the table, but at least I won’t cause further damage now. The big ironing board, while heavy, is easily slid off the table and under it in case I need more clear table surface.

Building a new ironing board; aluminized cotton covers.
With the underlayers done, (and a quick trip to the hardware store for more staples) I moved on to the semi-permanent cover. Since this is aluminized cotton, it won’t need washing like your average cotton fabric cover would. This stuff is resilient, heat-reflective, and wipes clean. All this means that I simply stapled it as the last layer instead of making a removable cover. Fast and easy. And it looks Damn Sharp! Plus, now I have some scraps that can be the underside of hot pads or oven mitts. Or a weird scarf, because it looks so cool.

The big board takes up a good chunk of table real estate, but it also serves as a work surface itself. You can see my itty bitty ironing board next to it. Twee!

Building a new ironing board; finished and in use.
After all that, I needed the pleasure of actually making something crafty. The new ironing board works wonderfully! Especially for projects that need a lot of pre-sewing assembly and heat, like Scrappy Cats.
Complete success! Yea!

The fabric shelves in the background are starting to slowly fill in. My existing fabric boxes are bigger than the shelves, but the folded fabric does fit up there, as you can see. It is temporary, of course. I just don’t want to spend hours and hours refolding fabric right now. The folded fabric is being shoved onto a shelf any time I need to open a box. New fabric is folded onto its own cardboard bolt center as it comes into the workshop or is pulled out of a box. I’ve decided that even though using centers like this will add bulk to the fabric storage, the payoff in ease of handling is worth it. They keep their shape, are easy to pull down and roll back up. Eventually, all the fabric will look neat and tidy, but not yet.

Yea for more progress. I am about burned out on workshop work, but still have some cabinets to build yet. And those damn desk drawers, which I haven’t even finished cutting yet. Oh well, both those can wait until the fall rolls around and with it, much cooler temperatures so that I don’t have to risk heat exhaustion when cutting wood in the garage.
While I wait, I have some sewing projects lined up, and I start my Metals class tomorrow! Woot! AmyKatt and I are taking it together, so I will have some friendly company while learning cool stuff. I am ridiculously excited.

Aug 202014

The prize bag has been delivered, so let’s take a look at the goodies inside!
The Cat Culprit Prizebag goodies
Starting right at 1200 we have art! This is a small print from Manjit Thapp (online aka athousanddaisies) . I liked it so much, I ordered a second to give away and this was the time. At 1300 we have a packet of cute postcards from Mollie Makes. I like them, but frankly I have so many postcards already I’m going to be working on sending them the rest of my life! At 1500, we have a Cashmere lotion that I impulse bought at Bath & Body when I was picking up my bubble bath. That damn store in that damn mall. Continuing, at 1800 we have a delicious Godiva truffle bar and two custom TLTBE winner Sharpies! Closer to that complete set! 1900 brings us a pair of badges, one of drinking party bunnies (part of the Centzon Totochtin) and a 4x Winner button. We’re getting some high-stakes ties going on with the contest winners, here. At 2000 we have a sweet blue washi tape, because you can never have too much washi tape. 2100 is some hand sanitizer with a stylish fox label and finally, at 2300 we have a pad of humorous, check-the-box parking citations. I figure Ymabean will easily find the chance to use these!

There we go! Another prize bag, woot! I am pretty sure I left out a couple trinkets due to the workshop being still covered up from recent construction, but I’ll make sure to find them and add them to the prize bag pool for the future. There was a great response for this contest, so I will try to do at least one more this year. Especially now that Ymabean and AmyKatt are both tied at four wins each, with half the TLTBE Sharpie sets in their packs. Random is only one win behind them, so this is getting exciting! For me anyway, because, yes, I am a nerd.

Aug 192014

The Catch the Cat Culprit Contest was won by Ymabean and the prize bag is awaiting delivery.

The Cat Culprit Prizebag
Ymabean is on a new shift at work, so we’ll be playing handoff with the bag to get it to her. Come back tomorrow to see what cool goodies you missed out on this time so that you’ll be ready to come back and play for the next contest!

Aug 172014
.. and Culprit reveal!

The Sneaky, Strong, Cat Culprit, caught in the act of breaking in!

That’s right, the break-in kitty was Nora! It seems she thought this was the best place to have all for herself, without those pesky, other cats.

This means we have one winner: Ymabean!
Congratulations, Ymabean! I hope to have your prize bag ready for pickup tomorrow at work, maybe Tuesday. I will text you so you know for sure.
Thank you, everyone else, for playing! This was a great response and makes me think about doing more prize bags.

In other, absolutely related news, my door came in Saturday morning. Slick and I picked it up and installed it. It is fantastic, light-friendly and pretty. It also does a great job of keeping cats out of the workshop and my singing inside. Cat Culprit no more!

Aug 162014

As advertised.
Squirrel under our large pine tree.
This guy is always running along our fence and romping through those trees on the side of the house. Oz is often in the bathroom window, completely focused on this squirrel. The squirrel occasionally chucks at Oz in the window. If you happen to pet or disrupt Oz when he’s focused on this guy, he will meow at you – I’m not sure if it’s a complaint for the interruption or if he’s expressing his excitement to you.

Aug 142014

Our camera evidence revealed that the Cat Culprit was pulling the panels apart and squeezing between them, so I put a filled bucket in front of the hinged panels to try to prevent the break in, but still:
Cat foot prints in sawdust on freshly painted boards.
Some sneaky cat managed to pull the panel open whilst pushing the bucket. Strong kitty.

I have a door on order, but it won’t be in until this weekend or later and then we’ll have to find time to hook up the trailer, get the door, wrangle it down the basement stairs and install the damn thing. And paint it, of course. In the meantime, comment a guess on who the culprit is!

Aug 132014

We have sorted out who the Sneaky Cat Culprit is who’s been breaking into my workshop past the makeshift doors! Before we reveal the camera evidence, let’s have a little fun with this.
In the comments, guess who the cat culprit is to win a prize bag! In order of size, here are the cats:
The cat lineup!
Moxie (dense, fierce, top cat of the house, the Queen)
Friday (peculiar, pretty, lithe gal and can turn into cat jelly)
The Captain (slender, sweet boy who is mischievous)
Nora (the hissing old-lady-cat who doesn’t like cats)
Oz (the big, fluffy, orange guy)

You only get two guesses for the contest – they can be in the same or separate comments. If you change your mind, you can overwrite a guess until the deadline. If there is a tie, I’ll either randomize it or give two prize bags. This contest will end at Sunday morning 17 August, let’s say at 0900 so I can sleep in. Go ahead and give a guess, it is easy to participate!

Summary: Comment your guess for the Cat Culprit by 0900, Sunday 17 August.

The SFP (The Standard Fine Print):

You must be a registered user for this blog – because that is how you can make comments! You may have only two entries in this contest. If you make more than two guesses, the latest will overwrite the first, in continuing order. You must either live in a place I commonly drive to or past or be willing to submit a mailing address to me to receive the prize if you win. I’m happy to mail the prize anywhere in the world where it is legal to do so. The prize bag contains items I have collected, been given, picked up, found, bought, made myself, or somehow obtained (probably not stolen, though) for whatever reason and may be desirable, useful, useless, or merely silly to you; I make no guarantees to the value, usability or likability of the prize, although they have been historically well received. The prize bag contents are of my own choosing and are not being provided in exchange for any influence or services from you beyond your comment entry and your eternal, undying devotion to this blog and; therefore, my ego.

Read all about previous contests and prize bags by clicking this link here.

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