the best part of my light desk…

It’s heated. After a number of different lighting options I finally decided to go with a white rope light, and much like many a 2 AM Saturday evening, I’m warming my fingers by its gentle heat.

First attempts at calligraphy using the light desk and a dip pen, not too bad! All of my practice in meetings at work with a cheap felt tip pen have paid off, I may yet some day be able to make a C look proper. Also I really think I prefer a’s written this way. They are so cute. g’s on the other hand I would rather avoid at all costs.

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And while I’ve got the light desk out, figured I might as well trace out a bit of the book of kells and try inking directly on bristol board paper through the light desk, which it is entirely strong enough to do, particularly if I turn off the overhead lighting in my room. I also played around some with gouache, which, having been trained for many years in watercolors, we were always taught distaste for it. (“real” painters don’t need white) I have to say think I much prefer my watercolors, though it may be just that it’s a cheap brand of gouache, and my watercolors are top of the line. It just feels chalky, and I hate how it covers the black lines. I think I’m going to go back over them all with the ink and see if that works. I also forgot how much I love doing Celtic knotwork, particularly the ones with the weird animals in them, as you don’t realize quite how amazing it is until you are actually following the thread throughout the piece.

This is the tree of life motif that is pretty common throughout the book. I have no idea what those pod things are supposed to be so I painted them as if they were buds. Image
But yeah, nice warm work with a mug of tea for a cold and blustery day. My skin still feels raw from the 20 minutes we spent outside trying to wrap the chicken coop in plastic (which we utterly failed at, I need to go back out tomorrow and screw a board in place, sandwiching the plastic between the board and the coop.)

Finally made the pewter spoon that started this odyssey

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Little fox for size comparison. It still needs to be filed down and sanded, but in comparison to the first 4 pours, this one is nearly perfect. The bowl is so smooth and thin! I think I’m going to fill in the knob on the end though as it’s really heavy. I had originally  made it with the knob so it would sit better on the table, but it’s pretty strange looking and feels wrong.

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And on the backside you can still see the leaf pattern, though not as distinctly as I had hoped. I may try to carve in the spine a little more to give it more definition.

Here’s the original wooden version, it sadly did not make it out of the mold in one piece. But it’s neat to see how close they are to each other. Its come so far from its first day. I can’t believe it has only been six weeks in the making. I feel like I’ve been obsessed with spoons for much longer!

little blind mouse

Next to the first fox for comparison. I really don’t know what I am going to dress it in, or how I am going to make its beady little eyes and whiskers.

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Also alternative use for the writing desk, replace the plexiglass with cooling rack and it’s a pretty perfect laptop desk.

Afternoon at my cousins Chris and Kim’s open studio

One of my grandfather's carved owls.

One of my grandfather’s carved owls.

An old butcher's table, worn down from use

An old butcher’s table, worn down from use

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I am very jealous of their having this nice big barn to work in. I’m very tempted to make a small studio on wheels in the style of Relax Shacks or Tumbleweed for myself to work in and take with me like a snail.

Chris’s paintings  Kim’s work

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Foxes

Also while in Toronto I made clothes for the fox that I had made in Nova Scotia, they make a dapper pair:

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In the background you can see my new gouges from Lee Valley. I’ve also started a mouse finally. I made the ears rounder, and the legs and arms shorter, and the belly rounder, and with a pipe cleaner tail. It just needs stuffing and having its head sewn on. I’m not sure what kind of clothing I’ll make for it. Alex made the glasses for the new fox a few months ago.

Light desk

For a very long time, probably since I first saw one around age 12, I’ve wanted a light box for tracing. Since I was already making a drawer to replace one that had rotted out in our kitchen, I figured it would be a good time to try my luck at making a light box since it’s pretty much the same general skills.

I bought poplar “craft wood” from Lowes, which is nice to work with and some luan plywood, which I haven’t worked with since my theater tech days when it was what we made in to practically everything. I designed it to have a desk top that is approximately 14×14″, which should allow for most sizes I’d want to work with, and should be big enough for water colors.

The angle of the writing surface is around 20 degrees, which is a bit shallow for calligraphy but is pretty comfortable to work on in general, I figure I can raise it up a bit using something to prop it up if I find need. The plexiglass top comes off entirely, which will make it easy to set things up using painter’s tape to adhere securely. (The painter’s tape is also along the edges of the plexiglass to make it safe)

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The bottom is channeled in like a drawer. The 1/4 inch luan turned out to be about two blades width of the table saw, which was convenient.

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I plan to eventually carve some grooves into the top flat bit for resting brushes and pens. Also perhaps an opening for water or ink containers. I also need to drill a hole in the back to put in the the light. And finish it with wax to preserve the wood.

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Spoon progress

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Four attempts of  “cutting out” from left to right: Band saw, hatchet, knife and gouges. By far I have the most control with the gouges, and now that I have better gouges I can make a fair amount of progress in a short time, but it’s still a very slow process.

The knife lead to a more smooth process, though still very very slowly, though this was before I had managed to get the knife sharpened properly!

The hatchet was a pretty good option, reasonably fast, reasonably accurate, and it leaves the edges choppy, which makes it easier to carve it later into the final shape.

And by far the fastest is the bandsaw. That took about 3 minutes. But it wasn’t as accurate and and it will be harder to carve I suspect, though I haven’t tried yet.

 

Amazing fabric store in Toronto

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It was an amazing place… I think they are mostly left over sections from the fashion and home decorating industries. They are nearly all at least 60″ wide and in types I’ve never seen before in a fabric store. I bought some terry cloth, stretchy fleece that I hope to turn into either a pair of pants or a sweatshirt.

The place was so full of fabric that many of the aisles were just barely big enough to squeeze through. The fabric I wanted was near the ceiling so one of the helpful employees climbed up on top of the pile and grabbed it, knocking down a bunch more in the process. It was a magical place, not as cheap as sewphisticated (Around the same prices as Fabric Place Basement), but with somewhere around 10 times the amount and variety of sewphisticated. And all of it felt good quality fabric, not the stuff you find at JoAnn’s. The more and more I find places like this, the more I hate JoAnn’s and how it has put so many smaller fabric stores out of business. I wish more people sewed their own clothing so that there would be a larger demand for places like this.

There was also rooms and rooms of trim and leather.. So much amazingness all in one place. I’d definitely drive back up to Toronto just to go to this store and Lee Valley!

Course, now I need to actually do some sewing. I have like 10 projects that I have all the material for, but haven’t started… I also just signed up for a craftsy class on making your own wool swing coats, which I am very eager to try my hand at.

Sewing from the Toronto trip

I made a little leaf enclosure for a USB stick I wanted to send to Peter, I think it came out rather well. I’m tempted to make a great many more little leaves like these and sew them to things. this picture really shows the pattern stuck in my head of late.

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And I also made one of my little chickens and sent it to Peter’s aunt and uncle as thanks for letting us stay with them:

2013-11-08 22.28.41It’s pretty cute. I really need to make a bunch and fill them with rocks for pattern weights as they are a good size and they make me happy.

2013-11-09 20.08.07I also finished this Queen’s favor while I was waiting in the many lines that are a film festival. I also worked on a couching project:

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I am trying to get the purple outline out from the design so that it only shows the threads that have been overlaid and pinned down. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but it would make a cute cover for a notebook.

 

 

Lee Valley! !

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I want to make something that includes this lock!

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Jelly and preserves mesh! Such a great idea.

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The best hinge display ever.

I also got a set of Japanese gouges and sweeps and a block of honing stuff. I could have spent days in that store.

I still need to post my art from the last few days. It’s mostly more embroidery.

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