Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday snippets


Our plucky heroine woke up shortly after the sun, in order to set the cooling fans in place early enough to do some good, and then spent the entire day in the studio: open studio day for Zenobia, and me working on the enamels for the orb project... took a break for lunch, and am just finishing a slightly longer break for dinner. A day of working, and eating salad, drinking bramble sekanjabin, and pleasant conversation.

Zenobia has been continuing to enamel, scheduling open studio time with me... This is her third and most recent piece, a stunning interpretation of a swimming koi. She enjoyed experimenting with layers of transparent enamels for the background/water and did a great job of wire-bending, capturing the essence of the fish in just four wires...

There are hours more to be done on the tiny orb enamels, but I hope to finish them tonight soon, so that commission can progress in as timely a way as possible. Spoke with Bill Dawson about where we are on that project, he will be picking up some of the additional parts this week, so the work will continue apace. We won't know until sometime in September, whether our bid for the second set of An Tir crowns will be accepted; there are, after all, two other artisans/teams also submitting designs/bids, but I remain hopeful... (For those in the SCA with reason to actually send comments on this decision, they are accepting feedback up until September Crown when the choice will be made, so look well at the various options and let your voice be heard)

was too tired to continue enameling all night, so, a spot of home repair seemed like a good idea... our plucky heroine decided to attempt to repair the oversink LED lights, which have been suffering from a wonky switch for the last six months. Found the exact identical switch (in contrasting black plastic, in my box of random electrical things, wrapped each separate junction with electrical tape, then bent them separated and wrapped a second time to secure them apart... very ugly indeed... but it works!
:::

July SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 1st wool cardweaving hem on red silk gown bag to paper recycling
2 blue Pel Laurel green undergown mended bag to paper recycling
3 two orb enamels bicycle area cleared bag to paper recycling
4 * LED switch repaired bag to Goodwill
5 * * bag to Goodwill
6 * * bag to Goodwill
7 * * cardboard recycled
8 ---------- * cardboard recycled
9 ---------- * bag to Goodwill
10 ---------- ---------- *
11 ---------- ---------- *
12 ---------- ---------- *
:::

Saturday, July 26, 2014

well begun but not half done


in which our plucky heroine makes great progress...

One of my major goals this year is to have my entire house functional and organised, not full of random things in boxes, but instead supporting my life in a way that allows access to all the tools, supplies, and information that I have. When there are actual useful "homes" for stuff, I am good about putting it away. For the last two months, there has been a successful attempt to do battle with the former Mt Messmore aka the large workroom/studio, thanks to the help of friends, in particular Kate Comstock, for her ongoing sixteen hours of assistance and encouragement...

So this is how things are looking now... Standing in the doorway from the kitchen, looking west. The floor is clear and the room is orderly, and there is more room for teaching workshops and working with individual students, as well as working on commissioned pieces and my own personal artwork

The righthand image shows what we started with... same viewpoint looking west. There are all sorts of things stored here because this is the only indoor place with enough space for them. I do metalwork and enameling here, and messy textile arts, as well as all sorts of home repair projects. The room is about 11 x 20? and was, at one time, a single car garage. The shelves on the far wall on either side of the window, intended to hold boxes of craft supplies, were emptied in 2012 to safely store fabric away from temporary feline housemates, which left my other supplies scattered all over the house in unorganised splendor.
:::

This is the south wall of the workroom. It is now possible to walk directly up to the storage shelves and access supplies. There will eventually be a narrow standing workbench below the long shelf visible here. I will be adding tie downs for the lumber and wood bits stored behind the ironing board (which I forgot to return to the back bedroom before taking this picture!)

Prior to beginning the organising/decluttering project, the south wall was a mass mess of random lumber and things almost but not quite at the angle of repose, which made me crazy! and not in a good way
:::

The southwest corner of the workroom with my small workbench and the enamel storage shelves. This probably has always been the best organised part of the workroom, because I have several homemade shelves that are sized to fit my enamel jars... the enamels are all visible, in color order, and the shelving is not plastic, but is wooden and attractive to my eyes... also cheap... I made these from empty drawers from the Rebuilding Center, and bits of lathing, and old yardsticks... aesthetically and visually and functionally they make me happy.

The workbench remains clear until projects happen, as there are places behind and to the side to store equipment and supplies. I plan to store "kits" of projects in process in the small drawers to the right, and am always keeping my eyes open for other small wooden drawers of useful holding (The silvery stuff in the lower right corner is mylar bubblepak, to cover the west-facing window when the sun hits it in summer, because the glare and heat are so not helpful)

Formerly, while the enamel storage itself worked well, my small personal workbench though, was a mess, somewhat visible at the right of the picture. I usually cleared away a small space in the middle of it to actually work. Compare that to how the workbench looks now...
:::

Between the workroom and the back door is this space for my wagon and bicycle to live, as well as room for some garden and housey tools and supplies - the idea is to have needful things within easy reach. There is still much to be done to improve this room: there are many small individual boxes on the shelves that need to be sorted through and their contents either placed in a proper home or sent on to Goodwill or recycling; there need to be one or two better adjustable office chairs acquired, the pantry and laundry area need attention (as they often do); a pegboard for hand tools needs added to the wall above the bicycle area; the standing workbench shelf needs to be built; and someday, eventually, the other two walls will be painted to match the west wall...
:::


July SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 1st wool cardweaving hem on red silk gown bag to paper recycling
2 blue Pel Laurel green undergown mended bag to paper recycling
3 * bicycle area cleared bag to paper recycling
4 * * bag to Goodwill
5 * * bag to Goodwill
6 * * bag to Goodwill
7 * * cardboard recycled
8 ---------- * cardboard recycled
9 ---------- * bag to Goodwill
10 ---------- ---------- *
11 ---------- ---------- *
12 ---------- ---------- *
:::

so, as Suzette Hayden Elgin says, "anything you feed will grow"... I have been putting attention into decluttering and discarding, so that column in my chart is being fed pretty well, and I will go into August almost caught up on my SMART goals for the year (in that section) The Things Made and the Things Fixed groups though, are weak, especially the Things Fixed... must make an effort there, as I really do want to end up in December with an entirely full chart to meet my Rising 60 challenge. Somehow, fixing things is actually more difficult than making things. The good news is that some friends of mine want to swap sewing for yardwork and honey-do chores, so I may catch up in the next few months... August is looking hopeful, as there are both good social events scheduled and some useful work already lined up.

unripe unripe


in which our plucky heroine decides that the time is not right...

so this year, my little pear tree seems to have decided that making pears is a viable option... there are at least ten of these lovely things, and they look quite pretty and quite green... need to research how to tell when to pick them, as I know that pears are NOT left to ripen on the tree, but do need to get to a suitable stage before picking to develop their full flavor. If they are left to tree-ripen they develop many "stone cells"

apparently pears need not only to be picked before tree-ripened, but also need a particular amount of application of cold before being allowed to ripen off the tree, for best and tastiest results, according to OSU... "When to pick and how to ripen pears to perfection"


There are applesies growing on one of the branches of the backyard apple tree that Bill Dawson pruned. This is encouraging, as it means that the formerly ill tree is doing well enough to support some production, much of the foliage looks pretty healthy, and the eventual plan, to graft on several useful tasty apple varieties, will probably be possible...

I don't know what variety of apples they are, and they are quite scabby. I tried earlier in the year to thin them, but obviously didn't do a thorough enough job, as they are still too close together, which makes for wee bitsy apples. Am debating on picking most of them and turning them into green apple pectin concentrate... leaving perhaps two or three to ripen...
:::

However, I didn't go any further into the backyard, and this is why... taken with as much extension on the camera lens, from quite a distance... these are paper wasps, and had been building a nest in a discarded rubbermaid tote... this portion of their nest (which may be all of it) fell out of the box during the stormy weather last week, but they are still busy making more wasps... My brave pal Marya will be dealing with these, once I get the "death to all wasps" spray... I hate the idea of killing them, but am VERY ALLERGIC, and they are between me and the garden shed... hopefully they do not have friends inside the garden shed!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thursday thoughts, or almost a week recovering


in which our plucky heroine attempts not to scratch...

So last week was July Coronation, held not far from Portland out at the old nuclear plant site; have avoided the site in the past, due to the fearsome reputation of their local mosquito population. However, there are reasons to defy my usual habits... It brought me great joy to see my friend Ursul elevated to the Order of the Laurel, and to be there when my friend Elisabeth Blackdane was put on vigil... The site was just as mosquito-ridden as I had feared, (dozens of non-consensual bug bites) but to be there as witness to the honoring of friends was worth the price.

Prior to the event, I made a large batch of bramble sekanjabin*, a middle-eastern drink syrup of flavored sweetened vinegar, most commonly made from mint, but since there were last years berries in the freezer, it seemed like a good plan. The syrup, added in small quantities to unfamiliar water, not only tastes good but helps greatly with hydration in the summer heat - the site was most humid being on the river and surrounded by swamps and ponds

The other Very Happy thing that happened at Coronation, was that my donation of a custom 1" enamel medallion raised $500 for Providence Cancer Center! Some of my friends are walking to the coast to raise money for Providence Cancer center, and while I can't walk with them, I can make artful regalia. Makes me feel really good to have been able to stand up in court and help this very worthy cause, which has such personal significance for me. Providence treated me really well on my cancer journey, and this lets me do a little bit too, to give back...

Came home from event entirely exhausted, (this must change, though I've not the stamina of twenty and more years ago...) and promptly fell asleep 'til after 10PM, then woke to ride my bike to the store, under a nightsky of Georgia O'Keefe clouds. As usual post-event have been thinking about what could be an improvement on how things went, what worked well and what did not... my current seating arrangement (bottom half of a directors chair) works just fine, but is heavy to carry around... a tripod stool with an integral carry strap would be lighter and easier to carry, and if it was also comfortable to sit on, would be better...

* Sekanjabin can be made in various flavors, the recipe I use is on this page, about halfway down...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

random Thursday thoughts


in which our plucky heroine does her best at bearing up under the heat and relentless sunshine...

I am a child of winter, and always have been. In consequence, finding ways to ameliorate the effects of the current heat wave have been taking most of my energy, what little remains after the heat has curled all tendrils into the corners of my home to take up residence. Would that there was some way to save it (in the pantry like summertime jam) for when it would be useful next winter. Instead, my sleep/wake times have been all deranged, as keeping the window fans running as late into the night as I can manage has been making a good deal of difference in the internal temperatures of home. One of my three window fans jumped off the sill last night, destroying it's plastic housing and fan blades with an astonishing loud clatter while I worked in the next room; it was the most flimsy and least effective of the crew, and will be replaced, hopefully, with a more sturdy rectangular box fan.

Siesta in the hottest part of the afternoon is, while unpleasant, needful... allowing time for working when it is cooler, though girl feels a little remorse at turning on the kiln at the same time as running the fans to cool the house. It would be much worse though, to run the kiln when the summer sun is doing what it loves best. Somehow, the commissions for enamel regalia do not come as often in the winter, when the kiln warmth is welcome, as they do during the summer tourney season...

completed Pel-Laurel medallion in a simple silver setting

Still, every bit of work is welcome, and this most recent enamel piece has come round right in the end, despite an unfortunate encounter with the cement shop floor earlier in the year. I got rattled by that, and put it aside for a time, needing though to finish it in time before Pennsic, where it will be gifted to a new owner. I am pretty happy with the resulting resurrected piece. The entire surface of the enamel had to be removed back to the engraved base and re-done, with all new wires and glass. This time I also added a bit of Limoges style painted enamel to shade the Laurel leaves, a subtle two tone green, just for extra beauty, as the person who commissioned it earlier this year has been Very Patient with me...

Have also started working on the enamels for the Orb upgrade commmission, though am still waiting for the confirmation letter and check to arrive. Have been assured by two different folks I trust that it has been awarded to our artistic team, and so feel that getting the enamels ready ahead of time is little risk. Besides, 'tis very useful to have more than one enameling piece to work on while the kiln is hot, so as to not waste the heat; there is a lot of downtime, waiting for pieces to be dry enough to fire, as there can be no moisture in the enamel when it goes in the kiln, lest the water vaporise and cause the powdered glass to jump where it is not wanted. By working on more than one piece at a time, one can be drying while the other(s) are having the next of many layers of enamel added to the surface.


enamels for Orb upgrade, in the colors of An Tir, in process
:::

Unfortunately, sleeping through most of the the heat has meant being awake too late to ride my bike to the grocery store, which closes at eleven... while intending to go to store early early AM before sunshine makes that impossible, instead was necessary to ride bus to Post Office to mail out the pendant, and by the time I returned home, it was already hot and sunny. I want to get vinegar to make sekanjabin; Jen brought some to ATWW earlier this month and it made a huge difference in how comfortable we were, just that little bit of sweet/sour/herbal syrup added to the drinking water. I am thinking of diving down into the depths of the freezer for some of last years fruit, and making some berry sekanjabin. The original place I saw the recipe is in Cariadoc's Miscellany; recipe is about halfway down the page, but he mentions that it is actually from Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern cookbook, which I also own, so I will check there as well... I remember that that cookbook has a number of different flavored syrups to add to water.
:::

I discovered that there are paper wasps building a nest in a large plastic box that I left in the backyard... now I cannot go out in that part of the yard or access my garden shed until I find someone to spray the nest so the box can be removed, or until I come up with an alternate plan... I am mucho allergic... feel really dumb to have left them such a nice sheltered potential home! The beekeepers association is not interested in dealing with or gathering wasps, I was quoted a fee of $80 to have them removed by the one person I spoke with, which while not unreasonable, is not in my current budget. So I am practicing avoidance, and dreaming wishfully of insectivore raccoons.
:::


Once the threads were all spread out properly (after about twelve picks) the pattern quickly began to take shape...
The success of my first attempt at wool tablet weaving with irregular turns had me so chuffed that I decided to treat myself to some additional Naturespun yarn in half a dozen colors, and have now started a new woven band. Using the diagram style from Applesies and Foxnoses to write it up before setting it all up made threading the cards and starting weaving go a lot more smoothly. (I know some folks love GTT program, but I find it impenetrable; the pattern for this design is from his site, but I needed to draw out the turns in a diagram) Once the threads were all spread out properly (after about twelve picks) the pattern quickly began to take shape... Leafy Laurel trim for a wool apron-dress for winter. This time I made the warp about three yards long, which should yield enough to trim the top edge, and hopefully some leftover for sharing...
:::

July SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 1st wool cardweaving hem on red silk gown bag to paper recycling
2 blue Pel Laurel green undergown mended bag to paper recycling
3 * * bag to paper recycling
4 * * bag to Goodwill
5 * * bag to Goodwill
6 * * bag to Goodwill
7 * * cardboard recycled
8 ---------- * *
9 ---------- * *
10 ---------- ---------- *
11 ---------- ---------- *
12 ---------- ---------- *
:::

Sunday, July 13, 2014

icumen in


in which our plucky heroine has determined that even without invitation, sumer is not just icumen in, but is already here and making itself at home...

Doing my best not to become more ill from the heat, am avoiding any non-vital outdoor activity. To go grocery shopping, have been riding bicycle after dark to local shop, balancing waiting for outdoors to cool down with need to get to store whilst they are actually still open. Earlier this week it was, while not my ideal temperature, almost pleasant to ride, with the breeze of motion providing an illusion of coolth. By the day before yesterday, as the uncommon humidity increased, that shifted and the movement of body and bicycle through the still warm slightly damp air seemed more like swimming than flying. Compared to some places on this bright world, it is still much less hot or humid, but compared to our normal, it is feverish.

Enameling in this weather is an exercise in taking good care, taking breaks for water and electrolytes, and pacing. The forecast is around 90F, so cooler than the day before, but not the best weather for kiln work... still work at all is a good thing, and promised commissions need to happen regardless of the weather.
My first wool cardweaving has been completed, and thanks to a tip from my pal Marya, there was a remarkably small amount of loom waste. Using an elastic hair tie or two to loop off the end knot of the warp, allows for weaving almost up to the bitter end. I am not certain how much take-up there was, as I didn't accurately measure the initial warp, but I have almost enough length to put around the entire top edge of a new wool wintertime apron-dress. Finished width of band is about 12mm.

Had another partial day with my friend K, who is helping me declutter my life, and we spent more time in the studio/workroom. The bulk of the space is now free of major extraneous objects and ready to be reconfigured. A number of bags went into either paper recycling or the Goodwill pile, though it was too hot to walk up to the corner, those will go away in the next few days... There are still some shelves of small things that need sorted and reorganised, and there are many ideas percolating for how best to make the space even more useful for both my own work and for teaching...

July SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 wool cardweaving * bag to paper recycling
2 * * bag to paper recycling
3 * * bag to paper recycling
4 * * bag to Goodwill
5 * * bag to Goodwill
6 * * *
7 * * *
8 ---------- * *
9 ---------- * *
10 ---------- ---------- *
11 ---------- ---------- *
12 ---------- ---------- *
:::

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

other small old details


so our plucky heroine went on holiday to ATWW for the better part of a week, managed not to get horridly sunburnt, escaped the intense city heat for a little while, saw old friends and made some new ones, learned a bit more about cardweaving from in a class taught by the Queen of Caid, and tried her best not to permanently lose equanimity.

When all else fails, playing with string is both soothing and pleasurable, and can be done in public without shame...

I recently acquired "Applesies and Foxnoses - Finnish Tabletwoven Bands"; this is pattern number 14. Perhaps foolishly did not begin in the easy section, but in the middle "difficult" section (did avoid the third "challenging" section) It has taken me quite a bit of time to get to the point where I can make it all the way through one pattern repeat without either having to unweave rows, or without simply giving up and letting the design lines go all psychedelic/wonky until I get to a stopping place where I can pick up the pattern again. There was rather a lot of bad words spoken this past week, and dear Maeva actually told me at one point to just "step away from the string"... Of course, the actual design itself is one that has a very long repeat(83? rows), with the cards moving in both directions in each row, and with almost no rows the same. None of the boring "four forward four back" for this gal! The photo shows approximately one repeat of the design, the second one I was able to successfully weave all the way through with no errors. 'Tis not yet a technique that I can both weave and hold a conversation at the same time.

In addition, this was my first attempt at doing cardweaving with wool yarn instead of crochet or pearl cotton. Was quite happy to find that the Naturespun fingering wool worked for this technique, since it is available locally, comparatively inexpensive, and comes in a wide range of colors. This project also included a bit of the yarn that I dyed earlier this summer at Egils as part of the border design; the pale blue-green threads (that alternate with the orange) were dyed with weld/indigo.
:::

Someone over in the Historic Tablet Weaving group commented on my shuttle, which is just barely visible alongside the loom...

This is one end of my "fancy" cardweaving shuttle: oak, carved with two horse heads, eyes inlaid with amber. I carved it about twenty years ago, during a time when I was fairly new in the SCA, and learning about card weaving. The decoration is pure fantasy, the shuttle itself works really well
The actual shuttle shape is a fairly standard "belt shuttle"...
I carved runes into the top edge of the shuttle: SKIT:GOTHAN:KIARI:ALISOLIN, which means "Alison made a good shuttle"... I had a friend who knows Old Norse translate it for me, and the inspiration came from a Viking comb case found in Lincoln and currently in the British Museum.