Monday, July 25, 2016

media Monday


in which our plucky heroine returns to a crepuscular state, as the weather returns to daystar prevalent...

This showed up on my FB feed and I found it oddly compelling...


Closed Circles Performance in a Three Faced Suit by Shao Buugeng Manipulations

And, this excellent flashback to an earlier time seems somehow appropriate on a hot summer day...

It's a Beautiful Day - White Bird - 7/7/1970 - Tanglewood
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 pruned apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 chicken hurdles hem rayon dress bag to Goodwill
5 twin Laurel enamels- bag to Goodwill
6 tiny Pelican enamel - galvanised mesh
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

Sunday, July 24, 2016

tiny and tinier...


in which our plucky heroine continues to push the envelope and shares some process pictures of the work that has happened here in the last two weeks...

Been working on some SCA peerage regalia, grateful that the weather has been surprisingly cooperative (working in front of a hot 1500°F kiln is a treat in the winter, but less pleasant in the heat of summer. The last few days, unusually cool and cloudy for July, have been a respite...

This Laurel enamel is filled enough that the next step will be hand grinding the surface down to a smooth contour.

Some time and careful work with the alundum stone really smooths out the surface contour; the rough surface will be cleaned with a fiberglass brush and then fired in the kiln to melt the glass to smooth again. Any remaining irregularity can then have small amounts of enamel added in a few more firings to fill any remaining irregularity in the contour

adding enamel in the shallow areas of the piece

This enamel is small, about 1" diameter. I decided to add central veins to the tiny leaves, which starts by adding some painting enamel* to the surface. Even using a 10/0 brush, the enamel goes on in fairly large irregular splotches...

The next step is to use a clean damp paintbrush to push the painting enamel into a more refined shape, detailing the center of the leaves...

One last trip into the kiln, to fuse the painting enamel to the surface, and my work on the enamel is done. Next step will be to create a setting so this can be worn as a pendant jewel

and the finished enamel as set: in a simple setting with a single pearl drop.

But in fact, I actually created a matched set of two medallions... as requested, for Christiana and Aelisia


and here they are as finished, prior to being sent on their way! Enamels are both 25mm (1") in diameter, cloisonne with limoges detailing, in simple silver settings with pendant freshwater pearls
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and once those were completed, it was time to be starting on another tiny peerage enamel, this time a Pelican. This enamel is even smaller than the previous set; this one is just under 21mm in diameter (the size of a US nickel coin). Am working on this one as a joint project with my former studio partner Bill Dawson who will be creating the elaborate setting with a Laurel wreath surround, and set with gems and pearls.

This is probably the smallest Pelican enamel I have done so far in my many years of creating regalia... I'm pretty chuffed at the amount of detail I managed to get with the cloisonné wires at this scale.
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 pruned apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 chicken hurdles hem rayon dress bag to Goodwill
5 twin Laurel enamels- bag to Goodwill
6 tiny Pelican enamel - galvanised mesh
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

* Vitreous enamel is ground glass, that is applied to metal and fused at high temperatures. Doing this is one of my primary art forms, which I use to create jewelery and regalia. Regular enamel has the consistency of fine beach sand, and I work with it dampened with water, for safety and technique. Painting enamel has the consistency of talcum powder, I work with it dampened with lavender oil, which allows it to behave more like a substance halfway between paint and sand.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine notices the beauty in the everyday....

The apple tree in the backyard has become a sort of pet vegetal companion, as I learn by doing how to care for it.

While I am pretty arachaphobic, somehow I don't mind that tiny spiders build webs here and there in the apple tree. The tree has it's own community of folks that live with it, I am only probably the biggest one. There were several webs visible today, in the early morning light...

There is an apple ripening that is already bigger than the palm of my hand, on one branch. This is one reason why the books say to thin the baby apples to only one in each cluster of infant fruit. For the last two years I have been learning how to prune the tree, to keep it productive and at a height I can reach without a ladder. I am slowly learning as well the other ways to encourage it to produce apples that will be a treat for our plucky heroine. If you have ever seen a neglected apple tree, of which there are plenty all round the city, you have surely seen the clusters of plum sized scabby fruit which even so are likely worth picking for cider should one happen to have a cider press (I don't have a cider press, or the vehicle to transport masses of produce).
My goal is to do what I can to add a modicum of zero food mile apples to my everyday life each autumn. The tree is sort of "tame" in that I keep it groomed aka pruned so I can reach the branches, and I clear away the dead leaves to compost, and mulch the underthetree with nutritious comfrey. This year I will be able to let the chickens under the tree in the late autumn, to help dig up the weeds and to add their fertiliser contribution to the surrounding earth.
...and there are quite a few apples ripening on the tree. I have been learning to prune the tree, and thin the apples, this year and last year. (Next year I will add some apple "footie" covers and kaolin powder as mechanical barriers to help protect the fruit from insects, which will help dissuade the apple maggots and codling moths. I acquired the relevant supplies too late this year to use them)
:::

While decluttering, I found a random rayon challis tank top summer dress. More hot weather clothing is sorely needed, but tank tops are not my best option. Fortunately the dress is at least six inches too long, being almost ankle length, so slicing off the hemline at a more-safe-for-bike-riding level will allow for plenty of matching material for covering my shoulders. I was initially thinking of trying to draft a short sleeve, but then saw this simple tutorial that I can easily adapt... There might even be enough leftover fabric to do something interesting with the overly wide neckline as well... shall see what ensues (photos later when there is something to see)

I've been putting off sewing for myself for over well more than a year now, as my added avoirdupois has made all my TNT patterns less or not useful, and facing both my own increased girth and the effort of recreating useful patterns has been and remains dreadfully daunting. Still, since finding RTW clothing is an even worse option, I must take self by the scruff of neck and get over it. Perhaps actually sewing some comfortable and acceptable clothing will improve my outlook
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 pruned apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 chicken hurdles hem rayon dress bag to Goodwill
5 - - bag to Goodwill
6 - - galvanised mesh
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday snippets aka catching up...


in which our plucky heroine attempts to write down some of what has been up...
part of this years fig harvest... there were a total of fifteen ripe figs this year, and after sharing them with various friends, I have a little less than 3/4 pound... my intention is to make them into a fig and lemon marmalade, flavored with port and rosemary...

Well that was interesting! the figs/lemon/port/rosemary/sugar that I put in the crock pot to cook down overnight turned into an unexpectedly deep brown sauce (which I cooled and put in the fridge, while I tried to figure out what to do next). I suspect that the sugar carmelised without burning due to the abundance of fluid from the fruit and alcohol.

Not going to try and cook it down further into jam, which might push it over the edge into too bitter. I intend to simply can it as sauce, which could be used as a sweet or savory food topping (would be good over ice cream or yoghurt, or on roasted meats; it tastes amazing, I tried some over Greek yoghurt as a snack)
:::

I am 3/4 of the way completed hand-stitching down the long trim bands on Thora's wool overdress, and thought to share how the effect of combining embroidered and block printed trim looks... Adding the long trim bands really changes the look of the gown, in a way that both Thora and I find really appealing. I am inspired to possibly add a similar detail to some of my own SCA gowns.

Earlier this year I finished the central embroidered panel decorated with the badge of Blue Cedar House, and now have finished adding the block printed trim bands to Thora's burgundy wool overdress. The design of the block printed trim bands and cuff trimmings matches the patterning on their wedding bands, and is a period Norse motif.
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Have been making some progress on decluttering, my intention is to actually make at least 12 bags gone, which will get me "up to goal" for the year. I just finished reading "Organize Tomorrow Today..." on the recommendation of my declutter coach; while all the sportsball metaphors went right over my head, there did seem to be good solid information in the book. Have therefore been beginning to experiment with the choose only three things that are the most important for the next day, and the one of the three that is MOST important and do that one as top priority. As most of these things are the very same things I tend to procrastinate on doing, I suspect that over time my own state of mind will become more relaxed as there will be less to worry about. Most of the procrastination is just internal foolishness, as I have much more competence than I allow myself to believe.
:::

My young European Black Elder Sambucus nigra showing new growth (brighter green leaves) on the various ends of branches. This makes me happy, the plant has obviously set new rootlets which are taking up nutrients and water and beginning to grow. Hopefully in a few years there will be a large enough elderberry bush to start producing fruit, which will allow me to make my own partially homegrown immune support tonic

In additional homestead news, I have been summer pruning the backyard apple tree. This is my second year of pruning on my own, and I am sloooowly getting a bit more confident and getting a better sense of what I am trying to do. Reading about pruning is not the same as actual pruning, but this seems to have been successful at keeping the tree from heading for the sky. My efforts at thinning the fruit earlier this year have yielded significantly fewer but noticeably larger apples. I didn't manage to put the nylon footies and kaolin on the apples this year, since I didn't order them until it was past the time, so there will still be some wormy apples, but next year it should be even better!

Now that it is full summer, I intend to also start on pruning the feral plum trees for short reachable confirmation; since we took the shed out I can actually get to the trees to prune, and to pick the fruit. Plums ought only be pruned when it is dry summertime, since they can apparently get horrible fungal disease if pruned in the wet season.
:::


July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 prune apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 - - bag to Goodwill
5 - - bag to Goodwill
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

Friday, July 15, 2016

charter # 13


in which our plucky heroine takes a half day mental health break...

Painted charter #13 Wednesday... This Russian style design* was a stretch for me - I used details from two different period originals to with the intention of creating a design that referenced the very intensely polychrome aesthetic of the area. Here is what it looked like as I began filling in the base colors, trying to get a good color distribution..
Always, while I am filling in the base colors, the page goes through a gawky stage where it all just looks awkward. For me, I try and remember that, and keep my focus on getting the colors balanced in a way that allows the eye to move nicely across the page, rather than on how it looks at the moment. Here, I started by placing the red, as red is a color that is attractive to the eye, then next the yellow ochre, as the lightest of the four colors... then I began to fill in with green, leaving space for blue, and always striving for a dynamic balance

All the base colors were filled in, with a few adjustments here and there to make sure that various colors were not so close to each other as to form uninteded larger blotches. Still need to paint the birds, after looking at some more manuscript images for inspiration. The overall look reminds me a bit of Ivan Bilibin, though his artwork is of a much later time, he also looked at medieval artwork for inspiration.

If I had wanted to, I could have stopped at this point (well, after painting the birds, too!) An original period page I was looking at for inspiration had a very plain wash of polychrome colors, with only a tiny bit of interior shading, decorating scrollwork:
The final stage of this AoA charter painting. I decided to add some fairly simple internal detailing and shading to the scrollwork, as most of the period originals had similar detailing or even more elaborate decorations

a closer view of some of the shading and linework. Truly, it would be possible to put in two or three times as many hours as the almost six I put in on this charter painting. The design lends itself to elaboration; I feel like I really need to learn more about shading and decorating scrolls, but I am still having fun nonetheless. And hopefully whoever ends up with this as their AoA scroll will enjoy it as well!

One of the two birds on this charter - I wasn't sure if it was intended as a peacock, since the crest rather looked like it. I just went with "generic polychrome avian" instead. I am still really happy with the tiny details I can add with my new paintbrush.

The other little bird from my #13 charter... This one I took most of the details, shading, and coloring from a period little bird. It looks a little bit like a ring neck parakeet. I had fun with the shading, and particularly with how I painted the birds tail - half red, half ocher, with the details counterchanged
For some reason the little (partially cut-off) birds caught my eye; at the top of this page, from "Gospel book, Armenia, Van, 1461, MS M.749 fol. 242r", in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum
:::

I have been really stressed lately, and when feeling powerless about situations both personal, and medical, and political, and global, sometimes I need to just choose a tiny bit of downtime. Painting charters, which is basically like coloring in, but with gouache paint instead of crayons or markers, is both self soothing, intensely satisfying, and of service to the organisation I have been participating in for the last twenty-umpteen years.
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 - yard waste bin
3 charter #13 - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
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8 - - -
9 - - -
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12 - - -
:::

* charter master design by José Cabrera de Castilla

Friday, July 8, 2016

pewter casting in cuttlebone


in which our plucky heroine took a class last weekend, taught by Alail Horsefriend, at ATWW* about an accessible low-tech way to create cast metal objects...

we started by cutting a cuttlebone in half, smoothing the soft inner portion against itself to create matching halves, and cutting notches into the sides, to allow for wiring the two halves together...

The "gate" or sprue opening into the mold, at the top wider edge of the cuttlebone halves. This is where the molten pewter is poured. The nifty thing about pewter is that it melts at a fairly low temperature, which makes this a process a lot more accessible.

Here are the two halves of the mold I carved on site. I used a coin to get the basic shape of the disc, and then added some simple motifs to each side. Any lettering needs to be put in backwards, so as to come out correctly. The scratches that look like spider legs are vents, to allow the air in the mold to be displaced when molten metal is poured in at the top.

Here it the rough casting, showing how the vents allow the metal all the way into the mold, the bits of metal flashing (that went into the mold vents) is thin and easily cut away from the finished piece. I just left them there so I could take these photos prior to cleanup

The obverse of the casting. This really shows the texture of the cuttlebone, which is a unique characteristic. I also will need to cut away the sprue portion of the disc

A closer view of the casting. Once I cut away the sprue/gate portion, and clean up the edges, I intend to fill in the background around the Summits Grail with blue. Since pewter melts at such a low temperature, enameling is not an option. I will use a transparent lacquer or paint instead

The obverse came out equally clear... however, I ought to have checked the calendar...since I think it is actually Anno Societatis 51 (what can I say, it was hot at the event and my brain was fried, and I got confused)

Finish work on the tiny pewter casting - I cut away the sprue gate and the vent flashing, drilled a hole at the center top, and colored the background blue, to match my "friend of the Summits" award. Since pewter melts at such a low temperature, it was necessary to use fingernail enamel instead of vitreous enamel. I like that the texture of the cuttlebone casting is still visible through the overlaid color.
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 - yard waste bin
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::


*ATWW is one of my favorite SCA camping events, with many different types of activities, as well as a splendid location near Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coast. My favorite parts of the shindig are the various classes available, visiting my friends at the "cooks playdate" encampment (where enthusiasts of medieval cookery gather to experiment in trying new recipes and techniques) and the amazing views of the night sky, as the site is at the end of the road in a valley surrounded by hills and trees, but almost no houses. This means that the night sky is intensely visible, and one man camped near us brought his large 13"? telescope and set it up; I saw the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter for the first time, and what a special treat that was!!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

the cohort diminshed



painted charter #12... needed to take some mental health time today.
I am getting a bit faster with my painting, this one took only about five hours. And I'm slowly developing a set of techniques for filling, shading, and patterning the spaces. I intend, as well, to create a reference notebook of various period border and diapering patterns, to help add variety to the outcome.

I had fun with the details, adding interior patterning in various ways. I am particularly fond of the little green foliage bits that burst out of the design border!
:::

...sometimes looking up old friends on FB leads to finding them again... well I just looked up Vanessa Schnatmeier, my childhood best friend from 5th grade through junior high, and come to learn that she passed away in 2012, from the same sort of cancer that I too was in treatment for in 2011/2012. We had lost touch over the years, save a brief reunion one time when I was in the Bay Area fifteen years ago or more, but somehow I always figured I had time to try and reconnect again... I guess my point is don't wait. If there are folks that are important to you, reach out. Life is short.
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July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 - -
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -