Wednesday, December 7, 2016

snow days are not a treat...


...in which our plucky heroine whinges about the weather

The chooks are huddled in the far corner of their little house, safely locked away from varmints, and with another thick layer of shavings added to the floor inside their domicile, to help keep them a bit warmer and more insulated. The weather forecast is for "ice balls" which is apparently weather-ese for sleet. Currently, the wind is howling outside Acorn cottage. Am about to make some nice warm broth for a hot drink, and get back to assorted housey tasks.
this was the beginnings of snow, after lunchtime, taken through the window that looks onto the back yard... chooks are appalled at the conditions outside and only left their house when I brought them treats...
:::

Last month amongst the finishing up of studio work for others, I also set the acorn enamel that has been in my box of unset enamels for years. It was a sample I made back in 2007, for the class that Bill and I co-taught up in Seattle, on engraving for enameling. The leaf veins and acorn caps are engraved on the silver base, under the transparent enamel.

:::

Tullia found some amazing "science" fabric and had me make it up for her as a criss-cross wrap back apron:

the extra fabric scraps will become kitchen mitts
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Yesterday I thought it might be too cold to go to the pool, weather warnings for black ice and for pedestrians and cyclists to take care, was 26F on the thermometer on my front porch. Dang! Have only a few more days 'til the pool closes for the rest of the year. Still, better safe than splatted...

I might be nuts but I went ahead and rode my bike to the pool last night anyway, for water exercise.  It was really hella cold riding there and back, and they didn't have the pool temperature set as warm as it should be, but it was still worth it.

and... apparently I walked five miles yesterday, or over 13K steps, according to the pedomenter. Which explains why I am so hurting today, that might have been a bit much! Am not giving up, am determined to heal beautifully and be able to walk freely and with stamina, but was rather overdoing it with the exercise
:::

December SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 wee jambe enamel 5 skirts hemmed-
2 Tullia apron --
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday musings



In which our plucky heroine updates the personal sewing plans...

Almost done cutting out two more pinafores, one in dark denim, and one in a mostly black wool with small cream thread flecks... I am thinking that since I seem to be lacking in dress lengths of fabric, but have enough for a total of five pinafores, that my plan seems to be shifting just a bit:
4 overs - grey corduroy pinafore, brown brushed twill pinafore, dark denim pinafore, black corduroy pinafore
4 tops - brown/cream mushroom print blouse, blue midcentury floral blouse, brown/cream oxford cloth blouse, and light blue/brown/cream horses print blouse.
OR
4 dresses - turquoise shot cotton dress, black blue grey stripe dress,
??? dress, ??? dress
3 bottoms - brown capri loose leggings, grey capri loose leggings, and black capri loose leggings... I might go ahead and use the black RTW leggings that I plan on using for a pattern as part of my SWAP, since I do not have much knit fabric on my "resource shelves" in suitable color/weight/yardage to make leggings from.

For my Wintertime 6PAC, the current brown twill pinafore, and the upcoming black/cream wool pinafore will be the stars. K is still working on the black chopshop cardigan for me. I could cut out and stitch up two long sleeve knit tops, from the hemp knit on my resource shelves... one is a blue/grey stripe, and the other is a black/white marl (which I intend to overdye in a cool taupe brown). Knit tops are speedy to make. Then if I manage to sort out the blouse/jacket pattern well enough, I could make another unlined jacket layer in either the brown twill or the black corduroy, since either would be a very useful addition to the daily wardrobe... Well, so would a knitted cardigan, but that takes a LOT longer

December SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 wee jambe enamel - -
2 - --
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::



Sunday, December 4, 2016

the smallest Jambe so far...


Friday our plucky heroine began another tiny regalia brooch for Tullia... 1/2" diameter. This one will become a Jambe*, and I lightly marked the base to guide where I will be wet-packing the white and yellow enamel to create the checky background... This should be fun! (will be the smallest Jambe ever so far from my workshop)

In 2015 I made a whole series of regalia brooches for her, for all the different awards and honors she had accrued so far. I then created two more earlier this year, when she was awarded two more Baronial honors. Our Tullia is an incredible dynamo, and is well deserving of all the recognition she receives.

The first layer of enamel is first dotted into the places it will occupy in the finished background, to create the An Tir checky... then each square is shaped by pushing the enamel grains into a more precise arrangement, using a tiny 10/0 brush. This image shows the process about half complete

When all the enamel in the first layer is arranged in a check formation, it is ready for the first firing... By scribing the checky divisions in the fine silver base disc, it made it a lot easier for me to get the background design fairly even

Once the first layer of golden yellow is fused in place, then the first layer of opaque white enamel is added... and so forth... repeatedly. It takes at least four to six firings before the background is relatively even and smooth.

Just an idea of how small this enamel actually is... after six trips into the kiln, finally the checky background is level enough to allow for painting the final layers of enamel, that will define the Lion's leg and paw, but that is a task for tomorrow...

Sometimes the fire gods smile... got the wee Jambe painted and fired in only one go-round this morning! The bottle of lavender oil I opened was thicker than usual, which may be why the mixture of oil and painting enamel behaved so nicely?  I am quite chuffed; all that remains is to make a brooch setting for it

*the Order of Jambe de Lion is an award given in the SCA Kingdom of An Tir for excellence in the arts and sciences, and the badge is the "arm of the lion" on a background of An Tir checky (alternating gold and silver squares)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

gifty wishlist


...in which our plucky heroine attempts to make things easier for those who don't already know her pretty well....

This list is an ongoing work-in-progress, since like each year for the past several, I've been participating in Daegmar's Sekrit Santa gift exchange... It is actually pretty difficult to find objects that fit the requirements: keep the exchanged gift either handmade and/or homemade, or if purchased to be $20 or less); since most of what will make a real difference in my life are not things, but the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual "stuff".

It seemed a good idea to provide both general guidelines to what I like and do not like, as well as a modest annotated list of assorted Useful and Delightful things:

Random wishlist notes:
my favorite colors: The kind of blue that you get from indigo: nightsky and dark denim. The greyish color of natural linen. Taupe. Grey. Soft dull turquoise. The dark black brown of some kinds of undyed sheep wool. Bittersweet chocolate brown.

In general, food is not a Fjorlief treat and neither are scented things. Our plucky heroine does not particularly like chocolate and is allergic to cherries and hazelnuts...

I mostly do not collect things, in particular I don't collect acorn kitsch, even though the house is named Acorn Cottage; I really do NOT collect chicken things, even though there are often hens in residence...

Annotated wishlist items that cost less than $20,
in no particular order:
travel paintbrush - This brush would be an excellent addition to my SCA painting kit, the metal case turns into the brush handle... I have a similar brush (but smaller) that I use all the time

diamond hones - these would work well for their intended purpose, and might also work really well for stoning down enamels. They are also available at Winks here in Portland, at least I saw them there the last time I was there.

earbud holder - now that I have a clever phone, a way to neatly store the earbuds would be useful... in blue, of course

Arabic Gold mica paint - this metallic paint would be a great addition to my SCA painting kit.

Julienne peeler - this might be a good way to add additional texture to my veggie salad consumption, I can imagine carrots or beets as tiny shreds of color and nutrition

bicycle kickstand - my bike has a kickstand, but whoever installed it cut it too short, so my bike always tries to fall over, which is most annoying. I need a new one.

eneloop AAA batteries - could use a few more of these, since the ones I had seem to have disappeared

Some rather more spendy, but also Very Useful, things:

It would be a very good addition to the infrastructure here to acquire an extension ladder. One that is long enough to reach the gutters, or the attic hatchways, and strong enough for someone that weighs over 200 lbs... must needs do a bit more research as to what would be suitable

new mattress - my current mattress, while not terrible old, has become terribly topographical. I had the chance to sleep on one of these Casper mattresses in the guest room at my friends house, and it was excellent! (slept through the night, didn't wake up all achey and contorted) My friends have had one in their own bedroom for months now, and it seems to be holding up really well

I have several friends that own Excalibur food dehydrators, all quite happy with how useful they are, it might be a good alternative way to preserve food for shelf-stable pantry storage here at Acorn Cottage.

More time than money:
bicycle tuneup - I have a bike, I ride my bike a lot, but I don't know how to work on a bike... anyone out there want to walk me through a basic tuneup?

knitted leg-warmers -  Compression socks preclude wooly handknit socks, but socks sans feet would cover the parts not in the shoes, and be a layer of insulation that would also add comfort and color.

company whilst sorting - I always want this. Come and hang out with our plucky heroine whilst I continue to sort and declutter...

help with constructing garden beds - It would be great to build a new raised bed in the backyard, the old one from ten years ago has sort of disintegrated.

replace bicycle tires + tubes + add Slime - If someone out there knows how to do this, and has the tools, my trusty bike needs help, the back tire is almost bald...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

it is what I do... making a custom piece


As making custom pieces is probably our plucky heroine's favorite thing to do, it was really delightful to collaborate with J. The custom rune pendant, a project that began several months ago, was just finished up and mailed out today.

This is a bit about how the process worked... I started with a series of sketches, the only caveat being the particular motif, the small size (1" x 3/4") and the colors blue/orange/gold. Not sure what kind of look they were going for, I offered an assortment of styles both pictorial and geometric:
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From all of these, the choice was for the simple elegant "bands of color" outline, which was my own favorite as well. Given the scale of the enamel, my plan was to use limoges painting enamel techniques for the rune motif, as it allows very fine detail.

I then did a more finished rendering, to clearly show what I proposed to create for them, a small rectangular enamel set in silver

In order to translate the sketch into a finished enamel, I needed to test the various orange enamels on hand, since that color is pretty much never used in regalia. I wanted to get as close a match to the sketch as I could...

None of the opaque colors looked right as a background for the center section, so I chose my old friend "Thompson's Tea Rose", a venerable pink that turns vivid gold when fired on silver. 

My first effort at creating the borders, the outer blue strip, while not a dark cobalt, looked much too dark compared to the warm orange and gold. By using wet-packing the enamel directly, instead of using cloisonné, I was able to get an effect of soft borders, rather than hard outlines, which really suited the design.

After some additional email consultation, the dark blue was replaced with a lighter color... much better visual balance. Adding the detailed complex lines of the rune (just over 1/2" tall) was a real challenge; I think it took at least six firings or more for the motif to have all the details even and tidy.

Finally a simple silver pendant setting was made to fit the enamel. I use serrated fine silver bezel wire to hold the enamel in place, as the malleable pure silver, combined with the serrations, is the most gentle way I know to hold the enamel in place securely. I decided to use some spiral twisted wire for the pendant bails, and made them large enough to allow for various kinds of chain or necklace to be used with the pendant.

I can only hope that 2017 will allow me additional opportunity to create durable, wearable special artifacts of beauty for people...
:::

November SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 charter #17 framed Summits charter 7 pounds
2 charter #18 framed Adiantum charterGoodwill bag
3 reflective mesh vest repair small frame old chook gate
4 blue batik dress frame fox print paper recycle bin
5 brown pinaforesetting acorn enamel 3 bags recycling
6 setting rune enamel - 2 bags trash
7 - - 11 bags Goodwill
8 - - 1 bag yarn
9 - - 2 pounds
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

a bit of breathing room


in which our plucky heroine is grateful for a chance to spend time with friends...


Last weekend was An Tir Collegium, a new educational SCA event, which was held in Pasco, WA.. I had already decided to attend, but not do a presentation (I was honored to have been asked, but my travels earlier this autumn precluded my also having enough prep time for a lecture and handout/bibliography). It was definitely useful to see various ways that other folks put their presentations together, and I have ideas for what I can do next time. A very nifty innovation was that the site token for the event was a tiny thumb drive the size and shape of a credit card, with all the handouts from the event, so that even for the classes (there were nine tracks, some with six or seven classes each) we did not attend we still got some data.

while traveling, we stopped both outbound and return at Maryhill Stonehenge... I love this view (two states and the Columbia River between)

The view in the opposite direction. I'd never been here before at this time of year, and the bits of autumnal color were a delight. Plus windmills. I love the windmills.

Driving across eastern Washington on the way home, the power lines formed a cohort of giant electric cats marching alongside the highway

Back at Stonehenge, the day was heading towards sunset, and the sky was much more dramatic

And, my excellent traveling companions... Marya, Ursel, and Mea

:::

Alas, I think that the cold, that I have been attempting to fight off since the weekend, is winning... I feel like crap, and a return to bed is seeming more and more like a good idea. I am too wobbly to keep trying to solder bezels. Seems like every time I stay in a hotel I come home sick... time to go put the chooks to bed and then do the same for myself

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday tidbit


in which our plucky heroine breaks the rules...

I almost never bring trinkets home, as the last three years have been all about letting go of what is no longer necessary. But I could not resist these two small Japanese Akita-Inu figurines, who somehow ended up on the Goodwill holiday shelf. They are being added to my permanent collection here at Acorn Cottage. No, I was not born in the Year of the Dog, but I have been looking for some little sculptures just like these for a long time.
These are about two and three inches tall. I have read that little Akita figurines are sometimes a gift in Japan to parents of newborns, for good luck, and to convalescents as a wish for speedy recovery... not sure how true the info, but I liked the sentiment.
:::
November SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 charter #17 framed Summits charter 7 pounds
2 charter #18 framed Adiantum charterGoodwill bag
3 reflective mesh vest repair small frame old chook gate
4 blue batik dress frame fox print paper recycle bin
5 -attached scroll seal 3 bags recycling
6 - framed Laurel scroll 2 bags trash
7 - framed 1st AoA charter 11 bags Goodwill
8 - framed 2nd AoA charter 1 bag yarn
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::