Friday, August 29, 2008

a little bit of playa art

Thinking about my friends who are at BurningMan; an ephemeral place I'd like to visit someday

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here comes the sun...

Yup, shining right in my bedroom window, shining right on the head of the bed, shining right on me. Oh - yeah - need to get the coronet to the Post Office before noon, need to get up. Oh - yeah - coronet is mostly done, need to turn the kiln on, and set the enamel, and take some pictures, and drag my tired self on the bicycle to the Post Office and then, back to sleep. Naps are good. Oh Yeah.

I'll keep you posted.
~ O ~

12:51 PM...
Coronet is done: enamel safely re-fired and set and pictures taken. When I'm on the way out the door to the Post Office I realise that I have no copy of the address to send it to. (insert image of me panicking here) Fortunately his address is posted on their baronial website, which I think to check after about a two hour search of Acorn Cottage. Truly, I don't think clearly when this tired.

This is the big bad boy I've been working on:

and a little close-up of the heraldic details:
central enamel by Fjorlief in Haga, engraving by William Bjornson

Now, off to mail this, posthaste...

I'm soooo tired...

Rivets are all done. I'm all done, too tired to do any more work. Circlet is well, circular, or rather, oval. I don't want to screw up the enamel setting, and I think I'll add an extra layer of counter-enamel to the back before I set it, just for safety sake. G'night

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

down to the wire

The closer I get to completing this project, the more tense. Every little rivet is an opportunity, for better or worse.

Here is a little tip for any interested metalworkers, who haven't already figured this out... I'm using tiny brass escutcheon pins for the rivets. They're still available in hardware stores, if you look carefully (and bring a magnet with you, some these days are brass plated steel, which wouldn't be suitable, as steel rivets are too hard for this sort of application). I anneal them before using them as rivets, so the brass is as soft as possible. They come with a nice hemispherical nailhead already formed, and if you use an upside-down nail set as a tiny anvil, you can have nice rounded rivet heads.

Doesn't look like I'll be done before sunset
Just got a call from Greg Wilbur, who is coordinating the demos at Art In The Pearl this weekend, My time slot has been moved to Sunday afternoon. So, if anybody is in town this weekend and wants to come say hi, I'll be there from noon to 4 PM. I'm pretty sure that art demos are in the same place as last year, in the northwest corner of the fair. Bill will be doing a demo on Monday.

with a little help from my friends...

A big BIG thankyou to Conor for not only being willing to let me use his buffing wheel, but also driving it over here so I didn't need to take three hours out of my day to go over to his house to use it. All will be well...
Taking a short break, as I need to pretty regularly change tasks to keep my hands functioning. The buffer is really making a difference, and if all the rivettey bits come together properly I needn't be ashamed to send this out with my mark on it. Only about forty or so more rivets to drill and set, and a bit of fabrication of the joining plates, and setting the enamel, and it will be ready to photograph. I'll be done before twilight. I hope.
And I hope that my writings don't come across like all I do is grouse and whinge about my life. It is a great and wonderful thing that I can support myself with this curious mixture of odd skills, and not have to do work that I hate, for causes that are antithecal to all I believe. If I "let it out" here - A: I don't explode, which would be messy and scare the dog, and B: It shows that thingmaking is not a mystical ever-smooth process, but a very human, lumpy-bumpy journey.

" can't keep all that stuff bottled up inside, you got to let it out sometimes, or you'll get strange, and punch the baby in the mouth, and you can't do that...You get an awful big ticket, and it makes you feel...lousey..."
~ Rosalie Sorrells [monologue intro to] "The Hostile Baby Rocking Song"

Stop now, rest and eat food

I stop, I eat an apple, and feed the peelings and core to Smokey.

The first rivets are in, on the top of the backplate. Many more to do.

I realise that my biggest challenge is that I lack equipment, not ability. While not having the right tools adds layers of difficulty, somehow I translate my not having tools into my not being able.

For example, I really need to use something other than the flex-shaft to polish this thing. I'm so used to working tiny all my gear is suited to that . No buffing wheel here at Acorn Cottage. I've been running myself down as incompetent when what I need is access to tools.

Now I think I need access to a horizontal surface for sleeping, once the Smokester has a bit of access to the great outdoors.

Goodnight, I'll be back later in the day

Monday, August 25, 2008

working till it's done...

Progress continues to happen on the coronet -

One of the steps that I was dreading, the grinding of the claw settings to size, is complete, without mishap. The white agate stone beads are attached, clasped by the claws, and secured in place by a silver wire. Damn, that Gordon is a godlike metalworker/sculptor. (Gordon being the artist that makes the dragonclaws, and kindly sold me enough for this project) Just as I was wondering how I was going to anchor the beads, I noticed that there was a bony knob on the back of the dragon "wrist" in exactly the right spot to curl the anchoring wire around. That man thinks of everything. If you are interested, go look at his website: GRB Bells and see his tiny awesome sculptural bells ...

Taking a bit of a blog break, and going to do a tiny stir-fry for dinner, then on to the hole drilling. Lots and lots of tiny holes, for lots and lots of tiny rivets, and a little bit of sawing, to make the joining plates.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

workie workie weekend

Been working along on the dragonclaw project.

Yesterday I decided to get some extra size 56 drillbits, as the whole coronet is/will be riveted together. My usual favorite hardware store sadly disappointed me, when I called them. The person who answered had no idea what I was asking no trip to the store with the cute clerk, sigh (he wasn't the person answering the phone), but instead a trip to Parkrose Hardware on the other side of 205. The best one I've found other than Wink's, but much further away (70 minute, three bus ride), there aren't any hardware stores close to Acorn Cottage.

So far the parts look like my drawing, which is good. I'm still feeling a bit dicey about the whole project, there are at least two "difficult" technical bits still to come. I really miss having access to Bill's studio, he is years ahead of me in tool and equipment acquisition; and sometimes I feel like he's forgotten more than I'll ever learn about metalworking. I'll be glad when this project is done and shipped, I think I'll go soak in the pool at the Kennedy School, then throw a party or something to celebrate. Every time I've taken on a big metalworking project like this I get very stressed. (Not so much with the enameling, and sewing is just time-consuming but easy... probably after years of metalworking I'll have more confidence.)

The only unexpected thing so far...the brass was coated with a clear lacquer, which became apparent when I used denatured alcohol to remove the markings for the wiggle-cut . Took about two hours to deal with that, and a half a bottle of acetone. My elbows and arms may not be the same for a while. Well, back to the artisanry... wish me luck with the delicate grinding of the dragonclaws. Think I'll put up a bracket for the flexshaft (finally), and clear off the worktables, and maybe the few additional steps that aren't so critical; I'm thinking to leave the actual grinding for tomorrow AM when I'm hopefully well-rested. (reminder to self: go to bed in a timely fashion) then see if I can get some more 3M bristle wheels for the flexshaft somewhere...

I had the chance to talk with Wanda about the caps-of -maintenance, and she has actually seen historical regalia with ermine. Happily, my idea of basically doing cut and paste (well, stitch) with the ermine tails is actually one correct method of sewing. That is one of two next-in-line projects for this coming week. (the other being prep for Art In The Pearl, including a flyer for my autumn and early winter classes)

I've been feeling really woeful about the state of the garden/backyard, but decided that is useless emoting, and instead will imagine that I've just moved in, and think about how best to restructure the garden beds for what I want to do in the yard. That will certainly involve better and easier to move fencing, and/or building an actual chicken run along the south edge of the yard, (which is the shadiest, hence not useful for gardening) Of course that would mean moving the clothesline, and figuring out some other structures to attach it to, and... and...

Found my rain hat, which had been missing for several months. It was hiding behind the bedroom door, under the winter scarves. This is a good thing, since we are due for more rain for the next day or two.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday musings

It was the best of weekends - it was the worst of weekends...

The best was having Jen come down here for the weekend. Although the weather didn't cooperate with her bike-riding plans, we had the Powells excursion, the oh-so-tasty Sushi Takahashi trip, and the luscious, lemony, eat-dessert-first evening visit to Rimskys. (lemon panna cotta, or frozen lemon mousse pie with raspberries... Hmmm...) I just don't get as much "hanging out and chatting" time with my friends as I'd like, so it was great to have a friend visit for several days, and Smokey was sooo happy to have a beloved pack member here.
The worst was the project that I have been working on was being beyond uncooperative.
The enameling was, well, challenging, for no clear reason that I could figure out. This is after, as you will recall, I screwed up the first attempt by dropping it and cracking it badly, so as to require a second enamel. Then the setting was not soldering easily. Sincerely, I wonder which divinity(s) I ought make offerings to... Then, on Sunday, when all that remained was the final step of carefully stringing the pearl border, while in the middle of that process I looked at the enamel and realised that it had just cracked in two places. I carefully set the pendant down. I wanted to scream, or cry, or throw the dang thing across the room. Mind you, Jen was going to leave in less than an hour to catch her train home. Supposedly taking the completed piece with her. I am blessed with a friend both generous and brilliant. Not only did she end up staying over an entire extra day, and missing Monday work, so that I'd have the time to repair the cracked enamel, but she suggested that the errant (though repaired, re-fired and strengthened) enamel be sent to Bill for a new setting, thereby coming up with a clever solution that I'd never thought of.
Here's hoping that the final phases of the coronet project, scheduled for this week, go more smoothly... (I'll keep you posted)
For the last week or two I have been longing to visit the ocean, not just 'cos of the heat, but in all the decades I've lived here I've been to the coast only three or four times, (and a trip to Cape Cod which also involved, well, the other coast). I think this was set off by a photo posted by Flieg that so vividly resonated for me that I could almost taste that sandy salty breeze... I just want to stick my feet in the ocean water, and walk along the beach, and breathe the ocean air....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

merry meet

I was up till three working on the pelican enamel. I'm still tired, but it came out acceptably this time, which is good, since I need to send the completed medallion home with Jen on Sunday. She came down here to PDX for her birthday, and to do the Tour de Fat . She took the train from Olympia, with her bike, and rode here from the train station yesterday afternoon. It was 101 yesterday afternoon. When she arrived I immediately handed her some iced water with Emergen-c, and pointed her towards the shower...

She's re-considering the bike riding today, as the weather is forecast to reach well over 100, may go out and do some less sun-intensive things instead. I'd love to just hang around with her all day, but I've got building the setting for the pelican on instead. Fortunately that doesn't involve running the kiln all day at 1500 F, which made the artisanry rather warm! yesterday, and hopefully it won't take the entire day.

More later....

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday was 102 F. No wonder it seemed hot, and I felt heatsick. foolishly put off enameling since standing at 1500 F oven all afternoon sounded stupid when not barfing was all I could do. Well today will be just as bad, and the kiln is heating as I type...can't put it off any longer. Lots of water, spiked with Emergen-C electrolyte drink, and a damp bandanna on my head will help, I hope.

Wednesday I stopped off at the Interstate Farmers Market , as it was visible from the Max and I thought well, haven't checked this out this year . Not much improved form last year. Still NO organic produce. At all. I just don't get it, why in Washington are the local farmers markets full of organic fruit and vegetable vendors, and they are as scarce as hens teeth here in Portland? The only bright thing at the market was the grass-fed alternative meats. A ranch out of Bend Oregon: Pine Mountain Ranch They sell at the Interstate market on Wednesdays and at the Milwaukee one on Sundays, and I think at one other. Last time I saw them they had venison, elk and buffalo. This time elk, buffalo, and yak jerkey!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random Tuesday bits

In which our overtired and overheated heroine whinges about being a design snob...
better - cheaper - faster, you can have any two out of the three, but you can't have it all... Y'all know that I'd love to de-carpet the house, right.... and y'all know that I have this ginormous Akita dog, who leaves drifts of dogfur all around the house twice a year (see the grocery sacks in the back room...) So why haven't I yet made any progress on the removal of the carpeting? Well, I just realised that I feel weird about putting "fake" flooring down. Yes I admit it, I am a design snob. But realistically, I need to just get over it! Because the bestest option for the flooring would certainly not be cheaper, or faster...I'd be a tottering crone before I could afford real wood, and all that would need to be done to make the Acorn Cottage slab ready to accept real wood. And I've been racking my brain to come up with another suitable option. I've been cruising the internet for several years looking for alternative flooring (Um ...mud, as in dirt plus additives...adding a fresh layer of concrete...stripping off the black mastic that is under the I can afford Ikea flooring for my bedroom. I just wish that it didn't look so fake-wood-ish, or that the designers did something interesting-but-neutral with it.
The caps are coming along pretty well. I'm stitching on flannel padding around the bottom edge, before adding the ermine. I've sewed with fur before, but I'm not sure about how to handle the ermine tails, since they'll look silly hanging down from the hats. Did quite a bit of online searching, and couldn't find anything about working with ermine, so I'll just have to go for it. Anybody with helpful tips out there?
Well, now that the temperature is over 90, I guess it is back to the pelican enamel project...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The good the bad and the ugly

Good first... Yesterday I followed up on the inspiration to use film canisters for enamel storage. Up the road in St Johns is a cool camera store, Blue Moon, and they were happy to give me a bagful of empties. (If I'd thought of this earlier, I could have saved myself the purchase cost of a case of little jars; though the jars look quite lovely in their new shelving, and the film cans aren't transparent.) Today I was able to find a shallow wooden drawer at the ReBuilding Center, and some various molding, to turn said drawer into the third enamel shelf.

The bad... After purchasing said wood bits, two busdrivers refused to let me on the bus because I was carrying a "stick". I ended up going back in and using one of their handsaws to cut said stick in half, thereby rendering it much closer to eye level, but less visible. Got on the next bus without incident, but got home later than I'd intended.
...then...the arachnid incident...
This afternoon, when I went to take a shower, I pulled the showercurtain across to enclose the tub and the largest spider I've seen in my home was right there at face level. Now my glasses were already off, (as well as, well...) and I wasn't sure what to do. This spider was almost two inches in (legs + body) diameter, and quickly ran across part of the showercurtain. Usually I try to catch and release spiders, but this one, uh, I couldn't find an appropriate container, and it ran so fast I wasn't sure I could catch it anyhow. So I took a yardstick, knocked it into the tub, and washed it down the drain.

The ugly... What happens when I work on an enamel without having calm focus. I'm going to need to start over on the pelican. Bah. Fortunately I can do that, I've only lost about a days work. No scampering around this weekend for this gal, I'm going got be chained to the workbench...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday snippets

The heraldic enamels are done, and I continue working on the corresponding caps... I do wish that the initial measurement had been correct, since I've now spent more hours correcting the too-small cap than I spent sewing them both, I've had to add radial bands of couching to cover the seamlines where the cap was "let out", and without all the compensatory embroidery now the other cap looks rather too plain. Bah! Just on these caps I've over 15 hours into this and not done yet. The next step for this project is to create narrow padded ermine bands, the exact necessary head measurement, that will be attached to the lower edge. Then I can call this project done! (Hmmm, I'm thinking a porch roof for Acorn Cottage, as a labor exchange mayhaps)
The plan is to have both this project and the pearled pelican medallion both done by next Saturday, and the dragonclaw coronet need done by the 20th. Or I will need to stay home from the Household encampment. Wish me luck. Next is more wirebending, to prepare for enameling tomorrow...
As the summer is galloping along, I've been thinking about the enameling workshops for the rest of the year. Tentative dates are September 5-7, October 10-12, November 14-16 and November 28-30, and a "last minute gift" workshop on December 12-14.
Remember, the Artisanry has room for only four students at a time, so there is plenty of individual attention and encouragement. I'd like to do at least one workshop on painting enamels. Also, Bill is willing to come down and teach Engraving for Enamelists, Making your own Enameling Tools, Toolmaking for Metalsmiths and Artists, Tablet Weaving in Wire, and Pewter Casting in Soapstone.
I'd like to do more as far as publicising my teaching, and would be delighted to have some suggestions. I'm going to make up a small flyer that can be posted on bulletin boards, and a one page handout, in case I get to demo at Art In The Pearl again this year, (though I haven't heard back from them) I'll be putting a notice up on Craigslist...
I spoke with Rois this morning about the holiday gift sale, and we decided on the first weekend in December, with a special preview on Thursday night. This year we will be having a door prize drawing, with a splendid gift bag full of special goodies from all our vendors. So remember, special, local, handcrafty goodness on December 5th, 6th and 7th (yeah, I know that is waay in the future, but my calendar fills up quickly, and I'm sure yours does too...)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

surviving the heat

Monday up till 4 AM getting the first of two heraldic champleve bits completed... Tuesday night finished assembling the caps-of-maintenance, and Bill arrived here with other (corrected) heraldic bit. Now I've a momentary day or two reprieve from the continuing enameling, the subcontracted components are not due for another week or two, along with my own current projects, so tonight I'm not standing in front of a 1500 degree oven. It looks to be a busy August, though, , so enameling workshops will resume in September. As I had suspected, the caps needed to be modified, so I will be re-working and enlarging them and adding the ermine trim.

I've currently got the dragonclaw settings in the tumbler, getting shiney... just done with their three hour stint in the new-to-me vintage tiny (best guess about a pint and a half) tumbler; they are now oh-so-shiny and beautiful, ready for the next step. I love mass finishing, and had wanted for a long time to have that capability, abrasive polishing is both extremely tedious and requires a fair bit of technological resources if you don't want to destroy your lungs. While not everything can be tumble polished, for the bits that can be it is wonderful. Big thank you to Bill for sending the little tumbler my way, and showing me how to use it....

Today I went over the river to OHSU, down by the foot of the tram, to have the first of three nerve conduction tests done on my left hand. (I've volunteered to be in a research study about magnets and carpal tunnel) The doctors there did a much better job of testing than the tests I had twelve years ago, made sure to tell me before each part of the test what was coming next, which made the process more tolerable. I mean, it isn't exactly fun having electrical current sent through your body, I certainly wouldn't do it on my own just for grins...(it is an "interesting"sensation but not one I like). The bad/good news is that yes I do have significant carpal tunnel in my left hand (well duh!), and that my impairment is within the range that they are looking for in the study. So I get to tape a quarter-size rare earth magnet to my wrist every night for the next six weeks, and fill out a daily log, and have a couple more nerve conduction tests over the next 18 weeks. In the end, I might have an improved wrist, or not, but the money ($300), while not enough for surgery on my sore wrist, will be enough to get inexpensive laminate flooring for one of the two bedrooms here at Acorn Cottage... at least that is my current thought.