Monday, September 29, 2008

monday musings

Years ago, back in the mid '70s, when I was living on the other coast, my friends and I drove down from Greater Boston to New York City to see Patti Smith in concert in Central Park. We spent most of the day at The Cloisters before heading down to the concert that evening. Whilst wandering around in the blogosphere, I found that The Cloisters now has a gardening blog: The Medieval Garden Enclosed Thought that all my historically interested friends might be interested, looks to have an interesting set of articles so far, with useful references for further research...
I'm actually doing it, spent a big chunk of my weekend starting to "build" an Etsy storefront: The Artisanry of Acorn Cottage. While the web layout and suchlike is all pre-set, and some friends reassured me of how easy it all is, I find that writing descriptions of my own work, and 'specially writing about myself, is difficult. This week calls for much time doing photography, so that I can have images to show the goods I have for sale, so far all that is up is my little emery acorns, but I plan to have various sewing tools, small earrings and tiny pendants, and the toys and tiny treasures that I so love to make ...
Sorted through two of the myriad boxes of randomised papers'n'junk that clutter my back room. Found two of the Important Lost things on my list of missing objects, hooray! Now I have a small pile of papers to be filed, a large sack of paper for recycling, and a modest stack of papers to be shredded. (must find friend with shredder)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

monday musings and maunderings

Autumn is here. Time to take down the canvas roof from the front of Acorn Cottage; there should be few if any days now where sunwarmth in the front window will be excessive. The days are now, happily, cooler. This weekend, during an impulsive trip to Powells, there was a spell of very intense rain, glad I was to be indoors just then, and waited, browsing the books, 'till the squall passed....

Saturdays teaparty was curiously progressive in the temporal rather than the political sense. Only a few at a time showed up, which allowed for nice visity-talky, and over the afternoon a pleasant number of friends had come by. Rois and Chance brought over their former living room chairs, to be given a good home here. I feel so "grownup" now with a pair of matching chairs; they are small, in scale with my home, and look like a cross between Norse medieval and mid-century modern. When Bill stopped by yesterday, he commented on how Scandinavian they look, very Carl Larsson...

Chance also helped attach the Ikea shelf unit to the wall in the back bedroom, which is destined to hold stacks and stacks of fabric. It fits very nicely there, and will work even better once I get a sewing table to fit underneath, which will allow me to stop using the living room as my sewing room...

After teaparty time, we four who remained (Ian, Karyn, Jess and I) went over the river to have a tasty sushi dinner. Nothing better than an afternoon of visiting followed by more visiting sushi... Mmmm crunchy crispy dead baby cephalopods on rice...
Aaarg I hate it when I accidentally tap the wrong key and all my writing disappears
Sunday morning, on a quick trip to a "collectibles" market with Rafny I found a circular wooden "pipesmokers" rack that fits nicely on the workbench lazy susan. Now all my pliers have a home!

As I'd mentioned, Bill stopped by on his way back north, ofter dropping off the huge coronet and caps-o-maintenance shebang with the clients. I was glad to hear that they were very happy with the results of all our hard work. Bill and I chatted about projects, and teaching, briefly, then he left to go home, and I went back to my worm bin bag project. I found the plans online here. Spent the rest of Monday building the contraption, I hope my pet worms will like it. The worm-home fits easily in my tiny kitchen, and being closer to the food prep area will make dealing with the compostables simple. There was only one error in the plan supply list, you need more cordage than they call for; a bit of a pain, but not critical. I think that I can do a better job of patterning for the fabric cone that holds the worms, rather than a flat pair of triangles, I think a four-panel construction would fit the framework more neatly, and give a smoother 3-D cone-shape. Must acquire a bit more Ecospun felt and try it out...

This afternoon I wanted to see if I could get over to the Multnomah Art Center to find out about teaching possibilities. Turns out that Multnomah Village is just one bus ride away, about an hour, but no transfers. Along the way I saw the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, and later Food Front (the co-op here I hadn't seen yet, I'll need to go check it out another day, now that I know where it is).

On the way home I stopped at the Rebuilding Center, and found enough narrow flat molding bits to start working on the chalkboard project. Yup, I'm going to put chalkboard on the walls in the workroom, will be useful for teaching, and general note making, memory jogging, picture sketching goodness. I love chalkboards. When I went to Paris, I brought home two doorknobs and a child's chalkboard as souvenirs. You knew I was weird, but how many folks go to a hardware store in Paris? Even my family thought it was pretty weird, but they humored me...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

stupid dog!!

Just got back inside from feeding the hens, and Smokey had managed to eat a good sized chunk of the cake I baked last night for the tea party! Me mad...she hasn't eaten stuff off the countertops since she has a puppy. Me worried...cake was a chocolate cake. Quick, call friend who was formerly vet-tech...she isn't home. Oh yeah, the dog chocolate toxicity...
sweet cocoa---------0.3 oz per lb of body weight
baking chocolate----0.1 oz per lb of body weight
Quickly do the math, 1/2 c cocoa in cake, she ate about a sixth of the cake, therefore about 1 1/2 Tablespoons, therefore about a little more than 0.5 oz. Smokey weighs 95 pounds. Whew! she is probably not in danger of chocolate poisoning.

Me frazzled...I have no cake for my guests. Must go clean up the kitchen and start more baking. And there I was so organised, getting the baking done last night...Sigh

Tea party later today

Friday, September 19, 2008

connected museings

Just finished reading World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler, borrowed the book from Rafny. I'd read The Geography of Nowhere a while ago, and now I'm thinking to look for his other books. He is a clear and thoughtful writer, descriptive without being despairing. I found World Made By Hand all too realistic, I've seen that world a-coming since I was a youngster. There is a similar flavor to the writings of Edgar Pangborn, if anyone out there has read any of his "Tales of a Darkening World" (I first read Pangborn's Davy at about age eleven, when I discovered it on the bookshelves at home, and in each subsequent re-reading I discover something new, as my perspective changes)

In some ways I've lived my life always holding somewhere in mind the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it... As a littley kid, duck-and-covering under the desk at school, it would be "the bomb" a young hippie it was "come the revolution"... and as time went on a generalised "when the s**t hits the fan"...for years I kept gear packed to grab and go, and clear mental maps of the routes away from the city...

And all the skills I learn, I always think how useful would this be? It is an odd filter to apply to life, perhaps. I'm still working on learning new skills...never liked gardening before, but it seems a vital skill now, for a whole host of reasons.

And moving to Portland was an odd one for me, I love it here, but in some ways Olympia is waay more sustainable. I had to balance out my desire for a new and different life, with my feelings of safety in a smaller town with artesian water and decades of connections.

Someone once asked me why I didn't gamble, when I didn't want to buy her raffle tickets...I replied that I gambled with my whole life...she looked puzzled...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

hhunting and gathering, a day of planned errands

Today Stacey and I did go to Ikea, and all I bought was the flooring for the two bedrooms here at Acorn Cottage (All $325+ of it, and I still need to buy plastic moisture barrier, and padding, and probably an "installation kit".) It wasn't really hard to not buy anything else. Then we needed to drop off the flooring at my house, and her tall cabinet and stuff at her house.

Somehow we ended up at the Bins, which always takes more time than you would expect...We only barely had time for a stop at Mr Plywood before she had to drop me at home and go pick up Wes. I bought the sheet of chalkboard I've been wanting for my workroom. I had them cut it into suitable pieces, and have four extra pieces that I'm not sure what I will do with, yet. I still need to get the wooden molding pieces to attach them to the wall. Hopefully I will be able to find suitable wooden fragments at The Rebuilding Center for completing the chalkboard project.

So it was a day of gathering up components, but not enough yet to move forward on either project! Exhausting, somehow, partially 'cos that flooring is heavy. I'm grateful that Stacey helped me with transport and also helped move the boxes into the house...

I wanted to do a little bit more online research before purchasing the rest of the flooring supplies, and also see if I can find some other options for disposing of the unwanted carpeting. Had I somewhere to store it, it could go to SCA fighters to use for making pells, but I doubt anyone will want a 10 x 9 ft square piece all at once? My Dad suggested possibly FreeCycle, or Craigslist... And I definitely need to get or borrow knee pads before tackling the flooring. I want to get this happening/completed before winter sets in.

I am doing my best not to get too freaked by what is going on with WaMu, my local, just round the corner, bank, where I keep my tiny bank account.

Monday, September 15, 2008

T is for Toroid

Just want to remind folks that Saturday will be a toroidal craft-tea-party here at Acorn Cottage. I'll have the 5 gallon bucket of beads and wire etc available for crafting possibilities. Other handicrafts are always welcome, as are potluck tea snacks; I'll be making a bundt-pound cake, in keeping with the toroidal theme. Oh, yeah, after lunch and before dinner...
Last Friday, my young friend Heather drove down here from Olympia, with her 4 month old daughter, and her parents Sharon and Doug. It was great to see all of them, (last seen at Heather's wedding), and we had a nice long visit. Baby Elencia is a darling, alert and interested in her surroundings, and remarkably non-fussy. This was good, as we went to the Zoo for the afternoon. I'd not yet been to the Portland Zoo, despite living here for over two years. It was so uncrowded that we were able to go see the new baby elephant We didn't have enough time to see the whole Zoo, my favorite part was the visit to "Lorikeet Landing". Sharon bought cups of nectar for all of us, and the loud, but gorgeously colored, lorikeets inside the enclosure zoom down and land all over your arms and head, eager for the tasty treats. Odd, but fun.
The weekend was relatively productive. Lots of bike riding for local errands on Saturday morning, then a bus trip to the Rebuilding Center for wood bits for a new project. Actually I rambled about most of Saturday collecting parts for projects. Sunday Mila came over and spent several hours helping me once again clear off the worktable. We did get many of the storage boxes labeled, and stuff sorted into said homes, and the worktable is now actually cleared again. Hooray! Then spent the rest of the evening visiting with Aelflaed, and friends. I am consumed with knit-envy...
One project I was gathering components for is a new home for my pet worms. They have gone from living in a box under the sink, to outside the back door (where they all died in a heat wave the first year I lived here, necessitating worm-replacement), to living in a big rubbermaid tote atop my clothes-dryer (which is a bit awkward to access, specially with handfuls of funky produce). When I saw this worm home on the Instructables website, I knew this would be a better answer. I'll be assembling this in the next few days, pictures to share when completed, of course...
The other project I've happily begun is the designs for my 2009 calendar. I'm changing the format to vertical, and will be doing alphabetical drawings for each month.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

can you tell the difference...

Found this interesting test on a design blog, it measures your ability to discern and sort color differences. It is exactly this kind of odd thing that I find FUN to do, and I was quite pleased with my results, ...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

electron faradiddle

I've been thinking about opening up an Etsy storefront; there are many things that I make, and enjoy making, that don't really fit in the "Fineartisanry" format ( though I've put them on my website for lack of a better home) Like most folks in these modern times, the lousy economy is biting me in places I'd rather unbitten. I'm hoping that is will be a way to reach new folks that are interested in my handicrafting; it looks like the interface will be easy to use, and the startup and ongoing costs seem minimal and appropriate. Do any of you shop at Etsy when you are looking for trinkets and treasures?

So last night I opened my trusty old Photoshop, spent a couple hours experimenting, and made myself a banner for the future electronic storefront. I am no kind of certified electron-pusher, but I do enjoy wandering around in the program and seeing what it can do...I think I came up with an image that gives a hint of my thingmaking "style"

for a closer look, just click the image

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dog-food soup

I installed the new version of Firefox, since it kept begging me to do so every day. As I occasionally do, I then proceeded to irreparably screw things up. I got upset about the way they'd changed the bookmarking websites process, and on-purpose but totally unintentionally deleted about two thirds of the websites I'd bookmarked. Not as bad as the time I deleted C's address book from the jointly used computer. About as bad as the time (as a computer-using newbie) I deleted all the "ugly" fonts, including one that Windows needed to run properly. That I fixed by re-installing Windows, but I'm not sure that C has ever totally forgiven me for the little address book mishap...
Having been a hermit for the whole summer,I'm going to be brave and start having folks over to visit. Tea party this month on Saturday afternoon, September 20th. Theme will be "the Toroidal Tea Party" I'll get out the bucket of beads, and find some wire/pliers/etc. Come on over and play, bring beads or whatever... As always tea and snacks are provided and foodly contributions welcomed.
Started writing about my waay too much time online last night reading serger reviews, then pushed some button on the keyboard and my text disappeared. Just as well, I was getting rather grumbly. The short answer is the the reliable machine that many many people love, is distributed by Walmart. Yuck! Also was useful to find out that some of the other low end machines I've seen around, are regarded as frustrating boat anchors by other users. Move along now, nothing is happening here...
My blacksmith friends came to visit this afternoon, picked up the leftover cloth bits and their tunics that were used as models for their new clothes I made earlier this Summer. We hashed out the details of the ironwork that I will be getting in (partial) trade, before too long there will be a spiffy forged pot-rack above the stove here at Acorn Cottage. Whoo Hoo! I will need to find a nice long board to attach to that wall, since there is no real likelihood that there will be wall studs where I want them to be. Hmmm maybe add wood trim all around the room at that level... will have to do some sketches...could look vaguely Arts and Crafts... would be a bit low for a freize/picture rail effect, but I need to be able to reach the pots and pans! Ideas they are a-jumping
Oh, and about that soup...I noticed at my local New Seasons that they were selling sawn-up chunks of lamb leg bones, really meaty chunks, labeled as from their usual producer/farmer, in the freezer of treat food for dogs. Packaged by the New Seasons butchers, fresh that day, my guess is from the "boneless rolled lamb leg roasts" in the big refrigerated case of treat food for people. SO I bought some, and put it in the crock pot. With some barley, and some carrots and onions, and some herbs. And you know what...Scotch Broth is delicious. When times get hard, the weird get clever...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday snippets + sometimes you have to beg...

I know that sounds weird. (or maybe not...) This afternoon I was walking up to catch the bus, and boy howdy was the Goodwill swamped with stuff. Not only was their driveway full, but about ten feet of sidewalk. As I was walking around the heap-'o-stuff I spied an interesting looking little chair, with a slightly corroded strap metal frame and bent-plywood seat and back. Looked kind of like a public school chair, and when I sat in it, it was Not Too Tall.

I am always looking for chairs that are not too tall, since I have really short legs. (Well, they do go all the way to the ground) I asked the attendant if I could just buy the chair and take it home..."Nope, got to wait for it to show up in the store" I know from sad experience that the things I see outside the Goodwill rarely show up inside, usually get put in the big blue truck to go Somewhere Else, probably to the Bins. I really wanted the chair, so I went inside to see if I could beg for it. After much abasement and excited explanation on my part of how very special this chair was to me, the manager agreed to go out back and price it for me.

He came back with the little chair, saying that since it wasn't in very good shape, it wouldn't have been good enough for the store anyway. I paid, and carried it off homeward. I noticed an interesting marker on the bottom of the backrest "Ironrite Health Chair". Being a curious soul, I looked it up and found confirmation once again that my eye is good. The chair, originally designed in 1938 as a companion to the Ironrite Ironer (a mangle for home users), is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Not a bad buy for $4.99.
I've been getting some nibbles about the classes I'll be teaching this Fall. Yay!
Talked with a really congenial woman this afternoon about sewing some skirts. She had lovely rayon fabric, and a really simple design she wanted copied, all well within my skills, but not quite in her budget at the moment it turned out (rayon needs to have finished seams, or it ravels unmercifully). If I had a serger, I'm pretty sure that I could speed up the whole process, as I believe that the seam finishing would happen at the same time as the sewing-of-the-seams. The thing is...I don't have a serger, and... I've never used one. I'm asking for information from anyone out there with serger experience, what do you like/dislike, favorite brands, advice for ignorant beginner...If anyone has a serger that they are not using, and would be willing to let me borrow for a while, I'd love to have a chance to try one out...
Sunday morning bike ride, before it gets too hot, take the paper recycling away, and on to New Seasons for groceries. I'm gradually getting stronger, and eventually hope to ride further than a mile or two at a time. It'd be nice if there was a nearby hardware store, none on this side of I-5, sadly they're all miles away. There is a Lowes near the racetracks, but the route there isn't very bike friendly. I end up taking long bus rides to get to my favorite hardware stores, today I needed to get two different kinds of wall anchors, since I want to put up the third enamel shelf, and put up the big wooden shelf unit in the small bedroom, to hold more fabric in a visible way. If getting the enamels out and visible is so inspiring to me, getting the fabric out of the Rubbermaid boxes will be equally joyful...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

midweek maunderings + enamel classes

I've finished the two biggest current projects: the coronet I posted about a while ago, and here's some pictures of the ermine-edged caps that I'd been working on for many many hours...
Starting out, with many pieces for the caps, and the embroidery just begun
Here is one of the caps, and how it ended up
Re-cutting and sewing the ermine skins into ermine edging was trickier that I'd have expected. Still, there came a moment in the process when the edging started to look real
Thirdly, a busy weekend just finished, well, a few days ago anyhow. Bill and Jen came down from Olympia; Sunday was my afternoon Art in The Pearl demo day, and Bill had all day Monday. This is the second year that I've had a chance to participate, and I spent four hours talking to folks about enameling. My original intent was to actually demo the process, and after bringing all the travelling gear down to the North Park Blocks, it turned out that being next to the blacksmiths was not actually a good thing for enameling. Too much soot from the forge. The next day we discovered an additional wall on the E Z UP that might have offered enough protection, but even without the actual process going on, I still had all the supplies and equipment to use as "visual aids", and chatted with many many people. I also passed out a number of flyers for the classes I have scheduled for the next few months (more on this momentarily) Monday, after the demo, we had our second trip to eat sushi so were rather late getting back to Acorn Cottage. In the interim Smokey the Compact Akita found her way into the guest room, where the futonbed and down puff were waaay too cozy. She really didn't want to move at all, just rolled her eyes up at us...
I have a schedule for the classes I'll be teaching and hosting at the Artisanry:
Each workshop will be Friday evening 7:30 - 9:30, and all day Saturday and Sunday 10 - 5, and all supplies are included

Cloisonne Enameling - $175
In this workshop you will learn the entire process of creating cloisonné, with delicate lines of precious metal delineating patterns and images. Create a suitable design, bend and apply the cloisonné wires, apply multiple layers of enamel and fuse them in the kiln, and grind and flash-fire the finished enamel. You will be provided with materials, and complete at least one
piece that can be worn as a pendant.

September 26th - 28th
or November 14th - 16th or December 12th - 14th

Painted Enameling - $175
In this workshop, you will learn a straightforward way to add fine details to your enamels. The use of painting enamels began in medieval France, (which is why this technique is sometimes referred to as "Limoges" enameling), but is perfectly appropriate for contemporary designs. Painting enamels are mixed with lavender oil and applied to a previously enameled surface. You will be provided with two silver blanks, and you will complete at least one small piece that can be worn as a pendant. (Note: for this class you must not be allergic to lavender)
November 28th - 30th

Engraving for Enamels - $195 + 30 engraving toolkit fee
This special workshop will cover two traditional arts: On the first day, you will learn a simple engraving technique that will add depth and brilliant sparkle to your enamels. Once your graver is fitted to the size of your hand, after ample opportunity for practice, you will engrave a pattern into a piece of fine silver. On the second day you will learn the process of cloisonné, and your engraved disc will become a base for a simple cloisonné pattern using transparent and opaque enamels. You will be provided with all materials to complete one small piece that can be worn as a pendant. The graver kit, required in addition to the class fee, enables you to continue engraving at home or in future classes.

November 7th - 9th

Bill Dawson will be a Visiting Instructor this quarter. He is a very accomplished metalsmith and an experienced teacher. He will be teaching the engraving portion of the Engraving For Enamels class; don't miss this special opportunity. For examples of his work, see

Minimum registration for each class is 2, maximum is 4; small classes allow individual attention and encouragement to every student