Friday, April 28, 2017

a small bit of home improvement


in which our plucky heroine makes gradual improvements...

There is a small cupboard/shelf, made from an old wooden box, between the two chalkboards in the workroom, where I store the wee little assorted porcelain and glass dishes I use to hold damp enamel powders when I am enameling. As part of my ongoing efforts to at least partially earthquake proof Acorn Cottage*, this last week or so one project was to create a door, well actually sort of a "lid", to enclose this shelf when the contents were not needed.


Last weekend, Farbjorn cut a leftover piece of the MDF chalkboard to the right size to fit over the front of the cupboard, and we also cut some scrap wood to create a lip at the bottom of the cupboard to give the chalkboard scrap a place to rest. In addition, another bit of salvaged fancy molding was added to the open side of the cupboard to prevent anything from falling out the side. There is no such thing as too many chalkboards as far as I am concerned, and the decorative molding is pressed with a design of acorns and oak leaves (even though the acorns look more like turnips!)

Earlier this week, Drusa let me use her scroll saw to cut out the pieces for the door bar and brackets. I have a small stash of beechwood components salvaged from Ikea as-is, nice dimensional solid wood with a pretty grain. The fact that it is already cut into notched pieces does not preclude cleverly designing other things that work around the pre-existing cuts. I realised I could use the cut away parts, trimmed and laminated, to create brackets to hold the bar in place across the front of the cupboard lid.
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The final touch, once all the parts were sanded, assembled, and attached, was to use the woodburning tool to detail the decorative Viking raven heads, which form handles to remove and replace the wooden bar-the-door...

*  My goal is to stabilise everything in the workroom, since we live in an active earthquake zone. Shelves need "batter boards" at the very least, and my intention is to give storage areas closed doors whenever possible.
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done paper recycle bin
4 geometric flower holder side wall cupboard bag to Goodwill
5 3 enamels for Edrill press setup bag to Goodwill
6 Darylee overdress shelf moved/resized yard waste bin
7 pickled beets n eggs WIP shelves setup paper recycle bin
8 filigree center for S 2 shoplights installed x
9 Laurel medallion for S surge protector up x
10 x door for cupboard x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, April 24, 2017

??? and a song


in which our plucky heroine is concerned...

The Blogger interface is not behaving normally this morning, and only allowing random sporadic access to the tools and settings, and no access to the HTML where I usually edit my posts, so rather than a full blog post today, I leave you with this sweet little song:



Sunday, April 23, 2017

can't beet this...


in which our plucky heroine tries something new...

In some places beets are only useful to help defrost the roads... here at Acorn Cottage pickled beets are a rare and delightful treat. While in general pickles are not a favorite, something about the sweet spicy tangy magenta discs just make me smile, and I occasionally will make up a small batch of waterbath shelf stable treats to add color to a green salad. I have never before tried making "quick pickles" (aka refrigerator pickles), which was the April "skill of the month" at Food in Jars Mastery Challenge.

While perusing options online, I came across these unusual pink-edged eggs and was curious... had never eaten pickled eggs, but since my hens provide me with an abundance to experiment with, I took a few and gave the recipe a try. Left out the peppercorns, as it was too late in the evening to run to the store for some.

I call this a win! The eggs are amazingly delicious as well as visually stunning, and pickled beets are always a treat. This is going on the short list of successful experiments that will be repeated on a regular basis.

I will, however, not substitute dried dill for the suggested sprigs of fresh dill. The dried herb bits turned into a messy mush that spilled over the top of the jar, and didn't really add any dill flavor. I am interested in possibly trying some other flavor and color variations, maybe with tumeric and curry spices...

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It has been a Very Busy Weekend here. My Blue Cedar House pals came down to do their usual helpful activity. My yard got mowed and weeded, and the strawberries the chooks tried to destroy are now in one of the self watering planters instead. Since it mostly poured down rain here all weekend, a lot of attention was focused on my workroom instead.

The two LED shoplights were installed, one above the south wall, to provide lighting for a future small standing workbench, and one above the west wall which will provide lighting for where I usually set up the ironing board when I am sewing. Both lights bounce off the walls and help light up my own small corner workbench as well. Being able to work without standing in ones own shadow is a great thing, and having this much light indoors will make all the shop tasks a lot easier to accomplish.

In addition, the lowest west wall shelf was reconfigured, cut down in length and lowered two inches, to accommodate this neat IKEA office paper shelf, which I will use to keep assorted commission work organised. The slide out shelves are lined with cork, so stuff doesn't slip about, and there is enough depth to include various specific supplies, and sketches, as well as the works in progress.
Moving that shelf allowed me to set up a work place for the mini drill press, which has been sitting in a box for months. We mounted the surge protector just below the windowsill, where it will serve for the various electrical tools used in that zone.
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done paper recycle bin
4 geometric flower holder side wall cupboard bag to Goodwill
5 3 enamels for Edrill press setup bag to Goodwill
6 Darylee overdress shelf moved/resized yard waste bin
7 pickled beets n eggs WIP shelves setup x
8 filigree center for S 2 shoplights installed x
9 x surge protector up x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday fragments


Our plucky heroine wants to make a tabletop warp weighted loom for tablet weaving... like this one ➡

Weighting the individual groups of yarn from each card solves the issue of twist buildup, which is always an annoying issue and even more problematic when doing irregular turning with some cards moving forwards and some backwards in the same shed. I followed Charles Lawton-Brains advice and sought out something where it was used a lot and hence quite inexpensive.

The ceramic fence wire insulators I ordered arrived today. I intend to use these as my loom weights for warp weighted tablet weaving... The underside of the 30 porcelain "spools" was rough in places along the edge of the glaze; I used my trusty Alundum stone to grind down any sharp bits, so they will be safe to handle and not snag on any of my weaving yarn.
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done paper recycle bin
4 geometric flower holder x bag to Goodwill
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 Darylee overdress x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday tidbits.


... in which our plucky heroine is grateful for friendship...

Started the day off by riding my bike to the post office to send out my assorted tax forms and checks, as today is the final day to get envelopes postmarked. Living in a place in the city where so much of what I need is within an easy bike ride, and having lived here for over ten years, which means that assorted people like postal workers and store clerks recognise me, makes it feel a bit like what I imagine living in a village might be like.
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took advantage of the intermittent weather to play hooky to head over for a visit to Drusa... on the way from the bus stop to where she lives, this quite spectacular conjunction of magnolia + red dogwood caught my eye.

I wanted to see the changes she has been making in her workshop, and to catch up on various ideas we have for projects and products...

If there is a contest, Drusa is winning. We are both putting effort into reorganising our workshop spaces... this whole set of shelves in her shop looks just beautiful, with supplies and projects in process all ready to hand. Right now the various woodworking machinery is pulled away from the other walls while she adds some light-colored paint to brighten up the space.

Her tine boxes project has moved forward a bit, with some of the boxes having neatly cut and rabbeted bottoms, and another group of boxes formed and stitched. She also has quite a few sets of wooden tablet weaving cards cut out, and I am eager to try working with them once they are finished. The design that showed up on the FB Historic Tablet Weaving group page, for a tabletop warp weighted loom, is hopefully going to be something we can make up to try out, and Drusa said that it will be possible for me to build my own, with her mentoring me! Whoo hoo!
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Sadly, as I was away from home, I missed intersecting with Bill, who on his way home from southern Oregon, stopped by Acorn Cottage... he did, however, leave a bag with cheese curds from Rumiano's tied to my front doorknob... as well as a phone message giving me a heads-up as to the gift. The cheese will be part of lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday snippets and a Very Pretty Remnant


in which our plucky heroine has a rather busy few days...

It has been that time of year when despite whatever my fancy, necessity requires a great deal of arithmetic... yes, time to do all the taxes. (federal and state and city oh my) A few days of calculations and totting up columns of number and filling out forms and forms and more forms. Rather a lot of annoyance rather than difficulty. I am grateful for the fact that however thin the pocketbook, there is in fact, enough set aside to actually pay my taxes, and that every year however low the numbers, my businesses all take in more than I spend, which is the definition of "not a hobby" in the eyes of the revenue service.

Once the math was all done, and all the associated errands to the copy store and the post office were done, I put in some time on the my current custom commission work in the studio, a very interesting variation on a Laurel medallion... since it is a gift, I will not be revealing the images until my patron gives permission, as I am careful to never spoil the surprise.

The weather has become even more springlike, and there were a few clear days this weekend, so I rode my bike to the grocery store at least once a day. Yesterday I cleared off the workroom table so there was room for open studio time (today, Zenobia came over to work on her enameling). Did the usual wash dishes and do laundry, plus it was not raining so I could hang the laundry outside to dry which is always a plus.

Decided on Friday to start training the hens to come up the ramp and into their house when I call them to do that... this is going better than I had hoped, as they are already getting the idea. Why, you may ask, am I doing this? Because last week when my pal Dayna and I wanted to go to Katelines house, it was evening but not yet dark... I spent about 40 minuted trying to chase the hens around the henyard to catch them and stuff them in their house before they wanted to go to bed... not fun at all for me or for them; much easier if I can reward them into doing what I want

I also started mending/patching my grey popover summer dress, cooked a quiche for todays lunch, went downtown to get a free gift box of spices from Penzeys, and put in a bit more work on my new denim pinafore. Today I spent most of the day being mentor to Zenobia in the enameling zone. Oh and yesterday I also put in almost an hour of removing dandelions from the front yard... a useless but vaguely satisfying task... it does make the yard look better and since I am allergic to the dang things, feeding them to the hens is a better plan.

Going to put in a bit more time tonight hopefully getting the denim pinafore closer to done, I have not given up on my hope of actually completing SWAP 2017
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Once every few years the neighbors at the top of the street have a yard sale, and is always worth looking at. Last time (three years ago) I snagged an interesting tablet woven belt with tassles and braid, from somewhere in Central Asia... while I sadly couldn't bring home the dress form (150$ plus no real room here for one) I found this lovely almost half yard bit of real silk ikat in the 50¢ bin! The colors coordinate really well with the SCA gown I am currently and gradually putting together, and will add another layer of embellishment.

These are so not my usual colors, but sometimes the materials lead and I follow where they go... in this case it all started with the remnant that became the embroidered yoke background, which was originally leftover from some handwoven Ikea fabric that I used to make a tunic for my father to wear when my family came to my Laurel elevation... that fabric asked me for green leafy vines, and then it wanted red deer instead of my usual heraldic horses... and so it went... There are now embroidered cuffs with some of my blockprinted trim added, and and the embroidered yoke, ... and some trim for the shoulder seams using a fragment of blockprinted fabric that Marya gave me, cut into narrow strips in a most Viking Age fashion

Hoping to have this put together by tourney season


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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 Darylee overdress x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Media monday


in which our plucky heroine does her best to remember that the world is still full of sweetness and good cheer and beauty, as well as sorrow and grief...

This is just a wacky bit of cheerful fun, (particularly if you like The Talking Heads)

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Sweet scented clematis blooming on Karla's alley fence. I love this variety of clematis, and tried repeatedly to get it to flourish on my front walkway fence, but despite my best efforts the plants did not survive. Karla has amazing "green fingers" and all kinds of interesting plants in her yard. I suppose that if I had made plants my avocation, I would have better success, but in truth, I can enjoy them every time I walk between her house and mine. We do not need to possess something personally to enjoy it in the common spaces - and that is one of the best reasons for caring for and adding beauty to the world.
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Given where I live, and our common springtime weather, this drawing from Incidental Comics "Philosophers in the Rain" seems very appropriate...
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an old favorite lullaby (written by James Taylor);
and sung by David Buskin, an old favorite folksinger...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sorrow, and one Sunday snippet...


in which our plucky heroine says goodbye to a friend...

Tell the people you love that you love them. DO it now! I was riding my bike to the grocery store when my phone pinged me. As I read the words on the tiny screen I started crying and cursing... This morning my friend Russ died, too early. He had gone through a serious medical situation and was recovering, had been moved out of the CICU and into rehab, when an aneurysm took him suddenly away. All his friends are shocked and sad, he leaves behind his lovely wife and two young daughters and a lifetime of unfinished work and poetry and song and storytelling. He was a true bard, and a kind, creative, thoughtful man. I am sorry I wasn't able to go see him in hospital, (thinking to self that the chance of sharing possible germs from my cough were not worth the danger of sharing a viral infection, and that there would be plenty of time... later...) The summerlands are brighter now, but our own world is darker for the loss.
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Using the beautiful paper that Drusa bought me last week to make a decorative mat for this small vintage Japanese woodblock... I've been waiting to frame this for over a year, as the size is not standard for the frames that show up second hand. Finally one did. The kitchen artworks here at Acorn Cottage have a common thread in that they all contain some of that vivid tomato-red color; when I found this woodblock print online at Washi Arts, I knew it had to come live here...
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish xpaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday fragments


... in which our plucky heroine is moderately pleased...

It has been a busy week, with some real progress happening with studio work - I have been making a set of small heraldic enamels, but since they are currently part of a "sekrit project", there are no photos yet posted... those will come later. In addition, Bill and Jen stopped by on their way south, and I was able to hand off some of the raw materials for the Wastekeep project to Bill, and in return the quatrefoil medallions that need enameled are now here, and waiting on my test samples. That project is a big one (two elaborate coronets) and I am glad that so far it all is moving smoothly forward.
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Earlier this week, Drusa and I were rambling round an unfamiliar neighborhood up in NW, whilst waiting for her vehicle tires to be replaced. We ended up walking all the way up to 23rd, and the fancy paper store, and on the way back, found this amazingly muscular tree! This is only part of it...

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Euphorbia wulfenii... there are some of these at Acorn Cottage, all the descendants of one small plant in a 4" pot that I brought home years ago. None have quite so picturesque a backdrop as this one a few blocks away! I am a big fan of sturdy plants that do not need to be coddled. Some might call euphorbia a thug, but it has these amazing chartreuse flower bracts every springtime year after year, and I never have to water it in the summer heat...

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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons -yard waste bin
2 soap dish xpaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

everything and the kitchen sink


in which our plucky heroine embraces useful...

not that I ever stopped keeping company with useful, since I have long espoused the William Morris credo to "have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"...

The small ceramic pieces from the free workshop I took were returned to us, properly fired and shiny glazed, at the last class Tuesday afternoon; even more obvious to me now that creating results that match up with the ideas envisioned is the result of both innate talent and quantities of experience (neither of which I have in this medium) It was a lot of fun though!

I am actually rather pleased with how the buttons came out, and think that they may work well for future knitwear

As for my attempts at flower holders... well, the round one came out looking more like a childs "ashtray for daddy" than I expected, though the geometric one does look a bit more "interestingly sculptural" and I plan on going out in the front yard to search for wee flowers to put in them both just to see how they look in use:

Tiny sculptural flower holder in situ on the entryway shelf, holding an assortment of wee fleurs from the front yard. I am happy with this, it does exactly what I had hoped it would!

the kitchen sink with my new handmade pottery paraphernalia: a painted dish to hold the green scrubbie, and the triffid soap dish... I am REALLY HAPPY that our class instructor somehow managed to stick one of the three tripod legs (that I broke off while trying to paint it with underglaze) back on to the soap holder with glaze.

All in all, I have a much greater appreciation of the honed skill of the ceramic artists I know and the ones I follow online
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons --
2 soap dish x-
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, April 3, 2017

media Monday and other musings...


in which our plucky heroine enjoys springtime...

There is something amazing about being able to walk outside on a clear spring day, and even in the heart of the city, to smell the sweet scent of tree blossoms and the the green earth waking up. My ornamental plums are a glory to behold right now, and my heart is eased momentarily by the simple act of walking out the front door and standing underneath them and looking up into a cloud of pink fragrant flowers and tiny deep red unfurling leaves.


The white violets are done for the year, but the pinky-purple ones are all flowering and there are assorted buds happening on some of the other spring bulbs. My tiny star magnolia has a few stars on it this year, I suspect that the harsh winter did not make it happy, but it did survive, unlike half my euphorbia. And, in the back yard, the apple tree is showing signs that there will be appleblossom later this spring...
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Had a chance today to stop off at Drusa's wood shop and view the progress on the tine boxes she is making. There are more of them, and she has picked out compatible wood for their lids and bottoms. Woodworking is not a fast process, and I am looking forward to seeing how they all turn out. I have been encouraging her to also make assorted smaller wooden items for sale to SCA people, shuttles and threadwinders and tablet weaving cards and suchlike. She has also started making a few of the Norse bag "handles" and will have some of them available this tourney season.

She has, in addition, been doing some urban wood salvage of tree parts damaged in this winters snow, and has some greenwood to experiment with, maple and birch, for making coopered buckets and other delightful possible future projects! I will continue checking in with her, and am hoping to swap sewing expertise for woodworking skills...


an assortment of tine boxes in process...
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Good progress has been happening in the workroom, but as the commissioned projects are gifts, the images of those will have to stay hidden for now. In addition, this weekend I spend a good chunk of time teaching some introductory metalwork skills to Tullia, and open studio time with Zenobia. Tullia wants to eventually be able to add greater realism to her Roman era historic re-creation, and making unique component parts of jewelry that are not commercially available is one of her goals. It was also my first time teaching metalwork skills, as opposed to enameling. We decided that her learning to solder would be essential; and she took to it with aclarity. These are her first soldering efforts, which I call quite successful for her first time driving the torch!

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The problem with having so much fun mentoring folks in the skills I have is that it also has me looking at supply and tool catalogs, and finding nifty useful things for the workshop... currently resisting spending money until further decluttering and organisation happens in the workroom, but there are several things on the wishlist... quite frankly, I am sort of a tool junkie, and have been my whole life. Just look at this gorgeous jewelers saw frame, which several of my metalworking pals have and enjoy... These titanium soldering clamp blanks look mighty useful, and there is an article with instructions for how to customise their shapes... even something as simple as this slide gauge will be a good addition to the workroom capabilities, and this blog post has good information about how to use it in various ways. I may have to promise self assorted tools as rewards for meeting various personal goals! Positive reinforcement is a good thing...
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The world is so full of talented dedicated artists who put in a lot of effort and time to create beauty. I am filled with gratitude not only for their efforts, but for the world of technology that allows me to even know that they are out there, and to see even a small bit of what they offer to us...



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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - --
2 - x-
3 - x -
4 - x -
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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