Post-trip Sketching and Planning

There’s something about travel that changes your perspective so much. When you get back from a trip, you can see more clearly things you’ve done that are unproductive. You may have seen a new way to deal with a problem during your travels.

American Way mag
photo of a Karass advert page from the in-flight magazine on the airplane

Especially when it comes to every day surroundings and routines, you can see what doesn’t work and what didn’t have a desired outcome.  You can see why you need to get away and look at a problem with that fresh perspective.

A few cases in point:

When I go on a trip, I usually carry cosmetics and stuff in a blue plastic Caboodles box (it looks like a tackle box or a tool box). Finally, that thing split down the back and once it was clamped shut, it was so hard to un-shut that I ripped all the skin off a knuckle trying to pry it open. Now that I don’t have the plastic box, I came up with a couple of alternative carrying cases to take on trips, and realized what a clunky liability that plastic case had been.

We have more that just a washer and dryer in our laundry room, we also have a rug shampooer, a big bulky canister vacuum cleaner, several mops, brooms, etc., and a collection of seasonal wreaths to hang on the front door. This room is not big enough to hold all that stuff plus ourselves when we need to wash clothes.  Skip realized (while I was gone) that we have a hall closet near the front door that we never consider using, because it is so crammed full of – I don’t even know what’s in there. Possibly old camping equipment from the seventies, hats that no one wears, who knows?  If we get rid of that stuff we haven’t seen in a decade or more, we would have more room for the useful stuff!

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to do more sketching, and more art work in general. I want to get into Inkscape, a free vector drawing program, so we can use it to make projects in other media, like wood, plastic, laser engraving, and 3D printing. Does anyone have any experience in Inkscape,  who can offer some insight?

Meanwhile, I’m acclimating back to the local humidity and heat. Summertime all year round!

yoga sketching jennyskip
yoga sketching

 

Philly Fun in Philly

Looks like my trip to Philadelphia is coming to an end 😶. Glad to get home but will miss the loving family members on this side of the country!

I got to visit my cousin Ben at the Franklin Institute

Related to Ben jennyskip)
Cousin Ben (from the ancestry.com ap We’re Related)
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Ben Franklin at his Institute

I found some great unique sewing paraphernalia at the Quilt Academy in Bensalem. We dropped in while they were having a class going on. What a friendly and fun group!

Swag jennyskip
Quilting swag
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The shop’s Row by Row project for 2015–so adorable with its fishie buttons
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More shape buttons and fabric in the 2016 kit

I’m sort of new to the whole Row by Row Experience thing but I love the idea, it’s shop-hopping to several quilt shops that have a custom pattern for a row, then adding all the rows together. The idea is to get 8 rows to complete a quilt. Not everyone will go to the same shops, so not all the finished quilts will look exactly the same. The new one for 2017 starts in June. Therefore, I’ve been going around collecting some of the patterns from previous years. Not sure how I will put these older rows together…or if I will just make a one-row project so as not to blend the different themes. Future project….

I got to sample a bunch of the local cuisine.

Cheese steaks jennyskip
Cheese steaks

You know they are called “Philly Cheese Steaks” elsewhere in the world, but just “Cheese Steaks” when you’re here.

Mission BBQ with Old Bay seasoned French fries (AKA crab fries)
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Regional Bay-B-Q sauce, made with you-know-what
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Chocolate gelati & coconut water Ice

I got some updates to my knowledge of the Marvel Universe watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a theater with reclining plushy seats. I could write a post about all the subliminal gags and messages in that movie…

Best of all, I got to hang out with family in the amazing historical city of brotherly love!

Historic Foundations for our Mother’s Day Holiday

Spending Mother’s Day in Philadelphia this year with some of my posterity! And having a great time!

Mothers day breakfast jennyskip
Mother’s Day breakfast buffet at home

Skip wanted all the kids to know that one of his ancestors, his first cousin twice removed, to be exact, is the ACTUAL originator of Mother’s Day [not Anna Jarvis, as most sources claim].

Sources that credit Anna Jarvis: NPR transcript from 2016, Wikipedia, Night Terror News,  the Smithsonian,  and Facebook

However, some sources also give credit to others who played a part in the establishment of Mother’s Day as a national US holiday.

Sources that give credit to others, including Skip’s relative Mary Towels Sasseen: Books Tell You Why, Kentucky for Kentucky, The Gleaner, Facebook page of McCracken County, KY, Time.com, and Henderson County KY History.

From the various accounts, apparently Mary Towels Sasseen Wilson had success organizing Mother’s Day celebrations and assemblies in Kentucky and several other large cities in the country. She died in 1906, at the birth of her only child. After her death, Anna Jarvis’ work petitioning government officials bore fruit, and Mother’s Day was declared a national holiday.

From some accounts, Anna Jarvis later went on a huge campaign to undo the holiday status of the day, because she felt that it quickly became a crutch for greedy vendors to reap profits pandering flowers, gifts, restaurant meals, and greeting cards so they could make money. We went against the wishes of Anna Jarvis and partied it up with gifts, cards, and flowers, and special meals. 🙂

special jennyskip
special day breakfast*

Happy Mother’s Day y’all.

 

 

 

 

*these flowers are actually from a dear friend for another occasion, but they still look beautiful a week later!

 

Creative in Carolina!

After a fun visit to North Carolina, I’m convinced that it is the friendliest location of all, for artisans and makers of all creative crafts.

First off, I had to make a stop at the Cary Quilting Company.  The shop was busy with pending classes and folks stopping in to visit and talk with the proprietors. I didn’t do any prep work before I darkened their door, to look for particular fabrics or items, but just tried to find interesting things that mightn’t be found any where else. As so many little quilt and sewing shops seem to fall prey to underpatronage in favor of cheaper, more ubiquitous big box outlets, I want to do my part to keep them in business, if I can. Within reason, that is.

Cary quilting paraphernalia jennyskip
snagged some unique Cary Quilting paraphernalia
Clock wise from back left: a packet of patriotic Moda Red, White and Free cotton, the Big Book of Scrappy Quilts by Martingale, the Cary Quilting Company Block 3 fabric and pattern for the 2016  Quilt! Carolina Carousel Quilt, I Love North Carolina Pillow Pattern , the 2016 Row by Row Cary Quilting Company pattern and top fabric for “Home in the Oaks,” and a 2017 Plate: “Stitch Local.”

The pillow pattern is a pretty fun idea. I’ve never really seen anyone get excited about an odd-shaped pillow that represents one of the United States. I live in Florida, and I’ve never seen anyone in FL get excited about a state-shaped pillow. But in NORTH CAROLINA, the residents react with utter delight! “Oh, cool!” they say when they see it. Like they’ve always wanted a very odd-shaped, off-kilter, jaggedy, state-shaped pillow and they just now realize it! Or a North-Carolina-shaped mobile hanging from their ceilings, or Christmas ornament, or doorknob hanger! I mean, they get almost as excited about a North Carolina-shaped pillow as we do about a plushy Florida gator!

Meanwhile, we stayed in Carrboro, a creative little town that is an extension of Chapel Hill, the home of UNC. Carrboro is overflowing with charming little crafts stores and hippie hangouts. One shop, WomanCraft Gifts, had loads of handmade things from local artists, including jewelry, wooden pens that had been turned on a lathe, wood segmented bowls and boxes, paintings, ceramics, quilts, dolls, clothing, all sorts of things from the practical to the beautiful.

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apron with attached tea towel
I found this apron with an attached tea towel sewn into the waistband, and I had to get it! Why? Because the tea towel reminded me of when my grandmother taught me how to do Swedish Weaving when I was little, on huck cloth like this aqua-colored piece here. This apron is of a very soft fabric. And what a great pattern.

Another creative item on sale in WomanCraft was the Chapel Hill Toffee, which is made by a local family business. Ah, yeah! It definitely tastes as good as it looks on the box top here:

Chapel Hill Toffee jennyskip
Chapel Hill Toffee
We took a stroll through the Historic Carr Mill Mall, which has several gift shops, a perfume shop, high-end clothing and shoes, and a savory fabric shop: Mulberry Silks.

Carr Mill Mall jennyskip
Carr Mill Mall
We picked up some sumptuous food items from the friendly market, which was having a couple of taster specials going on. Patrons who come into the store with their little kids in tow are encouraged to shop seriously:

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free healthy snacks for shoppers’ tag-alongs
We picked up some BBQ from the Cross Ties restaurant, which consisted of a bar straddling two train cars.

Cross ties jennyskip
Inside the Cross Ties waiting for our take-out order
Our order included “a plethora of sauces,” including the famous Carolina BBQ sauce that is vinegar with some hot pepper flakes. When I saw the vinegar and flakes in the little plastic cup, I thought, “What are we supposed to do with this?” but when applied to the smoked pulled pork, it tasted so right!

Viewing Rarities in our Travels

This week we had an opportunity to view two first-edition copies of The Book of Mormon, at the David M Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University.

jenny skip Rubenstein Library

Skip jennyskip
Skip at the Rubenstein Library at Duke

Study of the Book of Mormon is a fascinating pursuit. The origin of the book is a very interesting story.  As many can attest, reading the text of the book itself can be life-altering. A former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (who was also a former US Secretary of Agriculture), Ezra Taft Benson, said that the Book of Mormon “was written for our day. “

Book of Mormon jennyskip
First Edition Book of Mormon, published 1830

The assemblage of the first printed edition was unusual for the time of publication, 1830. Information about the printing of the first edition by E. B. Grandin Company in New York, is given in an article on lds.org  linked here. While the pages of the book were numbered consecutively at the tops, we were curious as to why some of the bottoms of the pages also had a numbering system of one about every twenty or so (we guessed)  pages. The linked article  explains that the printing process was for a 16-page octavo: as shown in the photo below, page 513 has the lower page number of 33 (513 divided by 33=approx. 16). The 5000 copies of the first edition were printed by hand, before the advent of the rotary printing press in the United States.

Page 513, octavo 33 jennyskip
Page 513, octavo 33

I snapped a couple of photos of random pages (approved as long as no flash was used). Later when I read the text, as shown on the page below, I felt good about the message I took away from the viewing. The time period of that page was one in which “neither were there Lamanites or any manner of Ites; but they were in one” –the story of a relatively brief time of peace in the land.

peace jennyskip
a time of peace
Chapel, Duke jennyskip
Chapel doors, Duke University Campus

 

A Project to Honor My Spirit Animal

Hey, remember a couple of posts back, when we looked at taking non-credit college courses online?  [Creativity and Connections] I took a Coursera class taught by some instructors at the University of Florida, called Healing With the Arts.

The class took us through a module a week, covering visual arts, music, dance, creative writing, drama, and we breezed through many interesting forms of expression. Although my life was hectic during the time, I’m now on the final week of the class, and I found myself needing to submit a final project, so here I am.

At one guided imagery session, the instructor encouraged us to become acquainted with our own “Spirit Animal.” [Being a Harry Potter fan, I usually substitute “Patronus” whenever the phrase Spirit Animal is used.] During the actual session, one of my cats, Ponyboy, burst into the room and insisted on cuddling with me at the exact point in the guided imagery when I was supposed to come to a clearing in the forest and meet my Spirit Animal. So, he became, in actuality as well as in imagination, my Spirit Animal.

This video goes through the process I used to create a bracelet that has a drawing I made of Ponyboy, laser engraved on it. As shown in the video, you could make a drawing, reduce it or enlarge it, or you could use a photograph, or you could laser engrave a .pdf you found on the Internet. A client could change up the decoration on the bracelet, using colored yarn, different beads, or any number of variations. If the laser printer was used in a hospital setting, it would need to have some ventilation.

Altogether a very interesting class! I will keep going back to the journal I created for the class, and try to keep it going to stimulate creative projects that have other good, healing results!

People and Things From the Past

Long time, no post!

We’ve each been sucked in to pursuits other than Crafting in the 21st Century recently: Skip has been moving wood into a new woodshed and pondering a new series of lectures he wants to do involving some of the many antique tools languishing about the place. Check out the trailer:

I’ve been consumed by my OTHER hobby, family history.

My mom passed away a few years ago, and although I’ve looked through the several boxes of her family history files here and there, it was just a few weeks ago that I felt that I should really get into it and do something with all the data that she collected during her lifetime.

In the boxes, I found letters to and from people who gave her pedigree information, notes from Historical Society meetings, receipts from Vital Records bureaux, from back to the days when first-class postage was 2 cents. She would go to a county courthouse or a library, and copy passages from books in long-hand, because there wasn’t a photocopy machine back then. [And her handwriting wasn’t the easiest to decipher, but who, besides me, can decipher it?]

She compiled a book about one of the ancestors, born in 1740, and now I have her notes and correspondence from that. Sometimes I’ve looked up things on websites, and been ecstatic at the new data I found about one of the ancestors, only to go to her files and discover that she already had that piece of information, for which she actually paid money to a record researcher, but somehow the information never got recorded on a chart  or got lost.

She wrote out reams of family group sheets and pedigree charts. At the bottom of each one is a list of her sources. I can now look up some of the books she found, in Google, and many have been digitized and are available online for free. Awesome; if I can’t read her writing, I can sometimes look up the source and the page number, and voilá, it comes up online, like magic. I just copy and paste the URL of the source document on my online pedigree chart, and it is there for another cousin to search up and collaborate with.

Probably the site I love to work in most, is Familysearch.org. I love the Sourcelinker, the Search Records functions, the Wiki. And the site is free. How in the world can so much information be available to the public for free? I know, because I served as a volunteer support person for the site for 3 years. And, in that role, I became aware of the fact that the site carries a global tree, seeing as how we are all part of one big huge family, and anyone can supplant your data with their data, and you can’t cry foul about the outcome. So I’ve been transferring lots of the information I have into some of the other sites that have individual trees, which can’t be changed by anyone but the owner. Those sites are excellent, too. Family history has become such a popular hobby, and more records are being added all the time to help with the ongoing research.

It’s been great to find that some of my female progenitors also sewed, quilted, and crafted during their time in mortality.

gggmother jenny skip
Maternal great-great grandmother

This female progenitor grew up in New Brunswick, the daughter of a Canadian and a Scottish immigrant. She crossed the border  to work at a textile mill in Maine, where she met her future husband.

grandma, Marg jenny skip
my grandmother (on the right) and her sister

These sisters came to the US with their family in 1912. They came equipped with phenomenal knitting skills!

grandad and mother
grandfather and his mother

I have the remnants of a crazy quilt made by this great-grandmother, in beautiful mauves and beiges and indigo fabrics.

Family history: another “craft” using 21st Century Technology to document and delve into the past! Amazing, isn’t it, how clear and beautiful are these photographs that have survived many decades!

 

 

A Little Mermaid with Remnants

Google “Mermaid Blanket” and, would you believe, you’ll get way over nine million results!

Mermaid blanket jennyskip
results for Mermaid Blanket

Mermaid blankets were one of the “it” gifts for Christmas this past year, for a  girl toddler,  teen or tween relative. Some were knitted, crocheted, and sewn from fabric. I didn’t jump onto the trend wagon, but I saw on Social Media that many big and little girls were posing with their fishtail blankies for the camera.

I found a couple of remnants that might go together as a cute mermaid blanket. What do you think?

fish tail remnant fabrics
fish tail remnant fabrics

This size blanket is for a tiny four-year old. The blanket sheath is a polyester teal metallic mermaid fleece, 57 inches wide, remnant of .972 yard. The tail fin is from a remnant that I’ve had in the stash for eons, no idea where it came from. It’s a stiff, satiny, iridescent fabric that looks pink from one direction and purple from another. The saran-wrap looking flap on both sides of the tail is a Bumi Pearlized sheer lilac remnant just less than a yard in length.

fish tail jennyskip
fish tail

No pattern was used in the creation of this project. I just folded the pink/purple fabric, double,  in half and sketched a tail fin  shape on one side so that the fold was down the center of the fish tail, then cut it out. Thus, the tail was symmetrical on both sides. Then I unfolded it and seamed it together on all sides except for the opening at the top. Then I turned it inside out and pressed it, so that the edges carried that fishy curve.

It would have been perfect if the pearlized fabric was the same size, so I could have just duplicated it and made a casing for the purple satin. But the pearlized remnant was smaller than the finished tail. So I played with the idea of attaching the pearly fabric as a ruched flap on either side of the tail, so it would flutter and swish like a real fish’s tail swerving around in water. Maybe a hair-brained notion, but there it is.

plume-y tail jennyskip
the plume-y tail

After ruching the sheet of pearl in several places (centers, sides, and diagonally at corners), I cut a slit in the top fold, and since the slit ended up being a few inches longer than the tail side of the blanket, I sewed a basting stitch around the edges of the slit and drew it together, pulling on the basting thread, until it matched the size of the satin tail. Then I sewed the pearl fabric on to the satin tail at the top. Turning the blanket fabric inside out, and matching it up to the opening of the tail, with right sides of blanket and tail together (a fabric sandwich of blanket, wrong side up, on top;  pearl right side up, in the center; and satin, right side up, on the bottom) sewed tail to blanket in a 5/8″ seam, making sure the pearl material was lying flat at the seam line inside.

Continuing to play around, I hemmed the top edge with a rounded Short Serpentine stitch:

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hemmed edge

It’s still a little chilly at night. This can be a toddler blanket or a grown-up foot warmer. Or maybe the kids can use it as a costume for Let’s Pretend, maybe a little kid version of  Cosplay.

little mermaid jennyskip
little mermaid

While technically not a quilt, it is a blanket that is pieced together so it’s pretty close…happy #NationalQuiltingDay and hope to see how others celebrated the day as well!

Reverse Engineering a Springtime Sewing Project

Last week was our Spring Break and we did a whole lot of nothing.

Not complaining,,,not exactly. Our little “first world” problems are not really problems, but choices. We did a lot of householder-type things. And we helped and connected with some other people in our sphere of acknowledgement, ha ha, our little universe. How do you decide if a project is worthy of your time, talent, and trouble?

One thing I took on was to fix some pillows at the request of someone in my circle who takes care of an elderly fellow.

before jennyskip
needlework pillows, before

 

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underside, wool fabric

Someone in the old man’s life had done a marvelous job of creating the needlepoint canvases on these beauties, which now showed a faded frog (?) on a toadstool in the rain and a green polka-dotted slug (?) under a cascade of spring flowers. The pillows themselves looked to be handmade out of a sumptuous yellow wool fabric. But apparently a dog had used them for sport, and the stuffing was popping out of a number of unsightly shreds.

The first step was to undo. The manual equivalent of the “undo” link was to rip out all the seams so that the pillow pieces were left intact,

undoing needlepoint jennyskip
Undoing the stitching to salvage the needlepoint (to the left is the new fabric)

to be used as patterns for the replacement fabric. It turned out to be the first real workout I had with the lovely seam ripper Skip made for me, by turning it on the lathe (see kit here).

seam ripper jennyskip
seam ripper
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using the old pieces as a pattern

I also saved the cording that was inside the piping edges, two strips of piping for each pillow. The new fabric was a piece of cotton (as far as I know) I had in the stash.

piping jennyskip
creating new piping with old cording

The machine has a special foot that I love to use when applying mini-piping, the pre-packaged kind made by Wright’s, but that little groove was not going to work with this larger cording.  So I used the narrow zipper foot, an attachment that is handy for a lot of tasks.

narrow zipper foot Viking jennyskip
narrow zipper foot

Next, I needed to sew the piping onto the new pillow backs, and then onto the side panels.

side panel pillow jennyskip
attaching a side panel

On the first pillow, I went ahead and attached the top piping to the side panel, then sewed the needlepoint panel on 3 sides to the sandwich of piping and side panel. The fourth side would be hand-stitched after the fabric was turned inside out and stuffed with the pillow form. On the second pillow, I sewed the piping directly to the needlepoint panel, then sewed the piped needlepoint piece onto the side panel: I believe this is how the pillow was originally made because I could see the hand-stitching that closed the opening in between piping and panel, after the pillow had been turned inside out and stuffed.

hand stitching jennyskip
hand-stitching the opening between the piping and side panel
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turned, stuffed, and ready to be hand-stitched

On the pillow in the forefront above, I hand-stitched directly to the needlepoint canvas, which I didn’t really feel good about, because the machine-stitched one behind it will probably hold up better. I reused the original down pillows, which were scrunched-up a lot inside the smaller pillow casings. But apparently that’s how the owner liked them and they’re very cushiony.

Eucalon sponge bath jennyskip
Eucalan sponge bath

The needlepoint panels were a little faded and soiled-looking, but I didn’t know if I should try to wash them. I finally went to the yarn store and procured a bottle of Eucalan, a highly recommended no-rinse washing preparation for wool and other delicate fabrics. As the brand name hints, it’s made from eucalyptus oil and lanolin. The lady at Yarn Works cautioned that the article shouldn’t be soaked in a liquid because that would remove the sizing from the needlepoint canvas. So I mixed about a spoonful in a bowl of warm water and dabbed a clean wash cloth in it, then wrung it out and gently rubbed it over the smudgy areas of the needlepoint. It didn’t come out looking brand-new; actually I can’t tell any difference in the color or brightness, but after it dried it smelled a little better than before.

I wonder what the story was behind those little pillows–were they made by his wife, who has been gone for a few years now? Or were they made by another family  member or a cherished friend? I hope they bring to mind a little spring-time cheer!

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Redo with Stone and Wood

 

Recently my wife “suggested” that it might be time to upgrade our countertops from 25 year old grey Formica to granite.

old Formica countertops

So off to the big box store to look at granite samples.  Way too many choices!! But we found a sample we liked so we pulled out the check book and started what turned out to be a very efficient process, unlike any I have ever experienced.  Soon after selecting the sample, someone showed up to develop a template for cutting the granite.  A week or so later we got an email inviting us to go to Tallahassee to inspect our granite slabs. In lieu of making the trip we asked for photos and got a gallery of shots showing us what our slabs looked like. Once we approved the slabs, we soon got a call to schedule the installation. Two very experienced installers showed up, removed the old countertops in a manner so as to not damage them, so they could be recycled to a friend’s home needing new countertops, and installed our new countertops and cleaned up before leaving for home.  The next day a plumber showed up to reinstall the kitchen sink.

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Same sink

This is when I got the bright idea to “upgrade” the kitchen cabinets by adding some wood trim to the cabinet doors.  The cabinets, despite their age, are in great shape.

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new counters, same old plain cabinets

I picked out some red oak from the shop and milled out a piece about 3/16 inches thick, 1 ½ inches wide and long enough to fit on a cabinet door.  I then picked out a couple stains which I thought might match some colors in the new countertops and passed this by my wife.

woods finishes jennyskip
some of the various woods and finishes

She picked the golden oak stain as applied to the red oak, two applications followed by a clear coat.  After the selection of the stain, I showed my wife a selection of cabinet handles in the Lee Valley catalog.  A copper and bronze handle seemed to be the best selection for working with the wood, countertops and existing cabinet finish.  The wood strips would be applied to the opening edge of each cabinet door as an accent to the cabinets linking them to the colors in the granite.

After the handles arrived it was time to get to the wood working. Pieces of red oak were cut and milled to size, sanded and finished with stain. The plan was to fasten the handles to the wood strips and then fasten the wood strips to the doors.  Of course the screws which came with the handles were too long, made for ¾ inch thick doors and not 3/16 inch thick trim.  Off to Ace Hardware, where I found 8x32x1/2 inch machine screws to fasten the handles.  Since the wood strips were to be fastened to the cabinet doors, the screw heads had to be recessed in the wood trim.  I used a Kreg cabinet jig to drill the mounting holes in the wood trim for the handles.  Using a Forstner bit set to drill to a depth approximately equal to the screw head thickness, I lined up the mounting holes with the Forstner bit and drilled a countersink for the screw heads.

attaching handles jennyskip
attaching handles to wood strip

After mounting all the handles, it was time to start applying these to the doors.  I marked and drilled two holes on each door to allow screws to be inserted from the back of the door into the wood trim. I then applied thick CA glue to the back of the trim, sprayed the door with accelerator and applied the wood with clamps. When the glue had set, I drove screws from the back side of the door to further secure the wood trim.

wood accent with handles jennyskip
wood accents with handles

We were both happy with the outcome.  Now, on to the kitchen drawers, wood trim on the top edge of the drawer fronts with a matching bronze/copper knob.

Here’s a You-tube of the whole process so far:

 

Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts