We didn’t even have one trick or treater come to the door.
And I hurt from the knuckles up from my three-hour visit to the dentist to get prepped for a crown.
So the thought of “more candy for me” doesn’t even sound good.
I tried to “friend” my dentist on Facebook a couple of years ago. She was like “hell, no.”
Because I am the worst patient ever. I woke up this morning (All Saints Day, la la!) with crumbles of that rubbery material they use to make impressions of your teeth, two trays of which I barfed up onto the reclining chair of doom, stuck in my hair. Ew.
But here are some pics that capture the spirit of the holiday, at best…
Thanks to Danielle for the last two pics of their decorations, they were so funny I had to share them. The skull, with its rotating eyeballs, is maniacal!
With temperatures falling into the 60’s at early morning, been able to resume brisk walking in the neighborhood. Walking is meditation in motion. I can’t help thinking about the glut of bad news from the day before and the day before. And tunes from the past get stuck in my head…Armageddon is waiting…governments and the itchy trigger fingers of the men on the big posters…is this the eve of destruct-chienne? The dogs of war are not here, at least: we have a leash law…
Are we walking into a lonely road that leads to isolation? Does it take us to a place where we will no longer be safe?
Down the end of the road is about 15 minutes. I need another 15 minutes to make 30 minutes so I can count this as a workout. I head down the side road to the offshoot condo community, a bastion of liberal-leaning anonymous neighbors, I think some older, retired academics…can tell by their bumper stickers and license plate holders, proclaiming “Obama 2012” and “My other car is a Tardis…” and they’re sleeping, or out walking a big dog at dawn, skulking, not wanting to make eye contact. The place reminds me of Reston, Virginia in the seventies…and sure enough as I saw the pink sky at sunrise a few minutes ago, it has started to rain…the slats of the wooden privacy fences absorb raindrops and release the scents of carved-up trees, their dried pulpy insides open for all to imbibe…who will fight for these intellectuals, sleeping within? Their reasoning, their discerning powers will be laid waste in the looming millennia…
Focusing on the footfalls through pine needles and air-composted tree debris along the curb, I glance up, not alerted by anything, and chance to see the rainbow…it’s pale…but unmistakeable…and suddenly I do not seem to be so bereft of hope…
Inspired by David Picciuto’sRockler-sponsored video on making puzzles using a laser, we decided to download his puzzle template, fire up the Full Spectrum laser and make a puzzle. In the past couple of years, we have produced holiday-themed puzzles using the laser (2016 Ghoul, 2015 Christmas Tree, Thanksgiving 2016,Halloween 2015 ). So with Halloween approaching, it was time to put out another puzzle.
I searched the internet and found a Halloween image with some bats, and sized it to fit in a 10 inch by 7 inch space. Then, using the laser in raster mode I burned a light image of the subject on a piece of 1/8 inch thick Baltic plywood. I then loaded up the puzzle template, sized it to fill the 7 inch by 10 inch space, and in vector mode with 100% power and 60% speed, cut out the puzzle. Oh, before laser cutting, I covered the raster image with painters’ tape to reduce burn residue from collecting directly on the wood surface. I peeled the tape off after the puzzle was cut.
So why did I pick bats this year? I like bats. They are high tech, insect-eating machines. If you get up close and personal, they are really kind of cute. We have several bat houses on our UF campus and it is really fun to watch them come out at dusk to do their thing…. eat insects!
In a September 2016 blog post by Christina Wang, Spooky Symbolism: The History and Meaning Behind Iconic Halloween Images, Christina writes
“Bats have long been associated with mystery, evil, death, and the supernatural. They’re only active at night, plus they live in caves (which evokes the underworld). Vampires are also often said to transform into bats, a connection popularized by Stoker’s novel and the many Dracula films. One theory for the link between bats and Halloween has to do with the festival of Samhain. When the Celts celebrated the end of the harvest on October 31, they would light bonfires to keep evil spirits at bay. This practice would attract insects and, in turn, bats.”
Back to the puzzle: after removing all the tape and cleaning up the parts, I turned the puzzle pieces over to my wife for PLPPP (POST LASER PUZZLE PIECE PROCESSING). I thought the image I laser-printed on the puzzle would make it easy to put the puzzle back together before painting…NO! It took my wife a couple of hours [days, actually…J] to reconstruct the puzzle. The image was too light and the puzzle pieces are so uniform that it made it really difficult to put the puzzle together.
Once it was together, I sandwiched it between two boards and flipped it over. I covered the back side with painters’ tape to hold it together while my wife painted it, using acrylic paints and glitter. I followed this up with a couple clear coats of acrylic spray. My wife decided to extend the challenge she had undergone, and painted the puzzle in a fashion to keep the difficulty at a high level. Nobody is going to quickly solve this puzzle like a bat out of you know where!!
College football got off to a slow start this year, thanks to hurricane season showing out at the same time. But a few of the games Florida has played so far, we managed to win! Amazing, considering…considering…well, you know about the things everyone is saying about the Gators.
Curiously, one armchair quarterback we know (who shall remain nameless) sustained an injury in the armchair region that we noticed about the time of the Tennessee game. Not sure if it was before or after the fracas* during that legendary Hail Mary play in the last few seconds of the game.
But the large cranium (which is full of knowledge, I admit) that usually resides on the breach of leather seen above, sure seemed to expand with happiness at the outcome of the next game!
We had to do something because a bad case of the bighead was making a hole in the furniture around here. For a craft project, I could have made a doily to drape over the chair…but that would make us look like old people who sit in the house all the time watching TV with their cats….Hey, wait a minute…
But also, crocheting a doily takes time. I wanted something quick, that would be ready by game time next week. Which is…today!
I used cotton batting, one thin layer, sandwiched between two layers of blue cotton fabric, and quilted together with Superior Threads’ New Brytes in a day-glo orange color. This thread is thicker than the average thread, #30 3-ply, it says on the label, which I thought might be a good thing. But when I ran a bobbin, it started rolling rough-shod onto the spool, which I know from experience, is not a good start.
I decided to do free-motion machine quilting, since they were little projects. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done machine quilting, I had to live through a learning curve.
When this happens, I go through all the possible reasons for it: rethread the top thread, check the bobbin tension, wind a new bobbin, install a new needle, but ultimately, I just have to turn off the machine, then turn it back on.
Ironically, I had recently read an article by Superior Threads about tension. The graphic included in the article was very informative, but ultimately, turning the machine off, then back on, worked.
After many rippings and re-doing of the quilting, I squared up the corners and added shiny orange blanket binding. The iron-on decals were purchased. Yes, I did break a few needles while quilting through the thick decal patches. The teensy quilts are attached to the backs of the La-Z-Boy chair head rests with Velcro tape from the hardware store.
* Fracas is a funny word. I can only picture it being uttered by a big, burly hard-boiled detective in a crime novel. The American pronunciation rhymes with “rake us.” But, I was watching something British on TV, when I heard them say “fracas” in British, which is pronounced “frah-cah.” Which rhymes with ha, ha!
These major hurricanes were different than others I’ve survived in the past, because of the ubiquitous presence of social media.
After Irma: We only lost power for about 16 hours, on and off. Many friends, neighbors, and relatives lost power for much longer.
After Maria: Just today, 5 days after Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico, we finally got word from our relatives that they are okay. They are expecting to be without power for months, maybe.
Our side yard temporarily became a lake. I’ve never seen our yard take on water like this.
The input from social media sites has made a huge impact on us. Rather than having to rely on what the network news wants to show us, we can go all over the place to find news. Friends are passing on what they’ve found, consoling, offering hope, strengthening faith. We’re feeling grateful for any means of communication.
Even with mounting stress going on in your life, like the aftermath of hurricanes, with loved ones out of the range of communication for days on end, and some loved ones visiting the ER, and painful betadine burns in your eyes, you gotta eat.
It’s something that you can take control of.
A while back, when all the courses on Craftsy’s web site were on sale for about $15, I bought this course Cooking For Two.
My reasons for shelling out money for an every-day-type-of-cooking class: 1) we seem to be wasting a lot of food due to lack of planning. 2) I wanted us to eat more vegetables and fruits. 3) I envisioned it as an activity we could do together, instead of watching reruns on TV in the evening. The instructor, Carla Snyder, really knows how to make tasty food! I’ll add a 4th reason: If I can only scarf a small amount of calories a day without piling on weight, then let me spend it on food that tastes really good.
So far we’ve made pesto sauce, sautéed gruyère-stuffed pork chops with mango salsa, chicken breast with lemon caper sauce and kale, and rib eye steaks with roasted root vegetables. All dishes were super delicious, and so much fun to do!
Oh, by the way, don’t think that we’re such great natural artisans and crafts-people that we breeze through food projects. No, we (I) make bone-head mistakes in this arena as monumental as any we’ve (I’ve) made in the shop or sewing room. I screwed up the garbage disposal by shoving a bunch of woody plant stems down it, so there were a few hidden costs to these dinners…what with the plumber having to make a house call…and while attempting to grind some pepper into the fry-pan on the stove, the grinding doo-hickey broke off the bottle and sent a bazillion bouncing peppercorns into every nook and cranny in the kitchen, as well as flood the pan. I like the taste of pepper, but wow, man.
steak and roast carrots, potatoes and red onion
Sorry that these photos show the dinners just after we started digging in, rather than the stylized views of the meat glistening on the plate in its caramelized crust, next to a neat bed of side items either marinated, sautéed, or oven-roasted. The photos of the three dinners bring to my mind R. Crumb’s comic “Let’s Eat!” Google it and see if you agree.
I hope I’ve conveyed in this post, that cooking together has been fun! Too bad you can’t taste for yourself how good the flavors are!
We’ve been sidelined lately; our individual creative wellsprings have been diverted into other busy obsessive thought-patterns, as we…
try to understand and cope with the limitations of the macular degeneration diagnosis and hold out hope for the treatments
shift our schedules to accommodate the items that we believe have higher priority now
get back to work after an eventful summer, applying our new, more restricted itineraries
try to keep up with the local and national news, which is heart-stoppingly scary most days
madly inventory and prepare for Irma-geddon, which is set to move into our living space in the next 48 hours!
Good news: I think we’ve gotten through the “anger” and “denial” stages (if we want to put a Kübler-Ross slant on what we’ve been going through).
Good news: Skip is very positive, proactive, and realistic about our limitations and strengths. We don’t always do what other people want us to do, but we have good reasons not to. Trust me . 🙂
Creative projects get sidelined, when the focus shifts to survival. Nancy Zieman, one of my favorite “sewing personalities,” who has inspired me, and administered some virtual hand-holding on many a project through her easy-to-understand books, patterns, and video content, announced her retirement last week, in her blog post. For this, I want to weep and wail, and gnash my teeth, but we have to move on. Maybe Hilary Clinton is an exception to that last sentence: she makes lots of dollars and grabs a significant share of the national news for dwelling on her storied past. [Am I the only one who, now that she says she’s not going to run for office again, doesn’t want to hear about her big campaign loss? I want to hear about the heroes who went out and helped people and animals rebuild after a hurricane!] But for my own peace of mind, and to find a new creative project to embark on, it’s time to move on!
Maybe your next creative project, and mine, will feature helping someone else who is recovering from a serious loss…
Poor doll! He got involved in a fracas and sustained a few injuries:
His hands, neck and arm were shredded (dog bite?) and one arm was limp from lack of stuffing. And one shoe was beginning to separate from its ankle.
Job #1 was to repair the gaping wounds.
I’ve had plenty of time to think about it. This project has been on the docket for a pretty long time, but it occasionally got covered up by a pile of fabric or a stack of mail, so it was out of sight, out of mind. Finally I picked up a hand sewing needle and found some thread that was close to this skin tone, and went to work.
After I fixed up his body, a thought occurred to me. “Dude, what happened to your clothes?” He had no comment. I figured, why not make him something to cover up with?
First set of pants bombed. The clodhopper feet were too big to squeeze through the skinny pant legs. The revised pair had velcro closures on the inseams. These pants are made from the actual several inches of pants legs that I cut off a pair of Skip’s pants [see prior blog post from 2015: Modern Hemming].
I confess, I’ve never been a whiz at making doll clothes. This quick-and-dirty “minimal effort” little project had me grinding my teeth as the tiny seam allowances sent fabric down the throat plate hole into birds’ nests that had to be cut from underneath to extricate them. I had a feeling that the previous clothes on this toy had something to do with the gaping slash on his neck; that the simple task of playing dress-up resulted in the doll’s near-decapitation. But although I don’t have a workable intuition about making clothes for this guy, I admire the workmanship that must have gone into making him. The meticulously fringed, pieced hair style, his embroidered facial features and chin-scruff, and his slouchy posture all give true representation of the “real” character [You know he’s not real, right? He’s a cartoon]. And then again, he was mass-produced.
Somebody somewhere came up with a plan for toys like this to be created and then mass-produced. I imagine somewhere, a factory is probably humming with machines 24 hours a day, sewing goofy smiles and eyebrows lifted in surprise on cloth faces, adding darts on ankles and outlining fingers in little plush hands. The line supervisor gets an order from the shipping department saying: “Ten thousand more Shaggies” and proceeds to upload the manufacturing process specs.
I did find this enlightening video on You Tube about toy designer Longia Miller, who I now hold in highest esteem! From watching the video, I see that her sewing machine is making use of a throat plate that has a tiny hole, down which it would be fairly impossible for a fabric to slip.
According to Wikipedia, one of the first mass-produced plush toys in the US was the Ithaca Kitty, in 1892. And apparently it was a 3-piece printed pattern that the buyer had to cut out, sew, and stuff, herself. From reading the narrative on the patent, I see that inventor Celia Smith listed a few reasons why her stuffed animal design was “well-adapted to displace” the designs of some other toys that are made from “a number of pieces of cloth (eight or more)” and could be “dragged about by a limb until they lose their original scanty ICO resemblance to an animal and fail entirely to appeal…”
You gotta love the visionary minds of the toy designers and makers, demanding realism, durability, safety, and worthiness of entertainment value to be built into our children’s playthings.
Been busy and my little projects are humble! But I’ve had other things to do.
This red satin (polyester) comforter was old and the batting inside had gotten all bunched up. I was going to throw it away, but the top of it was really a very savory huge piece of fabric. The bottom layer was a nasty old threadbare rag covered with fabric pills; if the skin of my foot ever accidentally touched the backing during the night, I would wake up recoiling in disgust. (My feet are very sensitive to substandard fabric!)
While shopping at JoAnn’s, I spotted a bolt of that extra-wide (108″) fabric that can be used as backings for large quilts, without having a seam. So I slashed the quasimodo comforter, removed the hump of bunched up batting and the nasty backing, and replaced both with something new. I thought of my grandmother, who told me that when she was young (in the Great Depression) they would cut the worn bedsheets down the middle and then re-sew them with the outer sides now seamed together in the middle. Waste not, want not!
For quilting, I loaded it up on the king-size Grace frame, and I mostly traced over the embroidery on the satin top, and experimented a little with the Qnique. I didn’t care about making it perfect.
I still haven’t mastered getting the bobbin tension right with the Qnique.
If you look closely at the quilted back of this table runner, you can see the ugly bobbin stitches.
This Fourth of July table runner was made from a cute little remnant, a remnant piece of fusible fleece for batting, and a collection of red, white and blue remnants die cut into tumbler shapes with an Accuquilt template. Binding is Wright’s double fold bias tape.
I became interested in antique tools in about 1983. My interest narrowed to Stanley tools in approximately 1985. At this time I was fortunate to become acquainted with Roger K. Smith and purchased his book entitled Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America 1827-1927 published by the North Village Publishing Company in 1981. This began a long period of communications and Stanley tool purchases with Roger. I vaguely remember him telling me that my plane purchases were going toward supporting his children’s college expenses. Roger was extremely helpful in my passion of learning more about antique planes, their use and history.
The history of the Stanley Tools companies is well documented and I would encourage you to explore the details of the evolution of this company.
What I am presenting in this video is background information on the Stanley No.1 smoothing plane. In future videos I will discuss the other planes in my collection. I started out trying to collect one example of each Stanley plane type. This proved to be very difficult and extremely expensive, so I randomly added to my collection over a period of ten years.
In the photo below you can see the trademark on the iron of one of my Stanley No. 1 planes. The video will show you more photos of this particular plane. This V shaped logo on the iron is identified in Roger’s book as a Type 11-1910-1920. There appears to be a ‘B’ on the frog and lever cap, a forging mark for an unknown foundry which showed up on Stanley planes from 1899-1902. This would indicate that the plane may be older than the iron’s trademark would indicate.
The spring under lever cap became rectangular in 1869 and was banjo shaped prior to that.
The other trademark showing on my other number 1 plane’s iron dates that iron from 1907-1910. There are no other marks on this plane.
The Stanley no. 1 smoothing plane was manufactured from 1867 until 1943. It is 5 ½ inches long with a 1 ¼ inch wide blade. It is constructed of cast iron with a rosewood handle and knob. The finish is generally Japanned. These planes can sell for anything from $1000 to $2000. There are counterfeit versions of this plane so the buyer must beware!!
According to the Hans Brunner website:
“Without doubt the most famous of all Stanley planes never had a lateral adjuster, never had any number markings. Some models have B or S cast into the bed, others have no markings whatsoever. Early types have a beaded rosewood front knob and a short handle spur. Later types have a slightly longer handle spur and a lever cap embossed with the Stanley name.
Problem areas: fork and (depth) adjuster nut damaged or not working. More obvious damages include: overhang under handle broken off; chipped or enlarged mouth, cracks and chips to sides, damage to top of frog. That one sounds obvious but I’m just as dumb as the next guy when it comes to checking a plane. No matter how good it looks: Always take the lever cap off and check the frog, always turn the plane over and check the overhang under the handle and the mouth.”
In Wood Magazine issue No. 1 Sept/Oct 1984, we find some additional information concerning the history of the number 1 Stanley plane:
“Stanley tools represent a major category of collectible tools, and can form the basis for a rewarding and stimulating hobby. One of the most desirable of Stanley tools for the collector is the diminutive Stanley No. 1 bench plane. This tiny, 5-1/2” long plane poses some interesting mysteries for the collector. First, what was it used for? It’s so small-that even a craftsman with a small hand finds it uncomfortable to use. And second, for a tool that was manufactured in abundance over a 73 year period (1870-1943), why should it be so scarce?
As to the first mystery-its size-the explanation is relatively straightforward. These planes were designed for use by elementary school woodworking classes, and were used in the introduction to the proper care and use of woodworking planes.
The second mystery requires a more hypothetical explanation. With the advent of U.S. involvement in W.W. II came the need for scarce raw materials by factories involved in the rapidly increasing war production industries. Those with memories reaching back that far remember that not only were civilians in general involved in paper and fat saving drives, among others, but schools and other institutions also were called on to collect and donate large amounts of scrap material.
The widespread draft also was a factor. Shop teachers, especially at the elementary school level, came into short supply overnight, thus freeing up the tools and materials formerly used in their courses as vital scrap. Since the majority of No. 1 planes produced were to be found in schools, a large number of these planes were absorbed by the wartime scrap drives.
In case you’re thinking of purchasing a Stanley No. 1, be prepared to pay between $400 and $650 for an example in good or better condition. Also be sure to buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee the plane is genuine.”
See more images in the video:
In my next video, I will discuss the Stanley No. 2 plane. I will also discuss the January 3, 1985 letter I received from Roger K. Smith detailing his approach to restoring and caring for transitional and metallic planes.
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts