Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finally... and the big news is...

Forgive me if I'm a little overwhelmed right now. For the last few blogposts, I've been hinting that I might have some news to share here. Sort of big news, at least for me. I'm thrilled to be announcing something that's been many, many months in the works. Months of planning, researching, getting approval and licensing, liability insurance and that's not even the half of it.

The news? I'm finally going to be able to start offering lessons in small groups for anyone wishing to learn woodworking. Down the line, I hope to offer much more than just wood classes, but for now, it's a good start. I'll have more details and a time line in the weeks to come, but it's all starting to come together.

Right now, the space is being painted and tweaked to accommodate benches, tools, storage racks and all the other accoutrements that define a studio.

One of the best parts about finally securing a space is that I'll finally be able to host the Sin City Woodworkers, rather than have our meetings at various locations around the valley. Some of the woodworkers I've met have already turned into great friends, and I'm confident that our numbers will continue to grow.

In the meantime, I'll probably start blogging about the ups and downs of pulling this project together. Wish me luck! And if anyone out there is handy with a paint roller, please stop by!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A whale of a video

Hawaii is a place that you either "get" or don't. Oh, pretty much everyone loves it, but there are some things about it that are nerve wracking. "Hawaii time" is one, and tourism is another. Like Las Vegas, Hawaii depends on the tourism industry to feed it's economy. But that doesn't mean that Hawaiians like that fact. While tourists spend their vacation dollars there, they also tend to treat the land as if it is expendable. Trash? No problem? Bad behavior at Happy Hour? Cool!

So one of the things that has long bothered me is the cashing in on the whale industry in Hawaii. There are all sorts of whale watching expeditions you can take, where you can go out in the middle of the ocean and hope a whale scoots past. It's illegal to boat over to a whale, and many get caught doing so. But many don't. At least the state tries to help the marine life.

I suppose that's why this video, taken on one of those small submarines that you can go out in, is so special. Try to get past the jerkiness of the camera operator, and enjoy the whales. I've been to Hawaii probably 25 times and I've never gotten to see something this amazing.

The look of bliss on the whales face almost makes me think he's falling in love with the sub.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cobalt Waterfall Glazes

It's been a while since I posted any images of the Waterfall glazes that make my humble clay work look so nice. A few nights ago, I fired my big kiln, filled mostly with tile.

The deep green in these tiles is amazing, they're going to look fabulous in the Mahogany dining table that I intend to build.

This particular load was fired perfectly.

Every shelf I removed revealed the layer underneath it. Shelf by shelf, every layer became more exciting than the one above it.

But these dinner plates proved to be the real winner of the load. They're just under 10" square, and I may have finally mastered that cobalt glaze that I call Real Blue.

I'll get back to woodworking very soon; like I said, I've got some interesting irons in the fire.

These images will have to hold you over until certain things come to fruition over here.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life's distractions

This blog is mostly about woodworking. Or it's supposed to be.

But sometimes things get in the way, like the death of a loved one, or a new puppy, or a vacation to an interesting destination. I really to try to keep my personal life out of it; in this day and age, it's wise.

But I have a few things going on right now that are somewhat distracting, and weighing me down a bit. A beloved pet is dying, and if you've ever cared for one, you'll understand how hard of a time it is. Lily is smart and loving, a great companion and a proud dog. To experience a pet's decline is heartbreaking, so if I seem a little distracted from the day to day woodworking stuff, you'll have to cut me some slack.

You know how when you're thinking about buying a car, and then for the next week or two, all you see on the road is that exact car? It's a heightened awareness, it happens all the time, if you really stop to think about it.

So this afternoon, I was working at my desk, avoiding some paperwork that is piling up, and decided to browse one of my favorite newspapers. I came across this story; it was spellbinding.

As if I weren't feeling blue enough, this piece made me want to curl up in a fetal position for the rest of the day. So much for getting any work done around here!

Stay tuned, I may have a very interesting announcement in the next few days or so...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An amazing wood carver

My sister and her hubby live out in the middle of nowhere, in western North Carolina, about 45 minutes from Asheville. She sent me these images in an e-mail recently.

This sculptor, Randy Boni, is simply amazing. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mosaics, or one woman's junk is another woman's treasure...

Long time readers of this blog know that I work in fits and starts - I'll build a piece of furniture, and then go off on a tile bender for a week or a month. I still can't decide which is more fulfilling, but I know that I'm addicted to glaze experimentation.

A true sign of addiction is when you can't think of anything else. When you climb into bed at night and all you think about is what you did during the day, or what you're planning on doing tomorrow.. well... such is the life of a glaze junkie.

About a year ago, my studio had so many test tiles and odds and ends laying around, I could barely walk through it. Sure, I hang my test tiles on pegboard, but this clutter was getting out of control.

A "lightbulb over the head" moment came when I noticed that mosaic supplies were a popular seller on Etsy. So I started boxing up some of my shards, tests, and studio clutter into Flat Rate boxes and selling them.

Yikes, not only are these "grab bags" popular, but I'm starting to hear from the talented people who have purchased them.

And I thought I'd show a couple of photos of one woman's work.

This first mosaic is lovely, I recognize that medallion in the center!

Although Judy from Texas modestly thinks she's not quite "there" with her work, I beg to disagree.

Every time I see a great mosaic, I get inspired to start making my own. I even purchased a couple of books recently, to refresh my memory on making one. It's been years since I made one, probably in an art class in high school.

Thanks for the inspiration, Judy!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Installing planer blades

At least I remembered to have some gloves handy for re-installing the blades on this planer. It's not that I mind the sight of blood; I just don't like seeing my own.

The planer came with this device for helping to re-install the blades, it's called a knife press gauge.

After just changing the blades in my 8" Delta jointer last week, I really appreciated the fact that this device came with the planer. The jointer blade changing procedure is time consuming, mostly due to having to install the blades at critical heights that are difficult to achieve. A device like this would be very helpful if it accompanied every machine with cutterheads like these have.

See the little notch, under that nut?

The notch sets a perfect height of the blade, every time.

Once you slip the blade into place, you position the blade into the notch. The small spring under the blade presses it up. The notch sets an even height, across the whole width of the blade.

These blades are razor sharp.

The knife slot is cleaned out, ready for the spring, which goes in first.

Of course, as I started to put the spring in place, I noticed some sawdust. So I blew the area clean with my air hose and all of the springs went flying across the shop.

Once the knife is placed on top of the springs, it wants to pop up, since it's not bolted down yet. I wrapped a piece of wood in a cloth, and used it to hold the blade down, temporarily.

Of course, I had to remove the gloves, as I couldn't get a good "feel" for the blade placement.

Once the blade was held down, I slid the knife press gauge over the blade, carefully aligning the sharp edge with the notch.

Although the manual didn't offer a lot of information about tightening the nuts, or square head bolts, as they call them, I started by tightening the two outer bolts first, then going back and alternating sides, so that the pressure was even on both sides. Sort of how you're supposed to tighten the nuts when changing a tire. It just seemed like a good idea.

Before I tightened everything for the last time, I checked the blade height one last time.


As I was starting to tighten the bolts for the last time, I remembered that this was around the time that I sliced my knuckle open.

So I put the gloves back on. It's safe to say I'll never be hired to do any modelling work with my hands.

The first blade went in in less that five minutes. Sweet. I had always heard what a hassle it is to change planer blades. And just last week, I changed the blades in my Makita 2040 planer. Their system for adjusting the blade height is amateurish compared to using the gauge. Still, in all, it took less than an hour of total time.

Here's a video showing how well the new blades are working.