Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Adirondack chair like you've never seen before

This chair cracks me up every time I look at it. I'm just guestimating, but the height of that seat looks like it's about five feet off the ground.

If the average height of a chair seat is around 18", look at the front stretcher, behind her legs. If that dimension is 18", then the space underneath it looks twice that size.... hence, about 54". It looks taller than that to me, so I'm guessing 60".

The biggest question I have - how the hell did she climb there? There must be a ladder somewhere, possibly built into the side?

WAY cool. Wouldn't you love one of those in your yard?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look what came in the mail today...

Is there anything worse than constantly fumbling for your glasses while working in the woodshop? Let's face it - being able to see what you're doing is not only important for safety reasons, but also for quality assurance.

Once, before I had my eye surgery, I sanded an entire dining table top without my glasses on. It was a warm summer evening, and too hot for me to be bothered wearing them - they were constantly sliding down my nose with all the sweat.

Well, imagine my horror when I finally put them on and looked at the table top. I had to start the sanding process all over again, since I'd missed so many blemishes on the wood.

This box came in the mail today.

I was really excited, because my eyes have been slowly failing me, and once again, it's time to admit that I might need some vision correction. Oh, I'm lucky enough that most days, I can see just fine. But in the woodshop, I want to see everything.

Duluth Trading Company sends out a sweet catalog, and I've been a big fan of their merchandise for a long time. So when I spotted their safety glasses with vision correction, I just had to order a pair to try.

They're very similar to the safety glasses I'm currently using, but the bifocal area lets me see close up, which is sweet. The even come in a micro-fiber bag that serves both as a storage bag and as a cleaning cloth. Well done, folks.

The only slight thing I would change is that the ear pieces on these glasses are a gray color, and I prefer my glasses to be completely clear. Still, that's a small price to pay for the benefits I get from these.

Great glasses for a great price (about $20) - how can you put a price tag on your eyes? I highly recommend these. One thing though - you'll never be able to blame any poor sanding on your projects on the fact that you can't see.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ultimate potsticker repair

Springtime in Las Vegas - one of the best times of the year. People who live here say this is is the reason we're here - it's simply gorgeous.

I've been spending a good deal of time working on ceramic pieces - finishing up a small tile commission, and working on a set of platters, like the one shown below. I call it my Ultimate potsticker platter, as it has a small bowl incorporated into the platter, perfect for holding the dipping sauce.

Someone visited my Etsy shop and asked if I would make a couple of these of these for them, only with two bowls, so that they could use these for sushi serving platters. The two bowls could hold ginger and wasabi.... smart!

I've created a plaster mold that I use when making these platters - and everything was going well until one of the feet fell off! These feet are made using an extruder, and are attached later, when the clay has set up a bit. Attaching two pieces together is usually pretty straightforward, you score the clay (scratch it up a bit) and then use a little slip (liquid clay) as a "glue" for attaching the two pieces together. This usually works very well.

But I wasn't watching what I was doing and knocked the foot off.

I could have thrown the whole piece in the scrap bucket and started over, but this platter had some very interesting texture on it, so I didn't want that to go to waste. Then I remembered a recipe for repairing clay, and thought I'd give it a shot. I've used it before with very good results.

Basically, you make a "glue" of one-third vinegar,

one-third Karo syrup

and one-third clay slip.

Those two pictures of our dogs were painted by my friend, Stacey Campbell, who does amazing portrait work. The top one is of my Weimeraner, Ipo. And the other is of Lily, our miniature Schnauzer. Both passed away recently, and we keep Stacey's paintings in the kitchen, as a way of keeping them near us. (We sort of drew the line at keeping their ashes in the kitchen.)

I just love walking into the kitchen in the morning and seeing Ipo and Lily in there, while I'm making a pot of coffee.

To make the ceramic repair, mix the three ingredients together

dampen both pieces of clay that will be attached,

and then spread a little of the mixture, like a glue.

This stuff hardens like cement, rather quickly, so make sure you position it correctly the first time.

I wiped away the squeeze-out, and cleaned the bottom of the platter. You can barely tell it's been repaired. As long as both pieces of clay were moist enough, the piece will stay in place without any problem. If it pops off, one of the pieces probably wasn't wet enough.

l let the piece completely dry before putting any weight back on the foot.

A simple and effective repair! I wish repairing wood was this simple!

OK, back to the studio... I have 200 pounds of clay calling my name today... oh, one more thing - if you're interested in having a portrait painted by Stacey, you can contact her here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Slide show!

Thought you might enjoy some pictures from the woodworking school.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Springtime inspiration

There's nothing like warmer weather to make you feel closer to nature. Putting in a garden, cleaning up the yard, working on the sprinkler system, taking the lawn furniture out of storage - it all points to summer coming. Our summers here feel like they last forever, especially around August, when the temps can hit 115˚ and there is no break in sight.

Working on handmade tile makes me feel closer to nature, too. There is an amazing amount of inspiration free for the taking, right in your own neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, we had friends in town, celebrating one's birthday. They had some amazing things planned, including a scuba dive at Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef exhibit. Although I had to teach a class that morning, I managed to get out of the shop in time to join everyone, see the exhibit, and watch our friend swimming with the fish.

Yes, that's a real image of her in the shark tank, she's on the right. Very inspiring, which led me to these new creations in tile...

Well, that last tile was actually inspired by watching The Godfather the other day, and hearing that "swimming with the fishes" dialogue.

A friend of mine suggested some new ideas for tile, and I've been researching some new shapes and styles, before I commit them to clay. Meanwhile, leaves seem to be running through my brain.

If you've got a great glaze, even the simplest shape of a leaf can be amazing. Check out the crystal formations on the glaze below!

Like I said, inspiration is everywhere. Hope your Spring is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Getting my Spring on...

There are three types of people in the world - people who honestly love winter (like Jen) or those who tolerate it, like Julie. Then there are those who despise it, like me. If you've noticed that I've been a little absent on the blog lately, it's because it's been in the high 60's here. I'm getting my Spring on.

Here are the blooms on our nectarine tree in the back yard.

So woodworking is taking a backseat for a week or two. Well, my sore back is another reason I've stayed out of the woodshop, but that's OK, the garden is calling my name...

My favorite local gardener sent out word that tomatoes have to be in the ground by April 1 in order to set the fruit. He's never steered me wrong, so I went to the nursery and bought some plants to get the ball rolling.

Remember last year, when I had eggplants coming out my ears?

Well, this year, the bumper crop might be spaghetti squash.

I planted those in three different spots, and I have no idea what they'll do; I've never planted them before. Our neighbors and friends might be sick of them by the time August rolls around.

What Italian gardener doesn't have this?

Or this?

Later in the summer, when avocados are calling my name, I'll mix up some guacamole, using fresh cilantro. But I've never had luck growing it in the ground, so this year, I decided to try it in a pot. When it gets too hot, I can bring it inside.

Last year, I tried growing artichokes for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing, but by the end of the summer, the three plants were absolutely huge. I cut them back, almost flush to the ground, but never got around to covering them with mulch, as my local expert recommended. Good thing we had a mild winter - they were no worse for their nekkidness. They sprouted up like weeds; here's the largest one, it's about three feet in diameter already!

To all my fellow gardeners out there - get your bottle of Advil ready... and stay tuned for round two in the garden...