Tuesday, May 25, 2021

You remember what a trapezoid is, right?

 One of the byproducts of this pandemic is all of the do-it-yourself-ers who have learned to build, and started projects around the house. Or just jumped back into hobbies that they used to enjoy, but never had time to pursue them.  

My friend Sharon Gainsburg, who owns and operates a stone carving school here in town often sends her students over to my shop,

 to design pedestals for their sculptures. So with the boom of DIY work, there's also a boom of creativity - whether it involves stone carving, ceramic work, epoxy pours, spoon carving - you name it, I've been seeing it!

Now, I enjoy a good challenge when making a sculpture base - sometimes it's locating an obscure color or wood (or dyeing wood to match something), or installing hardware I'm not used to... there are almost always some interesting challenges. 

But a recent commission was not only a really fun piece to build, it was a bit of a math test for me. And I love math! 

You remember back in Geometry class, when we learned about trapezoids, right? (Thanks, Miss Gibson!) 

I'll make it easy on you...

See definitions in:

What is a trapezoid shape?  A trapezoid is a quadrilateral with at least one pair of parallel sides. No other features matter. (In English-speaking countries outside of North America, the equivalent term is trapezium.) The parallel sides may be vertical , horizontal , or slanting .

So when a sculptor asked me to make an odd shape, and the only thing I had to work with was this torn cardboard pattern - well.... challenge accepted! 

I'd acquired a really nice 1" thick board of walnut - sometimes pieces like that present a problem. They're too small to make a large project out of it, but too big to be considered scrap. Those pieces usually just sit on a shelf, awaiting inspiration. Honestly, this board didn't know that it was destined to become a sculpture base, but I knew it as soon as I saw the cardboard pattern. 

Again - math was the key, and I calculated that each board needed to have about a half inch of taper cut into it. So I taped a 1/2" shim on one end, and cut the excess away of the tablesaw.

I'm not sure what I'll do with these massive walnut shims, but they're pretty cool looking. 

Meanwhile, the pedestal is taking shape, 

which each tapered piece creating a lovely end grain pattern.

Once I had chosen the layout, I numbered them and braced myself for a bit of a clamping nightmare.  

Tapered pieces always slip when clamping them, so I pulled out some extra clamps and cauls, and got to work.  

After it was dry, I little trimming and jointing was all that was needed to come up with this nearly seamless block of gorgeousness! 

The end grain pattern almost hypnotizes you! And this block is nothing to sneeze at - almost 7 pounds of solid walnut.  

I cannot wait to see this piece, when the sculpture is mounted to it! Hopefully, I'll have a photo to share with you.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

My 2021 garden is well on its way!

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a month since I posted, but damn.... it's been crazy busy here. Teaching five days / nights a week makes this blog a little lower priority! One thing is for sure - people are hungry for woodworking classes.

It's also crazy to think that this photo was taken jus a little less than four months ago. Snow! 

We had a bit of snow that even dusted this artichoke plant!

 And with that cold weather, friends were handling out lemons from their yards, perfect for juicing and freezing into ice cubes, so that we could enjoy lemonade all year long.

 When I started my Spring clean-up, I found some odds and ends from last year's bounty; the tomatoes weren't too tasty, but their color was amazing.   

I'm still figuring out this garden stuff, and one thing is plant rotation. Plants shouldn't grow the same same location from year to year, so I experimented with putting parsley and basil in a new location. Here's the new spot, with the plants looking very tiny. 

To be honest, here they are a few months later and I'm not all that impressed. I probably should have kept them in the same beds where they flourish every year. Lesson learned!  

But one thing that DID flourish were the artichokes. Damn! What a crop! 

They start out as these little babies, popping up deep in the leaves of the bush. 



There are more than one could imagine!

 Dozens and dozens, in fact - so many, that I've had trouble giving them away!

 Alas, the aphids had their way with the lower leaves, and I had to give this plant a good haircut. 

I've never figured out how to beat the aphids at this game, but at least we had a huge harvest. And the plant will recover by next year.  Here's the last one, ready to sprout a gorgeous flower. 

It's a pretty amazing plant. Gotta love perennials!

 Seriously, everything is is bloom, even this gorgeous plant in my friend Ann's front yard. What a glorious greeting when you pull into her driveway!

I may have another problem - I probably planted too many spaghetti squash plants in this raised bed. It was sort of an experiment, as I didn't know if the soil in this bed would be fertile - apparently, it is! There are dozens and dozens of small squash sprouting up - this is going to be crazy in a month or so! (I hope I have some friends willing to take these!) 

And finally - my other friend Lupe gave me some seeds earlier this year, and they've sprouted up mightily. This lettuce is hearty and wow/delicious! 

The beets started out as teeny sprouts - can you even see the little red sprouts here in the dirt? 

Now they're huge, and I sauté the tops every other day or so. IMHO, that's the best part of the beet plant! 

I've never had luck with carrots - but they're growing like weeds! 

By the way, veggies aren't the only things growing around the yard! 

I'll get back to posting about woodworking soon, but these garden pictures were too good to postpone any longer!

Happy planting to all of the desert gardeners out there!