Pretty much the minute I walked in the door after getting home from the marquetry society meeting I picked up a knife and started cutting out a Dumpster head. Unfortunately we had no scotch tape at the time, so I wasn’t able to do a proper inlay, but I think I can. Holly brought us home some tape the other night, so one day soon I’m going to give it another go. I’m thinking this will be my first belt buckle design when, and if, I get buckles and skills. I think this wood represents his brindle-y stripes pretty good,so hopefully I can pull it off.
This year marks the beginning of a new annual tradition. The Birthday *Effi-jay!
Here’s how it happened. On the morning of my birthday, Dave called to wish me well and find out what I had in store for the best day of the year. I told him of our plans to hang out, eat sushi, then asked what he was doing to celebrate the one day he looks forward to all year round. “Michelle’s coming by later; I thought we’d write your name on a paper and smoke it for you.”, he said. I was honoured, but concerned. I’m not a spiritual person, but if someone is trying to send me cosmic joint energy I’ll take it! That being said, via a paper with a name on it seems like a poor delivery system. Not only are there a million (I’m guessing) people with this name, but we’re talking pot here… it’s likely to find the first dude with my name and just say fuck it, close enough. I therefore felt the need to demand a portrait instead. This would increase my chances of reception, or at least ensure that someone handsome picked up the wave. I also asked that a photo of them enjoying the Effi-jay be emailed to me for blogging purposes.
And there they all are! Two of my favourite people, and the maiden Effi-jay in honour of yours truly!
I love you and miss you both. Thanks for putting up with my demanding requests.
Anyone who proudly sports some large stretched piercings will probably agree, that the most painful part is usually trying to obtain jewellery that’s ideal. I know I have a hard time with my ears, I’m sure people with the more obscure stuff find it impossible. Which is likely the reason why Ryan O’Brien has been asking me to try and make him some new jewellery for a year or two (well, that and I’m awesome…).
I had tried several times to make him something, but usually fucked it up at some point. This time I think I figured it out. I use the chop saw to make blanks, trim the backs on the band saw, Dremel a contour in the back, then file and sand all the edges (some more than others, to give them more rounded shapes). It took very little time, and if they fit then they should last him years.
I guess I’ll find out tomorrow, as I’m heading up to lend a hand constructing a ceiling and possibly some stairs.
A few weeks ago, Holly and I attended the Niagara Wood Carvers Show. This is the second year in a row we went and had a look around. This year I saw a few things that were either not present, or got overlooked the previous year. It’s pretty easy to miss things when there is so much neat stuff in one spot. One of the things I noticed was, on top of the usual carvings and wood burnings, there was a few gentlemen displaying and demonstrating marquetry. Holly and I stopped to look, and I mentioned to her that I’ve wanted to try this particular wood craft ever since I saw the amazing stuff my ex’s sister learned to make a few years ago.
We got friendly with the gentlemen representing the Marquetry Society, and probably spent almost an hour chatting with them and flipping through albums of their work. They were all super nice, full of knowledge and stories, and after a short time both Holly and I were invited to join the club at their next meeting. If we enjoyed it, a second meeting was an option, then after that we would be asked to join as paying members. Two free lessons? Sold! I convinced Holly to join me, and we decided to try and learn a new craft together.
The club meets in Etobicoke at some building that is part of Humber College, where there’s an incredible workshop with lots of space. We arrived just in time to catch the end of the club’s ‘business’ part of the meeting. Holly and I sat quietly while I fought the urge to blurt out “Are any of you concerned that your website is a piece of shit?”. After they finished the dry boring stuff, we went over to the shop and got set up. At this point I noticed a guy selling veneers. I thought I would go have a look, since I wasn’t sure what the materials for this hopeful new hobby were worth (I’ve only used veneers in making belt buckles and those were nothing exotic). I was shocked when I saw that he wasn’t just selling sheets, he was selling piles of sheets, and the prices were insanely cheap (proof in the photo below). I ended up having to get Holly to write him a cheque since we brought no cash. I took so long looking at and trying to pay for these veneers that I missed the first part of our lesson. Luckily, Holly got my work started for me so I wasn’t too far behind.
I was worried she would be bored, and I think she was too, but the time ended up flying by, and we both had a ton of fun. I’m pretty sure we are going to go back, and eventually both become members. Even if we don’t ‘member-up’, I definitely want to go back because one of the guys there actually makes the saws we were using, and sells them for just over a hundred bucks! In the meantime I plan to try some stuff using just a knife. I doubt it will turn out very well, but I still feel like trying.
Here’s a comparison of pricing between the nice old guy at the marquetry meeting, and the douchebags at Michaels. If you’re ever in the market for veneers DO NOT go to Michaels. Look for nice old guys, and ask them if they have wood.
Now I need to buy more belt buckle backs. I want to try some marquetry buckles, and possibly some combination marquetry – wood burning buckles! Before I do that, I want to finish and mount the projects Holly and I completed on our first day.
Holly’s is on the left, mine the right. I made the mistake of using one of the veneers I had just purchased for the moon on my piece, and then someone was showing me how to scrape the veneer, as opposed to sanding it, and they unknowingly crushed a significant portion of the moon (it’s held together with tape from the back). Other than that, I’m sufficiently pleased with how it turned out. Holly’s is much better, and looks great on both sides. I’m not sure what either of us plan to do with them, but check ‘em out… they’re neat-o!
Ever since the Cobra Canine came into the picture I’ve wanted to take him down into the gorge for some mutually beneficial exercise. When we got him last August he wasn’t a very good listener, and I wouldn’t have trusted him to not rip my arm off the first time a squirrel ran past. Then the winter came, and I wasn’t going anywhere near the gorge. Finally the nice weather has returned, and the Tank has come a long way as far as obedience goes (still a long way to go however), so last week I took him down for our first time.
If you’ve ever been to the gorge (Niagara Glenn) you’re probably aware that there is only two ways down (and back up for that matter); the metal stairs and the wooden stairs. The former is probably the easiest or humans. Each step is the exact same height, making it much nicer on your legs. The latter, are literally logs embedded into sloped dirt trails creating a set of tiers, each a unique width and height. If given the choice, I’m going metal every time. Unfortunately the metal stairs are actually corrugated steel (like you see on subway grates in big cities), which makes it difficult for dogs, so we opted for the wooden stairs.
We made it down with no problems at all, and immediately he found a dead fish washed up on the beach. After a few sniffs we headed off on a trail which followed the riverbank. I was hoping to try letting him off his leash for a short time, but there was a bunch of other people with dogs there at that time. He was still content, and I’m actually really glad I didn’t let him off, because on our way back up the riverbank he spotted a couple ducks floating atop the currents and took off after them. I pulled him back before he was swept away by the current, then he stood on the water’s edge and barked at them while the gave zero shits and twirled around taunting his lack of buoyancy.
After an hour or so I was ready (not really) to head back up. I almost died and vomited a few times, but we made it. I’m going to attempt to take him down the metal stairs next time, but I suspect it won’t go over well.
A couple of weeks ago I found an image of Dorothy and Alice sharing a cup of tea, with a caption along the lines of, “I’ve seen some shit, bro…”. Immediately I turned to Holly and asked, “Should I make this for Anita for her birthday?”, her response was “Do you think you could get it done in time?”, to which I said “Wait, when is her birthday? I thought it was around mine?”, “Yea, it’s on the nineteenth.” she responded. At which point I believe I blurted out something like, “Jesus, what fucking month is it?”. It was the fourteenth of April. Luckily, I enjoy a challenge.
I decided a short time after laying everything out that without colour, the image is just two girls and a couple quadrupeds sipping tea on the side of a road, hobo-style. So if I was going to pull this off I needed to figure out some way to colour over the wood burning, without losing all the details. An exhibitor at the Niagara Wood Carver’s show Holly and I recently attended had some pyrographic designs with some really nice colours, which he said he used some sort of ‘special pencils’, sold by another exhibitor at the show. We looked, but couldn’t find anything. So when I got this idea I figured I would just attempt to use Roan’s watercolours but I’m not confident in my skills with a brush, and after putting 20 – 30 hours into this I didn’t want to ruin it and start over.
Thankfully I had a birthday on the seventeenth, and I’ve got a thoughtful, generous girlfriend who is a great gift giver. She bought me a pack of oil based pencil crayons that are both ideal for colouring over wood burnings, and insanely expensive. Something I would have loved to have (had I been privy to its existence) but never would have spent the money on. The perfect gift. She also got me a smudging / blending tool, and a book on Pyrography (I’ll post these things later, still need to take photos). At this point I still had some more burning to finish before I could begin colouring anything, so I used a scrap piece of wood, burned some lines on it, then started playing with my new pencils.
The next day I finished all the burning and immediately started colouring. I was super excited. The burning turned out better than I anticipated, and I was about to (hopefully) learn a new skill. At the same time I was pretty tense. I was still terrified of fucking it all up. As much as I like learning new things, I prefer to not try them out on something so difficult to replace. Usually the first time I make anything, or attempt something I’ve never done before, I view it as disposable. If it goes really well, bonus. If it fails like I expect things to, it goes in the trash. Many, many things have gone in the trash.
I started with the yellow brick road (as you can see in the top photo) then decided to have a go at the dresses. It was going really well, and I was getting even more excited. I saw how fast it was coming together and figured I’d be able to finish it before Anita’s birthday after all. I asked Holly to help, and she jumped right in. We got the bulk of it coloured that night, then went out shopping for frames at all the thrift shops. We finally found one that was a perfect size, but a terrible colour.
Holly took care of painting the frame, while I finished the last of the background colouring. I’m guessing there is a method to colouring, like an order of operations, but I just coloured what I wanted to, when I wanted to. Luckily it didn’t seem to matter, or if it did, I’m too daft to notice. We got the whole thing finished and I immediately turned to Holly and asked if we could take it to Anita right away (I was excited…), expecting her to respond with, “Of course!”. Instead she informed me that she had purchased Anita another gift online, and had to wait for it to arrive from Greece before we could deliver her gifts. Bummer.
I was dying to show it to Anita, dying to post it on here, and I fucking hate waiting for things in the mail; it always seems to take forever. Yesterday, her other gift finally arrived. I called Holly as soon as I finished signing for it and got her to make arrangements with Anita for us to drop by. I’m pretty sure I was ten times more excited to give it to her than she was to receive it, but I’m fine with that. I like making stuff, and I like it more when it’s for someone specific and I think suits them personally.
I will do a post later of Anita’s entire gift. It was pretty awesome.