I spent some time yesterday and today helping Mr. Arimoto install a bannister and railing that he’d made for a client.
Tadao cut and shaped the pieces from walnut, and finished them with Osmo Polyx oil finish. We spent about ten hours total getting everything cut to fit, installed, and touched up.
He didn’t make the metal balustrade, so we had to adjust everything to fit somebody’s else’s work. It was a good exercise in the difference between theory and practice, or between design and execution.
Set up the marudai with another 16-tama braid in red and white. This one looks similar to the last one, and it’s braided similarly in alternating colors, but it’s based on a round braid instead of a square braid.
So yeah, 6 plies of lace-weight silk yarn per tama, using braiding pattern 16T from Jacqui Carey’s Creative Kumihimo.
Some months ago, we got a new sofa and comfy chair for the den. These pieces are very rectangular, and go nicely with the Mid-Century Modern look of the den, but it’s very tempting to rest your drink on the armrest while you’re sitting in them, which would be unwise since that drink is likely to sweat or spill onto the upholstery. I’ve seen little table-like structures that sit on the arm of a couch, and I figured, “I am a woodworker, and I don’t need to pay those prices for somebody else to make this for me.” Behold!
I had a walnut board in the garage, left over from some project long ago. The corners are miter-cut, and I managed to keep track of the pieces well enough that you can see the grain flow around the bend. The corner joinery is reinforced with splines, also from walnut). You can see that I had a difficult time getting all this glued up, because of the blotches in the linseed oil finish.
This was a pretty-good fast project, only taking a few hours over the weekend. I may wind up making a couple more of these.
An ashiuchidai is a piece of braiding equipment used when braiding long loop braids. If the material is too long, it’s impossible to pull the “stitches” tight by spreading your hands apart. The ashiuchidai provides a fixed point to hold the braid up where you can work it easily, and a beater bar that can be activated by tugging on a string. The string can be tied to your toe so that moving your foot taps the stitches into place while your hands braid.
I made this ashiuchidai back in June of last year, but I recently added some features to it to improve its performance. There are two stabilizers that keep the beater bar centered and straight on the axle (only one is visible in the photo), and five brass pins added to the beater (visible as the dark dots on the back ot the blade just below the tip) as counterweight. Despite my best efforts, the beater could still get stuck in the “up and in the way” position, and this counter-weighting makes it much more likely that the beater will fall back out of the way.
I still have to try it out! I haven’t made the “helping-hands” that allow you to put down the loops while you’re loop braiding, so trying out the ashiuchidai means devoting a block of time to completing a braid that is pretty long.
I’ve made a resolution to start doing more 16-tama braids. I have been braiding for more than 10 years, and even though 8-tama braids are still fun to do, I should show some discipline and exert some real effort. This one is a good start because this pattern (Creative Kumihimo 16D) only has four steps, and you only move eight of the tama during each iteration. This gives the braid a nice twill structure and (if you set up the colors just right) this nice alternating zig-zag ring appearance. It may look round, but the shape of the braid is actually more octagonal.
Anyway, this braid is in Æthelmearc colors and has medallion-cord fittings. It will go to the Kingdom at some point.
Longtime fans of my work will remember that I have taken some woodworking classes with Tadao Arimoto, a Japanese-born woodworker who has a studio in the Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Every once in a while I will stop by his workshop to visit and get caught up, and sometimes when I am not working he will ask me to help out if he needs a couple of extra hands for something.
This past Monday, I helped him take apart a sushi bar that he built “years ago” for Sushi Kim down in the Strip district. I’ve eaten at Sushi Kim a few times in the past 30 years that I have been living here, and it’s a real shame to see it closing. Mr. Kim is going to open a smaller takeout place in North Oakland (314 North Craig Street), and he has sold the building to the Heinz History Center that is across the alleyway from the restaurant.
Anyway, these pieces were way too big for one person to move, and everything was held together by about a billion screws. Mr. Arimoto actually had two of us helping him, loading out all the trash, and moving the pieces of the sushi bar to his workshop where they will be reworked for the new place.
The bar itself, consisting of about 8 yards of 2-inch thick ash, is on the bottom of the pile there. It took us all day to get the bar pried out of place and moved to the workshop. This thing was solid enough to be used for 30 years, and then still strong enough that we could stand on it while taking some parts down from over the bar. It was a fun day, but I will admit that I sometimes have an odd sense of fun.
During my blogging hiatus, I also stopped obsessively documenting every last kumihimo braid that I do. Most of my braiding over the last 6.5 years has been making medallion cords for the local SCABarony and Kingdom, and while this year was something of an exception (more on that when I get the chance), the last day of 2019 year was not. So here is the braid.
It’s just an 8-strand square braid in black and gold silk lace-weight yarn, eight plies of yarn per tama, about a yard long ( as are most of my medallion cord braids).