Back when I was doing some part-time work for Mr. Arimoto, one of the miscellaneous tasks I helped him with was assembling a new woodturning lathe. This was a serious lathe, with a heavy base and a heavy lathe body with a large heavy bed. To lift the top into position on the base, we used a rolling gantry that held a steel beam suspended overhead, and a wheeled trolley with a pulley underneath that rode back and forth on the beam. It made the whole operation possible.
To own something like that, you need to have someplace to keep it when you’re not using it. I don’t really have a place to put a big gantry system, but one day I was browsing in a tool catalog and saw that you can buy a beam, trolley separately, and install it on an existing I-beam. Ding! There is an existing exposed I-beam in the garage! Sometimes we are moving heavy pots of dye onto and off of hot plates, or I am trying to position heavy lumber or machinery all by myself. This would be super handy.
One trip to the Harbor Freight store and some ladder work, and now we have our own gantry system. HF stuff isn’t always the best quality, but I won’t be using these items anywhere near their advertised weight limits, so I expect it will be OK. This beam runs the full width of a 2-car garage, so it can help us transfer things across a wide area. We could use it to lift heavy loads out of a pickup truck if we ever bought heavy things or had a pickup truck.
A fiend of ours contacted me about making some book risers. This firend has just moved to a new house that has some built-in bookshelves that are deep and tall, which is nice for hardbacks but inefficient for paperback. My solution is to stack books vertically and sideways.
Not everybody like this solution, though. They like to be able to see at least a portion of all the spines, even though it is less efficient.
To achieve this, though, you need some kind of riser. I know people who use foam blocks, or cardboard inserts, but plywood is way stronger and more durable, so this friend contacted me.
Here they are being painted matte black in the driveway. They are basically just open-bottom boxes. There is an extra support piece in the middle, just to keep them stable. They are made from half-inch plywood, with simple butt joinery, glue, and 23 gauge pins. Two different sizes, one for paperbacks and one for trrade paperbacks. They are clear-coated to keep the black from rubbing off, and felted on the bottom to keep from scratching the shelves. They are not perfect, but since once they are in place it is possible that nobody will ever see them again, that’s probably OK.
A few months ago, I was once again elected to the position of Arts and Sciences Minister of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands. this position used to have a few pieces of regalia associated with it, but most of them have been lost since the last time I was minister. I decided a new belt favor was first on the list.
The fabric is a navy cotton twill I bought online. The populace badge is one of the embroidered patches I had made a few years ago. The A&S badge is machine embroidery designed by me and applied with my embroidery machine.
I have added the first new page to the non-blog portion of my web site in quite some time. I can’t even remember for sure what the last one was. In any case, this new page is a showcase for all of the “VP3”-format embroidery stitch pattern files I have created over the past several years. I received a request for some of them, and thought I would make the whole collection available to the Internet. Most of them are SCA-related, but there are a bunch of pop-culture and media-related designs at the bottom.
I use a piece of digitizing software called Embird to create these patterns, and the images are all exports of the 3D simulation of the eventual embroidery. Embird is a good value, and I have not had too much trouble figuring out its features. The files it produces work so reliably that I have not even tried embroidering some of these patterns. The fun is in designing and creating them.
Anyway, please read the text at the top of that page if you want to use any of those files.
Last week, we attended the “Armistice” event up at Cooper’s Lake Campground. Informally called “Pretendsic”, this was the event that the campground decided to run on their own after the SCA’s Pennsic War was cancelled again. It was a much smaller and informal version of a war, with no organized battles and many fewer classes. We did not even camp up there most nights, and brought all our own food. We spent a lot of time in camp braiding, and I completed these four braids.
All four braids were made using kute-uchi hand-loop braiding. The two inner braids are Mitake-gumi 10-loop rectangular braids, both using a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop. The two outer braids are Maru-genji-gumi 16-loop round braids. The inner of the two uses a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop, and the outer uses two plies of cotton crochet thread for each loop. To keep the loops together in bundles for the 2-ply braid, I used rope kute handles. These were all braided while seated on a bench, and I used my toes to beat the stitches if the braids were too long for manual tightening.
At the most recent dyeing activity, one of our friends brought a few articles of finished clothing that she’d purchased inexpensively, specifically for the fun of shibori dyeing it in indigo. When you make up a couple of big pots of indigo dye, you might as well use them for as much as you can. They really don’t keep, and there’s so much dye in there that you can normally toss in some experiments at the end just to see how they come out.
Her experiments came out so awesome that I decided to copy her method. The online stores that sell the dye also carry a broad line of prepared for dyeing (PFD) garments, but I hate buying clothes mail order. I have plenty of simple sewing patterns, though.
I used white muslin fabric to make two shirts. One uses a sweatshirt pattern, and the other uses the beloved pajama top pattern. No buttons on the pajama top yet, because they would only interfere with the dye. I finished all the cut edges with serging, but did all the top stitching with cotton thread. The cotton thread will take up dye, but the polyester serging will not. The serging is all hidden inside, though.
Somebody is running a dyeing day next month, so now I am ready for fun.
A few weeks ago, Sharon hosted an indigo dyeing activity at our home. Some people came over and we spent all day dunking fabric in dye pots. I did some small test pieces for various techniques, but I also twisted up some big pieces of silk broadcloth, and then I made this kosode from that fabric.
It looks kind of like an accident in a bleach factory, but closer up the indigo patterns are very organic and Rorshach-inkblot fascinating.
One of the martial activities in the SCA is called “Thrown Weapons”. Participants throw handled metal weapons such as axes and knives at fixed targets for scores. If you can achieve certain scores during a timed exercise, you qualify for different ranks. These belt favors are meant to be given to those participants who have achieved the required skill levels. The background color of each favor denotes the rank: black for Thrower (0-29 points), blue for Verfur (30-59 points), purple for Caster (60-79 points), green for Huntsman (80-99 points), and red for Marksman (100-120 points).
Each is machine embroidered on cotton twill fabric. The favors are about 7.5 inches wide and 18 inches long, meant to be doubled over a belt. The badge is 3.5 inches in diameter. The fabric is doubled over into a kind of bag, inside which valuables or authorization cards can be stored. I made six of each rank, thirty in all. Even though the machine did all the hard work, there was still a bunch f work setting things up, switching threads, and completing the favors. It took me a while.