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Using Digits

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Posted (edited)

Topics at TGL generally cover thought, ideas, concepts, philosophies. According to the description of Create in the Connect forum, this segment of TGL is about sharing "your love of arts, crafts and anything practical." I thought I'd mention some of the things I've made over the years, why, what I've gotten out of the work, and see what others have done in this line, if anyone is interested in talking about it.

As a kid, I made the usual things - paper plate clocks, houses from Lego's, boondoggle keychains, etc. I always liked drawing, so I did a little more of that than most other kids I knew. I think I was about 8 or 9 when my family visited one of those living museums where people demonstrate how people lived in the past. I saw a loom for the first time and watched a person making cloth. The way it was presented made it seem like something from the past, not anything I could learn. I never really forgot it though. It had been a very intriguing thing to watch.

About 10 years later I discovered that my local art museum had classes in weaving so I took one. Learning how to choose the right kind of thread for what you wanted to make, winding the warp, dressing the loom, and finally weaving a piece of material actually turned out to be a fascinating process. Shortly after that, I went to college for fine art and was able to take a weaving class there. College not being my thing at that point, I dropped out, but before actually letting my parents know what was up, I got a copy of Craftworker's Market and found a weaver who was looking for an apprentice. She lived far from my home state but I was looking for a little adventure so I wrote and asked her to consider me for the position. Amazingly to me, she wrote back (this was quite a while before e-mail - I had to wait a couple of weeks to hear from her) and said, sure, come on out! I told my folks that I had decided to quit college for the time being and head to South Dakota. (They were thrilled, you can imagine.) I got a few ducks in a row, packed my car and headed west.

The woman I became apprenticed to, Grete Bodøgaard, is a transplanted Norwegian. She had married an American and moved to his home in the States. She told me that in Norway they teach, or did while she was growing up, handicrafts to all the children during the elementary school years. She learned pretty much every facet of weaving, among other handicrafts, while just a small girl. She showed me her notebooks with samples of the various techniques they had learned. They were all required to keep these notebooks. She had learned how to card, spin and dye wool. She was taught how to make natural dyes from materials such as onion skins and plants. She was full of information. I spent a little under a year as her apprentice, working with her on a large tapestry and other smaller projects. I learned a fair bit from her and when I returned home I was able to do my own projects, create some clothing, and even sell some of my work.

What I especially enjoyed about weaving was planning out a particular project. Before actually apprenticing with Grete, as I noted above I had learned the basics of weaving by taking a couple of classes. At the time I was taking my first class I was working full time in a plastics factory. While doing the mind-numbing tasks of my job, I would work out in my head whole projects, from winding the warp through tying it onto the loom. I was able to split my focus, not really multitasking I guess, but doing one thing while thinking about another. I could even work out difficulties that way, or by going through the process in my mind I would get a clearer understanding of the way things needed to be done. There would be a sort of revolving three dimensional model in my head of the loom that I could work on.

That kind of visual thinking has been part of any handicraft I've taken up over the years. It may even take precedence for me over the actual doing of it. I think that's a strange thing, but I'm not sure. Maybe others have similar experiences. I have never really talked about this before.

Anyway, I'll have other entries concerning other things I've learned that involve using my hands to create things. I hope other people will have things to contribute to this thread. I'd be very interested in what you've been doing.

AllBlue

Edited by AllBlue
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Posted (edited)

Finally a craft thread! I wanted to start one a while ago, but thought nobody would be interested. You make weaving sound like fun, whereas I always assumed it was slightly monotonous. I really enjoyed your story and can very much identify with the visualising of projects. When I am making something, I am constantly thinking about it, even hours after stopping or whilst trying to pretend I am listening to my husband. :) I even dream about patterns or improvements to whatever I am making, and get into a slight frenzy where I stay up until 4am because I can't bear to abandon it just yet.

I have always been somewhat good at arts, even as a child. One of my friends from school went into advertising and loves it very much, on top of being paid lots for it, but it never appealed to me.

When I was younger I used to draw and paint mainly, and also hand-sewed clothes for my dolls. My grandmother taught me to crochet, and I still do that sometimes but not very often. When I was 15 I fully intended to go to fashion school, took some sewing classes, got the brochures, drew designs, picked the courses, etc., and then changed my mind and studied politics because I thought it would be more important. Some of my family still lament the fact that I gave up arts in favour of social science and accused me of wasting my talent. I am glad I studied what I did, but sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had tried to make a career out of what I love doing. I suspected that being forced to be creative would eventually annoy me and make a former hobby a chore, but now am trying to get back into it and work out how to turn it into a career.

I made a lot of my clothes while at university, and then took a quilting class and loved it. Even though that first quilt was abandoned for a few years and altogether took 8 years to finish, it now hangs in my father's house and I have since made a few others. I then stopped sewing and painting completely, but took up sewing again a year ago.

Recently I started collecting vintage sewing patterns (1930's-60's) and am making clothes, as well as quilts when I can.

I'd like to take some advanced sewing classes, because vintage patterns are a lot more difficult than modern ones and am looking into doing that. I'd also love to learn pattern drafting, and a whole bunch of different quilting techniques with which I won't bore you.

I am feeling a little lonely with this hobby though, as nobody I know in real life actually sews or quilts, and it would be such fun to share it with friends and learn from people as opposed to books or videos.

I think there isn't really anything else in the world that can make me as focussed and concentrated as sewing does, even when I listen to audiobooks whilst doing it. It isn't just a creative outlet, it is peaceful and relaxing (unless I mess up) and forces me to use parts of my brain I wouldn't normally use. I have also always hated maths, but find it immensely useful and necessary for quilting, and I now am starting to appreciate it a bit more.

Edited by Stummel
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Posted (edited)

What a great post, Stummel! Thanks!

I can see that vintage clothing patterns would be intriguing. How are they different from modern patterns? Different symbols, terminology? I remember sewing a blouse as a girl and having to put in darts and fit the sleeves into the sleeve holes. I haven't made any clothing since then because doing those sleeves drove me a little crazy. :wacko: But I have done some quilting, a few bed-sized quilts, some baby quilts for various great nieces and nephews, some table linens and small Christmas ornaments. It's been a few years since I did any quilting, but I really enjoyed it. And there was a lot that I read about that I never tried, trapunto being one technique that seemed interesting to me but beyond my abilities at the time. I have several books filled with pictures of old and new quilts. Amish quilts really draw me - the bright-against-dark color schemes, the seemingly simple patterns that have so much depth, and the amazing quilting stitches.

It really is the thinking that is the best part of a craft. Learning various techniques, planning, sometimes figuring out new techniques of your own, and my own personal favorite: getting way ahead of what I'm currently capable in thinking about future projects. But a person's reach should exceed her grasp, or what's a heaven for, right?

Thanks again for posting in this thread. I hope to hear more about what you're doing. Maybe the occasional picture would be cool if you have anything you'd want to share. These days I'm relearning crochet. It takes a lot less equipment than some of the other things I've done, much more portable. I'll include a picture of the piece I'm currently working on in another post.

Happy sewing, Stummel!

Edited by AllBlue
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I like to make guitars (other stringed instruments too.) My preference is electric guitars. I’ve made a few acoustic guitars, but I just don’t get as excited about them as I do electric instruments. When it comes to acoustic instruments I prefer primitive folk type instruments from other parts of the world, like sitars, African gourd banjos, etc.

It started when I was about 12 years old. I wanted an electric guitar, but couldn’t afford one, so I decided to make one (from plywood). Needless to say it wasn’t particularly successful, but it jump started the whole thing. I taught myself several unconventional, but viable techniques in those early days.

My favorite part is the design stage. That may very well be a reason I like to make electric guitars – the design freedom they allow. As you mentioned AllBlue, at this stage one must think through the process to know what order things must be done. I have to know how tall the bridge will be in order to calculate the angle the neck will be set and so forth.

A couple of years ago, I did repairs for a sitar importer. He carried sitars and other Eastern instruments. I learned a lot about sitars and even got to know some fairly well known Indian performers, like Indrajit Banerjee. I learned the fundamentals of jawari and a great deal about intonation (or how a slight change here affects something else there). And gourd repairs!

I started another guitar just this past week. I made the pickup bobbins and wound them with magnet wire.

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Posted (edited)

My dad with my first quilt (entirely hand-quilted):

001.jpg

Baby quilt for a friend after washing to shrink it:

009.jpg

007.jpg010.jpg

Reproduction fabrics:

206.jpg

205.jpg

208.jpg

Kitty approves!

025.jpg

027.jpg

011.jpg

The last two are machine quilted, because hand-quilting would have taken too long, but I prefer the look of the hand quilted ones. I am currently making a big memory quilt for two friends who got married recently, and am planning another baby quilt for a friend.

Edited by Stummel
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I can see that vintage clothing patterns would be intriguing. How are they different from modern patterns? Different symbols, terminology? I remember sewing a blouse as a girl and having to put in darts and fit the sleeves into the sleeve holes. I haven't made any clothing since then because doing those sleeves drove me a little crazy. :wacko: But I have done some quilting, a few bed-sized quilts, some baby quilts for various great nieces and nephews, some table linens and small Christmas ornaments. It's been a few years since I did any quilting, but I really enjoyed it. And there was a lot that I read about that I never tried, trapunto being one technique that seemed interesting to me but beyond my abilities at the time. I have several books filled with pictures of old and new quilts. Amish quilts really draw me - the bright-against-dark color schemes, the seemingly simple patterns that have so much depth, and the amazing quilting stitches.

Vintage patterns do have different symbols and terminology, but mainly they are based on different sewing techniques. Machines now do most things that used to be done by hand (buttonholes, hems, even basting stitches and gathering), so even if the instructions are present they are based on skills everyone used to have back then but few do now. Many of them are also unprinted, so there are no markings on them apart from small holes. Also, the shapes are different, shorter waists, greater bust-waist ratio etc., because they were meant to be worn with shapewear (ie. girdles) and have much less give than modern patterns.

Trapunto is also something I always wanted to do. I have a book with instructions somewhere, but haven't gotten round to it yet. I also love cathedral windows, but they take so much time and fabric. Maybe I'll make a pillow one day to try it out.

tn-bbCathedralWindow2004.jpg

What do you do with your cloth after weaving? I think if I spent all that time making it I'd be too scared to cut into it! :D

Chad, what a skill to have! Do you also play them or make them for others? My friend's brother did a course on guitar making, and also writes his own music and plays, but guitar-making is his main job.

So, it's your turn to show your crafts and post some pictures!

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Posted (edited)

I like to make guitars (other stringed instruments too.) My preference is electric guitars. I’ve made a few acoustic guitars, but I just don’t get as excited about them as I do electric instruments. When it comes to acoustic instruments I prefer primitive folk type instruments from other parts of the world, like sitars, African gourd banjos, etc.

Nice, Chad3006! How do you electrify the guitar? This sounds like a craft that includes several within it - instrument design, woodworking, electrical work and musical ability. I love sitar music. Nice that you took the opportunity to learn something about playing it when you were working on them. So, they are actually made from gourds? I didn't realize that. How do you repair a gourd?

Any photos?

Stummel, thanks for posting the photos of your quilts! They are beautiful. I really like your material choices and patchwork patterns. The pattern you used in the baby quilt in the second and fourth pictures is one that, if I were going to make another quilt, I'd like to use. I could see a series of those quilts, maybe each a small four-block wall piece, using various color schemes that would sometimes bring out the center blocks and sometimes the tilted number 8 that the thin strips with the small squares seems to make. Very cool quilts!

About weaving, I haven't done any in a long time. Recently I have been thinking about it again. There's a local weaving guild that has a center where they teach weaving and spinning. I could use a refresher before taking it up again. I only have a couple of things left from the work I did in the 1980s. I seem to give most of the things I make away and end up with just the remnants. Not sure why! I am going to pull out the couple of things I still have and take pictures to post here.

The weaving that modern handweavers do seems to more often involve working the design of a piece right into the weaving of it so that there is not really much cutting or sewing involved. Often thick thread is used which would unravel fairly easily if cut. But that is certainly not always the case.

There are some pretty nifty techniques that weavers use, for instance doubleweave. Here are a couple of pictures of what that technique can produce - some beautiful work found on the Internet in Eva Stossel's Weaving Blog, :

double-weave-fabric-on-the-loom.jpg

double-weave-fabric-after-wet-finishing.jpg

As you can tell, the first picture is what it looks like while weaving, and the second after it's been removed from the loom.

Sadly, I've got to go. I could talk about this stuff all night! I'm so glad people are interested in posting in this thread.

AllBlue

Edited by AllBlue
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Crafts, hmm.

My grandfather made instruments, and his own tools to make them. Pretty handy guy.

Now, I do crafts of a sort. I make up my own way of building things as I go. I built custom planter boxes for our greenhouse until I ran out of free material, then we just used horse troughs, much easier :)

The planter boxes were made out of insulated door cores with a 2x4 frame, lifted off the ground a few inches because our greenhouse is on a concrete slab, so wanted some air space to keep it warmer if the cold air outside drew out the heat. It is a big greenhouse :) (26' in diameter). The fun thing for the build, is that the it isn't round inside, it is a geodesic dome, so the walls on the bottom are in 12 degree angle sections, so building the boxes was rather fun to figure out.

We had koi and goldfish in the big water tank inside (which is used to regulate temperature). But, I didn't check in on them for a few months, and it seems as though something changed and all of them died. I think it is because I put some plants in there and it changed the water chemistry. As for leaving them for a few months, they don't eat when it is 50 degrees or below anyway, and they had been living in there for 5 years. It was a bummer, one of the Koi must have weighed about a 2 pounds or more.

I have another project which I haven't gotten to, but am more motivated now (medications are a wonderful thing!). This is/was an interesting experiment that seems working. We had risers put in our septic system so that access was easier and it was more up to code, but they are right outside the back door of the house and I wanted to cover them up, and yet, we need direct access to them. So, I built a set of 4'x4' grids of 2"x6"x8' (the grids can be just expanded as needed, I am making a grid of 8' x 16' at this point.) On the top of each 4'x4' section I put in 2x6 joist hangers, then cut two 2x6's to fit within that grid sitting on the hangers but not screwed to them. On top of these 2x6's I screw down regular decking ( 1/2" by 6" x cut 4' approximately). Now, that decking just drops down on top of the current grid and also sits on the hangers. You can reach down and grab the edge of the decking and just pull it off.

On each grid, I place the decking in apposing directions, so you get a pattern of decking in 4x4 grids. I also did it this way so that you have to remove the 4x4 pieces individually and they only fit back in the place they came from (because of slight inconsistencies in my decking sizes, just being off 1/2" will mean they don't fit).

But that isn't the hard part, the hard part is actually getting the concrete footings everything sits on to be level and square at the same time. This is a HARD thing to get right. Takes forever. Once that is done though, it all just builds itself.

What makes it nice is as I mentioned above, I can build a 4x4 section any direction, and even make a path of decking across the yard. Then, if I just don't make a 4x4 section I can put a planter box in there, or a pond, or put lawn ornaments, whatever. :)

So far, it is held up really well. I may have to make changes to the upper removable deck to keep the edges of the decking from curling up a slight amount with heat/wet/cold transitions, but after a lot of snow everything looks good.

Oh, and because I totally over think things, I also was worried that if the septic system were to ever collapse, I would be building on concrete footers around the tanks. Thus, it would be very unlikely that anybody would fall into one of those (that is a rare occurrence, but you can see how I think of things when building!). I was worried for a bit that the 4x4 sections wouldn't be strong enough because of the regular building code of 16" centers, but then as I looked at it, I realized I had every 4' a major support point, which is more than you get in normal constructions (on our deck above it is every 8'). So, it should hold a few thousand pounds before it collapses. Good enough!

Anyway, is that a craft?

I have no experience in construction, but I sure get tired of seeing people that have experience build crappy stuff. Amazing.

I will have to show pictures, it is hard to describe all of this by just writing. When it is nicer out!

-Scott

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I don't take very good pictures, but here's some:

bt1.jpg the turquoise colored trim is from a sewer pipe.

rt1.jpg variation on a theme

grl2.jpg I "carved" the top on this one using an angle grinder

hk1.jpg I did this one about 15 years ago

Sitars:

before1.jpg Before with scratches and foam stuck to it

after1.jpg After refinished

pic8.jpg synthetic jawari I made from Corian (originals are camel bone)

Yes, I can play guitar too. They are electrified with a magnet that has thousands of turns of wire “coiled” around it. The steel string vibrates which induces a very small voltage in the coil, which is amplified. That small voltage is the audio signal. I’ve repaired gourds various ways: using wood glue with the crack backed with paper, and using dryer lint mixed with epoxy to fill any missing pieces. (it worked great!) I’ve got some other pics on an old Win98 machine somewhere in the garage.

All sitars that are used for live performances are electrified, they are simply too quiet to be heard or even mic’d effectively.

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Posted (edited)

Wow, Chad, I am amazed! They are really, really great. I don't have a musical bone in my body, my guitar lessons in teenage years failed miserably, but I envy your for having those skills.

AllBlue, the baby quilt pattern is called Disappearing Nine Patch and there are really good tutorials online. Here's one I used:

http://valentinequiltworks.blogspot.com/2009/02/disappearing-9-patch-quilt.html

I thought when you said weaving cloth it would include smaller weave cloths to make other things out of, but it all makes sense now.

Scotty, pictures please :)

Edited by Stummel
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Nice work Chad6012 :) And you are a good guitar player too.

Here are some pictures, I just took them. Funny, looks better in pictures than in real life, or I just am too critical of my work.

This is a look at both the deck I am building and the greenhouse. I helped build the greenhouse but didn't do the majority of the work, we hired it out, but after seeing the install I could do another one myself.

post-5-0-70608600-1297820189_thumb.jpg

This is me picking up the piece to remove it.

post-5-0-21601200-1297820204_thumb.jpg

Another angle.

post-5-0-00243000-1297820213_thumb.jpg

This is just taking it out and showing that it is a piece you can remove. I may put hinges on it instead of it just free standing. The green circles are the septic system that I am trying to cover.

post-5-0-59363000-1297820242_thumb.jpg

This is me showing that I expect the edges might lift up a bit and warp, but it hasn't changed the entire time it has been there, so it may be okay.

post-5-0-07120300-1297820270_thumb.jpg

This is the greenhouse again, with a plant I forgot to put inside so it got blasted by the snow a while back.

post-5-0-53759300-1297820279_thumb.jpg

Besides my tools, these are the planters I made out of the door cores (they were free, so it cost not much to put them together).

post-5-0-83285300-1297820287_thumb.jpg

This is the reverse angle to see the 12 degree twist :)

post-5-0-88380600-1297820295_thumb.jpg

This last one is just to show that I got lazy and started using galvanized troughs.

post-5-0-64395900-1297820304_thumb.jpg

At one point I was going to put wheels on everything so I could move the entire thing outside, but making enough room outside was the problem. Still haven't finished doing the greenhouse thing, but hopefully with more energy now that I am sleeping it may work out okay :)

-Scott

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Posted (edited)

Chad! Those are great! My husband, the guitar player in the house, said they were beauties and wondered how much you sell them for. And that's pretty ingenious using dryer lint to patch the sitar! It looks perfect after your ministrations.

Scotty, this thread is about what people make with their hands, so the really interesting sounding decking and planters fit right in. I hope the weather cooperates soon. I'd really like to see what you've described! [by the time I posted this you had posted the pictures - how cool your work is!!]

Stummel, thanks for the link to the quilt tutorial. Those pictures were very well done, easy to follow. I've been thinking about the vintage patterns you're using. Do you have any pictures of what you've made with those? I'd be interested to see them. People are using vintage crochet and knitting patterns now too. Those look very complex, at least at first glance. I haven't tried to use them.

I'm trying to get my photos here. I'm slow at that stuff.

****

Scotty, I really like the geodesic dome! The boxes you made are great, but I can see that using the troughs would be easier. So what do you grow?

****

I've created a new album in the Gallery here at TGL titled Using Digits. Take a look. I have a few more I'll probably add. These are a few of the things I've done over the last several decades.

Edited by AllBlue

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I did mean to mention that the quilts are just amazing. We used to have some quilts that looked like the older style you have, that my grandmother made. They got stored when we moved and got wet and got moldy. Unrepairable. They just fell apart.

The weaving is pretty fun stuff too. I remember something about that with the space shuttle. They needed to weave some large portion, of I think, some heat resistant cloth, and nobody could do it. They had to reopen and old weaving factory just to make it. (I hope I am remember that right, pretty sure), but that was a neat story.

I tried macramé and some quilting, I have no skill that way :) Looks like magic to me!

-Scott

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The deck looks very sturdy Scotty. I love the geo-thingy greenhouse too. My wife and I had Koi in a dirt tank (pond), but a Blue Heron cleaned us out when a drought left it as a puddle.

My wife likes to make quilts. Very nice work Stummel. I like the idea of saving the vintage patterns also.

AllBlue, the weaving is something that I find amazing. I've never been able to figure out how those weaving contraptions work. Do you also do wood carving?

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the turquoise colored trim is from a sewer pipe

I love that. Was it scavenged or did you buy it specifically for the purpose? Either way the guitars look great!

Some years ago, I knew a guy who made violins out of scavenged wood (old discarded furniture and the like). I think he just stole some of it from people's trash. He really wanted to sell me one of his fiddles, but they were just too ordinary. Neither dropdead gorgeous nor outlandishly idiosyncratic. Besides, I'm not really that great a player (have hardly touched a fiddle in quite a few years now), so could never feel good about taking a really fine instrument that 'deserved' a better player.

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I love that. Was it scavenged or did you buy it specifically for the purpose? Either way the guitars look great!

It was leftovers from a plumbing project.

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Posted (edited)

AllBlue, the weaving is something that I find amazing. I've never been able to figure out how those weaving contraptions work. Do you also do wood carving?

Looms are interesting. First you have to wind the warp, the threads that get stretched on the loom, usually using a warping board like this:

65234-9000-3ww-l.jpg

At the bottom of this board are the pegs that you use to put the threads in the order you want them. As you wind the thread from the right to the left, you go under/over/under, then coming back left to right, you go over/under/over. Each thread crosses the one next to it. You use a different color thread from the warp and tie each segment of it between the pegs, then remove it using your hands sort of like a crochet hook to make a big chain. Then you bring it to the loom and wind it from the front onto the warp beam at the back of the loom. Once all the thread is on the warp beam, you take each thread and one-by-one pull them through the part that makes the pattern, called the heddles.

You know, going through all this really makes me want do some weaving. Maybe I'll do that and take some pictures to post here. I've been looking on the Internet but it's hard to find the pictures I need to show the different parts of the process.

***

I have done some woodcarving. I was inspired to learn by seeing netsuke, the small carvings from Japan that were originally to hang over a kimono belt like this one from the LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

20070557%20LACMA%20Netsuke%20Rensai%20Animal.jpg

I never got very good at it because I didn't stick with it. The reason I didn't is at least partly because I never learned the right way to keep my tools sharpened. Carving with dull tools is not fun. But I did enjoy it when my knives and gouges were sharp. The last thing I carved was that little guitar. A person I work with wanted it to give as a present to her husband. It's about 9 or 10 inches long. It was patterned after a Guild guitar, if I recall correctly. It's a solid piece of wood, not playable at all. No hardware, just the shape of the guitar.

Talking about these things really does make me think about why we do this. What are all the things we get from it? Useful and/or beautiful things, feelings of accomplishment, pride, happiness.

I hope to post more about this.

Edited by AllBlue
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Scotty, I am really amazed at what you built! I can't begin to imagine just making a greenhouse like that, and with a dome on top too boot.

AllBlue, I don't have many pictures of clothes, only one skirt and I will upload them tomorrow. In fact I have been testing a pattern on an old bed sheet for the last few days and am pulling my hair out, because the top is perfect and the skirt doesn't fit it and I can't work out what I did wrong, as I followed the pattern and the instructions. I have put it aside for tonight, but will take pictures once I work out how to fix it.

A few other items I cam in the process of making, like a full quilted skirt and matching blouse, but no pictures of those yet either as they are unfinished.

I think in terms of what we get from this, it is both the finished product and the joy of the process (unless one messes up and can't figure out where... :D ). I like everything form picking out fabrics to planning the design to seeing it all come together and then having something unique and individual at the end. Well, there are bits I don't like as much, like cutting the fabric or basting, but all in all it is relaxing for me.

While we're on the subject, I am currently having a custom belt made by a lady who sells on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/cassieart, and she's such a joy to collaborate with. She makes ceramic belt buckles and pairs them with vintage fabric. I chatted to her about an idea for a buckle and within a few days she had whipped up the form and prototype. I have never before shared craft ideas with someone else for a project, but it is also really fun.

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In the explanatory note for the three part carved abstract doodle in the Using Digits album I mentioned that this was based on a painting based on a drawing. For the most part, the only long telephone conversations I have are with either my sister or my daughter. If I'm sitting at a table while talking, I usually have a pen or pencil and maybe an old envelope or notebook handy. Often the designs that come out of those conversations are pleasing. They usually have rhythm and depth. I tend to start with a small motif that I repeat but the repeats get varying treatment such as different shading or emphasis. Also, the drawing and conversation begin to meld a bit so that sometimes if I view the drawing days or a few weeks later I can recall what we were talking about while I drew it. I'll try to find the small painting and post that in the Using Digits album so you can see the second incarnation of the design.

Stummel, I'm looking forward to the pictures! Also, those belts are great! I'll be interested in seeing the final product of your collaboration with the artist.

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I'm going to cheat and show somebody else doing something with their hands in the sand:

I first watched this video in 2009, and I still find it amazing.

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Amazing, DaveT. Thanks for posting it here.

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Since I last posted, I've pulled out my old loom to see if I can put it back together and begin to use it again. So far that's not possible because unfortunately not all the small hardware pieces were stored in the same place as the larger wooden parts of the loom. I'm trying to find the missing parts, but I don't know. There are several places they could be and there are many boxes to go through. I've contacted the company that made the loom, a Canadian company called Leclerc. They are still making looms, although not my model, but I'm hoping to hear back that I might be able to get replacement parts from them. I can use their online parts list and assembly diagrams to see exactly what I'm missing so if they still have parts from those old looms, or comparable parts, it may work out for me.

I also visited a place called Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, an education center run by the Weavers' Guild in my city. This could be a good place to take a refresher course, with lots of good looms and teachers. I'm getting ideas now for what I could make that combines weaving and crochet.

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I like to make guitars (other stringed instruments too.) My preference is electric guitars. I’ve made a few acoustic guitars, but I just don’t get as excited about them as I do electric instruments. When it comes to acoustic instruments I prefer primitive folk type instruments from other parts of the world, like sitars, African gourd banjos, etc.

It started when I was about 12 years old. I wanted an electric guitar, but couldn’t afford one, so I decided to make one (from plywood). Needless to say it wasn’t particularly successful, but it jump started the whole thing. I taught myself several unconventional, but viable techniques in those early days.

My favorite part is the design stage. That may very well be a reason I like to make electric guitars – the design freedom they allow. As you mentioned AllBlue, at this stage one must think through the process to know what order things must be done. I have to know how tall the bridge will be in order to calculate the angle the neck will be set and so forth.

A couple of years ago, I did repairs for a sitar importer. He carried sitars and other Eastern instruments. I learned a lot about sitars and even got to know some fairly well known Indian performers, like Indrajit Banerjee. I learned the fundamentals of jawari and a great deal about intonation (or how a slight change here affects something else there). And gourd repairs!

I started another guitar just this past week. I made the pickup bobbins and wound them with magnet wire.

What do you think of Ravi Shankar?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KXk_8_8oLY

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Gotta love Ravi and Anoushka! They're both great!

***

I'm reading a book I bought back in the late 1970's titled A Handweaver's Pattern Book written by Marguerite Porter Davison. It's been in print continuously, I think, since it was first published in 1944. Mine is the "Eighteenth Printing, Revised Edition, January, 1977."

This is the introduction to a section titled “A Few Suggestions From Old Weavers”:

The books on weaving which are now out of print contain more than patterns which have been forgotten. Some of their writers tried to bridge the gap between handweaving and early machine work, recording the “tricks of the trade” which the weavers themselves were not able, or failed to pass on except by means of the apprentice system. If there is one fact which is outstanding to those who would conduct research from forgotten teachers, it is the dearth of information as to how the craftsmen worked, and what were their tools. This is stated and the question answered as to why it is true, by Alfred Barlow, writing in 1878: “It may be said of many processes practiced in the useful arts which have long been in use, that they rarely suggested to the observer that they may be supplanted by new and quite different methods, and for the old system to become forgotten. In this way many of the ancient arts have been lost, simply through historians making no record of them. It is not until recent times, almost within the memory of men, especially as regards this country (England), that any written account of the art of weaving has been given. The cause, however, is not far to be sought. The weaver has never troubled himself about that which is so common to him, and no doubt thought the way he worked and the kind of instruments he used would last for all time.”

Here are a couple of the suggestions. I'm not quite sure myself of everything they're talking about:

Alfred Barlow again:

If the warp be too light, and thinking to mend it by driving in more weft, he will be mistaken, for it will look like cat's teeth all across the cloth.

Again if the warp be too heavy, or he be too lazy to drive in equal weft, then the cat's teeth will be all along the length of the cloth.

J. and H. Bronson, 1817:

Beaming: The person who holds the yarn while beaming should not let it slip through his hands, but should go hand over hand once in a foot, and strike it occasionally, minding not to let it twist between his hands, and so proceed until it is all wound on.

John Watson, Glasgow, 1846:

In Scotland, the reeds are almost always made on the 37 inch scale, which is called the Scotch ell.

George White, Glasgow, 1846:

For very fine weft, the pirns should never exceed an inch and a half in length with a thickness varying according to the size of the shuttle - about half an inch.

This section has a lot of arcane knowledge and some interesting words. Weft is the thread you weave into the threads already strung on the loom, which are called the warp. Beaming is winding the unwoven warp threads onto the warp beam so you can weave. A pirn is a "device resembling a reel." That last one I have no idea about. I had to look it up. I also have no idea what they mean by cat's teeth in the cloth!

Edited by AllBlue

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When I read the quote about the "cats teeth" and being too heavy or too light on the weave, my thought was that the edge of the cloth or where you were weaving (center) would become warped so you would have pits and valleys in the cloth, looking like cats teeth. A saw tooth edge.

Anyway, could be wrong, but I am glad they wrote that down. I know one friend, long while ago, was talking about the old steam engine trains and how nobody knew how to fix them anymore. Some things are lost for sure. :)

-Scott

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