Monday, January 12, 2015

Buon Anno!

Happy New Year!  We had a quiet Christmas here.  Tonight we will go to a dinner in Siena at the Brucco Contrada, and then walk to the center where they are preparing for live music tonight. We'll have to bundle up though. It's been around freezing and very windy. 

 It was fun to go shopping this time of year!  Siena had this beautiful holiday market a couple weeks ago. 

Wow, look at that cheese!  The reddish in the middle has the skins and seeds remaining from pressing grapes for wine. It looked so pretty. 

Ok, I've never seen the likes of these white truffles. And the smell when the lid was lifted made my knees weak!  A little one about the size of a small walnut is about 25 euros. And quite worth it. Scrambled eggs, anyone?

The fresh citrus here is wonderful as you would expect. 

Mmmmmm. Donuts. And holy cannoli!

And speaking of food. Carlo and Nancy invited us a few weeks ago to their annual Bollito Misto party. Bollito Misto means, I think, mixed boil, and is popular in Verona. Different cuts of meat like beef tongue, pork shoulder, fowl, and sausage are stewed for a long time. The way they did it was to serve the broth first with finely cut homemad noodles, topped with minced chucked liver. Yummy. Then the meats were served with various condiments like salsa verde, which looks like pesto but is vinegary. Mustard. There was a sauce thickened with breadcrumbs that was wonderful. Not an everyday meal. This one is for a big party so you can have that big selection of meats. I WILL be making this when I return. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Still in Frontignano

And finally posting. Forgive me fire my lameness, but technical issues combined with my poor coping skills prevented me doing this for far too long. The easiest solution seems to be to move to my professional site. I was unable, for some stupid reason, to access my photos from anywhere but here. 

I'll start by going back in time to late September when Val visited us for 10 days. 

I know, right?  

Great pictures like these don't just happen. A lot of planning and commitment are involved. And thanks, Val. Only for you would I have done this pose. 

The Leaning Tower isn't the only impressive thing in Pisa. The Cathedral there is really wild. The sculptural details are entertainingly freaky. This is the base of a pulpit...

Hmmmmmm.  Those are some creepy suckling babies. Brrrrr.

This was part of a crypt, if I remember correctly. Is that some kind of pagan influence I see?  

This just looks evil. But in a nice way, right?

This is glass mosaic tiling. And don't forget, Jesus is watching you. Really, his eyes just follow you everywhere. 

Sorry it's blurry. 

And this is the view from up on the tower.  This is a super-touristy place to go, and the schlocky souvenir booths are completely charmless. But still, the tower is completely worth visiting. Standing below and looking up is disorienting and awe inspiring. Going inside it and seeing how off-plumb it is from that vantage point was fun. 

Ok, I'm back on the job with lots of catching up to do. This week I'll do another one so check back soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have I found my tribe?

Last Friday I went to the Best of the Northwest art show to see if it's something I want to be part of.  I arrived as the doors opened at 10 am, planning on getting through the whole thing by around noon.  Bwaahaaahaaaaa. I ended up standing up Bartosz for a 2:00 date (so sorry honey!) First thing when I walked through the door I gravitated to some sculptures by Dan, a lovely man whose business card I seem to have misplaced. He worked with metal, blocks of wood, and twigs.  He kindly let me take this picture of the top portion of one of his sculptures.

That gorgeous twiggy thing is from one of my favorite plants, corokia cotoneaster.  I love it so much, I have two! OK, one is dead, but can you not see why I still have it on display in its pot on the patio? The form of those crooked branches is sublime. Now, inspired by Dan, I'm afraid I'll have to hack up my dearly departed shrub and embellish something of my own with it. But, alas, that will leave me with only my living corokia. Maybe I'll have to buy another one and bump it off as a replacement.

I had such a great time talking to Dan and many other artist/crafters at the show that it took forever to see the whole show. I found myself especially impressed by works of precision and obsession to detail, and the people who do this kind of work.

My overall impression of this art fair as a place for me to show (and hopefully sell) my work? I think my work fits in with the quality of what I saw there, so it's worth trying to get in. Yet I think I'd be most excited about meeting more people who love working with their hands.  I've been cooped up in my shop for 15 years!  I need to get out and meet other humans who make stuff, something I've missed doing since my time at Seattle Central's cabinetry program.

I am completely energized and inspired, and when this damn rain stops I'm going to go uproot that corokia and hang it up to dry in the shop.

Alright, then. I did it and here it is...

 What a cool dead plant. I removed one little branch that was halfway snapped off and took it into the shop to play, where I have been making a shelf of figured walnut.

Next time: I receive my lumber order from Gilmer lumber of Portland.  I'm going to make y'all look at my slideshow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Did I really just do that?

Oh, good grief.  The god of woodworking is effing with my brain.  I'm making this little drawer for a cabinet, and I screwed up one of the sides three separate times, so I decided to take a picture of it and share, in my self-deprecating way, my little story of woe.

See, three different attempts and each time I made some stupid mistake laying out the dovetails.  So, hey, maybe I'll turn that into lemonade and share it on my blog.  Snap a picture, get back to work, and do it right this time.  Cut the curves along the tops of the sides....

Fast forward to the next morning.  I go into the shop, pick up the completed and assembled drawer and look at it.  Hey, the groove along the bottom edge for the bottom to slide into needs a little fiddling with.  Pick up a block of wood to tap the side off, give it a whack........

It seems I forgot that I actually glued it up the day before.  There is no saving it.  If I were to calculate the hours I have worked on this cabinet and divide that into what I hope to sell the cabinet for, well... I'd be doing better working at McDonald's.  

Okay, pity party over.  I'm not in it for the money, fame, and fast cars anyway.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flattering my figure...

Holy cow, look what's been hiding at the bottom of the woodpile.  I brushed the dust off and ran this 9 inch wide plank of pearwood on the jointer, and look what I got.  (My knees go weak...)  
That's some pretty flamboyant figure happening there.  Whatever shall I do with you, dear darling delicious one?  I'm going to leave you where I can see you every day, and just wait for inspiration to whisper in my ear.  
Ah, pearwood.  It handplanes like working with this stuff!

Anyways, anyone wonder why wood gets this crazy figure sometimes?  This pear plank has what is called curl.  It was cut such that the surface is parallel to the radius of the trunk.  Now if you were, instead of sawing, to split this wood with an axe along the radius and pull the two halves apart...wait, here's a picture.

 The right lower part has been pulled apart, revealing in three dimensions the waviness of the grain.  So when you cut across that radial surface, you are cutting through a series of abrupt changes in grain direction.  Light reflected off the wood will vary with the direction of the grain, resulting in that shimmery effect.  Impress your friends with this new word: Chatoyance.  It's root is French for "cat's eye", and if you are familiar with tiger eye gemstones, it's a similar effect.  Here, I'll use it in a sentence for you.

The subtle chatoyance of the freshly planed pearwood made Pam spaz out and drool a little.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome to the shop!

Excuse the clutter, it's not always like this.
Sometimes there's lots of sawdust as well!  This is where I
work, and I welcome you to my blog where I will periodically share what I'm up to and occasionally spaz out about the latest splendid piece of wood I've acquired.  Who knows, maybe I'll even share some technical information.  A little science and engineering is good for you!

As some of you might already know, I've recently decided to enter the arts and crafts fair scene, so I've ramped up production in hopes of getting into a couple events next summer.  It has been a lot of fun spending more time working and playing with new designs.  Having a looming deadline in January for application to the fairs has lit a motivational fire under my ass and made me much more productive than I was when I'd work on one piece at a time.  Multitasking is clearly a necessity if I want to pursue this.

I've decided to go this route to get my work out in the world for a few reasons.  First, the idea of selling through consignment at a store leaves me cold.  I don't want to just be handed a check from some merchant every month.  I've been stuck in the garage, and frankly, I'd like to get out and actually meet the people that like my work enough to buy it.  Remove the dust mask, breathe fresh air, maybe even enjoy some conversation. Gosh, I might even meet interesting craftspeople while I'm at it!