Wonkey Weaving Gourd Baskets

I’ve taken three Gourd Art classes from a talented artist,  Margaret Sullivan of Rio Verde, Arizona.  In two of the classes we used very large gourds that we stained with leather dyes before we launched into the time consuming technique called ‘Wonkey Weaving’. The bare bones of the weaving is done with reeds soaked in water to make them pliable. The wonkey meant you were supposed to leave lots of odd shaped gaps to fill in later with wool or other pliable materials.

My first gourd had not become very ‘wonkey’ at all by the end of the class. I took it home and completed the rest of the weaving and added purchased feathers and beads.

At the second class, I achieved wonkey.

In the third class, we made a Totem Pole  from small gourds. We stained the gourds, etched them with a dremel, then decorated them with feathers, beads and paint.

Back in Canada, I could add feathers that I had collected from the grounds around our house. (In Alberta, it is legal to pick up feathers off the ground. It is not legal to do that in the United States, according to the American Migratory Bird Treaty Act.)

American Migratory Bird Treaty Act Reform – There is movement towards decriminalizing accidental bird killings. Federal Judge Edith H. Jones observed that the MBTA prohibits all acts or omissions that “directly” kill birds, but she also said that where these bird deaths are “foreseeable,” as is the case for all owners of big windows, communication towers, wind turbines, solar energy farms, cars, cats, and even church steeples, it seems unreasonable that these people or businesses should continue to be found guilty of violating the MBTA.

There are so many criminal and regulatory laws and regulations that no one can count them. It is estimated that the average citizen breaks 3 laws a day without even knowing it! Can you think what any of them might be!?

Spare Time Crafting Stories – Knitting

My mom was a knitter. She knit in her spare time – but she could knit in ‘unspare’ time too. By that, I mean she was a multitasker long before that term became popular. She could knit and watch TV. She could knit and enjoy the scenery on long road trips. She could knit and have conversations with friends. She probably could have knit and played bridge if Dad had built some sort of card holder for her.

green wool

My children are knitters too. Eldest daughter likes to knit in her spare time. Wander over to her blog, The Good Life List and you will see a photo of this lovely project when it was finished.

pink wool

Middle daughter likes to knit too. She takes her knitting on road trips (like her grandma). Last I heard she couldn’t multitask – she has to watch the progress of each and every stitch very carefully. If she doesn’t, she ‘drops stitches’ which is a knitters term that means a stitch got lost about 6 rows ago.

dog scarf

Youngest daughter knits, though I don’t think she has as much passion for that as she does for making lampwork glass beads (Beadlejuice Beads). The dog is a good model for knitted scarves, but not so good for glass bead necklaces and bracelets.

pantyhose craft
Me? If the love of knitting is passed down from generation to generation, it skipped mine. I don’t remember my mom even trying to teach me to knit. That task, which must have been an incredible challenge, was given to a no nonsense family friend, Norrie. Norrie tried to teach me European knitting and how to make Scottish Shortbread Cakes.

To Norrie’s and my credit, I did knit several sweaters. Bob, in the photo above, is wearing the first one I ever completed. I made it for The Car Guy while we were still dating. Bob has had the sweater on for just over an hour now, and that is the longest it has ever been worn. Enough said.

purple wool needles

knitting http://www.savagechickens.com/Over the years I did knit a few other things, but I can’t claim to enjoy it much. I like to buy wool, though. Sometimes I roll it into balls. Sometimes I even find a pattern and some needles. I might even think about knitting, but that is as far as I usually get!

Have you ever tried knitting? What do you like to do in your spare time?

This week’s WordPress.com photo Challenge is Spare.

Our Library, The Alphabet and a Good Crafting Intention

Our ‘Snowbird’ Community has a small Library. The volunteer librarians have developed a book filing system that theoretically allows them to house the largest number of books. The books are sorted by subject, then by size, then alphabetically by author’s name. This means that book cases with shorter paperback books have one more shelf than the taller hard cover book cases.

The problem with this system becomes apparent when the users want to find books by a particular author. Books by Stephen King, for example, can be found in 6 different locations – non-fiction, science fiction, fiction paperback, fiction hard cover, mystery paperback, and mystery hard cover. On any given day, the whim of the volunteer who shelves the book will determine where the book is.  This means that two hard cover copies of a single book will invariably be shelved in two different places.

Now and then, whole shelves of books will simply disappear. I’m assuming there were multiple copies of some books, and they were  donated to another little library. But in a system like this, it would be very time consuming to find duplicates. Suspiciously though, most of the books by my favourite British authors have disappeared…

This library really is an interesting example of how logic and good intentions can have unintended consequences.

Logic is a large drawer, containing some useful instruments, and many more that are superfluous. A wise man will look into it for two purposes, to avail himself of those instruments that are really useful, and to admire the ingenuity with which those that are not so, are assorted and arranged.
– Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon –

 

527-rudolphcorksI can appreciate what can happen to good intentions. Last Christmas I was going to make a whole herd of Cork Rudolphs. Their little bodies and heads would be etched with the ‘alphabet soup‘ of the wine world. Each little ungulate would be a reminder of  those special events when the wine flowed freely.

After many attempts, much oddly bent wire, and a bit of blood letting, a single reindeer was produced. Wine corks firmly resist any attempt to poke wires into them…

YOUR TURN: How do you organize your library? Do you alphabetize anything besides books?

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge is Alphabet

How to Make Tree Branch Hooks

After I had made three Stacked Wood Christmas Trees, I had a large pile of discarded branches that were too big for the chipper and too small to make more stacked trees. Though some of the “V” shaped sections would have made excellent sling shots, I settled on the more mundane project of making tree branch hooks.

The Car Guy searched his stash of things he might need some day, and found some wood that I could use to make a frame. I chose to make one with an interior dimension of 8 by 20 inches (20.32 by 50.8 cm). Once the wood pieces were cut, we used a T-square to make the corners square, and an air gun nailer to quickly assemble the frame. (The Car Guy insisted on the T-square, because the way I was going at it, the frame was going to be really lopsided…)

I selected tree branches that had forks of about 45 degrees. Then I used a chop saw to cut  the branches into 8 inch (20.32 cm) long sections. I tried to vary the position of the hooks so that they would be at random heights in the frame.

Once I had the hooks all laid out in the frame, we used the air gun nailer to secure them in place at both the top and the bottom.

woodworking tree branch frame

We attached nail hangers on the back – one near each end – to keep the frame level on the wall.

I was really pleased with the finished Framed Tree Branch Hooks. The project may not actually be very practical, but it is pleasingly rustic, and is a nice reminder of the types of trees we grow here at The Red House.

I have one more wood project on the go – a twig chair. I had high hopes of making all sorts of twig things, but the chop saw is a seriously spooky tool that I’m getting less fond of as the days go by…

What power tool do you enjoy using? What do you shy away from using?

How to Build a Stacked Wood Christmas Tree

We saw Stacked Wood Christmas Trees at The Cross Roads Collective in Invermere, British Columbia. The Car Guy said, “We could make one of those, you know”, and I thought, “Sure we could, but will we?”

Many months later, we made our first trees. This is a project, though, that actually took many years to come together. This is why, and here are the instructions:

1. I married a man who keeps everything.

2. We bought a cabin with copper pipe plumbing that ran under the open underbelly of the cabin. The pipes sometimes froze and split if we had hard frosts after we turned the water on for the season. The Car Guy changed out the pipes for flexible plastic tubing that didn’t burst as easily. He brought the copper pipes home, because he might need them some day.

4. The Red House needed a new deck. The Car Guy built one, and salvaged any good wood, because he might need it some day.

5. A heavy snowfall broke many branches off the trees around The Red House. The Car Guy and I piled all the wood up in various locations on our property – because we might need it some day.

Salvaged deck lumber

6. Some day eventually arrived.  The Car Guy used the salvaged deck lumber to build the X shaped bases for the Stacked Wood Christmas Trees.

Salvaged copper pipe

7. He cut 4 feet (1.2 meters) off one of the 3/4 inch (1.9 centimeter) pieces of copper tubing.  Then he drilled a hole in the center of his X-shaped base, and stuck one end of the copper tubing into the hole.

Drilled hole

8. Then The Car Guy taught me how to use the electric chop saw. I went to work cutting the long broken branches from the trees into shorter pieces. (The longest was 3.5 feet (1.1 meters).) When I had them cut up into the right lengths, The Car Guy drilled a hole in the middle of each branch with his drill press. (The Car Guy has an excellent selection of tools that he buys because he might need them some day.)

Stacking branches onto the pipe

9. I laid out the branches in the order I wanted to stack them, then ‘threaded’ them onto the copper pipe.

Stacked wood Christmas Tree

Ta Da! The completed Stacked Wood Christmas Tree.

I also made a star for the top. I cut 5 pieces of branch, equal lengths and laid them out in a 5 pointed star shape.  The Car Guy used his air gun nailer to tack them together, then we nailed it to the top  branch.

Measure twice and cut once – there’s no board stretcher in the tool kit.
– Author Unknown –

The words ‘Hoarded Ordinaries’ came to mind when I watched The Car Guy drag this and that out from here and there until he finally had all the components to make these trees.

What sort of things do you or your spouse ‘hoard’ and what unanticipated use did you finally make from the stash?