Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Viking Knit Paddles - This is why I love my paddle.

I thought it might be interesting to document how we make Viking Knit paddles.  I sell them on my Etsy site.  Considering what it takes to make one they are crazy cheap but we like making them.  Maybe the price will have to go up - next year.  But for now the price will be the same and in about 10 days they'll be back on-line for all my customers.

They look deceptively easy...you know, one of those things that someone would say, "I'll just have my husband make that for me."  Although I'm proud to say husband has always been one of those makers.  For thirty years he was a toymaker.  Yup, Santa's little helper.  He was making organic, poison free, wonderful wooden toys before they became popular.  So, I got to be one of those wives who when she needed something unusual she'd take a plan to the darling man and he'd make it.  I designed the toys for his business and he did the rest.  Unfortunately, he's had to stop making toys but since I'm darn good at using a band saw and most of the equipment in his studio I can help out now when I want a run of Viking Knit paddles made. 

It's not actually one of those easy little things to make.  They need to fit your hand in a size that can accommodate pulling the finished wire through.  They are made of maple (a hard maple variety) so they will last and the holes won't distort yet it won't scrape the precious wire braid - I've been using the same one for 15 years.  Maple is great closed grain kind of wood that doesn't splinter easily.  Who wants splinters of Oak or Ash in their hands....not me! After that wood is bought and lugged home it has to be ripped, the pattern drawn on, recut, sanded on both the sides and flat, drilled, and routed.  Doing a single paddle - well - it would be quite the chore.  I guess this is why Henry Ford made a production line!  It doesn't make it easier but at least you get more paddles and if you are setting up to do one paddle you might as well make dozens.

And since we don't want them to split and get yucky we use the same sawyer for the wood that we've used for the toys.  It's kiln dried to perfection.  As a side note I'm so sorry to say they are closing.  I'm so bummed about that.  We bought all the remaining boards of this kind they had and will go back next week and get some wood for other projects I would like to do. 

So here we go - The making of a Viking Knit Paddle.  Or at least the beginning......

Buy the boards and bring them home.  In this state they are called 8/4 boards - too wide and too thick to use so it's on to the next step.

The 8/4 boards get ripped down on the table saw into a useable size.

 The 8/4 boards are thick enough to get three thicknesses of paddles so they are ripped into the right size width wise and them re-sawn (ripped) for the appropriate thickness.
One pass done on the table saw.and one to go for the three smaller boards.
Once the right size board is made it's back to the drawing board for the paddle pattern to go on and then it's on to the second saw - this time each one has to be cut out at the band saw.  Tedious work but worth it for a good paddle.

What a process, huh?  I told you it looks deceiving...just a simple looking piece of wood with holes.  There's more to come and when I have photos I'll get them up.  I kind of covet my paddle - USA made with love and care to the process.  Woot woot!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Antique finds for some jewelry

While we were in NC I stopped by plenty of galleries, antiques stores, and flea markets.  These were all found in different places.  One shop was a wealth of coins and old chandelier parts.  I regret not buying a large jailers key I saw.  They had a basket full of those (about 5-8 inches long and heavy!).  There was also an interesting basket of old lead bullets shot during the civil war.  They were incredible and I just couldn't think of when I'd get to designing a setting so I didn't get any - but should have.  There were boxes and boxes of these old photos but these two just tickled me - and I could have chosen dozens more.  So, my haul was limited to two crystal pieces which I was going to use the tops for some large mixed up earrings - the coins (soviet in nature - I think), the photos which I should scan and reprint before using them, and an old Trifari necklace which I was going to cannibalize for earring and necklace parts.  I could have come home with a suitcase full but was so trying hard to behave.  Currently I'm working on a small batch of earrings I'm calling "Summer Snipets".  As soon as they are assembled I'll get pictures for you. 

(((Hugs))) - Sharon

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pricing is always a problem...

Marina from Fancilful Devices recommended a post from Penny at Sparrow Salvage about pricing your work.  Actually...it has a lot to do with valuing yourself and your work.  It's an interesting and timely article.  I've quick linked Penny's blog so you can check it out for yourself....it makes sense.
I also found this on Etsy about Pricing Your Work.  It's a whole lot duller than Penny's post but also pertinent to the process.

It's just an issue that is never going to go away but it can be looked at and worked on from many different angles.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last NC thoughts...but no "new to me" house yet.

It's about time to head back to Michigan.  What a trip!  We packed as much stuff into the day as we could.  We looked at enough homes in enough towns to give me a serious headache.  The one good thing that came out of it is that we met a great realtor and I've a basic knowledge of the roadways.  I have to tell you one thing - as far as expressway driving goes it isn't that much different than driving in Detroit.  Asheville to the "suburbs" isn't much different than Detroit to the burbs...it's all via the highway.  There just isn't as MUCH traffic and it isn't at breakneck speeds. 

One of the last houses we looked at was in Hendersonville.  Nice town.  They've recently redone the downtown area and it has this great walkability.  Then there are the wonderful tables and chairs they have all over town so you can stop and rest.  That's such a wonderful thing. 

They also had the painted bear thing going on - they were cute.  I just had to take a picture of the one in front of the jewelry store and the Kilwin bear was just plain cute with his big ice cream cone.

 I couldn't believe this pile of silver plate in the antique store.  Anyone for fork bracelets?  I picked up a few things to play with and we visited a couple of great galleries in town (sorry, they really don't like photos in those places and I'd of loved to have shared some of the eye candy!)

Our last stop on the way back to the kids was in Asheville.  We had one last house to check out and decided to stop and eat.  I had seen this restaurant on a drive through town the other day - Farm Burger.  The place was a WOW.  It was grass-fed, antibiotic free beef - freshly ground.  Holey mother of angus cow!  It was hands down the best burger I have ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of burger in my day.  So, if you're ever around the Asheville area I'd say stop and enjoy one.  And don't forget to get the hand cut fries either

Tomorrow it's adios to the kids and a long drive back.  Today we did one last trip into Asheville to see the Southern Highland Guild Show at the Cellular Center.  Cool Show.  It was also like a perennial favorite of mine - Ann Arbor (The Original Art Fair).  They are know as the Ann Arbor Art Fairs because they are four shows all wrapped up in one.  They run simultaneously and side by side in the town streets.  The most highly juried show is the "Original" and that is what the show at the cellular center reminded me of.  Great fun and more eye candy.  It made me lonely for my bench.  And next week I'll be lonely for this set of kids again too.  You can't win when they grow up and move away for work....it's beyond your control.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mellow Mushroom = Mellow Artist

Tonight we drove to look at some houses in Hendersonville and then drove into Asheville for dinner.  We chose to have a pizza and a great pizza it was.  And such a plus for me - a completely interesting restaurant called Mellow Mushroom.  The d├ęcor is like Outsider Art but not as outsider - funky and mixed throughout the restaurant both inside and out   My eyes were on "eye candy" overtime and I didn't calm until the pizza was delivered.  I loved the fennel flavor of the sauce for dipping the French bread.  It was outstanding and probably the best I've ever tasted.  And then, later, when the pizza arrived it's crust was sublime - yeasty and chewy.  I got the biggest kick out of the old bowling balls that were cemented into the stone walls around the restaurant and the leg lamp tickled me.  Fun to look around and eat great pizza - I'm in! Food for soul and body --- -- --- - you simply can not go wrong.

The view from out booth was as fun as it gets -

Great color inside the restaurant - you now what a freak I am about a color wheel.  And the light bulb changed colors too.

This is the outside of the restaurant - See the bowling balls mixed into the stone walls - genius!

And the inside gets an A+ for casual funky and especially nice servers.
Tomorrow we'll be checking out Hendersonville, it's below Asheville but my friend reassures me that it is totally artsy and fun.  Our realtor found a house we'd like to look at down there so hopefully it will happen.  Gosh, I never knew what a possible move might entail - it's both exciting and exasperating.  And then my head occasionally goes haywire.  In truth I look like the guy in the AT&T commercial who puts his hands up to his to indicate an explosion.....yup, that is how it feels.  Whoa, and that doesn't even begin to cover the emotions all of this cover.  Crap. 
This is the point where I need a magic wand to wave after my Fairy Godmother, Buddha, the heavens and maybe the good Lord step right down and say, "Hey lookie here Sharon - it's the right thing to do - just wave the wand and everything is going to be A-Ok from this point on.  No worries, just art and success, and a happy family - but spread apart family."  So good Lord if you are reading this blog and you'd like to step up between all the big things you have to do and give me some reassuring signs I think I could handle it.  Oh hell - I'd most certainly welcome it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Restoration for body and soul...

                      On a little vacation so I'm absent from the blog but here is what I've seen:

The view from our kids porch into the farm they just bought - that's their barn and soon they'll move the horses and the chickens there too.

A cute little house we saw while looking at property in Asheville - I love the musical notes!

One of the many streets in Black Mountain - what a cool town.  We ran into Gabby Gifford who was also in town and walking with friends (my side door to fame moment).

The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the many areas of the Western North Carolina Farmers Market
Well, that's it for now.  Just wanted to clue you in as to what I've been up to for a while.  Am I thinking about jewelry?  YOU BET!  I've seen jewelry everywhere....and lots of it.  There were at least four galleries in Black Mountain and I haven't even begun to dig in on the Asheville trips but I will.  And, of course, I'm gathering lots of info to share with everyone.  Hugs to everyone.

Monday, July 1, 2013