Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress Again

Ron didn't get pouches trimmed Thursday or Friday.

On the other hand, the MuseCon grid build that was scheduled for Saturday didn't happen, so I stayed home and worked on hard pouches, which Ron trimmed Saturday morning.  I had a stack of, IIRC, 13 of them, and now I have 8 that need to have the lacing done, 2 "hanging" ones that I know won't get done for Military History Fest so I didn't even bother with, and 3 that are on hold until I get more hardware - on Saturday I used up the dee rings I put on the backs of pouches that can be worn as sporrans. But I have all the parts made and holes punched, and catching those two pouches up to the other 8 will only take a few minutes/rivets.

Yesterday morning we made hangers for the latest batch of amphora bottles, put together the parts for ball-shaped bottles, and a few for bottles Robin had stashed. After lunch Ron made chainmail bracelets, and I figured out how much the books I've made cost, and decided how much to charge for them. I also finished the last step of putting binding and latches on the flaps three of the machine-sewn soft pouches. 

I also finished one pouch that's been mostly-done for almost a week, and started lacing up some of the hard pouches I was working on Saturday. 

This morning I ordered truly Stupid Amounts of the dee rings I ran out of on Saturday - 400 of them. They're on sale for about half the normal price, and using 2/pouch for all but the smallest couple pouch sizes makes that a not-insane purchase. 200 of the swivels I put on tails is slightly more questionable, but they were also on sale. I also ordered a few jingle bells and, a few buckles my notes said we needed. 

Then I ordered even more hardware - rivets, snaps, studs, and a bunch of latches. I don't think I ordered stupid amounts of any of those, but we were almost or completely out of antique nickel (gunmetal color) rotary and swing latches in each size of each, and small antique brass rotary latches, so it just all added up. 

Still need to get the inventory updated in the point of sale software, and tags made and onto things. Not sure what the best method of putting price tags on books will be, I don't want to stick stickers on them. Also need to figure out what size tags we're putting on chainmail - the biggish tags we're currently using and printing stickers for, which are about the size of half a business card, or smaller ones that I still have a stash of.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Weekday Stall

So, after Monday's optimistic post, things have stalled. Between various meetings, appointments, etc, getting much done during the week is problematic.  I haven't even finished the purse that I could/should have. This morning I didn't bother with it, I grabbed my knitting instead.

On the other hand, Ron placed an order with Blue Buddha Boutique, and will be fetching it this afternoon/evening, for items he can reasonably expect to have done in time for Military History Fest. And in the next couple days I expect we'll be ordering some more supplies from The Ringlord (rings) and Fire Mountain Gems (glass beads and other findings). Also, sushi for dinner last night is not something to complain about.

Hopefully Ron will be home in time to trim the edges on some of the hard pouches for me.  I don't expect to get them all done in the next week, but I think I know which ones are on the short list.  And I need to get him to make the hangers for the recent batch of amphora bottles, and assemble parts for the red (and clear) spherical bottles.  Which one of us then has to sew on to said bottles. Plus I have a whole order of tails than need swivels.  And inventory needs to be updated. 

Yeah, more things to do than time to do them in. Dratted day-job. This would be easier if we were wealthy enough to just do Otter Necessities full-time. 

My left wrist is definitely better than it was Sunday. I'm hoping that the main problem was sleeping funny, and I've been careful with it the last few nights. 

Started getting the content for the program book for the floodplain managers' conference in March.  I'm waffling about making some changes to the fonts used, to switch to one or two that I've purchased since then, or sticking with not broke/don't fix. It would probably help to double-check to see what I used last year, wouldin't it?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Working on Leather, Finally

Thursday morning I went to Champaign for work, and came home Friday night. I took Amtrak, and because of the combination of Amtrak and Metra (the regional commuter rail lines), I didn't get home until 11:30. Except I didn't get off at our "home" station, I went a stop farther to Barrington, walked a block or so to an McGonigal's, an Irish pub, and caught The Tooles' last set (The Tooles is an Irish pub band), got something to eat, and had more hard cider in less than an hour than was probably wise.

Which is why we slept in fairly late Saturday, and when Ron went to a Capricon meeting I took a nap.  I did, however, update the MuseCon flyers, but forgot one of the Special Guests I was supposed to add. That was my accomplishment for the day.

Yesterday I went through the hard pouch fronts we had molded, a dozen of them, decided what color they'd be and what color the backs would be, made a list, and started laying out backs for Ron to cut out with the Universal Mangler. And made an extra back. I got Robin to do the dyeing with the airbrush, since he's a southern yeti vampire, so he didn't get cold.  I also got all the marking and hole punching done on the backs and flaps for lacing around the flap edges and attaching the belt loops.

Today I put latches on the flaps (including the spare), and glued 13 together (the dozen plus one that I'd previously gotton to that point. Which is rather a lot of work, since 4 of the pouches have 2 latches each. 

This is a stack of 5 large hard squares:

From left to right is a couple flaps for hanging pouches, and the spare back/flap, 4 small 4"x6" hard rectangles, and 2 shields on top of two medium squares:

Then I finished the skirt hikes I started a couple/few months ago:

23 of them - 8 large to take to events, 9 large to list on Etsy (3 singles and 3 pairs), and 6 small to list on Etsy (2 singles and 2 pairs). Plus a bored Pippin. 

Here's a comparison of small and large skirt hikes:
Small are about 8" long overall, large about 8-3/4" long. Small use 1-1/4" inner diameter rings, large use 2" inner diameter rings. 

And now, some gratuitous dog pictures, taken after I took pictures of skirt hikes:
Disapproving Pippin disapproves.

Pippin photobombs Elrond, and then tells me about it (he's between barks)

Elrond is sad and tragic, because the workmate made it hard to get up on the couch.

This evening, with Ron's help, I put a bunch of tools and things that had migated out to the living room yesterday and today back away, and listed the skirt hikes on Etsy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Weekend Recap #2 - All the Natter

Last night's post was pretty sparse on words, so we'll make up for that today.

Ron's rapidly working through the batch of rings we got last weekend at Blue Buddha to make Elfweave bracelets. But we're expecting the rings to make owls to arrive tonight, so he'll have those to work on. 

Got pretty much nothing in the way of leatherworking done this weekend, just trimming some pouch fronts that are drying on the molds.

Last week I got my order of bookbinding supplies and tools: A sturdier awl for making sewing holes (circular cross-section, all our leather sewing awls have a diamond cross-section), linen tape/ribbon for sewing multi-section books onto, reinforcing material for book spines, a couple pieces of black book cloth, a swatch set for one type of book cloth (I figured it was safe to order black without having seen a swatch), and a piece of decorative paper that's red with fancy fish on it in gold and black.  That order came from Ann Arbor, MI; and I also got my sewing frame from California.

Friday night after dinner we stopped at Menard's for sand bags for the back of the newer truck, and I picked up a 3" paint roller and small tray for gluing - a brush works for small areas, but not as well for anything over, say, 2" x 2". The roller was not my idea, I got the recommendation from YouTube video and a book on bookbinding. I also got a small plastic rafter square to keep with the paper cutter. 

Saturday morning I finally got around to cutting the board to size that Ron had reduced to manageable pieces with the Universal Mangler the week before.  I got the square because we've been having trouble making square cuts. I'd assumed the problem was that the (magnetic) fence which goes parallel to the blade was too easy to knock out of square with the backstop which is (supposed to be) perpendicular to the blade, because the fence is relatively narrow. But I started out checking that the backstop is square to the blade.

Fail. Fail fail fail. It also obviously (once you look at/for it) isn't square to the grid on the bed of the cutter, which I'm kicking myself for not noticing. Fortunately, it looks like we should be able to fix the backstop, possibly after enlarging a bolt hole with Comrade Dremel. 

I'm not sure the grid is perfectly square to the blade, but it is pretty close - at least as close as I can come without a fixed and reliably square backstop. So I cut my board using the grid and my eyeballs - I'd laid out all the cutting lines fully across the board, so I could also line them up with the blade mark in the plastic piece the blade comes down into.  And I also discovered that the blade guard/clamp isn't straight, so it isn't a safe/reliable indicator of cut location. This, children, is what comes of buying an inexpensive paper cutter. 

I also cut pages for the red and brown Japanese-style book on Sunday. The results of this weekends cutting were, unsurprisingly, much better than the cutting done using the not-square backstop. Not perfect, but a decided improvement.

Saturday evening I covered the boards for the books I finished yesterday. I thought I was being clever by mitering the corners before I had the boards glued down. Fail. It was OK on the red/brown book, but I'd mis-measured somewhere for the blue book, which ended up effectively having the corners trimmed too close, so there's corners not quite covered. Growf.

OTOH, using the roller made gluing much quicker/easier. It probably results in more waste glue with what's left in the roller and the tray, but that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.  

Sunday morning I did the Illinois sales tax return. As usual, I ended up ranting and swearing in the process. Most of which was over a rounding issue - rounding everything to the nearest dollar and then summing up does not necessarily give the same answer as rounding at the end. The Wisconsin on-line filing system was down all weekend, so I need to do that today or tomorrow, which should be straightforward, particularly as we only did one event in Wisconsin. 

Sunday midday/early afternoon Ron and I did errands, including a stop at Dick Blick, where I got a quart of PVA glue (the 4-ounce-ish bottle I started with is going fast, especially using the roller), Ron decided I should go ahead and get a heavy-duty bookbinding awl, and Ron got a utility/storage box for finished chainmail. After lunch we stopped at Michaels and Ron got a couple black velvet-covered bracelet display bars.  

In the afternoon/evening I sewed the books together, and finished putting a batch of sporrans and belt satchels that I took pictures of last weekend up for sale on Etsy.  And did the previous blog entry.

Last night I ordered paper for book interiors. In the morning I determined that most (if not all) of French Paper Company's products are acid-free, so I stuck with them (I've also bought paper for letterpress printing from French). They're not exactly local to us now, but is to where I grew up. Its a thing. I got Pachtone in "Natural" - cream-colored artificial parchment, slightly mottled; and Dur-O-Tone "Butcher Extra White", which is a slightly glossy white. It was surprisingly hard to pick a white and an off-white. I got a ream of each, a ream doesn't exactly last a long time when making books, and the price/sheet is a lot better for a ream than 50 sheets.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Pouch, Chainmail, and Books

Friday I finised up one of the pouches I posted a picture of while underway a week or so ago:

Ron's been making more bracelets:

These are all more of the "elfweave" pattern.

And I finished two more books with Japanese-style sewn bindings:

The red/brown has about 4-1/4" x 11" pages, and the turquoise one has about 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" pages (including the parts inside the binding). The red/brown book has orange pages at the beginning/end, the rest are off-white.

My sewing frame arrived, now I need to figure out what I want type of book I want to make with the type of sewn binding that uses it. And probably order some paper tomorrow, for the interior. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chainmail, Books, and Leather

I finished up the hard cover book with the marbled red and brown book cloth cover, after blogging yesterday:

I even managed leave it undisturbed alllll day long yesterday, even though it probably would have been fine to take a look last night.  

The endpapers are orange, which I think goes with the orange in the cover, and the pages are the generic cream paper:

No, I didn't bother with a picture of the interior, I figure a picture of the orange is dull enough.

After that, I put the bookbinding aside and worked on leather. I flailed around some, with a pile of hard pouch fronts, and another of hard pouch backs, and lists of what I needed.  In the end I didn't worry about getting Robin to dye anything, and decided to just have Ron wax all the fronts as they were. 

Then I laid out hard pouch fronts on a half-cow, for Ron to hack apart with the Universal Mangler. He cut faster than I laid out, power tools for the win.  Four of the pouch fronts were soaked for molding, and the rest set aside.

Then I started working on a couple pouches I'd cut out a couple/few weeks ago. They have gussets that are hand-stitched, and laced flaps. By dinner time I had the belt loops on, latches on, flaps ready to lace, and the gussets glued and held together with plenty of binder clips.  I probably could have achieved more yesterday, but leather wasn't what I really wanted to be working on (books were). 

While I was working on leather, Ron worked on chainmail and then waxed pouches. Here's the bracelet he made, in the "Elfweave" pattern by Rebeca Mojica of Blue Buddha Boutique, in royal blue, purple, turquoise, and bright aluminum:
After dinner we molded pouches and then I laid out covers for two more Japanese-style books on the binder's board. Ron had experimented with the Universal Mangler on scrap, and determined it would work. It leaves a ridge on one cut edge, but Ron has to freehand cuts with it, so I'd already assumed any Universal Mangler cuts would only be rough, and require trimming. I didn't get ustairs to do the final cutting, but maybe tonight. I also got pages folded to go with the paper I got at Jo-Ann on Saturday. 

Tonight Ron finished another Elfweave bracelet, in red and hematite-colored aluminum, and brass:
Both this one and the blue/purple/silver one are for sale, in the $45-ish neighborhood.

While he was finishing up the bracelet, I packed up an Etsy order we got last night, and got the pouches I worked on yesterday ready to lace and sew:
One will be done in black, the other in dark brown. The only difference in the two at the moment is the grain pattern, so I just grabbed one to take a picture of. The flaps are laced, the bodies are hand-stitched.

I also took pictures of a bunch of soft sewn pouches, so I can list them on Etsy, as well as post them to the gallery on the website.  And I need to make a chainmail section on the gallery and get pictures uploaded there. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Did I Mention Books? Plus Chainmail

Friday night we went to Dick Blick and Hobby Lobby for various things, and some decorative paper followed me home.  I started a couple books with it, but didn't get them done by bedtime.

Yesterday morning we made a trip into the city to Blue Buddha Boutique for chainmail supplies. Ron got a bunch of rings to do "Elfweave" bracelets, like this one he made for me:

We got red, royal blue, teal, hematite, purple, and green andodized aluminum, bright aluminum, and brass rings, plus brass and silver-toned catches. 

Checked on the supplies for chainmail owls, they appear to have shipped yesterday from Ontario.

After shopping, we went to lunch at a Thai place, Summer's Noodles and Rice, two doors down. After we started eating our lunches, which were noodles in a curry sauce, very similar to the Kow Soy that we get at Basai Thai in Oakbrook, we ordered another to take home to Robin. So now we have two reasons to go into the city (Edgewater neighborhood, IIRC). 

Got home, Ron started sorting rings, and I worked on the hard-cover book I started last weekend (some steps require overnight drying). I got the covers covered, and then put it aside to dry again. Here it is this morning:
The marbled red is painfully expensive paper, and the dark brown is book cloth fabric. 

Then we ran out again to Jo-Ann for more little bins for Ron to sort rings. And a couple more pieces of paper followed me home. 

Got home, had dinner, practiced guitar and banjo, and then I finished up the booklets I started Friday:

They've got 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" pages. The black and white one is sewn with black thread, and has black endpapers and white pages. The other is sewn with dark brown thread, and has dark brown endpapers and cream pages. 

Last night I ordered a few things from Hollander's, a store with lots of bookbinding supplies in Ann Arbor. I got a sample set of one of the types of book cloth they carry, a couple pieces of black, because as tired I get of black, it is a useful utilitarian color, a piece of decorative paper, which was both larger and less expensive than the marbled red paper from Dick Blick, and a couple-few other things. 

This morning I did the final assembly on the red and brown book, which was gluing the interior to the cover. Now its drying under weights.  Ron's been experimenting on cover board with the universal mangler. It isn't perfect, but I think it will be better than trying to cut it by hand with a utility knife. 

In the plans for today are working on pouches, and Ron wants to work on elfweave bracelets.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yet More Books

I seem to be on a book binge.  Guilty guilty guilty.

When I posted on Monday I said I was hoping to get to Dick Blick for board for hard covers, which I did. I also got marbled paper to use instead of the map of Rome, and dark brown book cloth to go with it. And some turquoise blue book cloth to go with flowered Japanese-ish paper I'd picked up at Papersource, a paper crafty store at Deer Park. And another exacto knife handle, and a box of #11 blades, and a small pair of sharp scissors, and some cheap brushes to use for glue, and a box to keep it all in.  

I did order myself a sewing frame, and now am impatiently awaiting it. 

And then I realized that I didn't have any paper that would go nicely with the red marbled and brown book cloth, to make endpapers out of, that wasn't too heavy. Fortunately, I escaped from the office early enough on Wednesday to get to Papersource before they closed (early, and were closed yesterday). Where I got the paper I wanted, plus another sheet of fancy paper, and coordinating book cloth. My excuse is that the fancy paper and book cloth were both half off.  

Wednesday night I took the binder's board up to the big paper cutter, and discovered that it was too wide.  Grumble grumble grumble. Cutting it with an exacto knife was not fun.  And then I discovered the remaining large piece was still too big for the shear. Grumble grumble grumble. A proper Stanley knife worked better. So I did get the boards cut for two books, after putting away letterpress blocks. I also cut paper for book pages.

Went downstairs, started covering the boards with the turquoise book cloth, and discovered I'd cut the boards an inch too small in one direction for the pages I'd cut. I decided to make new pages to fit the cover, and carried on.  So now I have to cut another set of boards to fit a set of pages. I've had an idea to make that easier - get Ron to rough-cut the board down with the Universal Mangler, then trim it on the shear. We were going to try that yesterday, but didn't get that far.

I did get the inch-too-small book done:
It is a Japanese-style binding, where you sew through the cover and pages. Besides the size issue there were several others that jump right out at me, but I've decided not to list them.  
The finished page size, including the part sewn into the binding, is 5-1/2" tall, and 7-1/2" wide. IIRC there's 40 sheets in it. I was originally thinking of making the patterned paper the outeside, but I wanted the book cloth for flexibility. Now that it's done, I like the plain outside with patterned endsheets. It's kind of, oh Ghu, this sounds so pretentiously artsy-fartsy, a surprise for the user to open it up and find the fancy paper.  

So now I need to go back to Dick Blick and (hopefully) get another roll of turquoise book cloth to make the book this one was supposed to be, which will have pale turquoise pages. May do that tonight, or on the way home tomorrow.

Worked on the interior of another hard-backed book a little bit yesterday, no pictures yet, since there's not much to see at this point. 

And then I did two more little booklets, out of the map of Rome paper:
This time I paid more attention, and have the map grid square to the books, and words right-side-up on one side.

Both have more of the generic off-white paper for the pages. I had an issue cutting it, so the pages are 5" (instead of 5-1/2") tall by 4-1/4" wide. End sheets are light olive cardstock.
And the backs. The blue behind them are the sheets that were supposed to be for the blue hardback book I finished yesterday.  I turned these two out fairly quickly, I've gotten to the point where I know what I'm doing with these little booklets, and the only issue is some see-through in the light-colored areas on the one on the left above.

Yeah, I'll have books for sale at Military History Fest. Ron has reassured me that they're good enough to ofer for sale.