What HAVE you been doing: an update

First of all, a profound sorry for being such a bad blog host recently. During the week I mostly just crash after coming home and then I put in some hours for chores and lesson planning and then I watch some senseless TV and then I crash again.

I also need to apologise to the people whose mail i still have here, all ready to go if only I could drag my ass to the post office…

School’s crazy right now. We were closed for a week on short notice, kids going missing, kids being found again, spending hours on the phone, exams, tests, colleagues collapsing in the staff room (it’s that time of the year. For some reason, that colleague always collapses in late spring, but is unable to just stay the fuck at home and call a doctor)… And now we get a week of break for pentecost and then  all kids are coming back and we all hate it.

At the weekends Mr and I have been very busy in the garden, which is my current delight, or would be, if the weather wasn’t what it is. It’s currently 7°C and raining, and it has been like this for weeks and it’s supposed to last for at least another two weeks. The cats tail is having a party… So yeah, I’m not a fun person right now…

Anyway, at least we finished the big project and I could now start the planting if I wasn’t at risk of drowning on dry land. But I’m really proud of what we built and it will look great once I do manage to plant stuff.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

That’s the whole slope finished, still with the plastic bags on top of the last row so it won’t wash away the concrete. The thing on the left is our to be torn down garage, I just hope they won’t completely ruin the garden when they do (in a couple of years). Those three windows you see at the top are my office, btw, so all your posts are coming from there.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

That’s just the top part. The lower terrace is already prepared for planting, by doing a good dig and mixing our sandy soil with (peat free) planting soil. The top part is still trampled flat. No wonder the cats tail is having a party: Nutrition poor compressed soil and the two weathers of “it’s raining” and “it’s about to rain”. I also did some first planting. The two top terraces will be a three sisters planting. The corn is ready and my mum promised me some more squash.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here’s a view downwards. Just for scale: each stone is about 20cm high, so you can get an idea about the height difference. Of all the squash I already planted only three survived and only one survived well..

I did manage to finish one small resin project. The problem is that it’s still too cold to work with epoxy, and it’s too light to work with the UV resin, as it cures before I can use it.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A little fairy garden. And I made some new friends:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Let’s just hope that summer will come, even though spring got cancelled and we can spend some time in the pool with them…


The Art of …

… the human form, by Roberto Ferri

Ferri is a modern-day Italian artist, who notes on his website that his work is,

Inspired by artists of the baroque in particular Caravaggio, and other ancient masters of Romanticism, Academicism and Symbolism of such as David, Ingres, Girodet, Gericault, Gleyre, Bouguereau, Moreau, Redon, Rops, and others. 

His works are already present in the world’s most important public and private collections

If you’re curious and would like to see more of Ferri’s work, the artist has a Website and Instagram account.

Untitled, Roberto Ferri. Image from Surrealistisch Blogspot.






Walter Sorrells has recently made a video about a sharpening tool for his belt grinder, which gave me an inspiration for finally making my own. I have been planning to do this for a long time, but watching that video helped me to solve the final piece of the puzzle.

Walter Sorrells is of course not only a much more experienced knifemaker than I am, but he is also much better equipped. So my project has all the hallmarks of my handmade tools – it is crude and made from scraps.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have started with a very rough sketch of the jaws and I have also spent some time calculating trying to establish various proportions whilst finding a compromise between stability (shorter arm is better) and consistent angle across the blade (longer arm is better).

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Here you can see it in full when finished. Jaws for holding the blade are mounted on a ca 40 cm long 10 mm stick with a ball on the lower end. The ball goes into a socket at the end of an arm that can slide forward and back with regard to the belt, thus adjusting the angle at which the edge leans on it.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The 10 mm steel rod is recycled from our old heating oven. The plastic ball at the end is an old furniture handle. All the wood is recycled from an old bed.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The jaws are made from 4mm mild steel and lined with 0.25 mm bronze held in place by means of double-sided adhesive tape. Near the tip of the jaws are two 5 mm pins that are screwed into the smaller jaw and slide into holes in the bigger jaw. They provide an end-stop to rest the blade against in order to fix it easier into the jaws and they also prevent them from wobbling.  The upper screw tightens the jaws and the lower one sets the distance between them, so I can vary it according to the blade that is being sharpened.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Originally, I have planned to make the socket from wood and I expected it to take a lot of time. But I got a brilliant idea during the work to use a lid from a fabric softener bottle. It cracked during work, but I still could attach it to the arm with a  screw and a large washer. After that, I have covered the screw head with a piece of PVC flooring and after some consideration, I have also added two hard gaskets to keep the ball centered and to provide ever so slight resistance to movement.

The sliding arm can be fixed in position with a fastening screw salvaged from some defunct kitchen appliance from a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away, from times when things were made to last.

When the weather allows it, I will give the thing a coating of grey paint so it looks slightly less amateurish and also to protect the wood from moisture. And I will mark a scale on the sliding arm so I do not need to bother with measuring the angle.

I do not expect this to save a lot of time. I already sharpen knives on the belt grinder and it does not take me more than about five-ten minutes per blade. But it will make the job a bit easier and the angle should definitively be more consistent, which is a plus. I am not one who is overly concerned with sharpening angle, I think that anything between 15° and 25° works just fine for most knives, but consistency does have an influence on the durability of the edge. For example, the N690 steel that I am using for most of my knives allegedly should not be sharpened at a too steep angle (below 15°) because then it tends to chip and break. With this tool, I can at least be definitively sure that I won’t go any lower than that.

We shall see how it works. I do have a lot of knives that need sharpening.

Jack’s Walk – Jack Comes Home and Marcus Makes Fine Art

That’s My Buoy. Jack is home ©voyager, all rights reserved.

As you can see above, Jack is home. We had him cremated, and he now lives above our fireplace with my other dog, Lucy. This photo is a special outing to the backyard for a final few pictures beside his favourite buoy toy, which he found and proudly carried home all by himself.
This will also be the final time I post a Jack’s Walk, and that’s been difficult to wrap my head around, but I have one last Jack story to share. That, of course, is the completion of Project Bubbapaw (Jack’s Walk) (Stderr)(Stderr), an artistic endeavour of Marcus’ to make a resin copy of Jack’s foot.

Lovely, custom made felt protectors. Such attention to detail! ©voyager, all rights reserved.

Well, about a month after Jack died, I received a package from Marcus with the resulting sculpture. And It’s an incredible work of art that has quickly become very precious to me. I apologize for taking so long to show all of you, but I wanted to keep it private for a while. Now, I’m ready to share, and so, Ta-Da, here is the polished, resin-bronze foot created by Marcus from Jack’s pawprint.

Oh My! It’s Bubba in Bronze. Art by Marcus Ranum. ©voyager, all rights reserved.

It’s very detailed, although my photos don’t really show it, but it’s remarkable. It looks just like bronzed baby shoes, only better because this is my baby’s actual footprint. Every nub, scar, crook and crevice are there, and it feels comfortably familiar when I rub my thumb across it.

Sorry about the harsh lighting, but I wanted you to see the detail. Art by Marcus Ranum. ©voyager, all rights reserved.

When we talked about making this sculpture, Marcus suggested he might use a bit of sand and sea glass, so I sent a bit of both along with the molded print that Jack and I made at home. I was a bit disappointed not to see them. Then, I opened the second envelope, and my heart stopped for a moment. Marcus had used the sand and glass to make a second pawprint in clear resin.

This is genuinely my Jack. Happily roaming at the beach. Art by Marcus Ranum. ©voyager, all rights reserved.

This piece is even more beautiful than the first. It’s a memory capsule with Jack’s footprint in the sand from his favourite Perce beach (which I keep in a jar on my desk), along with bits of sea glass and shells that I’d found while walking with him.

Together on North Beach, Perce. Sand, shells, glass and Jack. Art by Marcus Ranum.  ©voyager, all rights reserved.

These photos don’t do it justice. I couldn’t capture the shine in the sand nor the subtle colours in the glass. I do have one photograph of it, though, that isn’t perfect, but is my favourite way to view it, and that’s through my window in the morning when I rise.

That’s my Boy. Jack is home. Art by Marcus Ranum. ©voyager, all rights reserved.



Marcus, my friend, thank you. I know you understand how precious these pieces are to me. Thine Art is Great, and so are you. Fabulous, in fact.