Sharpenatrix upgrade

My Sharpenatrix was working well enough but having to tighten the screws holding the blade each time was a bit annoying. So I bought some stainless-steel non-magnetic screws and a bunch of neodymium magnets to play with. And some of those magnets were small cylindrical magnets with a screw, and those were ideal for a quick upgrade of the Sharpenatrix.

Here is a composite picture of the upgraded thingy.

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

I screwed three magnets into the end of a 5 mm strip of aluminum, glued on it another strip to make a continuous plane with the magnetic side of the magnets and I used the non-magnetic screw to make an end-stop to lean the back of the blade against. Spanning the blade is now a matter of seconds and whilst the magnets do not hold it extremely strongly, they do hold it strong enough to keep the constant angle during sharpening. And they allow me to adjust the blade position slightly and quickly, giving me greater versatility.

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

The screw can be adjusted to the thickness of the blade but its purpose is not to hold the blade firmly – that is done solely by the magnets – but to avoid levering/twisting the blade off the magnets when I lean it against the belt. The side with the screw is now significantly thinner than the side with the magnets, which allows me to sharpen at a constant angle blades that were too narrow for the previous version.

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

I have not actually tested it yet, I do not have any knives that need sharpening right now but I see no reason why it should not work.

I have also bought 500 5x5x5 neodymium magnets for making more sophistimacated magnetic chucks in due course.

Strawberry Chips

It is the Time of Strawberries again and I am spending several hours daily picking, sorting, and processing strawberries.

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

However, since we still did not eat half! of the various strawberry, figs, and other jams and marmalades that we made last year, I have decided to try and use the fruit dehumidifier on them.

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

I was worried a bit they will lose aroma and/or color, but neither happened. They are still bright red (that might still change over time) and very aromatic. Enclosed in jars they should hold for years in our cool dark cellar. And unlike marmalade – which is way too sweet for me to eat regularly – I can add them to my breakfast yogurt together with other dried fruits from our garden (prunes and apples) almost daily without adverse effects, so they should disappear over time hopefully quicker than the marmalade (which we cannot manage to give away, let alone eat). Even running 24/7 at 60°C, the dehumidifier cannot manage to dry all strawberries that I gather daily and the smaller and unseemly fruits still have to go into marmalade, which thus will continue to accumulate. Next year I will plow over some of the strawberry patches, this is simply too much.

Blast it. I wish that more useful and edible foodstuffs grew here as well as strawberries and walnuts. I had no luck with sweet corn or red beets this year, most seeds did not even germinate. With garlic and onions, I had zero luck for several years too. And this year’s pole beans were partially destroyed by voles and partly by the too-harsh sun (although I still have enough plants to hope for a reasonable harvest), and my only apple tree appears to be dying from water vole damage. And those little fuckers ate all of my tulips as well, so I did not even have pretty flowers in the spring. I still had no luck in finding a remedy that works on these pests.

Rediscovering Pen and Paper RPGs

Picture of several colourful dice

By Diacritica – Wikimedia Commons

In my 20s and 30s, I loved playing pen and paper. We had a really great group of friends, and even after the kids were born, we simply kept playing at my place, putting the kids to be in between looting and adventuring. Somehow life got in the way, two members of the group had a fall out, our group kinda died in the middle of the campaign. I’m not sure if my kids remember those gaming session or simply grew up with a steady tale of them, but they’ve been bothering me for a long time, asking to play some adventures.

In the end I recruited my two other friends and last week we had our first gaming session. Oh boy, that was fun. Since none of them ever played any pen and paper, I dmed, not my favourite thing, but since they’re also completely newbies in the world of The Dark Eye (Germans don’t play DnD, we play DSA), I also created a character to go with them, thus “giving birth” to “Salida de Emergencia*”, a priestess of the goddess of wisdom and magic, to give them some background information and also to get the roleplay going. If it comes to the last, she can also always disperse a bit DM wisdom, but that’s something I’d like to avoid.

I really had forgotten how much fun it can be, especially with completely green characters being played by completely green players. For one, the group is badly balanced. Neither of them carries an actual sword or has decent fighting skills. One of them, our nimble elf, carries a smallsword, which she kept losing by rolling 20s (in that system, 20 means failure). In the end, she resorted to wrestling with the Rodents of Unusual Size in a lot of bat shit. The archer kept missing, of course, because when you’re a starter character you have a 50/50 chance. Now the rest of them is suspicious of her because they barely survived the final fight while she was unharmed. Oh, and the mage didn’t learn the spells, so magic was not used at all. Playing by the rules, we would all start the next session by making new characters because these would be dead.

However, the good thing about playing together is that you can say “fuck the rules”. The combat rules are too complicated anyway. There may be people who do keep track on whether somebody is wounded, exhausted, their exact distance from the opponent. I have enough trouble keeping track of which bandit is dead and which is alive and killing which hero. I firmly believe that the rules should serve the game, not vice versa, so I’ll apply bonus and malus with some common sense. If the players also developed some of it, we might actually make it. ;)

*That character has been waiting in the back of my mind for a long time, ever since my beloved saw a sign saying “Salida” (exit) in Spain and remarked that it would be a nice girl’s name.

A New Knife Blogge

I got a small commission and I have decided to make a series of blog posts about it. It will repeat a lot of the same things that were already said in my series Making Kitchen Knives and subsequent projects, streamlined and with as little technical jargon as possible. That is why I have decided to not publish it on FtB and I have started a blog on my website specifically for this series and it will be published there both in CZ and EN. If you are interested in reading it anyway, come over there, my website could use some traffic at least. I have not figured out how to add comments yet, I might need to use Disqus for that and I haven’t used Disqus for several years now and I forgot how to implement it. The service provider only offers implementation of Facebook comments and I ain’t got Facebook and I ain’t planning on getting it. I do, however, have a Twitter account and I will tweet my articles there. So if you are interested in being notified about them, follow me on Twitter.

I will continue to post my art projects, including knife-making projects, on Affinity too, but I think I do not need to repeat myself about the manufacturing process so I will only post here genuinely new things.

Creative Fun: Painting Ceramics

This is the little one’s fault (yeah, the little one. Almost as tall as me). She saw something like this on the net and asked if there was a place near where you can paint your own ceramics. I found one and invited the kids for Easter. While I dislike making huge presents for Easter, you can basically always get me to spend money on making memories. If there’s a place like that near you and you have kids ages 5 to 99 who enjoy creative stuff, I can only recommend. The nice thing is that since it’s professionally fired in a kiln, you get lasting designs, not like with other paint on techniques.

So, here’s what we did:

Various ceramic items, see individual desription with the other pics.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A small jug with dotted flowers.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A green, white and brown tile with a kitty face

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A small ceramic owl figure

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The little one’s haul: lots of dots there. And a kitty, because she loves cats.

A rectangular tray with a sakura tree

©Giliell, all rights reserved

#1 worked painstakingly on her Sakura blossom tree. The picture doesn’t do it justice, since it doesn’t show the many layers.

Well, and what did I do?

Big mug in green and blue with the character Totoro

©Giliell, all rights reserved

View into the mug: a studio Ghibli dustbunny

©Giliell, all rights reserved

My new favourite mug. I love, love, love Totoro. It’s such a wonderful movie and I identify with Totoro: We’re both fat, grey haired and love naps, children and gardening.

I also did a plate which turned out completely different than planned.

A plate in deep blues and greens with a white geometric whale pattern

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The place offers you a lot of materials, like stencils, and also an introduction: you can always paint dark on light colours, but not vice versa. When fired in the kiln, they turn transparent and the dark colour underneath comes through. What I wanted to do was to use a mandala stencil to add a geometric pattern in black and then paint the spaces in between with vibrant colours. Buuuuut, well, with the curve of the plate and the clumsiness of the artist the black colour ran and smudged. If you look closely above the whale, you can see it shine through. I needed to save it and painted layers upon layers, smudging the black, drawing it out, creating a deep sea and the scratching out the whale with the help of another stencil. It turned out nice and I’ll try to create the other plate another time.

The Gardening: Almost Done!

We finished putting up the greenhouse and started to fill it:

Front view of a small greenhouse

©Giliell, all rights reserved

3/4 view of a small greenhouse

©Giliell, all rights reserved

As you can see, the foundations we found were a mixed blessing: The walls we had to put on top are huge. That’s 2 tons of concrete, they’re about 25-30 cm wide when 15-20 would have sufficed. People who know how to do that shit may be able to actually do that, we didn’t and we’re quite proud, considering that neither of us ever did anything like this. Putting up the house itself was pretty easy, all in all. Now it needs to be filled. I put down old concrete blocks in the middle to form a path, now I need to fill about 30 cm of ground. Because I want to plant tomatoes, and since tomatoes will suck the ground free of nutrients, I organised a load of horse dung from a colleague. Sorry that my tomatoes are no longer hardcore vegan. I already put in the first 5 cm or so on Sunday. I can tell you, shovelling horse dung into a greenhouse in 27°C  is not for people who enjoy breathing. Hopefully I’ll get the rest filled next weekend, so my poor tomatoes can finally move in, as well as the nice fig tree that I bought.

But do you know what the absolute best thing is about this whole project: I absolutely enjoy doing these things with my husband. Shovelling shit and pouring concrete may not be romantic, but working hand in hand on something for weeks and liking it, that’s compatibility.

Some Knives Again – Part 3

This is the second three-piece set from the second overabladeance that I have finished. It is what you might call “vegan” set, because there are no animal parts involved in this one, it is made purely from plant material – black locust and coconut shell.

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

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

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

It is more or less a direct, slightly simplified, follow-up of the experimental knife set. This time the surfaces are not oiled but sealed with epoxy and buffed, just like with the jatoba&bone set from yesterday.

I hope to be able to put all three sets on the shoppe tomorrow. More pictures are, again, on Instagram.

Some Knives Again – Part 2

In the second overabladeance were three tree-knives sets, two of which are finished now.

The first one is from jatoba and cow bone.

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

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

As is usual, the cow bone has had some pores that accrued the reddish dust from the jatoba during work despite my best efforts to seal the surface of the bone with epoxy before sanding and polishing the handles. At least that way it is clear that it is a real bone and not some synthetic substitute, I guess? The number etching on the chef knife is a bit smudged. I still do not know why it behaves wonky from time to time – on one and the same piece of steel it can happen that I etch one part crisply without problems and a few cm besides that it suddenly does not work properly.

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

Fitting the rounded bone pieces to the extremely hard jatoba wood was not exactly easy but I managed a reasonably good fit in all nine instances. On this set, I have infused the surfaces with resin, smoothed them with 600-grit paper, and then coated them with resin again. Only after that did I buff it. Thus the whole set has extremely hard surfaces and it is a bit shiny.

I do know that this whole set is suitable for like 99% of all imaginable kitchen works because it is based on an experimental knife set I wrote about previously which has been very thoroughly tested by now. I have used it to cut both veggies and meat, gut fish, and de-bone chicken and there was a knife in this set for all the tasks that I could think of. This set is slightly modified – the blades are pointer and they do not have round-heeled ricasso. I like rounded tips and round-heeled ricasso but I did not convince many people about the advantages of round tips on knives and blades without ricasso are easier to make.

Again, the set will be for sale in the shoppe sometime towards the end of the week and there are more pictures on Instagram.