I Probably Won’t Do This Again…

After a month of work, I am finally at a phase where I have something to show for it. The kitchen knives are in the tumbler for the second day now, tomorrow I shall check if they are ready or not. But it need not hurry, I have enough to work with – eight fully polished blades.

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

Today I have etched the logos and numbers on these because it is easier to do on a naked blade than on a finished knife. Now I can finally work on finishing at least some of these into final products while the kitchen knives tumble.

Working in bulk does save significant time and even resources, but 18 blades in one go was a bit too much. I am going to reduce the batches to 8-12 in size. That way it should keep its savings, but the polishing hell will not be that long. Polishing is extremely onerous and unrewarding work because one keeps doing the same thing day after day, working through the row of belts with very slow progress. With one knife, it is one-two days of a boring slog. With eighteen knives, it was three weeks – and one of them got broke and nine only to 120 grit before going into the tumbler, if not for that, it would be even longer.

These are not perfect, some of them have serious problems regarding symmetry, although only in one case it is visible with the naked eye. On all of them is it visible with calipers. I am starting to doubt that I will ever do a good job, but there are some signs of progress. One of those signs has, unfortunately, a bit of a negative consequence on these blades, all 17 of them – they are a bit thicker than I expected (a few tenths of a mm). That is because I have gotten a bit better at working on the belt grinder and thus I did not grind away as much material as I used to by having to correct mistakes

Mind you, they all will cut perfectly fine even so, and some of them already do despite not being sharpened yet. But a thinner blade will always cut better. On the other hand, these should be extremely sturdy and should be able to withstand even some serious abuse, and that is a plus for a hunting knife. We will see if there will be people willing to pay for these without bashing me over the head afterward.

Now to think about how to dress-up these blades and the accompanying sheaths. I think I have quite a few more weeks of work ahead of me, but now it should be creative work, and therefore much more fun.

Ring Ring! Resin and Opal

After lots of frustration and some success, the right blanks finally arrived. That vendor will sure see some more business from me. So, while still not being able to use my lathe, I started to work on my first resin and opal inlay ring. What can I say, after all the building up to this moment, the process was so damn quick and easy that it was almost and anticlimactic letdown. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, love, love the result and will sure make more of them, but it somehow feels a bit like cheating, like ordering one of those teddy bear kits where you just stuff the already sewed animal and then close the opening.

I was actually pretty anxious about this beforehand as the materials don’t come exactly cheap. While you don’t need much opal for a ring (I suspect I used about 0.3 grams for the ring), a gram is 10-15 bucks plus shipping and it looks like nobody in Germany has yet thought of selling it so I had to order from the UK and the US*. I’m thankfully not anywhere near poor, but the thought of possibly having a starting cost of 100 bucks without any results was not appealing.

Anyway, here’s some pics from the making of and the final result.

When watching videos on youtube, the people making these rings usually use either UV resin or CA glue, so naturally I decided to do both. I was worried that the opal would vanish under the midnight blue resin, so I first put on a thin layer of coloured resin and then tried to glue on the opal splinters. Only that apparently the resin prevents the CA from curing. Don’t ask me. It stayed completely fluid even after about an hour while on the ring, but occasionally it would drip down, taking my carefully set opal splinters with it and then instantly harden on my workbench. In the end I just slathered everything with a generous serving of UV resin. Because the pigment is quite dark, curing it took some time. Another bonus of finally having a workbench in the cellar is that I could just go and fold the laundry while turning the ring and restating the UV lamp every other minute. After that I put the mandrel into the drill and started to sand down the excess.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Yes, you can see me “how to attach the mandrel to the drill” contraption here, which would make my miner grandfather proud and give my machinist dad hives.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

At 100 grit that is maybe 10 minutes of time, with breaks to let the abrasive paper cool down. At this point I filled in all gaps in the resin, cured it again and then sanded some more until moving to the polishing going 240/400/600/800/1200/1500/2000/2500/3000, which would be pure horror by hand. Here it’s just “hold the wet paper to the ring and make sure you don’t burn your hand. For the final polish I usually use a “scratch ex” kit for cars. Dunno if they are available where you are, here Aldi usually has them twice a year or so. They contain a mildly abrasive paste meant to smooth out small scratches from your car paint and polishing paste and they work a treat**.

Now I hope I built up some tension for the end result. Sadly no sunshine, but with a heat wave and a drought I’m really happy about the rain this morning.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Yes, that ring goes on my “stinky finger”.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I photographed a bad position on the ring, but I only saw that afterwards.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Today I was assisted by a friendly gecko.


*Apparently by now international mail from the USA is faster than national mail within the USA.

**Do you also have those expressions that you find yourself using in excess for a while? Seems like “works a treat” is currently my favourite expression…

Success! My First Resin Ring

After Tuesday’s assorted failures I went back to working on a ring yesterday as I had originally cut two pieces out of the resin block. This time I mounted it so firmly on the mandrel that in the end it started to tear, but nothing got lost and I managed to finish a ring. As Marcus mentioned, polishing things on a lathe (or a mandrel fitted to a power drill) works a treat, so the outside shone in no time, but the inside was still all matte.

Now, if I had a chuck I could carefully put the ring into it and polish it on the lathe, but since I don’t I used the cheap and dirty method of just coating it with more resin. This also sealed the tiny crack in the side, and while I will probably look down on this in a couple of months, I don’t think it’s too bad for a first attempt. It’s still quite big and I’ll  definitely aim for smaller, but until that, this’ll do.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

You can see the crack here. But you can also see the amazing swirls from the metallic pigment.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The blank was originally a three pouring blank: first I poured the blank into my “burl slice mould”, then I put that into a square mould and added some light blue resin, but it wasn’t enough, so I left it until at another time I had some light pink resin left. Worked a treat, don’t you think?

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Oh my! It’s been almost a week since Jack’s party, and I’m still feeling a bit of a hazy buzz. The bumblebees have mostly left my head, though, and Jack was right; my memory is clearing. It still feels more like a dream than a memory, but Jack tells me that fairy magic is like that, and he assures me that it was all quite real.

Let me begin at the beginning.
I awoke early on party day, full of excitement and anticipation. Jack lay gently snoring at my feet, so I slipped out of bed as softly as I could, trying not to wake him. I schlumped into the kitchen and made coffee, drinking it while I prepared our picnic. First into my basket went the things

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Apple had asked me to bring; plump black cherries and sweet, red strawberries. Then I added a heap of ripe purple blueberries, the little peanut butter cookies that I’d made the night before, a few milk bones, napkins, water and my camera. (I am the family pack-mule) By the time I was organized, Jack was awake and had padded out to the kitchen. He sat staring at his empty bowl, so I took the hint and fed him, and then went to do my morning ablutions and get dressed.
When Jack had finished eating, he joined me, asking, “Are we having a picnic today, Mummy?”
“You bet, Bubba. It’s a beautiful day, and I thought we could go to the fairy woods.”
Jack’s face lit up, and he said, “That’s a fabulous idea, Mummy.”
“I know,” I said as I headed to the door, “Lets, go, Bubbs.”

The day was fresh and bright, just as Apple had predicted. The high heat and humidity had blown away overnight, leaving behind perfect summer weather. The day was bright and sunny, and the air was warm with a gentle fresh breeze. Small white clouds shape-shifted lazily across a cornflower blue sky as we drove through the countryside.

There were no other cars in the parking lot, and it didn’t take us long to get on the trail. Jack was in high spirits, but after a few minutes, he said to me, “None of the fairies have come to see us, Mummy. I hope everything is alright.”
“I’m sure everything is fine, Bubba. Maybe they’re busy with chores. ”
As we neared the first bench, I saw it first… a sign pinned to a tree that said Welcome, King Jackson Brown & Voyager. I pointed it out to Jack, who looked at it for a few moments and finally said, “That’s odd. Why would the fairies make a sign for us?”
Before I had a chance to reply, the air lit up with fairies flying in from all directions, each calling out “Surprise, Jack!”
Jack looked confused for a moment, but he finally smiled and began to hop, trying to touch the fairies with his nose as they fluttered around him.
A few of the younger ones settled on his back and ran their wee fingers through his thick chestnut brown coat, making Jack laugh. There were dozens of them, all wearing shimmery dresses made from a rainbow of bright, colourful flowers. The dust of their trails mixed and mingled until the air resembled a luminous living landscape by Monet. Where the sunlight pierced the trees in dappled patches, the colours shone like stained glass. I sneezed a few times, and the fairies found this hilarious. Their laughter surrounded us as we rounded the corner to the first bench,
where Jack and I both gasped at the wondrous sight. The forest had been transformed. A small clearing had been made, and the area was dressed for a party.

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The trees were festooned with curls of bright ribbon, and the ground was strewn with flower petals and glittering sprinkles that winked and sparkled and in the shifting light. A bright copper wire with teeny tiny lights wound through the leaves of a shrub, and words of thanks and friendship had been clipped to it. There were itty-bitty picnic tables covered with brightly dotted,

©voyager, all rights reserved

light cotton cloths and round tables that resembled plant stands fitted with glistening watercoloured tops. Around these tables were bright blue stools with colourful covers that matched the shiny tabletops. More of these stools had been set off to one side, nestled into a patch of ferns. There was an intoxicating scent of mingling flowers in the air, and the happy chattering of the fairies filled the clearing and became like music to my ears. My senses were overcome. It was a pandemonium of fairies, and Jack was utterly delighted to be at the centre of it. His eyes shone like polished amber, and he radiated happiness.

I could feel another sneeze coming on, so I moved away from the brouhaha to the human-sized bench and sat my basket down. I reached in and took out the fruit and cookies that I’d brought, and the moment I set them down, a pair of elves appeared as if by magic and carried them away!

After a few minutes, an elegant fairy named Whistler flew out of the commotion and up a tree. He clapped his hand twice and harrumphed until the forest was quiet. Then with a theatrical flair, he banged a small gong three times and said, “Hello, hello. Welcome, Jack and Voyager. Today’s party is held in your honour, as a small thanks for your service to the fairy realm. When our beloved Oma Troutchen went missing we placed our trust in you, and to our great delight, you brought Oma home quickly and safely. We are thankful and hope you both enjoy yourselves.”
Then he banged the gong again and said, “Let the party begin.”

©voyager, all rights reserved


Storks Doing Stork Stuff

Avalus is treating us to a closer look at these magnificent birds, this time including a short video. No photos of delivering babies. I guess they do that in secret.

First a stork preeening…

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

And now a stork doing I know not what. Avalus suggests maybe hunting or possibly yoga. (Avalus apologizes for the quality of sound, explaining he is unfamiliar with video art and editing. He suggests you may want to turn your sound down, but I didn’t find it problematic.)