A Marcus Solution for Ronja and Other Hairy Beasts


The Marcus Tactical Dog Brush

A few weeks back, Jack and I received a very special gift from Marcus. It’s a dog brush, but not just any dog brush. This little gizmo is the most practical dog grooming tool that we’ve ever used and it has a few little secrets that I hope Marcus won’t mind my sharing. I suppose the best part is the actual grooming surface which is very simply a hacksaw blade. It’s amazing. It pulls out hairs that are still only thinking about coming out and it never clogs. The hair just flies out in a big cloud and I don’t have to stop and de-clog the thing which means that I can keep going as long as my arm holds out and Jack doesn’t have a chance to get restless and wander away. It works so well that it’s an outdoor tool only at our house. I used it inside the first time we tried it and it took days to vacuum up all the hair it set loose. The hacksaw blade also makes the tool useful for lots of other situations such as an unexpected need to escape or sever an artery (hopefully not your own) and I think it’s accurate to call it a “tactical dog brush.”

It’s also a damned good scratcher for an itchy dog. Jack has seasonal allergies and some days his tablets don’t control the itch as well as others. If I see Jack scratching a lot we grab the Marcus tool and out we go for a few passes that send Jack into fits of pleasure. He leans into it, dances from one back foot to the other and gets this sweet, goofy grin that makes me happy, too.

The other good bits of the tool might be harder to replicate. Marcus has taken a beautiful piece of maple shaped it and cut a slot with his bandsaw for the blade. Then he carved a perfect hand-hold groove on the backside. The wood was then smoothed to perfection by the artist and resin impregnated for durability. It’s a joy to hold and sometimes I find myself just stroking the thing because I’m tactile and I like the way it feels. It was then fitted with a perfect silver ‘J’ and sent to Jack.

I’m pretty sure there are easier ways to make a hacksaw into a dog grooming tool, but there are certainly no better ways to do it. Thanks again, Marcus.

Blue as the Ocean in a shallow Bay

The last resin pieces for now:

This set contains broken glass pieces, giving it even more the look of a crystal:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Mr. looked at the box with the glass shards and asked where I got that. It’s a funny story I told him. I turned around and then there was this strange noise and suddenly I found the glass all over the kitchen floor. Our tiles really hide the dirt well, but they show no mercy to any plate or glass dropped.

Next is a cherry flower:

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I made three or four of these and I’m not entirely happy about them. First of all, pressing seems to have destroyed some of the structure of the petals and they became see through when I added the resin. Second I added holographic glitter and a black background and that’s too much for my taste, I should have stuck with one of them.

Next one is a galaxy oval:

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Here the idea is that you cast two separate pieces and then glue them together, giving it dimensions and depth. I quite like the effect. This one is small as I wanted to practise first, but I can definitely see more of them in the future.

And last but not least a terrible photo of a pretty pendant:

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Wind came up and it kept swinging so they were all out of focus. Can you guess what’s inside?

Yep, it’s a pine cone in resin, sawed into slices. I have another block with red and yellow, but I need to cut it first.

This concludes this series of work, but I hope there’s more soon.

Eternal Flowers

Some more resin, this time with a pendant I made specifically foe all my black tops with colourful flowers (I’m a sucker for the Spanish label “Desigual”). I still need to wire wrap it because a simple hook doesn’t seem fitting.

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Some flowers react with the resin and suddenly you have a totally different colour. Here on the left is a violet, only that now it’s a yellowlet (please, nobody explain to me how to spell “yellow”, will you?). Same with the erica. The violas are holding up their colours well. I’m going to dry a whole bunch of them.

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Next one is a leaping unicorn. This took me several tries because for some reason the Piñata magenta (a stock brand for resin) kept reacting with the blue and always turned a very dark violet and I needed to get a different pink from the company that also produces my resin.

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This is one of two unfinished earrings to go with the unicorn. When I cast these bigger pieces and cut them into shape there are often interesting bits and pieces that get turned into earrings.

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The final piece is unfinished yet and more of an experiment. I used one of the burl pieces to create a silicone mould. I cast some blue resin and then put it into one of my larger moulds and added the white, only that it’s too much white here, again hiding the burl structure. Currently my idea is to print a bird silhouette and add it, because it does have a sky-feeling to it.

BTW, I totally offer to sell/create piece for the FtB defence fund if anybody’s interested.

The sad Discovery of the Existence of too much Blue

It’s time for some resin. I never catch up with posting all the stuff I create, but I’m doing my best.

I did my first tries with the burl Marcus sent and alas, there is something like too much blue.

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The structure of the burl pretty much vanishes inside , leaving only the outside visible. You can also see that I didn’t catch all the scratches, but I left it at that because they’re only visible when seen against sunlight, which isn’t something that usually happens when you wear a pendent.

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This one is smaller than the one at the top, cut from the same cast. With a lot of light you can guess the gold I added. I still love the burl and the second attempt is a lot better, but not yet cut and polished.

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These ones, OTOH, turned out exactly as blue as I wanted them. Because here the focus is on the contrast between the birch and the resin. I cut this and the second piece from one block as well, both being about 3X5 cm.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Awww fuck it, there isn’t such a thing as too much blue, because, well, blue.

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Here’s some trinkets that will probably get incorporated into other pieces. They’re cast in silicone moulds for fondant, so the finish isn’t glossy, but I quite like them.

New Drawer

It all started with a reasonably small box arriving from the USA. It grew into chaos.

I must say, we are not tidy people. There are folks who are tidy by nature, or who work hard on being tidy, but we are neither. Our time is scarce and we both agree that it can be spent on much better things than cleaning, so we usually put things into the big plastic boxes we use for shopping and every other week I empty them cussing like a sailor. Every once in a while I try out a new system to make being tidier easier, to various degrees of success.

With the resin supplies, I tried different ideas. The last one was putting the stuff into those decorative cardboard boxes you get at Ikea and storing those in an old book chest, but it was too much and also came with lots of searching, so I made another attempt with an Ikea Malm drawer:

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Everything nice and clean, at least for now.

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Resin, tools, cups. The small scrollsaw that I use for cutting resin is right next to the drawer. Yes, it is full. Much has happened since that first small box.

In which Marcus enters uncanny territory

It’s no secret that Marcus sends parcels of wonder across the globe, but by now I think he’s a mind reader. You all know that wood and resin is about my favourite combination ever, as in my latest necklace and earrings:

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But nothing surpasses the beauty of burl in resin projects, which I have been looking for for ages without much luck. You can imagine the look on my face when yesterday a parcel arrived and instead of being my husband’s new phone battery, it was these gorgeous pieces of burl:

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How did Marcus know? I have no clue, but I’m glad he did.

Thank you very much again, Marcus.

Even More Books…

Well, one more book. I have about twenty knife and swords books in the sights for future purchases, but I am still in the middle of reading the first seven I already have purchased. The flu-like illness that has been bugging me on and off for two weeks is unfortunately not very conducive to reading, especially to reading in a foreign language.

But Marcus was so very, very kind and has sent me this beauty, which I have not seen offered anywhere here. I must say it is a lovely book on first sight and it became a cherished possession instantly.

Now I had not planned on buying a book specifically about japanese knives, because I intend leaving making japanese knives to the Japanese, but there is no denying that they have a reputation of being superb tools so it won’t hurt to know about them. Quite the opposite, I am sure there is a lot of knowledge in this book that will be beneficial to me and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

However this makes me think a little – all the knives that I have made so far and that I intend to make in the future are my own designs and represent my aesthetical preferences as well as my style of using a knife. And whenever I look at works of other knife-makers (which I do not do very often), often I see that everyone develops a distinctive style. For example Bob Loveless has been renown for drop-point small hunting knives, Walter Sorrels sells mostly very pointy and straight, tanto-style all-purpose knives, Stefan Santangelo seems to like knives which have a slight forward angle between the blade and the handle with a little kink in it etc. I have no doubt that all these knives are perfectly functional and comfortable to use. There is no single “correct” knife design.

I find it remarkable how expressive can be a piece of craft that is essentialy just a sharpened sheet of metal with a piece of wood to hold it with, even when looking at just the outline.

Incidentally you can see two things in the last picture. Firstly, my left middle finger is nearly completely healed. There is still slight swelling and an area with tickling-burning sensation when touched, but it gets constantly, albeit very slowly, better. Secondly, in case you are wondering, that is my school pencil-case, about thirty years old by now.

YouTube Video: Tod’s Workshop

“You make one knife, you make another, and you never stop.” True words.

Tod Todeschini has put out a very short lovely video promoting his workshop.

I do not think that I will manage to pull it off with making knives for a living, to be honest. As in every endeavor, a bit of luck is required and the competition is tough. So even if I manage to do everything right (which I won’t, I never do), success is not guaranteed.  But I am definitively going to give it a try, because I am more than fed-up with being corporate drone.

And when I will be forced to seek employment again, I will do my best to avoid US owned shareholder companies like the plague they are.

The Plural of Mermaid is Moremaids

After the little mermaid in the last craft post, I decided to use that idea some more and insert them into landscapes.

To do that you need some larger moulds and tools to shape the result afterwards. I built my single use moulds with thin wood and popsickle sticks, lining them with tape. This worked half- well.

One came out quite nice and shiny, which was lucky, but the other one not so much, which meant sanding. To give you an idea what that means here’s a series of pics demonstarting the process:

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This is after sanding with a 120 grid to make the surface even.

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A little project on the side

We haven’t had a craft post in a while, and I know some of you are still waiting for your horses (they’ll come). I do have a larger work in progress that I can hopefully show you soon, but for most of this year I hit a creative dry spell with just being too exhausted after work.

Well, I got holidays and I used them for a little fun project. I wanted to do something with wood again and if you hit youtube, you’ll find dozens of “secret wood” tutorials (though why they’re called “secret wood” is a mystery to me, it’s quite obvious, isn’t it?), but I wanted to do something a little different:

© Giliell, all rights reserved

© Giliell, all rights reserved

© Giliell, all rights reserved

© Giliell, all rights reserved

For these I used an old stick that was lying around and cut off some pieces. The bark had already withered away so I only cleaned them up lightly, leaving all the natural signs of withering in place. I then drilled a hole down the middle, starting with a size 5 drill and then going up to 10 over 8. After that I started to make the cuts with my little Dremel tool. In the green one I first tried to make two parallel cuts and then take out the wood in between, but that didn’t work that well, so I just make the cuts as wide as possible and then used other tools to define them. I think it will take a few more goes before I really get the hang of this.

Though this project showed again that my BFF J and I are actually one person leading two lives. I showed here these and said “I’ll need to ask your husband a favour” and she replied “you want to used some thicker wood and have him drill out the middle so you can insert some lights”, which is exactly what I’m planning to do.

And here’s one more thing, a leftover mermaid:

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I still had some green and blue resin left, so I made a pretty pendant. One of the easiest things to do with resin is to print out stuff on a transparency (got to be a laser printer, though) and then insert the result into the resin. Because my resin was starting to cure I couldn’t get the bubbles out, but for once I think they’re actually adding to the whole thing.

The Death of Handicraft

Today’s video is not the main meat of the article, but just an appetizer:

Joe van der Steeg is a blacksmith from Netherlands. I came across his videos a few years ago and I found them very informative, even though admittedly not very entertaining. I did not subscribe, because I do not intend to seriously go into forging at the moment, but I kept him at the back of my mind for future reference should I need plain and to-the-point info about forging techniques. What was clear from the few videos that I have watched was that he is very committed to the craft and that it is his life.

Previous year he announced that he is quitting the craft as a professional and will only continue with it as a hobbyist. When I have noticed that video, I was saddened, because I hate that old crafts are disappearing.

A few days ago I found out that Alec Steele, the youth YouTube blacksmithing star has afterwards invited him for a few days of collaborative work at his workshop, they had a lot of fun together and Alec’s enthusiasm and infectious personality have motivated Joe to continue to make videos. I shed a sentimental tear over that outcome, and I subscribed to Joe, although his videos are still on a back-burner for me, because day has only so many hours.

I know that to make knives for a living is for me just a pipe dream. There is a lot of people in that market, the competition is fierce and getting notorious enough to make a living would be difficult, even more so for a shy and introverted personality (I can pretend self-confident and strong, but not for long).

But overall I think that at a societal level a step back from automation would be desirable. With current state of technology, it is entirely conceivable having 5 hours working days somewhere at a factory/farm and the rest of the day having off to be a weaver, cobbler or whatevermaker to your heart’s desire.  The factories with their automation are perfect for delivering necessities for survival, but to my mind nothing beats handicraft for delivering the beautiful, unique and shiny. Further jobs at factories are soul-crushing and many people afterward have no energy for anything else than to sit in front of TV. Also most people whom I know who do have a creative hobby are mentally much better off than those who do not. There are reasons for arts therapy.

I am not entirely convinced that decline of handicraft is purely due to automation – there are a lot of people who would love to own handmade goods, but cannot afford them.

So why do we as a society insist on having most people do jobs they hate most of the time if that is not, strictly speaking, necessary for the survival of the species?

In my opinion the thing that is killing handicrafts is the same thing that drives the world inexorably towards global warming – insatiable greed of the upper 1% who are sucking money out of the economy only to put it on their bank accounts so they can engage in pointless dick-measuring contests with their fellow parasites. More and more people have to spend 8 or more hours a day in a factory to produce cheap goods, because fewer and fewer people have the means to purchase the more expensive handmade goods. It is a self-reinforcing cycle.