Kitchen Knives Set – Part 8: I Just Could Not Stand It

It is several months since the last update on this project, and there are reasons for that. Some have to do with the project itself, some do not. One of the reasons that are directly related to the project was that I had difficulty finishing the knife stands because in the cold weather the boat lacquer that I have decided to use for finish took an absolutely inordinate amount of time to harden properly. So prepare now for a really long post about how I made the wooden stands for these knives.

The original plan was to make all woodworks from jatoba and black locust, thus making the stands from massive hardwood. But since I have made the handles from the rather rare and precious applewood, I had a very limited supply. Especially when it came to the spalted wood. So I stood in front of a decision – should I try to make the stands match the handles or not. And I have decided to give it a try and make matching stands. Which means getting a lot out of a little.

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First I started by cutting the cores of the future stands out of some scrap spruce wood, of which I have an overabundance. Where I needed a thicker piece, I have simply layered and trimmed the thinner ones until I got the size that I wanted, with a generous amount of wood on both sides of each blade, especially for the stands where two blades were meant to be next to each other.

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This was the first time I have used expanding PU glue. PVA glue would have difficulty to set in my workshop, even with heating. This glue did harden within a few hours enough so I could safely take it indoors for the rest of the curing process.

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After these cores were glued and cut to the final size, I have sanded all flat surfaces. Not very thoroughly, just enough that I do not get my hands full of splinters.

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And since I had to do with what little of the precious wood I had, I have decided to use thin boards/veneers for finishing. I have cut approx 5 mm thick slices of the wood on my bandsaw and with a bit of luck, I did get enough of each of the three types of wood that I have used for the handles to cover the stands. Mostly. I could have cut even thinner veneers, like 2 mm, but 5 mm did save me a bit of work later on.

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Most veneers were cut with the grain, but I have also cut several pieces across the grain. Those I have glued on the end of the softwood cores and only after that I have cut the slits for blades. For each blade a cut just as deep as the blade is wide, so each knife has a slot fitted exactly to it. I took two passes on the circular saw for each slit since I have cut them about 1-2 mm wider than the blades are, so the knives come in and out really easily without scraping the sides. That way at least I hope the probability of something getting stuck to the mirror-polished blade and scratching it later on in the stand should be reduced. I could not of course make the slits too wide, because then the point could get stuck in them.

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Wherever veneers had to be put side-by-side, I had to carefully fit them together so the seams are as small as possible. In one case I also had to change the design of the stand since I did not have any veneers long enough and I did not want to link veneer strips lengthwise. Two strips beside each other do connect almost seamlessly and even when they are visible, they do not disturb. But a clear line across the grain or the pattern in the spalted wood would surely look at least odd.

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

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

To fit the veneers properly all around I had to first glue up two opposing sides, trim the excess, grind it to flat, and only then I could glue the other two sides. Trim and sand again and I got finished building blocks for the final products.

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There were some minor problems – the spalted wood was soft and got chipped – so I had to fill in some places with resin mixed with sawdust and/or offcuts.

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Then there was a lot of sanding. It made me glad to have a hand-held belt sander. I will probably have to buy an orbital sander too if I am going to make more of these.

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Since the resulting pieces had very sharp edges which would not look very well in combination with the rather rounded handles, I have decided to round them significantly. I did not use a router, although I do own one. Instead, I have just sanded all future edges down with 60 grit sandpaper over a soft sponge until they looked right, and then I have polished them.

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In one of the stands, the pieces were connected by big enough flat surfaces that I could reliably clamp it all together during curing, but int two of the pieces had to be connected by relatively small areas and at an odd angle, so I have used a piece of wood to drill holes for dowels to prevent the parts from shifting during the glue-up.

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And here they are, fixed to small boards for stability and handling during the paint job. I have decided to use boat lacquer for the stands because infusing such big pieces with resin would be very, very expensive. I did not expect it to take as long as it did though.

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After the first coat with highly diluted lacquer the grain and fungus patterns popped up on all pieces quite significantly. I have left it dry for two days and then gave it two more coats with diluted lacquer in two-days intervals to stabilize the soft and spongy wood as much as is possible. And after that, it was five-six more coats with undiluted lacquer, with a few days wait and thorough sanding between each coating. When the last coating was drying, I got tangled up for several weeks with other works, mainly in the garden, and only this last week did I get round to do the last hand sanding. I sanded the pieces in increasing grits up to 1000 and there I did stop because I wanted them to have the same satin finish as the handles.

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I have modified my buffing compound for the stands, but it is still perhaps a bit too hard. It did buff the pieces nicely though, so I cannot complain. Too much. I did achieve my goal, which was to make the stands reasonably similar to the knife handles. There is a bit of difference in color because the handles are thoroughly infused with resin, but I do not think it is a problem and neither does anyone who has seen it so far (about 7 people).

And this week I finally got to the last step in this rather long project – making the stands to actually, well, stand. Out of the three, only one was big and heavy enough to be stable – the one from mostly healthy wood. For the other two, I did not have enough material to make them with a wide enough base, so I had to fit them with legs. I have considered several options and I have decided to go with a 6 mm stainless steel pipe. Aluminum would look cheap and brass would clash with the visible stainless steel tangs on the knives.

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To drill the holes safely and at a proper angle, I have first made a little board that could be fixed to the stand at the angle I wanted it to be in one direction. In the depicted case, the board is at the angle the leg is supposed to be when viewed from above. Into that board I have drilled a hole at an angle it was supposed to go into the stand. Then I could fix this board to the stand by the simple method of copious amounts of paper masking tape and drill the hole safely and at the correct angle.

By the way, I did not do any measuring or sketching for this. The “correct” angle was established by eyeballing.

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With that, I was still not done with this piece of wood. I have trimmed one end of it at the angle the leg will touch the ground and used that as a guide to filing down the end of the pipe flat-ish.

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Gluing the legs with epoxy was pretty straightforward after that and they were already mostly – although not perfectly – flat against the plate.

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They did need a bit of sanding to get them perfectly flat, but not that much.

And that is the project almost finished. All that is left is to sharpen the knives and make pretty pictures. Hopefully sometime soon. You can see here that I have also already begun the next batch of knives. Yup, that is how long it took for the lacquer to harden, I have managed to grind and harden ten new blades in the meantime.

The next – and last – post in this series will be pure cutlery porn. This is one of those rare instances where I think I have done a good job.

 

DIY Reusable (Hopefully) Etching Stencils

At about the same time that I have decided to leave my job and try to make a living as a knifemaker, I have also decided to number the blades that I make. And since my logo is my initials in Glagolitic script, it seemed only logical to use Glagolitic numbering too. Almost nobody will be able to read the numerals without aid (including me), but I do think that arabic numerals would look a bit odd in combination with my logo, so I have decided to go through with the use of Glagolitsa.

The numerals consist mostly of straight lines and dots, so it is kinda easy to cut them in adhesive tape with a scalpel tip. But it costs relatively a lot of time – I have spent about ten minutes per blade since I have moved into two-number digits and things will only get more and more complicated after that. So for a long time, I was thinking about how to make stencils.

I could not use the same method that I use for my logo, because the numerals are so tiny that even if I were able to cut them into the 1 mm silicone sheet, the etching solution would have trouble reaching the surface through such a narrow, water-repelling, canal anyway. I needed something thinner. Like a sheet of paper. But how to waterproof a sheet of paper? I have tried it with wax in the past, and that did not work. Beeswax contaminated the surfaces and paraffin wax is not elastic enough. It would be ideal to infuse the paper with silicone, somehow, but how? I was thinking about trying to buy pouring silicone for forms, but I was reluctant to spend money on it not knowing upfront if it will be of any use.

And then I got a much simpler idea, so simple that it does make me wonder how come I did not come up with it sooner – linseed oil. I have printed my numerals on a sheet of paper, soaked it thoroughly in linseed oil, and left it harden for a few days. The resulting sheet was repelling water and bendy enough to adhere reliably to the blades, whilst stiff enough for me to be able to cut the numerals.

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Each stencil has two parts – one for vertical lines, one for the rest, since oftentimes it is not possible to cut the whole number at once for obvious reasons. The oiled paper is also transparent enough to be able to place the second part over the first reliably-ish enough.

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Since the stencils are so small that some unwanted etching around the edge of the stencil is a real risk, I have made a round shield from silicone to protect the surrounding area and also to provide a better seal for the stencil itself. And when I was at it, I have made two new graphite etching electrodes with the felt permanently attached to the graphite. One with big rectangular felt (left) for the logos (not used yet) and one with a soft, round tip specifically for the numerals.

And I am pleased to say that it all works. I was numbering blades 40-48 just a few days ago and it took me a lot less time than before – and this time I still had to cut the numerals into the paper. Next time I should be even faster because the stencils are already cut and I see no reason why they should not last until the next batch of blades is ready for etching. Here you can see one test-etch of the number 40 on the tang and the number 41 on the blade.

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The numbers are not perfect, but they are not worse-looking than they were before. Indeed it could be argued that if the numerals were perfect, it would undercut the handmade look of my knives which always have some minor irregularities in them no matter what I do. Or it could be argued that I am setting my goals too low, well…

We shall see what the public decides once the pandemic is over and I can go and sort out all the necessary paperwork to be able to actually sell them.

 

I Almost Didn’t Fail the Second Time

My first attempt at big blade ended up in a disaster and after several years of procrastinating the issue ended up as a smaller (though not small) knife. I gave it a second shot because 1) I really need a machete 2) I want to learn to make these big blades for I have big plans for the future, that will no doubt never come to fruition.

And as the title says it, I almost didn’t fail this time. At least, I do have a serviceable tool to use in my garden.

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Spring steel, blackened with oak bark. 4-6 mm thick, 51 cm overall length. Fully hardened, spine tempered to spring.

This time things went reasonably well, but I was suspecting that I have ground the fullers too deep. At least they were passably symmetrical – there was no trouble in the quench. The blade came out hardened and mostly straight, and the very slight bent it has developed (circa 1-2 mm over the whole length) was easily corrected with my unbender after heat treatment.

However, when I was trying to polish the blade and smooth out the fullers, it turned out I was right – I made the fullers too deep and near the tip I have thus ground through. But it might not be a functional issue, just an aesthetic one, so I have decided to finish it, albeit with less attention to detail than I would had it been a complete success. I have filed the hole bigger and oval with diamond-coated files (to remove any stress-risers) and I have stopped polishing the blade, especially the insides of the fullers. I just gave it a few buffs with scotch brite discs for angle-grinder and then it went into the oak bark tee for a nice night-long bath.

Handle fittings are from bronze and handle scales are from pickled black locust. I did want the blade to complement the previous one since they will both be used by me in my garden. This handle is specifically fitted to my hands, so nobody with different-shaped hands would probably feel comfortable using it. I have no idea yet how it will work out in the long term, but it did feel perfectly fine when I gave a few whacks to an old wooden board with it.

I might make a scabbard or a sheath for it too. I am currently thinking about whether to make a double-sheath for the pair or a separate sheath for each item. Both options have pros and cons. Not that I do actually need a sheath for wearing them, they are unlikely to ever leave the house further than the 60 or so meters that is my backyard long, but they are both sharp and big and dangerous and could get rusty, so I need an option for safe storage, both protecting them from elements and me from injuries when they are not used.

Resin Art: No Drama Llama

I’ve been slowing down a little, needing some more inspiration on the one hand, and also being too damn tired on the other, but I did get some things done and started a new batch heading in the “cute” direction. I also <i>almost</i> managed to get your stuff shipped. Then the automatic post station refused to accept one of the parcels and I noticed at literally the last second that I had mixed up the labels on two other envelopes… Next try on Tuesday…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I got some new pigments and used them to stencil flowers on a black blank. I like it very much and attached an elastic.

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Part of a straw flower set on brass bezels.

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This one’s rather large and set into wire. it glitters nicely in the sunlight with its back being crinkled tinfoil.

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Same technique as above, with crinkled tinfoil, but it looked a bit boring, so I put a lot of plastic “gems” on top to refracture light.

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Some stuff I’d ordered finally arrived. 2021, when the most exciting thing is watching a parcel with llama moulds travel all the way from China.

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I need to finish the matching necklace, though.

And last but not least, my upcoming project:

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You gotta resin them all… Whoever owns the rights to Pokémon seems a lot more relaxed about trademarks than Disney, because you can get a lot of Pokémon themed craft supplies. There’s this guy in Thailand who makes excellent Pokémon themed moulds, so when I saw the heads and tails Eeevie moulds I had to get them. Shipping from Thailand was extremely fast, btw.

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This is what they look like, ready to be painted, only that painting is a pain (ting) in the ass, because it’s so tiny and I’m no good with a brush. the Eevies got too dark, so I had to recast them.

Not a Mistake, Just a Smaller Knife…

… but by no means a small knife.

Harvesting firewood from my coppice is a yearly task that requires a lot of chopping off thin branches and twigs. Currently, I am using an old chef’s knife for that, but it is getting pretty warped and worn-out because it was not meant for that kind of work. And a hatchet is too unwieldy for it.

So two years ago I tried to make a machete. And I failed completely, the blade warped in quench and subsequently snapped when I tried to straighten it. It broke near the handle, so I had a relatively big chunk of straight blade left, but I did not know what exactly to do with it and I had better work to do anyway, so I have just used it for various experiments – for etching and tumbling tests, etc. I learned a lot from the piece for my future projects, so it was not completely wasted. But it was still big enough to make a knife, and the surface was so pitted now that it was no longer suitable for tests. So I have decided to make a knife out of it after all.

I annealed about one-third and cut the tang out of it, then I have put the now 17 cm long blade in the tumbler with fine sand and let it run for a few days to clean the surface of most of the corrosion, although the pitting of course remained. I did not polish the blade afterward to remove the pitting since that would make it really thin. Instead, I have dunked it overnight in tannic acid (or, as per Marcus, Oak Drop Soup). It got a nice dark-grey-blue coating that way and a really mean rustic look. In combination with linseed oil, it should provide moderately durable and strong corrosion resistance. Only I forgot to etch a logo in it before doing all that, and now I can’t, so the blade is unsigned.

The handguard is from bronze and old bone, the handle from pickled black locust. When I am making sheaths, I will make one for this too. I must confess – I did not do a very good fitting job on the handguard, I did not want to waste too much time on this. And I have decided to let the bronze get a natural patina over time for the same reason. But since this is a working knife for me, any flaws are not a problem since nobody ever will complain.

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I think it looks kind of nice and I am considering adding this type of knife to my repertoire as a bushcraft knife, with only slight changes in construction (full-tang instead of hidden tang). I am also considering adding a lanyard, although it is secure enough in the hand with this handle-shape.  I have already tested it for its intended purpose and the blade coating is resistant enough to withstand wood-chopping. And if it rubs-off, it is easy to reapply. I really like how this turned out and I am glad I did not simply toss it on the scrap pile.

 

Resin Art: Pokémon! Gotta Wear Them All! Also: Paging Hekuni Cat

Hekuni Cat, I don’t have your address. Please sent it to the Affinity address linked in the sidebar.

 

Some fun with Pokémon. the kids in school always love my Pokémon themed attire, be it the mask, the pencil case or the T-shirts.

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Umbreon and Espeon. I made matching earrings, just simple studs, but they do have a tendency to get lost in bed…

The next set will go out to a friend as a belated birthday present. We’ll meet in a park today to go for a walk. Distance and sunshine and fresh air…

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These are two brass rings separated by rhinestones. The top one has flowers in it, the bottom one gold leaf.

The next ones are fairly simple, but I do love them. All unicorny and shiny.

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And last but not least:

People, miracles do happen! As you may remember, my relationship with my mother is best described as “difficult”. To not put too fine a point to it, she was abusive. One of her tactics was to be never satisfied with what I did. I got an A-, best grade in class? Why isn’t it an A+? We were recently talking about the kids and she mentioned that while #1 was smart as me and also chaos incarnate like me, she wasn’t ambitious like me. I later thought “well, maybe that’s because you only loved me when I was the best”. This tactic extended to my hobbies. She’d never have a kind word or even praise, just a lot of non-constructive criticism.

Well, last week I gave my sister a set of Strawberry earrings and necklace and she asked me for a pair of earrings in brown with a bit of gold and when I gave them to her yesterday she actually liked them and thanked me and I was like “Lady, I don’t know who you are and what you did to my mum, but I really like you and you can stay.” Apparently an old dog can learn new tricks…

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Mystical Cats

I love cats and these wonderful creations by Anne, Cranky Cat Lady are glorious.

Photos of my Mystical Cats from Lyn Belisle’s Mystical Cat Shamans class.  The faces are her work (she does lovely ceramics) but the rest is mine.  Leafy girl is Thera, Protector of Wild Things, the turquoise cat is Bast, my Mewse. Because you know how much cats love to help with your work.  Lots of vintage bits and pieces, handmade paper, and beads. They’re pretty big, about 14″ tall, and I’m going to have to move stuff around so I can hang them.

Thera, ©Anne, Cranky Cat Lady

Bast, ©Anne, Cranky Cat Lady

Branding Stamp

I am finishing the kitchen-knives sets, and one of the tools that I was still missing in my toolbox was a branding stamp that could be used for wood and leather. For leather, I have used an impromptu one made from wood stabilized with epoxy, but that cannot be used to brand wood of course. But when making that I have figured out a process that could be also applied to making one out of steel, so after a lot of procrastinating the task, today I have finally bitten the bullet and took the two hours it needed.

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The handle is from an extremely old and out-of-shape potato peeler. Maybe even antique, but I know of no museum that would take it of my hands so I have recycled it. The screw is recycled from old furniture. The stamp itself is from tool steel, although I will not be hardening it.

I could not tap the hole in the stamp very deep and well without re-grinding and thus destroying the taps, because standard taps need to go through.  Thus I could not cut very good threads in there, just two turns of half-assed ones. But that should not be a problem, a few dents for the thread to latch on to should suffice, friction should take care of the rest. It is not supposed to come apart, and if it comes apart, I will braze it.

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The one advantage of having a logo consisting of only straight lines is that it made the job relatively easy. A bit of filing, a bit of grinding with an angle-grinder, and here we go. Up close there are some flaws and the width to height ratio is a tiny bit off, but that is just life. I have tossed one attempt due to flaws, but I think this one will do.

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Wood branding is not an exact science, there will always be some irregularities. But with some practice, I should get crisp and nice logos that can be placed even in visible areas. Which is my intention.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

And there is absolutely no doubt that on leather, the results are way, way better than those I got with my wood-carved impromptu stamp.

I may give it a go one more time to get the proportions better, but in the meantime, I am going to use this one. I doubt anyone will complain about it.

 

Resin Art: Strawberries!

I need spring. Today feels a bit like early spring. The air tastes differently and the birds are chattier (mostly complaining about the neighbours’ cat camping out under the bird feeder). But honestly, this is my least favourite time. I still have about 4 weeks until it really turns green and I hate it. I don’t think I could move further north. Sure, if I’d grown up there, I’d probably only get seriously annoyed come March or April, but I’m used to getting sick and tired of winter come February.

Anyway, to cheer me up I made, you won’t guess it, resin jewellery.

First of all, I made lots of blanks from epoxy resin:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here you can see exactly why I can’t work downstairs with the epoxy right now. All dull and bubbly. Also, when I took them out after 24 hours, they were still extremely soft. A few hours upstairs in the warm kitchen took care of that. So last night I took the red droplets and turned them into my favourite fruit.

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That’s always two droplets glued together, with a coat of red UV resin. I love working with mica powders as they give an amazing sparkle, but you got to be careful when working with UV epoxy because yeah, saturated opaque colours won’t cure. That’s why the blanks needed to be red already. The tiny seeds are caviar beads for nail art and no, it’s not as much work as it looks like to attach them. Finally I made some leaves with green UV resin and attached those. I’m so ready for spring.

I also got rq’s sphere done. Again, the pic sucks. They are not to be photographed.

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Kitchen Knives Set – Part 7: Getting to Grips

These knives have full-width tangs, but no visible pins. As far as I can tell, nobody else is using this type of construction, so it might be somewhat unique

A few years ago Walter Sorrels made a video in which he tested various glues for fixing scales to tangs without pins. He made several mock-up knives from mild steel for this and they all have failed his stress test. Which consisted of tossing them in the air and letting them fall on the concrete pavement. As it turns out, the shearing forces during these impacts were too big for the glue to reliably stick to the steel and they all delaminated. But he gave me an idea on how to overcome this problem. I have tested the idea on one broken blade and it held out to several hammer blows before the scales delaminated  – and at that point, it was not only the glue that was failing but also the wood was starting to shatter and break. And since knife handles are not supposed to be hit with a hammer so I think it should be OK. I really hope it works out in the long term because I am going to make a lot of these. So if you want to know how this goes, read on. [Read more…]

Darwintine Fundraiser: Get your Shinies

As you all know, we’re doing another round of fundraiser to get that albatross off PZ’s and other people’s necks. I know, it’s getting boring and annoying, and right now nobody is made of money anyway, but the good people caught up in Carrier’s bullshit (may he step on all the Legos) don’t deserve having to deal with this either.

And, as you also know, I’ve been crafting my evenings away, so let’s combine the pleasant with the useful, as the German saying goes (das Angenehme mit dem Nützlichen verbinden) and sell off some jewellery. While it may be too late for a Valentine’s gift, any lover of jewellery will tell you that it’s never a bad moment for a pretty gift.

Rules:

  • I’m not doing an auction but sell them off at fixed prices. First come, first served, though I can always try to make something similar for you.
  • I’ll pay for economy shipping. If you want an upgrade, you chip in.
  • All items shown in this post or my previous posts are up for sale. You can find them here, here, here and here. And here. And here. Man, I have been busy…
  • The prices are fixed: a set of earrings 15$, a pendant 10$, a set of them 20 $. Unless I say otherwise, but you’ll see that in the post.
  • All pendants come with a waxed cotton necklace, so you can wear them immediately. If you want a chain, please inquire.
  • Payment: Just send the money directly to the fundraiser linked above. If I don’t know you well, I will ask you to send a confirmation to me.

All set? Here’s some nice stuff. You’ll know most of it already, I just tried to get some nicer pics. Yeah, still not great. I’m more of an outdoors photographer than a studio artist.

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The colours are a bit off here. They are much redder. I could also work them into pendants, you know?

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Inspired by Central American jewellery. the golden droplet is attached to the stopper, so if you want to tone them down a bit, just use a different stopper.

©Giliell, all rights reserved A Moonlit Night

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These did not quite turn out the way I wanted. Actually they were meant to be the central piece in the ones above. they are a bit less than 2 cm in diameter and go for a tenner. Of course I would also clean them up for you.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

These are quite light and elegant. Gold foil and abalone shell

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

I’ll colour in the numbers for you. I realised I hadn’t quite finished when I took the pic.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The last two are the same sphere. I really tried, but if there is a way to get a nice pic of these, I haven’t found it yet…

So, who will be your Valentine?

Resin Art: More bling

No, I haven’t forgotten you, I just didn’t get around to taking pics last week. But to make up for it you’ll get lots of them this week.

First: dice. I haven’t played a pen and paper RPG since long before the pandemic, but I swear I’ll do so again. I ordered a die mould to see if that would work. The results are mixed.

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Well, the first one was flat out unusable, because silly me put the lid on the wrong way round. The mould works with a little lid you put on top where the #1 is with just a tiny hole to allow for resin to escape or be added. And I put it in the wrong way round, so the sides came up short and there’s no #1. The only way to save it was to put in a hook and call it a pendant. the other one is actually really pretty, but the top side still isn’t what it should be. I decided to only show you the pretty sides.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Next, the unhpotographable galaxy spheres. Sorry. Too many curves and shiny for the damn camera to get a focus on. I’ll see if I can get a better one with the real camera.

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These ones turned out really nice. Dyed baby’s breath and small brass hoops make them really light and elegant

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Chocolates anybody? I worked with a matte topcoat here, making them look like sea glass.

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These go nicely with the necklace from two weeks ago.

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Black and white. Baby’s breath in clear resin combined with black semi circles in brass.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

“Garnets”. Same technique as the Mermaid Tears, this time in red. I made these shorter, but with at least as many droplets.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Galaxy tears with Bohemian glass beads. The blue is just amazing.

And last but not least, elegant circles:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The rings have baby’s breath, caviar beads and gold foil. The Bohemian glass beads in the centre are an amazing dark purple the camera refuses to catch.

IMPORTANT: If you have your eyes set on any of these pieces, I’ll put some up for sale for the upcoming fundraiser.

And finally here’s some pics from the “workbench”:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This is the small assortment of things I currently have upstairs. Yes, It’s the small assortments. BTW, one of the sensible additions to the pile was a small hand drill. While you can see the Dremel in the pic, the hand drill is useful for pre-drilling, especially on round surfaces, where the Dremel is prone to slip (it will drill your finger nicely). Just drill a mm with the hand drill, do the rest with the nice tool.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This is how the kitchen table looks at the end of the night. Thanks to Rüdügür the vacuum robot I need to clean it up every night because the chairs need to go on the table.

Jack’s Walk

Brown dog with frosting. ©voyager, al rights reserved

Yesterday, over at Stderr, Marcus posted a piece outlining a project he’s tackling to resin(ate) Jack’s foot. I thought today I’d fill in the story of collecting the paw print.

About a month ago, Jack and I received a package from Marcus containing a dog foot-sized plastic frame, 2 bags of brightly coloured clay, 2 bags of plaster, a small, flat plastic device and a sheet of well-organized instructions. I talked to Jack about the project, and we decided to give it a go the next day. I’ve never worked with clay, so I read the instructions carefully a few times, then after breakfast, I plunged in. Marcus said to add water to one of the clay packages, which I did mixing well. Still, it wouldn’t absorb the full 1/2 c of water, and it was behaving like a non-Newtonian fluid, which is always fun but probably not what I was looking for. I was pretty sure the clay was too wet, but I put it into the frame anyway and tamped it down flat with the little plastic tool and called Jack.
Now, picture, if you will, Jack sitting on the living room carpet (he needs to be on carpet for stability), being a good boy and trying to do what Mummy says.
I pick up his good front foot first, but he can’t bear weight well enough on his other leg, and he wobbles a bit, so I let go of his leg before he falls over.
“Sorry, Mummy,” he says, “Maybe we should try the other foot.”
I tell him it’s not his fault and gently lift his sore front leg with one hand and moving the frame under it with my other hand, but this doesn’t work well either.
“Ouch, Mummy!” he says, pulling back again and again.
Finally, he looks me square in the eye and tells me, “I’m laying down now, Mummy. Go away!”
So I do, covering the clay in plastic wrap and putting it on my workbench.

The next day, I’d hatched a new plan to make a good impression. I’d wait until Jack was resting on my bed with one foot hanging over, and I’d press his foot into the clay with no need for him to stand up. Jack agreed that this seemed workable, and so after lunch, I helped Jack to bed, and we got the framed clay and pressed his foot into it. We made a good, deep press, and results looked great, except that our perfect paw pad impression disappeared less than a minute later. Vanished. Completely gone. Damn it, the clay was too wet.
“Nevermind, Mummy. Footprints are meant to be fleeting. This is a silly idea.”
I return the clay to my worktable, covering it only with paper to allow it to dry out a bit, but when I check it at bedtime, it’s dried hard, and I am unable to restore it with water. Now I understand why Marcus sent 2 packages of clay.

The next few days are spent negotiating with Jack, who finally agrees to try again if I provide him with a chicken foot. This is a treat introduced to Jack by Marcus, and so in the middle of a pandemic, I venture out to 3 various pet stores looking for chicken feet. I am pleasantly surprised to find them at a reasonable price, so I begin planning our third attempt at making a good impression. I’ve noticed that Jack can still pee like a boy on telephone poles, so he is able to raise a back foot without toppling over or pain. I discuss this with Jack, who sighs heavily and says, “sure, Mummy. Do you have my chicken foot?”

So, I begin again with fresh clay. This batch is a vibrant pink, and it looks pretty good to me just out of the package, so I decide not to add water this time and just press it into the frame as is. Jack and I position ourselves on the living room carpet with a chicken foot resting on the coffee table, looking poised for attack, and we begin. I raise Jack’s foot as if I were getting ready to towel dry it for him, then quickly place the frame underneath and set Jack’s foot down into it. He puts his weight on it for a few seconds, then I pick his foot straight up and pull the frame away. Jack sits down, looks at me pointedly, and asks if he can have his treat now.
“Good boy, Bubba. Go ahead,” I tell him, and he picks up the gnarled claw and walks away with it, crunching bones as he goes. The sound sets my teeth on edge, but I’m quickly smiling as I look at the clay. The impression is deep, detailed and not going away. It is, however, full of hair. Jack has bear paws for feet in the winter, and a bunch of hair has decided to stick to the clay. Oh, Oh. I tentatively try to remove some of it, but I’m making minor marks on the clay, so I stop and do the sensible thing and email Marcus asking if this can be fixed.
I am relieved to hear back that the hair won’t affect the outcome and that I should mix and pour the plaster and, once it’s dry, ship it to him as is, which is precisely what I did.

Bubba’s foot is now in Marcus’ hand, and he has wizardly plans for it, which he wrote about yesterday. (footy) I look forward to seeing what he makes of it. Jack is happy that the fuss is finished, but he still thinks that footprints are meant to be fleeting.