Take Baby Steps, Fast

This has been a disappointing day. It began with sunshine and quickly morphed into a grey cloudy day with occasional sprinkles. Needless to say the temperature has been cool. I love warm, to very warm days like those we had a couple of weeks ago. There is an upside to this kind of day, it is great for the garden. The soil remains damp which helps the seeds that Lovely planted germinate. Several of her plots are showing signs of major growth. I even sowed some flower seeds around the perimeter of her garden and they too are sprouting. Hopefully they will mature and yield some colorful blooms.

About a month ago I dumped two dozen comet goldfish into the pond and now I watch them grow in size and reduce in numbers. The most I can count is eleven, so where are the remaining thirteen? Most likely in the belly of a bright green frog that lays in wait at the edge of the water. I’m tempted to dump another dozen or two into the water to become cousins to the ones that are now three times the size of what they were when they were first released.

After I finish this post I will cut up a potato and plant the eyes in a pot just to see what transpires.

My latest art project is progressing although rather slowly. I’m beginning to lose interest. I have learned something though, that is, that every time I make my own pattern I make it too complicated. As an artist I am a realist and try to make my pieces accurate. That means I wind up with too many small pieces of complicated shapes in an attempt to capture the subject realistically. Oh well, I keep telling myself to take baby steps, which is what I do. The trick is to take baby steps but fast.

Good Old Boys

Yesterday I go the surprise of my life as I opened the door to Ryan’s Pub. It was Friday, and during lent I abstain from eating meat. Lovely had just returned from a doctor’s appointment where he performed a biopsy. She was not a happy camper. Our plan was to go to Ryan’s for a fish dinner, but that fell apart when I had to go alone.

Just inside the door of Ryan’s is a section of bar, and sitting there were four of my very best friends. They were just as surprised as I was and greeted me with open arms. Naturally, I had to have an adult pop while I waited for my fish order to go. I felt like a teen ager gabbing away with my buds. The biggest difference was the topic of conversation. As teen agers we would have discussed the girls and their mammary protrusions, but as octogenarians we discussed aches and pains.

My new intarsia project is taking shape, I promised myself to have it finished by May. I have completed the cutting and moved on to fitting. With over a hundred pieces there is a whole lot of fitting going on. At this point the picture is not very pretty, there are too many wide spaces between parts and it isn”t a picture yet. I feel good about the wood colors I selected this time the object should look pretty natural.


Making Dust

Intarsia is considered a craft, but it is also art. It is a little known art form which evolved from fifteenth century marquetry. Although marquetry is usually a picture in wood made from very thin and flat wood which is carefully inlaid onto another flat surface like a tabletop. Intarsia is very similar except the wood is thicker and shaped to give the picture three dimensions. Both Intarsia and marquetry came into existence somewhere in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A more modern form of Intarsia has come into being in the twentieth century. The latest form is less formal and more whimsical. It is what I endeavor to practice.

Many pieces that I craft are my original designs. So far the most pieces I made are from patterns designed by gifted artists. After making several pieces from patterns I began to experiment by adding a small touch of whimsy of my own. This practice is now evolving into completely original works.

My first Intarsia work circa 2000 A.D. Two Dolphins from a pattern

More work from patterns

Work from a pattern that has been embellished

COVID 19 Nurse, Thermometer added to a pattern design

The cloud, sky, grass, and the dandelion are touches to a pattern

The lure is an embellishment

My first original work. The image is from a calendar photo.

Horn Man from a photo of my grandson practicing his trumpet

Three Red Roses, from a photo

Cecil the Lion from a photo

Night Hunter, from a photo of a Barred Owl in Flight

Hummer Snack, from photos taken in my garden

Two White, One Red Rose, from photo

Coming in 2023 but to be unveiled later because I am just beginning the pattern design. A typical original work like Horn Man, Cecil the Lion, or Night Hunter can take up to five hundred hours of cutting, shaping, sanding, framing, and finishing. Because I pride myself on being a wood worker, I also make the frames. The round frame shown on the last photo has been my biggest challenge to date. Cecil the Lion is my favorite, and Horn Man took the longest.

I have gotten my inspiration from Intarsia artist Judy Gale Roberts.

It Finally Happened

For the past fifty or more years I have been working with woodworking machines. One thing I have learned is that kick-back on a table saw can be serious. For fifty years I have taken extreme care to set up my cuts so the possibility of a kick back was minimized. Today, I experienced a serious kick-back. A small piece of wood caught the spinning blade and shot back at me like a bullet. Ouch that hurt! It happened as fast as a bullet too. There was no time to react. In fact I didn’t realize the kick-back until the piece hit my arm at the inner elbow. I thank God that it didn’t hit me in the head. I would have dropped like a rock.

Insurance companies are always citing that accidents will happen, and show the probability. It is not that you will never have an accident, no matter how careful you are, it is only a matter of when it will happen.

In my case this happened because I was too comfortable with the cut I was making. The piece I wanted to end up with was small, and I thought the time it would take to jig it to reduce the possibility was not worth the effort. I know now that I was wrong. If the piece is small the possibility of a serious kick back is as great as working with a large piece. Small pieces get sucked into the spinning blade and are shot back with tremendous velocity.

Today, I learned a valuable lesson. Slow down and take every cut as if it is the one than will kill you.

Accident Statistics

A National Consumer League (NCL) fact sheet reports even more disturbing numbers, “an estimated 33,400 individuals required emergency department treatment to address injuries caused by table saws. Of these 30,800 (92 percent) were related to the victim making contact with the saw blade.” (2)

NCL goes on to explain, “More than 4,000 of these injuries require amputations – an average of 11 per day.” (3)

A survey conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported the estimated total of table/bench saws related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms for a two-year period was 79,500. This total represents 78% of the estimated total stationary saw injuries of 101,900. The numbers are based upon National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data. (4)

Christmas Shopping Post Covid

Lovely and I went shopping today, and were surprised with the traffic. Most of it was in the shopping center parking lot. She was returning a blouse to Ross and I was looking for brass tubing for a project. I thought Michael’s would have it. After grabbing a couple of bottles of paint in colors I don’t have I roamed the aisles of the story searching for brass tubing. Lovely found some really cool accent pieces to help brighten our home for the holidays. I finally broke with the man-thing tradition of not asking for directions and asked. The answer didn’t surprise me, “they don’t carry it.”

I darted for the check out only to be stopped by a line about fifty yards long, and not socially distanced. We crept along as five checkout people worked their asses off to move us along. The fifteen minute wait felt like eternity, but we finally made it out. Along the way we were entertained by a cute little three year old who was helping mommy shop. Ahead of the twin pigtailed blondie was a dark haired five year old boy who was helping his grammy shop. Both kids were exceptionally well behaved and socially engaging. Thank God for them helping us pass the time of day to get through this line.

On the way home I wound up lecturing Lovely about the sanity of shopping on a weekend when all the workers of the world are home. Old people like us should shop on week day mornings or early afternoons. She didn’t argue with me only nodded her head positively, and listened dutifully.

At home, I wound up spending another hour on the computer shopping Amazon for the needed tubing. It took long because of two things: 1. too may choices, and 2. everything is made in metric. I spent quite a bit of my time converting mm into inches so I could understand what to buy. I thought I was pretty good at the inch to mm conversions, but my knowledge has been on the shelf for thirty years. The cob webs got in the way of my mental conversions. I finally made a crib sheet which was a table of mm vs inches. The tubing is now on it’s way, and I will be able to finalize my wing flapping bird with metal bushings and axles. In the meantime watch my prototype bird flap below.