Tuesday, August 31, 2010

30 Days of Creativity - #11

Waxing a Walking Stick

I was pretty desperate for something on this, day eleven of my 30 days of creativity. Fortunately, I was able to come up with something. The previous project (Moleskine-like notebook) involved the use of some beeswax that I had previously misplaced. Now that I knew where it was, I could put the final finish on a project I started over six months ago.

Figure 1. Rubbing on beeswax
Some years back, I had collected some branches from a willow tree growing near a pond in Falcon, Colorado. These branches are relatively straight and are now well-seasoned. They are just about the right diameter and length to be made into walking sticks. I have made two such walking sticks, the most recent one earlier in 2010. All it needed was some kind of a finish coat.

Figure 1. Melting beeswax with a heat gun

I prefer natural finishes on my walking sticks and previously had good results with beeswax. I think I read about doing that in a book somewhere. The beeswax feels good in the grip (ever so slightly sticky, but not too much) and gives the wood a subtle but pleasant luster. Sooooo, I got out the old beeswax and rubbed it all over the surface of said walking stick. It almost looked good. Almost.

Figure 3. Willow walking stick
Heating the Beeswax

You see, cold beeswax does not spread evenly on wood so the surface of the stick was covered with little globules of wax. Rubbing the stick hard with the palm of my hand to warm the wax did distribute it a little better, but not very well.

It was some time later (a couple of months) that I hit upon the way to get it to look good. I heated the wax with a hot air gun and that melted it it right away, distributing it evenly and in a very thin coat all over the stick. This heating process darkened the wax it slightly too, giving the walking stick a nice warm look. Done.

I might even make some more of these and sell them for ten or twelve bucks on Craig's List. I must have at least a dozen more branches of suitable dimensions for some pretty cool walking sticks.

Since revisiting my willow supply I have also tried turning willow on a lathe and it comes out well. It is light and easy to work material.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

30 Days of Creativity - #8, #9 and #10

Sounds easy doesn't it? Make something everyday for 30 days. Sheesh! (Note: My posts went into a hiatus because my images stopped uploading, but now they are working again).
The Moleskine-like Notebook Project

I love my 32-page Moleskine notebook. Is that pronounced like "skin" or like "skyne"? I don't know. I've seen several described projects for making various kinds of notebooks. I had previously stashed away some materials with which to make one, so today is the day I begin.

Figure 1. Notebook cover cut from an old grade book
I began by tracing the outline of my trusty Moleskine onto a piece of vinyl-like plastic materiel I salvaged from a no-longer-used teacher grade book. In a world of computer grade-keeping does anyone use those anymore? It was probably several months ago I was cleaning up and found it and immediately recognized that that material was ideal for making a notebook cover.

After tracing the shape I cut it out with scissors and free-handed the rounding of the corners. Looks okay!

Using the same Moleskine original cover I layed out a pattern for the pages on a piece of ghost grid archival graph paper for scientists and engineers that I had purchased at an Edward Tufte seminar several years ago. Good stuff that.
Figure 2. The cover material, paper and a Moleskine notebook
to use as a model.

Cutting the paper was tricky because it is hard o get them all the same size when cutting free-hand, and the edges get sort of rough when trying to cut too many at once with less-then-sharp scissors. I have no paper cutter. Again I free-handed the rounding of the page corners, with less than stellar success but I am not done yet!

Figure 3. Drilling the binding holes.
After putting the pages and the cover together I set it up on  drill press and drilled holes for the string to pass through for the binding. I used some black hemp cord coated with beeswax and a curved needle to run the thread through the holes. This comes out looking quite similar to the Moleskine binding, but the hemp I used is a bit thicker. A thinner hemp cord would work better.

All in all, it is a pretty reasonable substitute for a Moleskine and I think it will serve well as a highly portable pocket note keeping device.

Figure 4. Sewing the binding with waxed hemp cord.
Figure 5. The notebook compares well with a real Moleskine.

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