Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lesson 11. Spiders Suck

Dear Spiders,

I think you know that I take a very compassionate stance on most issues. So you'll forgive my candor if I just come out and say it. I hate you. I hate you blindly and without reason. My hate is simple and pure. There is only one prerequisite, and you've got it. 8 legs.

Now some people will stand up and defend you and say that you're a vital part of the ecosystem or some enduring symbol of God's devotion to all creatures big and small. Bullsh*t. You and your kind are a public menace. Street thugs. And I'm not going to take it any more.

You come into my house and spin your little webs and string up some fluffy pod full of 1500 or so of your disgusting evil progeny, and you think I'm not going to notice? You think you can just waltz in here and take over the joint? And I'm supposed to be thankful? Because you eat gnats and other small winged insects? No way. I've got the Orkin man for that, so if you want to dine chez Juliet, you're going to have to take me down first. And I'm not going down without a fight.

And furthermore, tell your friends in the liberal media, that their propaganda campaign is NOT going to work on me. As soon as you start spinning multi-syllabic verbal delights on those repulsive little death nets you like to leave all over my basement, then we'll talk. Until then, my can of Raid Max and I will be here... waiting for you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lesson 10. If at First You Don't Succeed, Scream and Break Things: The Ribbon Carousel

Yes, I'm back. And you can probably guess what I've been doing all this time. With the exception of a few therapeutic ribbon dyeing breaks and a whitewater rafting trip (more on this later), I've been trying to finish the mythical ribbon carousel. And here it is. In my not-so-attractive basement, aka The Lab. It's where the magic happens, what can I say.

So it's made. But not without a good story, of course. You see, the item that appears before you is not the only one of its kind. No, about 5 days ago another identical one was born, but as it came to pass, was exactly 1/2" too large to fit through my basement door. So I had the fun experience of busting the whole thing apart with a rubber mallet, cutting everything down an inch, and putting it all back together. Which was not fun, because it has about 150 pieces. Now it just needs to be painted and mounted on the base. I was thinking about doing a square base about 30" tall with storage drawers for extra ribbon not on display.

En train de making this beast, I also had a fun adventure of learning to make silicone molds. The little ribbon carvings are actually plaster casts I made of a wood carving I ordered from Van Dyke's Restorers. Originally I was going to put them at the top and the bottom, which would have been pricey, so I decided to cast many from one original. I ordered the original then went down to my local art supply store to get materials. I ended up getting both Smooth-on Oomoo 30 and Rebound 25, which are pour on and brush on mold silicones, respectively.

 I tried both, but I'm not sure I'd use either formulation in the future. The pour on kind made a good cast, but finding the right size container was a pain and my wooden carving wanted to float, letting the silicone get underneath. The brush on kind was a hassle because it takes 4 coats to get the mold thick enough, and I'm not sure the impression is quite as nice. What I really wanted was silicone putty, but it looks like I might have to order that from the internet. I used ordinary plaster of paris to make the carvings. I might rethink this too. They seem strong now but they were super fragile when I took them out of the molds. Maybe I should have just ordered the wooden ones.

And now for the whitewater rafting pic.

Yeah, you can't really see me in this picture and there's  reason for that. I had just taken a massive wave to the face and gotten knocked back into the seat behind me. Front left - you can kind of see my head.

Back to business. In other news I took some time out today to learn how to ombre dye ribbon. This was a bit tricky. You are supposed to get the gradient of color by dipping the ribbon into dye multiple times. The problem is that when you are working with a piece more than a few inches long you have to fold or wind the ribbon so you can hold it. As I found out this can create pattern problems as more dye soaks in on the outside layer because it is more exposed. The solution I found was to fold the ribbon really loosely and wiggle it vigorously into the dye. This seemed to drive the dye up in between the layers a little better.  I've been dyeing velvet but I would like to move on to some kind of taffeta if I can find one. What I really need is rayon but its not really produced in the US, which makes me crazy. I would have to import it.

I ended up sending this batch off to the mother of one of my friends. She is a florist and probably has a good eye for ribbon critiquing.

But alas, that's what I have been up to. I'm thinking about starting on the base for my carousel. Or maybe I should go exercise. Going to a charity ball on Saturday. Tried on the evening gown I bought last year during my pre-wedding fast-fest and let's just say it wasn't pretty. I kind of looked like a sausage in a too-tight casing. Depressing.