Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Practice makes better

Spirit Level 1
Original model, spirit level

As regular readers may remember, I built spirit level late last year, but was unhappy with several aspects of it.

Well, I've almost finished rebuilding it: bigger (4 inches wide when closed, instead of 3, 17 inches wide when opened) and better (several more models and half a side of leather later) than the original. I'm not sure where it's going to go (in the gallery/sale sense) quite yet, but I'll finally be done with it.

The building of the bigger version has been an adventure, and I'm so much happier with both the end product and the process.

I ended up making some reusable spacers in various widths and a nifty little corner-cutting jig to make my leather work both faster and more accurate, and splurged to buy a 60-mm Olfa rotary cutter, which has made working with leather sheer joy instead of frustrating trial.

The improvements in both speed and in quality are definitely measurable: I was able to construct the case entirely in just over an hour, including cutting the five pieces of board, laying them out and cutting the leather accurately, gluing the boards down, trimming the corners, gluing the turn-ins, and joining the side flaps to the outside portion.

When you consider that the first iteration took me the better part of two days -- most of which was taken up in lousy quality of my gelatine glue pot, along with poor measurement and cutting of materials -- that's pretty amazing.

All that's left is to print out the interior photo and text, cut the marbled endpapers, and finish the glue-up: using the finished case, I used some scrap paper to figure out sizes and plot where the folds will go, and adjust my InDesign file appropriately.

But I will take tomorrow off from books, or at least building them: I've got a greenhouse to construct, plants to repot, and a lot of time to spend doing laundry.

Canoists on the Bow River this past weekend. It was a warm day, but that water is coming straight off of this year's snowpack. Brrrrr!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

It's ssssssssssssssssspring!

The spring mating of snakes is a well known phenomenon in parts of Canada -- in particular, the red garter snakes of Narcisse, MB.

Imagine my surprise, when out running a few errands last Friday (a warm and sunny day), when I stumbled on the same phenomenon, albeit on a much smaller scale, in central Calgary.

Granted, I'm no herpetophile, but it's pretty fascinating.

Of course, today's weather is also spring here in Calgary -- dull grey rain. The weather office radar shows snow on the western edge of the city.

Which means it's too dark to knit without putting a light on, even in mid-morning. I've been on a socks kick lately (in my alleged spare time), but with finishing off my fourth pair within two months, I think I'll take a break for awhile. Here are the two most recent sets....

Summer socks

Confetti Socks

And a new blog has crossed my way: Impractical Labor in the Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA).

From their blog: Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts is a new organization for those who make experimental or conceptual work with obsolete technology. ...

Impractical Labor is a protest against contemporary industrial practices and values. Instead it favors independent workshop production by antiquated means and in relatively limited quantities. Economy of scale goes out the window, as does the myth that time must equal money. Impractical Labor seeks to restore the relationship between a maker and her tools; a maker and her time; a maker and what she makes. The process is the end, not the product. Impractical Labor is idealized labor: the labor of love.

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