Monday, March 13, 2017

Self-challenge, self-gift

Just a quick post for this week's completed item.

While I was getting things put away in the new studio storage space I came across a piece of brass that I had air-chased for a cuff a while back and never finished. So I tested how well the new layout worked by seeing how fast I could finish it. Pretty fast, as it turns out. About half an hour.

To make sure it worked I tried it on. Darned if I didn't like it. I'd never made a piece for myself and decided this one would be mine.
What do you think?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

While I was out...

Apologies are in order. I haven't posted for nearly four weeks. The purpose of my self challenge was to push me to be more productive in the studio and to tell the world about it. It worked for a while but I think the pace of the Super Bowl Challenge burned me out. I needed to absorb the lessons and regroup. It showed me the pain points in the studio and pushed me to fix them. But I ought to have told that story to my friends on-line. So I'm going to do that. It's March, the days are getting longer and warmer. Spring is coming and I'm going to renew my art, my studio, and myself.

Here's what's happened while I've been absent from posting.

I installed a keyboard tray on my desk. That makes working at the computer a whole lot easier, particularly typing long blocks of text. It was a PITA because of the way the desk was built but now I can write without straining my back.

I also did a lot of adulting - going to doctors appointments, filing taxes, dealing with family issues. The death of a friend caused grief and care. The graveyard where my maternal grandparents are buried was the target of anti-Semitic vandalism. Their graves were not disturbed, but it was yet another emotional blow.

Toward the end of February I decided to change the jewelry bench topper and rearrange items in the shop. That took several days of clearing things from the bench, moving the topper off, moving power tools and shelving units around, rearranging boxes. I moved two sewing machines from near the bench to over by the bathroom. I made a path from the left side of the studio to the right side so I don't have to walk all the way around the hot bench and the stuff past it. I took a pair of shoe racks and put them on top of the bench to make a more useful organizer. I moved a shelving unit from its awkward location in the middle of the floor to the wall at the left of the bench.
Before the rearranging. Note the bench topper and the shelf sticking out on the left.
Afterward. New bench topper, Shelf moved. Stuff neatly placed on wall.
After resting from that work, I started on the next upgrade by salvaging pegboard from the garage and painting it white. Then I built a support frame for the pegboard and attached it to the wall next to the bench. I added hooks and put tools on it. It makes a big difference in the accessibility of hammers, saws and other tools that were either hard to get to or ended up in a clutter on the bench.
A lovely, easy-to-get-to wall o' tools.
With that done I tested the improvements by making a non-conforming die out of scrap acrylic sheet and tested it by dapping out two identical shapes in much less time than repousse would have taken.

I wanted some sort of holder for files that could be mounted under the bench top or under the shelves on the bench. They were stuck in a coffee can that was filled with a roll of carpet scrap. The files were protected from banging into each other but it made them difficult to get to. A better design would be a set of plastic tubes for them to rest in; each file in its own tube, handle out, ready to slide out and slide back in.

So I bought 10 feet of 3/4" PVC pipe for a file holder. The small pipe cutter I had raised a blister on the inside of my thumb just making the two cuts needed to get the pipe into the car. So I searched for the large pipe cutter that I knew I had but hadn't found before going to the hardware store. I sorted through all the boxes of tools and miscellany, ended up combining some, finding places for other stuff, generally clearing and consolidating for hours. But no pipe cutter. Then just as I was cleaning up and preparing to go upstairs it showed up - sitting on the shelves next to the jeweler's bench. Hours of searching, bending and standing, sorting, kneeling, all to find the thing I was looking for in plain sight. So I sat down and started cutting 8" lengths of PVC. Got 9 of them done before my arms gave out. The next day I finished cutting the tubes and hot glued them together. Let everything cool then loaded it up with files and put it in place on the bench.
Before - files in a can. Note the lazy susan lash-up on the right. That's gotta go

PVC and hot glue, So easy (once you've got the pipe cutter.)
Added a tube on the bottom to tilt everything up a little.
In place on the bench and loaded with files.
I cleaned up a rotating tool carousel that I'd gotten in a batch of crafting supplies and put tools into it, replacing the makeshift that I had on a lazy susan. Cleaned the bench top and sweeps/tool tray. That put the bench in good working order.
A clean bench top.

Much better now.

The view from the driver's seat.
There's yet more work to do. I still want some better storage for metals and a heavy bench that can take pounding. Racks for raising forging hammers and stakes. I'm debating moving the hot bench around the corner from the jeweler's bench. I could do that if I can pull electricity from elsewhere. I don't want both benches on the same circuit. The power tools still need a home. The whole place needs some decoration.

But that's in the future and I'll be back to posting weekly.