Monday, April 30, 2007

Twistable 7

I'm not sure that much progress is visible, but all the bits and bobs are glued together. Tomorrow will be scorching day for the top. While that is going on I think I must do some more trimming on the legs. There are some parts that I find get in the way too much and those practical concerns must take precedent.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Twisting in

Quite a long day in the shop with wood dust. I had the clamps off the legs and twisted in the feet with a couple of lengths of 3/4 inch pipe. They weren't too far out, but one of the top struts seemed to have krept up a bit more than I would like. They are all trued up now though, and there are adjusters in case the top twists out or the floor is uneven.
I learnt a lot of simple techniques for making things true when on a stone masonry job. How to make a flat surface, and how to make another off of it at a certain angle, etc. All those things come in handy and are hard to forget once learnt, shame I never got the hang of times tables or anything much that was mathematical. Anyway, squinting across a couple of straight edges happens a lot, so here it is again done while kneeling on the floor.
Charcoal on cartridge 37x53cm

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Back in the winter overalls today as some stormy weather came through. I had the table upside down and I was just about to glue the bottom legs in when I remembered I hadn't cut the threads for the adjusters. I have two sets of tools for cutting male and female threads in wood, so I use the largest one for these jobs. The legs are now glued in and all strapped up and clamped for a few days, so back doing a bit more on the slab for the top.

Friday, April 27, 2007

No bananas

I am afraid today is one of those days where the hat is empty and no amount of scrabbling about inside will pull out a rabbit. I had a work related day, meeting and shopping, popping in at the police station to get my driving license renewed and generally checking that random elements of reality when taken by surprise are still there. I have hardly a scrap of energy left and even failed to get the stove burning to ease off the chill that falls still as the evenings draw down.
I did start drawing, but basically had to call it quits. As with everyone else I sometimes lose track of things and need a breather to get a grip on the fact that there is no real point to things, but we have to persevere anyway. Probably foolish to imagine I can achieve results when pooped. I hope all is well with the rest of the world and I look forward to making a fresh start tomorrow and getting the drawing done well before it gets round to midnight.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Still going

Back by the side of the piano, Sammy still manages to get on there most evenings. I am slightly less frequent in my efforts, but I do manage to have a go quite often. Too many other things to attend to, napping and the like. Actually not much time for shuteye today. I had the clamps off the table and got some work done shaping that. Also popped out to get some materials for the next door project. A beautiful day today, but still coming over chilly as soon as the sun set. Practically having to hold the eyelids open with toothpicks, time for sleep.
Compressed charcoal on cartridge

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Given the almost infinite number of jobs I should be working on, it is odd that I chose to take a nap. A friend came round for a chat this afternoon accompanied by a bottle of wine, so it is hardly surprising that on his departure my orbit eventually degraded to such an extent that I collided with the sofa. Having slept I am off out to pick up Sammy from the train station and face the remainder of the evening chores.
Pencil sketch

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thistle 3

The obsession continues. Well, actually it doesn't, but I had another go at the thistle drawing.
I glued up the top rank of table parts and poped over to put a patch on that roof job to make sure the rotten stuff won't fall on anybody. For the table I opted for a mixture of strap clamps or truck tie downs and pony clamps in the end, which seems to be working OK, I shall leave the thing tied up down there for a few days to make sure I get some hardening right to the core of the joint. Meanwhile there is work to do on the table top.
The annual hydrophobia injection was also administered today. Luckily it is only the dog that has to have one or the level of social unrest in Japan would be a lot higher. There is one little pup who gets a real dose of the toiletries every year, but the chap manages to get the needle in there somehow. Poop everywhere. Our pup doesn't even seem to feel the needle, but he gets pretty excited seeing lots of dogs all in one place.
Sammy passed his practical driving exam today also. So he just has to go and take his final written test and he is licensed to taxi.
We have had a return to chilly evenings, so I am sweltering on the sofa with the stove on. Back to work.
Colored chalk pastels on cartridge.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I accompanied Sammy on his walk with the dog as far as the coppery little item and sat for a bit as a break from the computer world. The first time I was attracted by the prickler there was a little beetle on it with very similar coloration. Anyway, thanks to that little session I am beginning to understand the construction a bit better. It is still a bit of a mystery how it all works in 3D, but I must get back to work now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thistle memory

Translation work up to the eyebrows, so stuck for time again. There is a newly forming thistle plant with very coppery leaves on a little scrappy area of ground on the route I walk the dog. I tried to submit the curvatures to memory on the walk today, but failed. Something about the way the leaf parts were staggered and pointed back and forth in cross patterns seemed to be the key. I will have another go tomorrow. That spot would be a suitable target for some light running now that my ankle joint seems to be fairly solid and manual work may well be on hold again, so excercise will be needed.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Saturday I have a chat on Skype, so I did my drawing early to compensate. I thought I would have a go at getting my nose in amongst the proffusion of tiny wild flowers about outside. No idea on names, but they are certainly attractive.
I was talking with the misses in the week about the way people were relating to each other in one of her many voluteer things. She said one of the women in her English course mentioned a principle of 2:6:2. In any group of people the proportion will break down in that way. So if you are in a group of 11 there will be two who you get on well with, two you can barely stand to talk to and 6 neutral. Obviously it depends on your point of view and other issues where you are in relation to anyone else in any group.
Even if one of the bad element leaves the group, the proportion will be maintained as one of the neutrals will become suddenly less tolerable. Likewise, if one of those you get on with leaves, a neutral person will suddenly seem more tolerable and take the place nearer to you. My wife said she would be happy to just mix with the 2 and ignore the rest. But the problem is while you are getting on in the little set with your head in the sand, the two you don't get on with sway the six undecideds into their way of thinking and life becomes more difficult for you in the group. You have to work on maintaining the status quo as each tiny issue arises or things become intolerable. You must have some confrontation to avoid major conflict.
During the ten years I have been doing the volunteer work at the school near our home there has only ever been one boy I found to be very twisted. Something like the chap in america. There was a sense of him manipulating others and deliberately trying to disrupt the activity in a strange way. I don't believe I ever let him get away with it. I have always found the best teachers to be those that are strict but fair. My least favourite teachers are soft and have class favorites. These incidentally usually become unpredictable and break down.
I remember one tiny incident where everybody was helping out to prepare for something and I asked the chap to go and get some water. He was very clever at ignoring this kind of thing, he would look at someone else nearby in the pretence that they had been the one spoken to. He walked away, but I followed him and tapped him on the shoulder and asked him again handing him the bucket. His method of pretence was detroyed and I got my bucket of water. The teacher commented on this later saying she had noticed this kid being in possesion of strange behavior modes and was glad to see me confront the situation, she also hoped (as I did myself) that more people would confront him on them. I don't know how he learnt these twists in his character, but I am sorry to say they will probably not be removed easily.
I guess tiny little events occur every day in our lives that can have major repurcussions later, especially in childhood, and it is our responsibility within any group we find ourselves in to confront those "bad" elements while they are still small. "Nip in the bud" is not just an expression, that minor involvement, "the finger in the dyke" will never get media coverage and may never be told of, whereas "the straw that broke the camels back" and "the worm that turned" are up our noses every day in the media. The 2:6:2 theory of the bad 2 changing the 6 is surely at work in groups with bullies remaining unbullied and the weak undermined, but it is also busily eating up mental energy within each of us as we make decisions each day, and anybody that manages to accumulate a bad eight is not going to be fun to work with.

Meanwhile, the air outside is unconcerned and truely balmy as dusk falls and everything changes.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bread and Brontes

The table top has been sitting in front of the house drying for a while and was a lot lighter, so I got sammy to help me carry it down to the shop. I had to see the two bits together to make sure it will be OK. It doesn't look too bad, so I will be glueing up soon if there are no more cuts to be made on the bandsaw.
I had some mental doodling while chiseling that I wrote out in word to paste in, so drawing time slipped by again.

I once heard someone talking on the wireless about the Bronte sisters, or at least something to do with the world they lived in. I somehow got it wiggled around in my head and started to relate it to kitchens. The theory was that back then each household might be run on very different lines as there was no media version of things to become universal and in rural areas people lived far enough apart that even a fairly miserable existence such as that of the sisters (due to some parental issues) was all they knew and so not entirely horrible to them. I think the same remained true for a long time. I was not so interested in all the “issues” that were on the table, but the many ways people do things differently.

Even when I was young I remember being really surprised at the way my Grandmother cut bread. She would hold the loaf up to her chest, butter the cut end and then, holding it even tighter to her, slice off the buttered end to go on the plate. How she came to this method I don’t know. But I haven’t seen it since. Now I think of it there was another butter related incident in my late teens when I was eating toast with someone and they cleaned the knife of some condiment by stabbing it horizontally into the edge their slice of toast. This was highly efficient as it cleaned both sides at once, but I could never get used to it having always scraped the knife on the edge of the slice one side at a time.

I only go into these things as it is gradually becoming my hope that the blog aspect of the Internet may bring about some dilution or diversificaion of the “media version” I mentioned earlier. The bad may be seen for what it is and the good become more widely known. There must be an infinite number of ways to “run your household”, but even though there are many millions of people in the world each with their own take on things, we each only really pick up the ways of those around us when we are young, so seeing something of the ways of many others through this media that does not deliver things up as ready made products might well be a positive thing at any time of life..

Well, if I write more I will inevitably drift from whatever minute point I had in the first place, so there we go.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Under the eaves

Another little job has come up working to repair a water damaged section of roof over a porch. I shan't be working on it for a bit, but I must go and patch it up next Tuesday if there is no rain. This is at a cafe where I have done some work on the interior and exterior. The beam I am crouched on is a wooden structure I made that marks the entrance to the cafe down some steps. Back to scrappy drawing again. Something to do with the weather I guess. Rain again today with a brief break in the evening. Perfect for observing how the water damage had happened.
Charcoal on cartridge

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Box rings

I had a go on the piano instead of drawing today, so only photos of the little box on the piano once it was shut down for the evening. I suppose the main point of the box is matching the grain up. Also making the lid cuts a little big and then sanding back for a tight fit as shown in yesterday's drawing with the vice. I had forgotten about making provision for some kind of adjusters for the table legs, so started on that today as well rather than glueing. The divet in the lid gives enough thumb purchase to slide open the box. I am not sure what the wood is, but it has 67 years worth of rings tip to tip.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guns and boxes

I popped the press handles on and did some final shaving on the table leg joints ready to glue them tomorrow. A friend asked me misses about a box I had made her for her glasses, so I made up a rough shape for a similar unit to be handed over next time they meet. I sliced up one of the many hunks of driftwood I have laid aside for this type of project into a lid and box sized lump. Then stuck a plywood template onto the face with double sided tape and routed out the box core and a dovetail rebate around the rim. Then sawed a dovetail rim around the lid and sanded that to final size. I make the lid too long and then hold the end in the vice to drive the lid in and out of its groove for a nice fit. That done I am ready to cut the lid to length and sand up the final shapely form.
Meanwhile someone else was busy shooting.
This record or even creative stuff in general often starts to seem like vanity or stupidity , but when I listen to the news I begin to see the antidote quality of this activity clearly again. And the military industrial complex also falls briefly into focus as a self perpetuating nonsense of weaponry. I wish all potential gunmen the will power to go straight to the suicide phase, or indead the miraculous ability to set their lives to a better purpose and start from nought with no thought of praise or reward.
Charcoal on cartridge.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Just a tiny bit of work downstairs today flaring the ends of some pipe for the press handles. Heating the end and driving it on to the little post in the background. It was galvanised pipe, so the zinc burning off was very sparkly. Sammy went in for his mock written test for driving and passed that, so he should be able to go in for the real thing soon. It was raining all day again, so I gave the chap a lift to the test center and then went on form there to visit a friend who lives further up the mountains, but he was out, so had a chat to his misses and then picked up sammy on the way back.
The owl saga is resolved, the school principle was right, I went back to the internet and found the night heron to be a dead match voice wise, then went out in the drizzle this evening and got a good silhouete of the mut flying. Hey ho.

Charcoal and a bit of colored chalk on cartridge

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Grinder break

I fiddled about most of the morning and then thought I would take a moment to finish a job I started a while back. I made two handles for the big press, but there is space for two more and I have found it inconvenient with just two, so I got back on the lathe and turned two more wooden grips and made up a couple more metal rods with round plates on the end. I still need to weld up some ferrules for the grips and stick the things on the press, but I am nearly done.
Charcoal variteies on cartridge

Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Phone

We all got our new phones today. It looks like we will have to pay for the priviledge of canceling the contracts for the old ones, but the service was just no good. It was nice for the kids to be able to use their phones in their own space, not have to sit in the corridor or walk down the road to get a signal. I am a bit slow at technology these days, so it took me a while to figure out stuff, but I am just about OK now, able to send and recieve mail and make a call. It was getting on my nerves that we were paying for phones that just didn't work one of the draw backs to living out in the sticks.
On a sinister note we found two dead toads in the ponds below the house, I am wondering if the water was just too deep for them or something. It seems strange that amphibians might drown, but I could see no real damage on the bodies to explain the fatality.
During the week I had my first class with the primary school kids and met the new principal. He assured me that the owl I have been hearing is a Night Heron. I am happy to accept that, but only if I can get a glimpse of the thing to prove it.
Time for bed, so on Artrage sketching again.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Every year there are a few male toads that stick around when all the whooha is over. Sometimes they get lucky with a late female arrival. My attention was attracted by such a pairing this afternoon, but I also noticed that the pond level had dropped. I got out the length of pipe I use to encourage the flow with a little suction. That didn't work well, so I checked further up the stream and found my collection tank needed a bit of attention. I dug around the feed pipes a little and got the flow of spring water going again, then went back to suck on the pipe again. I noticed how impressively grubby my hands were as I took a last look at the toadlings. It was a very quiet year again, I wonder if the population is dropping. The next froggy attraction will be the tree frogs egg laying as well as the two lots of tadpoles so far leaving the water. The table was on hold today with translation work taking most of the day.
Charcoal on cartridge 36x53cm


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Twist 7

I was a bit worried I had lost track looking at yesterday's picture, but I am losing the "woops" feeling now. I put in some center lines and depth cuts, which has made it a lot clearer to my eyes where I am going. I guess this is one of the reasons I like doing this stuff anyway. Nothing is defined, you start off with bits of wood and a methodology and gradually a thing appears. I like to take risks with the stuff as I make it to see if I can find something I like more than anything before or see new lines and junctions that could be used again.
I managed to get a few hours done in the shop, but the larger belt sander wimped out at the end of yesterday and pretended to be unusable. You can see the edge of the WD40 can and a few other signs that a little maintenance and general surgery persuaded it to give a few more years of service. On a practical note these pictures have one other use, I have just noticed that the extractor fan is still plugged in to the extension cord, so I must go down and unplug him with my trusty LED.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Table 6

Another day of savage entertainment. Back in an intermediate phase after a lot of gouging. I have most of my flow lines in now so I want to get it slimmer in the middle and perhaps simplify some more. Drawing is out the window for the moment, but this little record of a few days work is interesting for me to see. I nearly did go back to drawing today as taking the picture meant going back down to the shop in the rain to take the picture. We bought one of those LED torches with a crank handle, which is the bees knees for finding your way in the dark and it never runs out of batteries.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twistable 5

I am in the process of working the legs and stem together with inevitable changes to both. The air chisel and sander a big help in this, especially the air gouge. I must get on to some translation work on the computer now the evening has set in, so not enough brain cells for the additional task of drawing. I am happy to have the blog up and running again. All the drawing has been useful and even seeing these kind of photos up on a page helps to get perspective on the work ready for a fresh attack tomorrow. I can see I have a lot more chiseling in my immediate future.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Owl time

I should be helping Sammy out in the kitchen as we are on cook duty again today, so just a short SP. Time for a hair cut soon. We are being blessed with a lot of rain this spring. The plum trees are all done blossoming, but cherry and pear are now out together and looking lovely in the short sunny spells we had today. One recent birdy development is a frequent owl call, evening and quite late into the morning. It only matches a long eared male, the female call sounded a bit more raspy on the Internet recordings I found, so I hope he finds a suitable partner. I should really put the wellies on and go out and see if I can spot the chap. The call is a bit mobile, so the best approach would probably be to sit in an open spot and try to catch him in transit.
Compressed charcoal on cartridge


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sam relaxed

A bit late in the day again. We went in to Tokyo to meet up with relatives near and dear. Just to have a meal and then back out into the sticks. We were also planning to swap all our cell phones to a different company as the reception with soft bank (Vodafone) is getting increasingly bad. Sammy didn't have any ID with him for some inexplicable reason, so that was called off, but we will get it done soon as the cell phones are a boon for keeping in touch when all are away from home. It was incredible how bad the sales staff were. They seemed to think we knew what we wanted, which was a poor assumption. I was able to give them some hints as in, "The cheepest plan possible with a free phone attached", so that is what I will be searching for when we get it together to make the swap.
I was slightly distracted by the TV Sammy was watching as it was one of those before after home reform things about which I usually have a lot of things to think.
Charcoal on cartridge


Saturday, April 07, 2007


There is not much method to the toady breeding. If it moves the males jump on it until it makes a male noise or is otherwise unattractive. They are not interested in warm stuff, but if you let your hand sit in the water for a bit they will happily cling on to it once it is clammy enough. Their thumbs are like a little horn stub that gives their forelegs a mighty strong grip on their object of affection. Most of the time the guys have air sacks on their backs pumped up to help them float about and croak for company. If disturbed or successful in finding a partner they deflate and stay down making a cute bubbly noise as the air pops out of their nostrils. The females do pop up for air every now and then during mating, so it must be a strange time for the males riding piggy back needing a lot of energy, but not knowing when the next breather might come. Still I suppose they are designed for it and we have only ever had one casualty in the years I have been living by this pond. The males adopt the repel borders back leg stance if they touch anything and give some healthy kicks to anything that moves, the eggs are a mass like caviar at first, but quickly hydrate into the jelly strings we know and love. Not a noticeable climax with many individuals competing for partners this year perhaps that is yet to come.
Wash and compressed charcoal on cartridge 31x52cm


Friday, April 06, 2007

Back in Business

Well, here we are. Hopefully back in business. Google seems to have done something, I think they just stopped asking for the passwords.
Here is what I wrote for todays post on the temporary home.

I only got in a little time on the leg parts after all. Begining to get a sense of where the shapes might go. The pattern makers vice at bottom right is very useful. Here it is turned up 90 degrees to hold a peice at an angle for sanding. I try to kind of progress all the parts in turn so that I don't have to start from scratch on each one and go through to the end. That way the process gets a bit dull each time, whereas this way each little step is repeated a few times, and then a new one comes along. The steps in the curve were left as purchase for clamps, but I think they will still be there in the finished piece in some shape or form. The board at the back is not the table top, simply there to stop chippings from going all over when working with the gouge. I can't quite face drawing on this new space yet, but I will start on some toad studies tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cold again

The toads are here, but even they seem a little peaved by the sudden turn back to cold weather. So far only three spotted in the pond, there should be a few more soon. I spent a few hard hours on the big belt sander whiping the twists on the table into shape. If I am not side tracked tomorrow I will be onto the legs.
It has been tempting to leave the stove off, but the past couple of days really have been chilly, so we may get through our last bit of firewood for the year and be clear for a fresh start next year.
I tried looking at another of the sketches from the other day and working more into that rotating things about a bit.
Ran out of time as usual.
Compressed charcoal on cartridge 31x52cm

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I thought I would have a go at working from sketches for a bit after chating to my brother at the weekend on skype. I may stick with that approach for a bit if I find the toads do not appear for their annual soire, otherwise I am hoping to have a few sketches of them in here by the end of the week. This sketch is another whack based on the one from Sunday last, sammy working the mouse.
The misses is back safe from her little jaunt to France.

Compressed charcoal on cartridge 52x37cm

Monday, April 02, 2007


We had a bit of a strange day today. It is university entrance week, so we went in to town to meet up with Sammy to buy a suit. Strange to be in town with just the kids, but we managed OK. I was also on the look out for some ankle supporting footwear, but no luck. I'll have to try on the web. The recently established regimen of glucosamine has improved the joint a lot, but any further twisting would be nasty. Anyway, we are all running a bit late and sitting watching TV waiting for turns in the bath.
Compressed Charcoal on cartridge 31x42cm

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sam mouse

Back on my home projects today, putting in a couple of hours on the twisty table and then devoting half the afternoon to the AGM af the local community. Sammy has been away for a couple of days staying with friends from back when we lived in kamakura. He was just having a quick mouse around on the laptop here before tackling the washing up. Worthy of the super man T shirt he has on.
Compressed charcoal on cartridge