Friday, November 30, 2007

Haddock and Oil

Three bucket routine with the ash from the stove. Trash to be sieved in one, sieved ash in another and charcoal from the sieve in the third. The little drawing was done with a particularly obliging lump of charcoal from that same sieve, which I hope will last a while. I should have put on a mask for the dust, but I just held my breath and breathed in over my shoulder as there wasn't much to sieve.
The obvious topic for the day is the teddy naming, but that is so far fetched I am pretty sure that it must be just in my imagination, so I won't burden the web with it.
I had not noticed that BBC7 is doing a session of Alistair Cooke repeats at 13.15 each day, so that is my breakfast listening sorted for a few days. I hope they go on longer than a week but perhaps it is just on as some kind of tribute.
Scroll down to the right time here if interested.
He was always a one for starting out with something he had observed and then taking us listeners on a really long walk just to arrive back at the same spot, but with a fresh perspective on how he had got there in the first place.
Sunday morning breakfast when we were kids was accompanied by listening with improper comprehension, but due diligence to the soothing intellect of AC made manifest in that famous wireless voice. I intend no irreverence, but for me he is now forever associated with the menu of Smoked Haddock and brown bread and butter that was so often being imbibed simultaneously through a separate facial orifice. (Fish in the ear didn't come in till the Douglas Adams era.) I hope everyone on the planet has some similar comforting memory from childhood where food for the belly and the brains work in conjunction. Anyway, Haddock and almost every other white fish has been off the menu for several years now. Hopefully the population is working on a comeback that might arrive in time for my grandchildren, but knowing us lot they are probably being fished to extinction.
So, if you find yourself doubting the disappearance of oil and other fossilized natural resources, as the prices go up and down, remember the parable of the disappearing herring, cod and haddock.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


My last stop outside in the evening before I go in is at the wheelbarrow to cart enough wood for the stove to burn through the evening and still have enough to get things started the following day.
My first stop inside the door is the stove. I have a long piece of concrete rebar that has a little crook on the end. Usually things have burnt down and I scoop the charcoal up to the front next to the vent in the door and dump some dry stuff in to get things going again.
I have taken to wearing a bit of a life jacket type waistcoat to keep my shoulders warm. It has cheered things up in that area.
Apparently my pictures are a little blurry on occasion, so I must appologise for that. I am afraid I have very little ambition in performing this excercise of associating image and text for the day. My goal each evening as I take root on the sofa is only to reach the point of "anything" rather than "nothing". To take a little interest in passing.
The main story on the BBC (they seem to have a similar attitude to me) that took my attention today was the one laptop per child thing. I have been watching that for a while hoping I might be able to do a buy one give one thing, but the program is only being offered in north america. Sorry to see that they may be going with a pull string generator instead of a hand crank. I hope the thing comes to bits easily as the string in those things is the first to go on chainsaws and generators. They do seem to be thinking people, so I guess they have their reasons.
Bath time has come around, so off I go.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Talk of the devil.
I had a bit of a gruelling day up the scaffolding applying a gloop of emulsion paint and fine sand to the more fiddly walls of the roof structure. Writing about the sculpture suspension yesterday I was reminded that I should get on and update my homepage, and that in turn reminded me that I had a picture of the piece we were manhandling yesterday.
I like the idea of incorporating movement in sculpture. Not in the Calder sense of mobiles, but echoing the photographic phenomenon of defining one moment by the amount of time it takes to open and close the shutter. When the subject is in motion a long moment captures a wide arc of movement. In this photo the left hand shows it most as there appear to be two of them. Which forms are emphasized in the work really depends on the lighting. The ropes are a lot of finer strings wrapped around stones from the river like little ancient axe heads. These act as toggles as the rope is passed through one of the voids in the piece. The wood is a large limb of driftwood from the stockyard of our local reservoir.
Off to the office computer for rewriting work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rope a dope

Sculpture occupies more space in the world that 2D work. I have a few pieces about the place and my tendency is to string them up to get them out of the way while still having a sense of their presence. Sammy gave me a hand in this little circus act today standing on big upturned pickling buckets that happened to be close at hand. The sculpture in question is a big piece of driftwood carved into a kind of swimming human form that is actually designed to be displayed strung up utilizing little voids here and there in the work, but we were going for practicality rather than aesthetics. Even so the angle that the thing ended up at made it look like it was flying in to try and get through a nearby window.
The whole effort was part of a one day campaign on my part to tidy up some of the chaos outside the home and organize some of the flotsam that has collected here as a result of the renovation elsewhere.
I only recalled this episode as I started scribbling on the paper, so it was nice to have something to aim at even if it ended up as a confusion of bits and bobs, that is a fairly true portrait of those few moments in the day.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I don't want to give the impression that I am oblivious to the problems with my own mote ridden ocular organs. This is the area where I live viewed from a similar altitude to the wallpaper from yesterday. It was 21 years plus a couple of months ago when I first flew in to Japan. Those sort of planarian worm infestations on the mountains were one of the first things that struck me. They are golf courses. Although the mountains look green and healthy in the photo, a bit of a stroll on the ground reveals that most slopes with some kind of road access were stripped bare after the war and planted with cedar, which is why a large portion of the population of Tokyo can be seen sporting surgical masks in the early spring time as they try to keep out the pollen that comes to them carrying a nice coating of smog. There are a few areas of deciduous woodland left around here and it is obvious as you walk into them that the amount of bird song swells and there is a generally more airy feeling without the dense canopy of the conifers. The amazing government foresight in completely ignoring all known theories of supply and demand means that we now have an unsaleable glut of cedar clogging the mountain environment. I said this to a chap slightly connected with the government departments in question and he got a little bit heated taking it as an attack on his forebears that made the decision. It was of course, but it was more a plea for a bit more foresight in the actions being taken now as there are still mountains being planted with cedar.
It is nice to see that some clever chap held on to a big stand of bamboo that extends right up to the mountain ridges above our house. Cedar does not have a strong root base and would be a fairly untrustworthy safety net to hold the slopes up in a big quake or a typhoon like some of those we have seen in recent years. Bamboo builds a net of roots just below the surface and holds things in place, but it does have a reputation for delivering mud slides over vast distances as it is easily flattened and very slipy once lying down, which is why I am glad the stuff goes right up to the ridge.
The main forest product of this area used to be bamboo and bamboo charcoal. There are the ruins of several charcoal kilns up among the current stand of giant grasses.
I guess this photo is actually a pretty fair representation for the country. Only about 15 percent of the land is used for agriculture industry and human habitation. I'm not sure whether that includes forestry, I think not. Ah well, time to have a chat with the kids.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Too Tidy

I got distracted.
There is a morbid fascination in looking at north America on Google Earth, not just because of the disturbing resemblance to seventies wallpaper, but for the implications a change to the landscape on this scale must have. This is part of the square called Cheyene and an inset zoom in on one square of irrigated land in the neighbouring square of Sherman I think. The first time I zoomed in on the middle of the US I thought it was an anomaly produced by the mozaic of photos, but there really are vast areas divided up into square parcels of land with a lot of them containing circles formed by irrigation booms. I get the sense that you could slip in a few microscopic images of integrated circuits and nobody would notice the difference. It is fascinating how much detail there is and how damned tidily the whole lot has been divided up. If you are prone to panic attacks you might want to have a brown paper bag on hand before you start to contemplate too deeply how quickly this has happened and what this may mean for southern america and its status as the "lungs" of the earth. Better yet have a half a glass of something soothing before you start and that may give you enough ballast to keep an even keel. Thankfully a lot of the planet is still a little blurry in the pictures. If you don't have Google Earth on your machine give it a try, and let the old mind boggle a bit.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Winter wonder

Skype Saturday catching up, I have just expended my remaining energy fiddling on the pianio, so the crayons are still in the box.
The top of our stove was cut from a sheet of 1/2 inch thick steel that came from a big grill plate in a restaurant. We sometimes use it for cooking and I am keen to find more ways of getting value from the wood we use. We eat a lot of those little mikan oranges and sometimes put the skin on the stove. It gives a nice orangey scent to the homestead. It doesn't seem to make sense that this lovely shape will form the skin of a spherical object, the waves in the negative shape are nice too. All will shortly disappear into the hatch to come back as something else, but there are more Mikans in the bowl. And with a little care in peeling, the shape will appear again.
Last year I made several adjustments to the stove, but one I thought of never actually came to fruition. I was going to weld short lengths of steel bar on to the underside of the round hatch plate so that it would be hotter than the rest of the top for quicker hot water. Maybe next year.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tea total

I can still vaguely remember the first few times I drank tea and coffee. My daughter didn't start up that long ago despite the fact that she is now 21. She is definitely one of us addicts now and is getting over a bit of a one day cold. If you are from a culture without tea bags, this picture will be hard to interpret. There is something not quite right about letting the little paper tabs get into the drink, so they need tending to while the water goes in.
The Stove is earning its worth and it always has a kettle or two on board. There was a nice mixture of lights with the red glow from the fire down at knee height and the little light from above, so.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hod cuture

The chap came and did the first coat of rendering today. He has been relegated to doing sort of odd jobs due to the recent innovations in siding and wallpaper, but he served many years as a plasterer I think. It was nice to see the machine in action. There is a lot to learn from seeing a professional at work. He explained a long time ago that the hod I had knocked up in emulation of the ones I had seen as a kid was not the bees knees as it had several disadvantages over the number he presumably learned to make in his first hour of work as a kid. Mine was the board with a stick as in the bottom two line drawings. His is the one made from three sticks and a board, loaded up and resting at left and upside down to see the structure at right. I didn't draw in any nails, but it must be pretty clear where you would put them. The grip it affords makes you less tired for some reason, and it can be laid down to rest on any flat surface while still loaded, while the one stick has to be put down on a bucket or something to keep its load from sliding off.
I had always assumed one worked from the bottom up with rendering, but if you go from top down you can keep the edge of the hod flat against the wall and catch any bits that don't quite stick. As to the actual scoop up and spread movement of the trowel, I am afraid I would have to be a poet to do it justice. I must watch a bit more closely on the next coat, today I was busy fiddling with bits of copper flashing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I had another morning on the computer and then went to fit the hatch and the ceiling that would give it a place to be a hatch in. I couldn't quite get right up through it, but I think the chap who repaired the water works last time would be able to. I have found a few tools on job sites up in these little areas forgotten by their owners. It is easily done. Mr water left a can of gloop for joining pipes and a roll of insulation wrap as well as all the crappy rotten pipe. I handed the useful stuff over to the owners. Here I am reaching about up behind to grab the impact driver. My shoulder is still giving me jip, but still capable of some fairly weird stuff. I did make sure I knew which bit of the tool I was grabing so that I wouldn't get any surprises with it wobbling about off balance. It is interesting how many different ways of getting a picture of things there are in our brain boxes and how we can switch between them at will. I had a sense of the tool taking shape in my head as I felt about for the proper grip.
All ready for the rendering now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Squiffy frames

One of the reasons why the original porch roof rotted down so fast was that the water pipes were leaking. One of the iron pipes has been replaced with copper now, but the other that is still holding its own is still in place. I am making up a little frame for a hatch to allow access to that just in case another replacement job needs doing one day. When I was taking the porch roof off I forgot to mention a tiny little golum creature I found. All grey to match the siding boards. At first I thought it was a large silver fish, but it was a very small gecko. I hope he has not perished with all the work going on. He kept trying to hide under the tip of my pry bar, which was the very worst place to be.
My wife was busy with translation work and I didn't want to trip the breaker with welding, so I got the frame done with gas instead of TIG. A couple of bits of scrap stainless steel angle and a bit of spray paint to blend it in with the eventual white rendering look and we were done. Most of the day fiddling on the computer going over translations.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On the Carpet

This is one of the images from the strange little news book from my first year in school that started me on this blog. I remember that we had a new carpet with this sort of burning ember pattern on it and rolling around on the huge expanse of newness was a lot of fun when the furniture still hadn't been moved back into the room. I guess I have learned to fill up more of the paper since then, but my hand writing is still pretty bad. I don't remember any link with aunty, but I suppose there must have been one. Perhaps she brought the carpet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Our hoard of firewood has a more healthy look after my sawing and Sammy's stacking today. There is another row like this behind. The stove, which has made a few appearances in this blog has a rather upright design. Once the fire has been lit in the morning I usually only add wood from the hatch in the top. Even green hardwood like this cut only last week will burn nicely as the charcoal that builds up at the base of the fire heats the green on top and keeps everything going. There is also usually a good pile of charcoal left in the morning so I only need to add a little dry stuff to get a bit of a draught going and get it all started up again. The green wood does mean I have to clean the chimney pipe more often, but that is usually just a case of giving it a bit of a tap with the poker.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Still on keys

Pretty ploppy drawing, but just to show that Sammy is still on the keys at regular intervals during the week. I was on the Skype blower today and he stopped playing thinking it was in the way I suppose, but he is back on now. The great thing about our nastily out of tune piano is that we play it. I have never had to tell the young un to get on there. He just started up one day a few years ago after hearing me whacking away for some time before that. I guess he thought he could do just as well, and better. Touch wood, that is the way it is looking. We both change gradually, hopefully moving forward even if it is a bit of a hare and tortoise scenario with my shelled self failing to emulate the reptile of the tale and coming in last. However, in a peculiar plot twist (physiologically impossible in the original) the tortoise turns out to be the proud father of the winner in our version of the story, so happy endings all round.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I am pretty lazy when it comes to exercise and the like, but I have found that sleep does its work a lot better if I do a bit of stretching before buying the ticket to slumberland. I do quite a bit of nasty work in my day and several times over the past decade or so I have had that kind of back pain that means you have to actually hold on to your hips when walking to keep the top and bottom halves of the body joined together. It really feels so painful that the middle bit must snap off otherwise. I am a convert to the idea that all back pain is induced by the action of the legs. Relieving the stress on tense leg and bum muscles takes the pain away really quickly. Even one stretch on each side like this before sleep with no bouncing about or sudden moves has made that kind of extreme nastiness a thing of the past for me. I still feel like I am falling to bits, but not being cut in half anymore.
Incidentally, if you do have that kind of really bad lumbar pain and live a floor based existence as we do out here in Jippers, when you want to get up from lying down, roll over onto your front and then bring your knees up under you and get up from there. It works a lot better than the sideways or frontways approach for me, especially if you have something to hold on to to keep your balance.

Description of stretch in case you cannot interpret the above image.
Tuck your left foot up in against the inner thigh of the right leg. Spread the legs way apart if you can't do that. hold the right knee down with your right hand to keep the right leg flat on the floor. Reach out with your left hand to try and grab the toes of your right foot. You should not bounce to try and reach, just go as far as you can and hold that while breathing in a relaxed way for at least thirty seconds or so. When you get to the toes, you can make the stretch harder by pulling the toes toward you to make your calf muscles stretch more. Let your face go down onto your knee and just rest there once you have got the muscles stretchable enough to get there. You will probably find one side harder to do than the other, but they will even out in the end.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ranting again

Darkness falls so fast these days. I got in a good solid day at the site today, but I didn't have time yesterday to tidy up the stack of branches I had cut up or the wood Sammy had chopped, so I was out in the beam from the sensor light clambering over the pile to gather up wood for the evenings warmth. Trees are a very simple form of solar battery, storing the energy of five or ten years for us to use in a few hours. How can one not be frightened of the current system of burning the solar power stored over a positively geological period of time and releasing all the eons of carbon back into the environment while chopping down the forests that might fix it back in the earth. Being that a lot of kids these days can't even hold a pencil properly let alone manipulate a pair of chop sticks I wonder how many know that every single scrap of energy they use except the stuff from uranium comes from our nearest star. There are a lot of things to learn, but that should be pretty high on the list.
This rant is indirectly related to my encounter with bureaucracy today. I spotted some cardboard tubes from rolls of carpet or lino in a skip outside the city office and I popped in to ask if I could have a couple. I walked to the skip with the guy I asked as he didn't know what I meant. He said it wasn't their skip it belonged to people working inside. He called another man who said the same thing and also that they should cover the skip (presumably to stop people like me asking for stuff). This man in turn called another man who told me he would have to contact the people doing the work making it soun like they were in a different city. I asked if he could give me a couple of tubes and I would give him my contact details if there was a problem. Then he said well they are working on the second floor, so up we went, but the guys there said they had no skip, it belonged to the blokes working up on the roof. We went to the roof and there were the men I needed to see. They said "Dozo", which means go ahead. So I took some of the fresher looking tubes they had just relieved of their lino and saved them the trouble of carrying them down to the skip.
I think there used to be people who could say "Dozo" without having to ask five others in such an obvious case. Not anymore, my tax money is needed to employ people with no decision making power at all. As a parting shot my guide through the bureaumaze told me that if I had any of the tube bits left after I had used what I needed I must take full responsibility for disposing of them myself and not bring them back. I had not even thought of that as an alternative, so it was interesting to have this final glimpse into the realm of the super ridiculous before mounting my vehicle and returning to the real world.
I didn't get any tea in that little break from work, but I did get the sense that something of an entertaining show had been put on for me. The serious side to this is that none of the bureaumongers had a mobile number for the workers on the roof, or the sense to use it if they did, so in the likely event of an earthquake they would not have been able to confirm their safety. Mind you, the chaps with the helmets on looked a lot more able to handle adversity than the men with the pens in their pockets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another one

I only managed to get a few hours in at the site today due to other work and having missed out on regular tea time I sat to chat for a bit before popping back home. There is a little storage area beside the steps up to the road from the cafe and this is the glass door I made for that a while ago. I put an angle poise light in there so that they can point the light out from inside to light the steps at night and point it elsewhere when they need to fiddle about with stuff in the storage space. Like a lot of the stuff I make it doesn't show up that well on normal camera, there are all sorts of subtle reflections and shadows that the camera is happy to ignore. Even so I took a snap of it before leaving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I have the front of my roof area planked in ready to be papered and meshed for the mortar rendering. I thought I would be clever and drill the holes to mount the sign then put some pegs in there to keep them open while the mortaring is done. That meant I was able to do that tricky bit of marking and drilling with the section of 2x10 backing board down on the floor. Then I popped the plank in and when I had the lath planking on I drilled the holes through again from the back and tried the sign in place just to show the owners how it would look roughly. They were worried the lettering for the old sign would be a bit small, but I think it looks fine and they thought so too once it was up. The only bit missing is a little dot above the I in Amille. A made up word to suggest friendly meetings I think. It looks like the roof and the existing beam structure that I made back when they first opened will make a nice balance and frame the lettering nicely once everything is done. The windows aren't visible directly from the front unless you walk under the beam, but they can be glimpsed from either side.
I must get on and put in some cable for the lights as well. Today I was fiddling with bits of mesh all around the windows, then off to get more wood with Sammy just before darkness fell. Plenty of time for drawing, but no energy left. I need to get some back, so I'll have a pop at the piano instead.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Dusk found us yet again wielding lumps of wood. Sammy had been getting on with some chopping while I finished up at the site and I had a go with the chainsaw when I got back to lay him up some more axe fodder for tomorrow.
Earlier in the day this was the scene in my on site play space up the scaffolding with the windows in place and some tar paper on. I must see about buying some fine mesh to do the edges of the windows. Lots of fiddly jobs piling up as usual. My drawing time disappeared as I sorely needed a go with the hair trimmer and despite the comparative lack of foliage it still takes a few minutes to get done even with the nifty set of clippers Sammy bought recently. He is not so happy with them since they nearly scalped him the other day, but I guess everything new takes some getting used to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Scribbling and rotating the drawing pad eventually landed me with this image. I had Sammy come down and help out fitting the windows today. As you will have seen in the past couple of pictures there is a sandwich arrangement. The first slice of bread to go up was the one shown here, the thick sheet of plywood on the picture from Friday. That is screwed to battens fastened to the pillars and faces the lake to the south. Then we screwed the windows or the metaphorical cheese and lettuce in their proper positions and added more bread. Sammy has one piece of sandwich filling in his lap ready to hold it up in position. Of course as a sandwich this would be useless because the bread has holes cut into it and everything would fall out. Perhaps a new form of semi open sandwich that is designed to artistically frame the tasty contents would be the more correct, but overly complex metaphor.
Once we had got things battened down and unloaded the tools and whatnot at the site we popped off to get some of those branches I mentioned we were after. The rain began to pour just as we were putting the cover tarp back on the truck after unloading that, so I resigned to the sofa for a kip while the dusk drew down.

Incidentally, it was good to have everything ready to go up as it made the sudden appearance of the window more dramatic and my clients were all smiles. Also good to have a Helpy Helperson on hand, which is what kids are for.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


My outdoor plans were sent packing by rain. I flipped over the window and cut out a load of terracing shapes for the inside of the window wall section to give it some shapely 3D qualities and cast shadows hopefully. Yesterday I had it stood up at the end of the day to see the shadow from the other side to cut out the fiddly bits of polystyrene that seemed the easiest solution for the tiny trimming pieces. No doubt some folk find these sort of concoctions of media interesting, but I am only really happy with these bodged together structures when I know they will be covered up in the end. I will apply sections of fine wire mesh around the rims of the glass areas and a bit of caulking. The wire will be bonded in place with a hot glue gun on the glass, so the polystyrene won't get melted. This can all be disassembled for the trip to the site and the final hoist into place.
Saturday is Skype day for me and my dad and I also had a chat with my brother who has been hit by a nasty affliction of the right arm and shoulder that has left him in a bit of a pickle for the moment. Thanks to modern medicine, he has a name to give the problem, but there is no speedy remedy available. So if you are of a believing nature please divert some psychic energy in his direction, I know that is what I shall be doing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My playground

My playground for the afternoon after finishing some computer work. I made a set of six of these sort of windows for a restaurant back in 1995. They are made from two sheets of glass with stained glass fragments sandwiched in between. I am going to incorporate the two here in the south wall of the roofed area. I had hoped to be able to remove the glass sections, but that proved too much like the proverbial extraction of blood from a stone because I had done such an excellent job of setting them with silicon caulking. So, plan B was to encase the glass along with its wooden frame in the wall. The 1inch plywood I picked up the other week is coming into service again. Once the whole caboodle is up in place I will prepare it for a layer of mortar and rendering so the surround will have a sort of off white plaster look.
The preparation is to staple on tar paper and then wire mesh. I will add some little raised areas to give structure a little more of an organic feel I think. I am looking forward to getting the thing stuck up and I may be able to get Sammy to help me out with that tomorrow before we temporarily unload the truck of all the site based gubbins so that it can be put to service carrying a much needed dose of firewood. I popped into the yard where I needed to borrow some more scaffolding yesterday morning and they had been chopping branches off of Zelkova trees. So those are my target for some savage stick juggling entertainment with the young gentleman once the sun returns to the skies.
I received a mail this morning from someone who looks in on the blog regularly. Each time I hear anything back from this daily activity it makes it seem somewhat more worthwhile and less of an indulgence. So, my thanks to the correspondent in question and of course to anyone else reading these words.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Test card again

I spent the morning rearranging my informal scaffolding to give unobstructed access to the areas where walls will drop down on the south and east sides (facing SW here). But my afternoon was signed up for volunteer duty at the local primary school where we made some chairs out of the plywood from old table tennis tables that the incoming headmaster had taken a chainsaw to. I needed more than one jigsaw to get things moving a bit faster and had an inspiration on how to mend one of my old ones, which worked for almost the whole session before failing again. It is a Bosch number with a nifty blade grasping device with a wonderful design. The only problem is that they used plastic to execute the design and after a couple of months the thing busted. I had tried mending the thing before with all sorts of improvisations, but this time I had an inspiration involving lock ties, which seemed to work a treat. I'll stick the thing back up again one more time and if it lasts longer than a few hours I'll post the method of repair as there may be more than a few people out there with perfectly good jigsaws sitting on the shelf because of a tiny bit of plastic that has cracked. I don't think the company can have done more than five or ten minutes durability testing on that little widget. Anyway, my early departure from the site meant that there was still daylight so you can see more of the ins and outs in this picture, it kind of makes sense of the drawing back on Monday if you imagine me leaning out over the corner at the top here partially obscured by scaffolding.
The kids have sucked me dry of drawing energy for the moment.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


As usual I didn't think of taking a picture until it was nearly dark. This is my little playhouse, but there is not much to be seen. The scaffolding poles are 4meters at the longest, so that should give an idea of scale. My last job on site today apart from clambering up on the truck to pull down scrap wood from the scaffolding was cutting the rebate in the three lengths of 2x4 you can see along the front to house a backing board to hold the iron letters of the sign for the cafe. I got all the ceiling planking done today, so I will have to get the scaffolding arranged a bit better to do the little drop down walls. Then the plasterer chap can get going on it all once I have finished a bit more copper and I will get back up on top and finish off the flashing.
At least the photo does credit to the little truck that always waits about so patiently for me to get finished each day as well as the election poster under the window for Mr Goto, who ever he is. Neither the truck or I have a vote.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I spent ages chatting to my daughter this evening about her architecture course and then Sammy came up to announce that he had made a bit of a crime scene of the back of his head with the clippers. Somehow the guide had slipped and he had got some pretty savage bald spots. There wasn't much to be done but try and blend those in with the surrounding herbage by taking the guide off altogether and skimming, so I did my best. He'll be looking for a hat to wear tomorrow I think.
Anyway, the evening is nearly done and only time for this five minute sketch of me applying the Vulcan mind meld via the clippers.
He didn't wait for tomorrow, he has just slipped straight into one of those Peruvian type knitted hats. The same one as back on December 27 2006 I believe.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tiny nails

As you can tell from the underlying scribble. Today was another one where I had to just make random marks on the paper to encourage my brains to draw something.
I hope I will always be an amateur at everything, but I do sometimes wish I had a better set of brain cells for some things. It took me most of the afternoon to fit the row of copper along the front of the roof. Luckily I learned a lot about applying sheet metal to roofs when I ripped the roof off of part of our house a couple of years ago, particularly how to apply the last lot of flashing on a ridge with little clips that are nailed in under the flashing to engage a little lip of metal along the edge. Anyway as a treat for myself just as it was getting dark again I put on another of the corner decorations so that I would have something to look at while packing up for the day. I have just tacked it home with some tiny little nails. It was a bit of a struggle leaning over the edge to get my left hand to obey orders and put itself in the line of fire as well as use some of its digits to keep hold of the new piece snuggly in place. I use needle nosed pliers when I have a lot of pins to place otherwise there would be a digital rebellion. The pins are just a might longer than my fingers are wide, so the chaps get a little squished by each blow of the hammer when it is being forced through the sheet of metal.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Copper scrap

Working on more sections of copper to go around the roof today, rather intermittent efforts as I was helping out a little with my daughters reorganizing plan for her room. I had the oxypropane torch on hand to put some kind of patina on the copper and anneal it by heating it and dunking it in water with some copper sulphate in. At the end of the day I was suddenly inspired to see what kind of volume of metal I would get melting all the little scraps I had left from cutting out shapes the other day. I pounded a little depression in the earth outside the shop and melted the scraps into that. It made the blob on the stove top here, which I quickly squidged a bit under the press to see how bubbly it was. Rather more of a weighty mass than I had thought. I will look into some ways of utilizing these scraps for work. I think I could make up something with a scooped out fire brick for melting down and pouring copper into a small foam casting set up, or even see if the little graphite crucibles I have are up to the shock of that sudden heating.

The little leafy outcrop on the stove was added last autumn and is mainly decorative, but it also serves as a nice little grasping point when the stove is not too hot and the opening is useful for snapping up bits of thin wood that are just too long to fit in.
The hatch lid is highly useful for adding wood once the stove is running because opening the front door gets a bit hot and smoky.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Sometimes when I have worked on large figurative sculptures in the past there have been times when ones attentions suddenly seem rather too personal as if the thing takes on its own presence that imposes boundaries that have been crossed, particularly at dusk when the visual senses suffer from persuasion from internal messages more than external.
The simple roofing project doesn't entail anything like that. A bit more like those chaps crawling all over their elephants at bath time.
This morning I couldn't resist fitting a couple of the decorative pieces I made up yesterday for the eaves of the roof before I got on to the more important job of fitting a nasty little bit of copper flashing around a corner and popping on the last few rows of shingles. Just fingering the piece up under the edging here before marking it off to be cut to the angle of the roof and bending it to overlap a corresponding piece around the back. Perhaps I zoomed in a bit too much.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Copper beating

Today we were promised rain again, so I stayed off the roof and worked on some copper corner pieces for my project as well as pondering how to attach some windows. The copper sheet is only 0.3 mm thick, so I made some template pieces out of plywood to beat the copper around. I hold the template flat onto the copper cut roughly to shape with the appropriate part overhanging the edge of the bench and knock the copper up and over. That gives it a more solid look than just folding back the edges. I turn it over and give the surface a bit of a beating as well to add some texture.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Morning on the roof laying shingles, but the rain promised by the weather forecast finally showed up in the afternoon. So I was able to help out my daughter with some shelves she is making for her room and add a bit more to the birthday glass card in an extra hour or so. I always get a bit daunted with the drawing phase of these sort of 2D things. It doesn't seem as though it can possibly work out, so I end up just cutting out free hand for the most part and then stitching the patches of stuff together with little touches of engraving.
I try to keep in mind that I need to go in steps from light to dark, but I often mess up and have to remask areas that would be lightened up too much if left exposed. If they are tiny I can just stick my thumb over them to keep the sand off. (With a glove on of course)
I may have one last pop at them tomorrow morning as there is something throat patchy that seems to be needed, but tomorrow is the birthday, so there may not be time. Never mind, it is the thought that counts.