Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Painted lampshade

My husband brought home a free lampshade, covered in fake silk of a dark, swampy green color. I decided that it would work best with my bedroom floor lamp, but not in that color, because the lamp is in shades of emerald green. I experimented with bleaching the lampshade, but the bleach had no effect on the synthetic fabric. So I went back to my original idea of painting it, using free white paint from the county hazardous waste site. I did two coats, with the brush strokes in one direction on the first coat, and in the perpendicular direction on the second, which adds a subtle texture between the raised designs on the fabric. It is nearly dry now, and looks like it will fit in well.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Loose ends

With the end of this pregnancy rapidly approaching, I've been finishing up a number of projects and downshifting into maintenance mode (which in itself takes up most of my energy). The last coat of linseed oil on the coffee table top is still drying, one week later. I gave the armchair its two coats of Danish oil--this gave it a light, pleasant finish. I've been trying to get the yard under control, which has been difficult because of the frequent rains. As I was doing the usual bread baking, I baked a few extra loaves for the freezer. Usually we try to have a couple of batches of boeuf bourguignon canned or frozen ahead of time, but with money very tight this time, we'll have to put it off until after the birth.

I've also been trying to do some deep cleaning and organizing, considering that it will probably be about six months (i.e., when baby achieves some measure of mobility) before I can take on any substantial projects in those areas. I've never had a nursery to decorate; cleaning and organizing have always been my nesting projects.

My husband found a free glider rocker and footstool at the curb. This just after we finally got our old rocker back from relatives who stored it for us when we moved. The fabric goes well with the family room, and it needed only a little cleaning up. The arms on it are very low, so probably it won't work well for nursing without pillows.

Since I usually go about a week past the due date, I schedule a potential outing or two for that time.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Crocheted garland with homemade hook

I recently made a trip to the dollar store, and came home with a ball of cotton twine to play with. The first thing I tried was knitting i-cord with it, which worked fine, but I wanted something with more texture to hang on the wall. So I turned to crochet, and to the simplest crochet stitch:  chain stitch. Then I started joining the chain at intervals to make loops:

The pattern is (after a few chain stitches to start off):  chain 7, do a single crochet stitch into the first of the chain 7 to form a loop, repeat. End with a few more chain stitches, if you want. The chain 7 makes a nice rhythm to the work. Not all of the loops hang down nicely; some like to flip, and some I had to make flip to even things out. When it was finished, I hung it across a wall in our TV room.

The hook in the picture is made from a hardwood dowel, whittled to shape. It is currently the only crochet hook that I have, and is a bit on the large side. It was not hard to make; I have even made hooks from fallen sticks before. I recommend shaping the top of the "head" first, and cutting the "throat" last. I didn't put a finish on it; homemade hooks (and knitting needles) will gradually take on a pleasant polish as they are used.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fun with hot glue

I have a hot glue gun, but I rarely use it. Today, however, called for spending some time playing rather than working.

I had some card stock samples in various colors, and chose matte gold. The simplest thing to do with random paper and hot glue is to cut out leaf shapes and glue them together, so I did. I wanted something to hang on the inside of the front door; something more angular than the wreath that was there, because of the shape of the door's window. So I cut a while and glued a while, and came up with something that I could hang on the door. It works well there; the metallic card stock shines without glare, and brings some light into that relatively dark corner.

Then I took the wreath that had been on the door, and hung it in the dining room, where it contributes to the color theme of red, deep teal, and white that is developing in that room. (This wreath was from the recent rummage sale, and I have been moving it around, looking for the right place for it.)

I also braided some scraps of paper to hang on the outside of the front door, but only temporarily as I plan to hang baby booties there when the time comes!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Increments of progress

Recently I:

Put up the clothesline. (This is a metal clothesline that I found on clearance at Walmart for $1 years ago, and bought, even though we were living in an apartment at the time.) Last winter, when we were without a dryer for some time, I figured that we saved about 75 cents per load by hanging laundry to dry.

Pulled out the receipt for our dehumidifier, which had gone from not working well to not working at all, and discovered that we had two days left to return it. I am going to mark these deadlines on the calendar, for future major purchases.

Started mending a child's favorite cotton sweater, which was unraveling in many places. This involves more or less re-knitting the dropped stitches with a pair of yarn needles, but I'm enjoying making skilled repairs--a little at a time.

Finished buying the most essential birth supplies and washing the sheets and towels that will be needed.

Looked up how to submit a claim to our health insurance company, as this midwife does not have a billing service. This company won't even put a blank claim form on their web page.

Put several coats of linseed oil on the top of the coffee table. Linseed oil is nice, but it's slow; each coat takes at least two or three days to dry (oxidize, actually). Three more coats to go. The oily rags are hung on the clothesline until trash day, to avoid spontaneous combustion.

Used a $5 off coupon to buy the Danish oil that I need to (finally) finish the armchair to match the couch. Danish oil is very fast, you can put on several coats in a single day, but that means you have to be extremely careful with the oily rags; read the directions.

Looked up the manual to the refrigerator online, and discovered that over-cooling may mean that the coils need to be vacuumed. Discovered that they certainly did need it; they looked like they had never been vacuumed. So far this has only helped the fridge to freeze our food more efficiently; there is an exhaust vent on the back that also should be cleaned. The fridge was installed into a niche with less than the recommended clearances, so it is very difficult to pull out, and it may be that we are stuck with overchilled food because of insufficient air flow around it.

Noticed that egg prices suddenly increased a lot here...to $2.99 per dozen for large eggs, and the store no longer carries flats of 30 eggs; a carton of 18 eggs now costs what a flat of 30 cost before. Instead, they filled the shelf space with several varieties of organic eggs that cost even more for only a dozen. Still, a dozen large generic eggs is 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) of very economical high-protein food.

Found a wood alto recorder at the thrift store, for $2, which must have been from God because I only saw it as I was making a quick second pass over the toys, before the store closed. (Soprano recorders are fairly common; altos are much rarer and more expensive.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to make a blank hardcover book, part 2

(Part 1 here.)

Here are the first, second, and third handmade blank books that I have made.

Continuing from Part 1:

Step 8:  Trim the text block. I skip this step, as you can see from the picture. As I recall, the best way to do this is to clamp the block firmly between two pieces of wood in a vise, and trim the edges with a very sharp chisel.

Step 9:  Cut the cover boards. (I make these from the heavy paperboard inside old three-ring binders.)  The cover boards should be somewhat longer and wider than the text block; if anything, I made them a bit too large on the most recent book. You may also, depending on your book, want to cut a piece for the back of the spine; I didn't.  A utility knife works well for cutting these, although it may take more than one pass. One source recommended slightly rounding the edges of the boards after cutting; I did this by burnishing (rubbing with some pressure) with a tool handle.

Interlude:  Making flour paste

Homemade flour paste is simple, cheap, and stronger than you might expect. The covers that I have glued on with it have stayed on, through months of daily use and abuse. PVA glue will also work for any of the gluing and pasting steps that follow.

Flour paste recipe:  1.5 cups cold water, 4 Tablespoons white flour. Whisk the flour into the water in a saucepan, and then stir constantly over medium heat until it boils. Let cool. This recipe makes far more paste than you need for a single book. Leftovers may be refrigerated and used later, until they start to get moldy.

Step 10:  There are different ways of dealing with the spine of the book at this point. The method that I learned is to make a flat tube of lining paper as wide and as long as the spine, and glue it to the spine.

Step 11:  Set cords into cover boards, and glue. (If you are using tapes, I believe they are simply glued to the outsides of the cover boards.) Make a hole in each cover board, about 1/2 inch in from the inside edge, for each cord to go through. (The cords will go from the spine to the outside of the cover boards, then in through the holes, where their ends will be glued down.) I used an awl to make the holes, a sharp nail would also work, or drilling. To keep from the cords from making bumps that show through the covering material, use a sharp knife to cut a shallow channel for each cord to run through to its hole. Then, one board at a time, bring the cords through the holes, trim so that there are two or three inches of cord to the inside of the cover board, and glue/paste the cords in place (on both sides). Since my cords are braided, I unbraid each end to the hole, and spread out the strands as I glue them down. Make sure the cords aren't pulled so tight that you can't open the book. Let dry.

Step 12:  Glue the outer covering onto the boards and spine. The outer covering is usually a single piece of material; leave extra to wrap around the edges of the boards, and to fold down in at the top and bottom of the spine. I find it easiest to cut the material on the large side, and trim it later. For the first two books I used suede and leather; this time I used denim.

Step 13:  Fold over the edges of the covering material, trim, and glue/paste down. I aim for 1/4 inch of material glued to the inside of the cover board, for each edge. I learned a handy trick for mitering the corners:  before you glue the edges, make a 45 degree cut at the corner, but instead of cutting this exactly at the corner, cut it two cover board thicknesses away from the corner. Or, you can bring the edges around, overlapping them at the corner, and cut through both layers at once with a sharp knife to make the miter.

Step 14:  Tip in end papers. End papers are folded sheets of paper pasted in before and after the text block; to "tip in" means to put paste or glue along the folded edge, and then press it into place. One source suggested doing this much earlier in the process, before trimming the text block; I tried that this time and wasn't happy with the result. Trim the end papers.

Step 15:  Line the inside covers. (If your cover material is thick, you may need to fit and glue something in beneath the lining first, to make the inside cover level.) It may be helpful to use scrap paper to keep paste/glue from going where it shouldn't.

Step 16:  Cover finishing. Fold the edges in at the top and the bottom of the spine, and perhaps glue them down, if you didn't already. With the most recent book, I cut the material too short here, and ended up sewing on extensions by hand. Decorate the cover as desired. In one version (middle book in the photo), I made a little loop of leather to hold a pen. But then I found that I prefer to use the pen to mark my spot, so that it is ready to use at all times. This time, with a denim cover instead of leather, I experimented with making corner protectors from sheet copper. I made a paper prototype/template first, cut and fitted the copper (which is from the art store and is thin enough to cut with scissors that I don't care too much about), and then secured each with a small copper rivet, through a hole drilled through the corner protector and the cover.

Somewhere in these later steps, the fancy stitching at the top and bottom of the inner spine that you see in real hardcover books can be done. I tried it with the first book, and failed to master it, and since then haven't bothered. Apparently this stitching is often faked, in commercial books.