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Preparing for arts and crafts festivals this year

I’ve been using all my spare time lately getting my display walls ready for several festivals I plan to attend this year.  I had to devise some sort of lightweight yet sturdy wall system on which I could hang pictures.  The walls had to be pleasing to the eye as well.  I settled on canvas covered 1/4 inch plywood with 2×3 framing.  

This afternoon Jennifer and I did a practice run to see how easy/difficult setup would be.  It ended up taking about two hours in all to set up and connect the walls, place the tent over the walls and hang the pictures.  Many festival applications require a photo of one’s booth setup, which was part of our motivation for doing this today.  I’m glad our first set up was here at the house where I had access to my tools.  I ended up having to screw several parts together I hadn’t planned on, and using several more scraps of wood I wouldn’t have had at a festival.  

I guess I’m getting old because my back hurts now and I feel dead (I might also attribute the fatigue to my high school students).  It could have been worse though.  I might not have moved the walls so easily had it not been for my home made wall dolly.




Tools of the Trade

Pictured below are three wooden mallets I’ve made, and my Japanese dovetail saw (which I didn’t make).  The mallet on the left is the one I use the most, in fact almost every project I make involves this mallet at some point.  The head is made of walnut and the handle is a laminate of curly cherry and maple.  The middle one is hardly ever used, unless I need to be really delicate.  I’ve actually broken the handle on it twice and had to repair it, this is due to the irregular grain.  Both the head and handle are maple.  The mallet on the right is what I use when I need to break something.  The head is three inch thick solid oak and the handle is a hard, red, tropical wood known colloquially as “break ax.”   Image

Oak, maple and walnut box

This is one of several boxes I made one Christmas some years ago. When I visit with my family I am able to see how my creations are doing.  I like to visit pieces I have sold or given as gifts, they are kind of like children to me.  This particular box sits atop a cherry and maple table I recently made.  The box has quarter sawn oak sides with a curly maple lid.  The pull on the lid is walnut, as are the reinforcing splines on the corners of the box.  The box is about ten inches long and is great for hiding the small loose items that would otherwise clutter the coffee tables.  


Display on the Go

Yesterday I assembled two sections (one is seen below) of my mobile picture display walls that I’m getting ready for festivals and arts and crafts shows this summer.  Each wall will be comprised of two sections connected by hinges, which will ease transport, setup and protect the display surface, which is covered with canvas.  

Each section is a sandwich of two stained pine frames, with a sheet of 1/4 inch plywood and canvas in between.  I’ll insert hooks through the canvas and screw them into the plywood behind.  This will give me a fairly stable place to hang pictures, and the canvas surface will return to its pre-hole appearance very easily, provided I don’t tear the fibers.  I’m pretty excited about getting some exposure this summer, I haven’t really made a real effort at marketing my work or getting it out to the public until recently.  One of the show’s we’re getting ready for is Mountain Heritage Day at WCU this fall.  



Oak Book shelves

This bookshelf project involved building five separate units, each of which I carried down a staircase into the basement of the client (by myself ugh…).  There ended up being about $600 worth of plywood in the project and several board feet of custom milled oak face frames.  I remember building these shelves under my open carport on East Deep Creek Road, during the summer of 2007, when we still lived in Bryson City.  I had never undertaken such a large project before, so I didn’t realize what I was getting into.  I used a Skil-saw and a home-made straight edge cutting guide to cut all of the sides and shelf sections.  Attempting to cut a 4×8 foot sheet of plywood my small circular saw would have proved disastrous.  I came to appreciate saw blades with 60 to 80 teeth and the clean cuts they produced.   The shelves were finished with a coat of Win-wax Golden Pecan stain and two coats of polyurethane.

I have fond memories of my second year of woodworking under that carport.  We lived about 100 feet from Deep Creek, so I worked with the sound of flowing water in the background when the saw wasn’t running.  Occasionally my neighbor “UFO Mike” would walk over and visit me, and would invariably share with me some new piece of UFO evidence he had discovered.  Mike would come up in the summers and stay in his camper by the creek.  He never seemed to have a shirt on and was bald except for a pony tail that descended the back of his head, like something out of Mad Max Beyond Thunder-dome.


Experimental Etching

Print making was one of my favorite discoveries in college.  I had no idea how much I would enjoy the various printmaking processes.  Etching is one of those processes.  The technique involves using a variety of methods of applying acid to the surface of a zinc plate to create low spots.  In these low spots, ink is deposited through a laborious process of wiping the plate in a systematic circular fashion. The plate is then wiped clean, leaving ink in the low spots. Paper is placed on top of the plate and the sandwich is forced under the wheel on a printing press.  During this process the paper fibers are pushed into the low spots, where they grab onto the ink that remains. Removing the paper on the other side of the press reveals a mirror image of the zinc plate.  

Most of my time etching was spent experimenting with various mark making methods, so the one etching I made lacked the coherence and clarity I would have otherwise liked it to have.  Nevertheless I am still pleased with the print.  

Conrad E18 Etching Press



DNA, the language of life.  This incredible molecule codes for all of the parts of every living thing.  The DNA from one cell could be stretched out to about 6 feet long.