Monthly Archives: February 2009

Photos from Puerto Vallarta

two quick gal­leries with­out any edit­ing work -




I took a PMC (pre­cious met­al clay) work­shop with Mered­ith Arnold last week­end.

It took about 8 hours to make these four pieces in a class room. They are con­struc­tion sam­ples so fin­ish qual­i­ty is low.

PMC is nice to work with. The tools can be very sim­ple and it real­ly does work like mod­el­ing clay. (Though I’ve nev­er been so care­ful to cor­ral all the scraps of mod­el­ing clay.) A good qual­i­ty fin­ish takes work from the begin­ning and prob­a­bly would have dou­bled the time tak­en for each piece. Maybe tripled for the embed­ded glass one.

You can fire pieces made only of the sil­ver using a torch or propane fir­ing cone but to fire pieces with glass (or syn­thet­ic stones, or forms) in them you have to have a kiln.

The mate­r­i­al is expen­sive and the fir­ing is a prob­lem because i don’t want to spend $400 on a kiln just yet.

I’ll do more of this but not right now.

A sim­ple die stamped piece:

I made this using the rub­ber stamp that pro­vid­ed the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the Black Dog Farm logo.

our logo in fine silver

our logo in fine sil­ver

It was fired, wire brushed, and giv­en a short tum­ble with shot. At this mag­ni­fi­ca­tion (about 3X) and in the glar­ing sun­light the rough fin­ish shows. (and i think that’s cat hair…)

A lay­ered charm:

Cut with canape cut­ters. Attached with slip. The holes are hard to get smooth on both sides.

moon charm

moon charm

There’s a lump on the back that is result of get­ting air trapped in the clay while rolling it out. I was in too much of a hur­ry.

lump from an air bubble

lump from an air bub­ble

Fil­i­gree wrapped glass bead

This is a 38″ blue glass bead that I wrapped in sil­ver paste squeezed from a syringe.

pretty blue bead with silver filigree

pret­ty blue bead with sil­ver fil­i­gree

Work­ing with this fine a tip is hard but with prac­tice the results could be quite pret­ty. You can also make hol­low beads by using a form mate­r­i­al that will burn out.

Glass beads and cabo­chon embed­ded in sil­ver

There are three green glass beads and a diachron­ic glass cabo­chon.

leave pin

leaf pin

I think the sil­ver is too built up. I did some carv­ing to get bet­ter relief but not near­ly enough. As the clay dries it hits a sweet spot where carv­ing is easy and enjoy­able. So this could be real­ly nice.

Stenciling a Three Panel Screen, Part II

More on the screen for Jim’s office.

Once the sten­cil had had chance to dry I took the fab­ric pan­els off the screen (yeay vel­cro.) I didn’t do any prep work on the fab­ric  —  poly(?) can­vas. The paint will stick well enough and I don’t expect to try to wash the pan­els. By the time they’re dirty I’ll be bored with them and want to do some­thing else.

To hold the fab­ric steady I clipped it to the thick foam core boards that I use to stretch water­col­or paper. I mea­sured for a rough place­ment for the image and then eye­balled the fine align­ment.

I used brown paint (oil bar) and a large sten­cil brush. Because the sten­cil was paper coat­ed with lin­seed oil I couldn’t use the repo­si­tion­able adhe­sive that I use on plas­tic sten­cils. I used a lit­tle tape in each cor­ner and then worked care­ful­ly hold­ing the lit­tle tabs and bits down with my fin­gers as I paint­ed. It’s messy and a lit­tle slow but worked quite well.

Here’s one of the pan­els fin­ished and propped up for dry­ing.

single panel

sin­gle pan­el

I had planned to use two images on each screen. One fac­ing each direc­tion. So I start­ed with the two crows fac­ing left. Two pan­els have the crows in the top half and one has the crow in the bot­tom half. Then I would clean the sten­cil and flip it for the rest.

Oil paint takes a while to dry and I need­ed the flat space­back in my stu­dio so I hung the pan­els back on the screen. Fig­ur­ing that I’d take them down lat­er this week and do the rest of the sten­cil­ing.

panels drying

pan­els dry­ing

Oh nev­er mind — FINISHED!

And here’s my cel­e­bra­to­ry drink.



Lil­let over ice and orange slices. The ice cubes are shaped like stars!

Purple Book

I seem to be on a roll here with the pur­ple stuff.

This is a quick book bind­ing project. The text block was pur­chased from Paper Source. It comes with cov­er boards but with­out a spine board. Japan­ese paper and book cloth.

long format book

long for­mat book

I like this long for­mat for guest books or albums.



Stenciling a Three Panel Screen

In order to hide the backs of a num­ber of mon­i­tors and com­put­ers in Jim’s office we put up a cheap three pan­el screen.

the screen in jim's office

the screen in jim’s office

It’s very bor­ing thing. But… the pan­els are white “can­vas” and that means they don’t have to stay bor­ing. So I final­ly found a sten­cil that I want­ed to use in a new book “Sten­cil Me In


The birds on the right — crows! The orig­i­nal is only 8 inch­es tall and the screens are 60 inch­es — fill­ing them up with crows would be very busy. So… time to make the lit­tle crows into big crows. I have a scan­ner and Pho­to­shop and a print­er, and a lot of tape. And they are — 18 inch­es tall now.

enlarged stencil

enlarged sten­cil

Next to make a sten­cil. I used an old mani­la file fold­er. (You can still see the label if you look close­ly.) By tap­ing the enlarged sten­cil pat­tern over the top and cut­ting very care­ful­ly with an exac­to knife — two fresh blades — I end­ed up with a decent sten­cil.

Then I got out the lin­seed oil and rubbed it into the paper. It takes along time to cov­er the fold­er even­ly. Not too much (that would be gloopy) and not too lit­tle (that would be splotchy.) It took 24 hours for the sten­cil to dry enough that it wouldn’t bleed oil on the fab­ric.

oiling the stencil

oil­ing the sten­cil

Next up — the actu­al apply­ing of paint!

Purple is a Good Thing

Took an uphol­stery class at Pacif­ic Fab­rics over the week­end. I want to make new cush­ions for the porch fur­ni­ture.

purple is good!

pur­ple is good!

The result of about 5 hours of work is this love­ly and quite use­less cush­ion. I like the drip effect of the stripes and dots.

It’s not as hard as I thought but not easy either. Most­ly I end up with an aching back.

The Ice Trial, Gold Bar, WA Feb 1, 2009

Well, here we are at the start of a new tri­als sea­son. I hadn’t got­ten near­ly as much prac­tice over the win­ter as I’d hoped, part­ly due to the pres­sures of my job, and part­ly due to the 2 FEET of snow we had around christ­mas! yikes. That is real­ly unusu­al for west­ern Wash­ing­ton, and brought a lot of the area to a halt.

Any­way, final­ly got off my keis­ter the week before the event and put a clean fil­ter in the bike, a new spark plug, and turned the rear tire around, so as to wear the sharp edges off of the oth­er side of the knobs. Only took 3 tries to get the rim band to seat prop­er­ly and hold air. Need­less to say, it was a bit frus­trat­ing. Those Mon­te­sa-style flanged wheels look bet­ter and bet­ter all the time! Oh, and I also replaced the fork oil, and while doing so, I added an extra 50cc of oil to each leg hop­ing it would give me a bit more pre­load and spring pro­gres­sion than before. I weigh a bit more than you aver­age tri­als expert, so I fig­ured this might stop some of the bot­tom­ing that I’d been feel­ing. I also cranked up the pre­load on the rear shock about 14″. I might actu­al­ly need a slight­ly heav­ier spring in the back, but more on that lat­er.

Got out to the site, found a park­ing place and unloaded. Accord­ing to Edward, it was about 38 degrees F. Pret­ty chilly, but at least it wasn’t rain­ing or snow­ing on us. Went through my morn­ing rit­u­al: unload, sign-up, dress, set tire pres­sure, warm up, more cof­fee, warm up, and wait for start. I felt pret­ty good, although not ter­ri­bly relaxed on the bike, and the slight­ly stiffer sus­pen­sion felt real­ly good, more respon­sive to my weight trans­fers and a bit quick­er. Had a short dis­cus­sion with anoth­er rid­er about Group Check vs. Cross Check. I’ve made my opin­ions about Group Check known on this forum before, but this time I allowed as how I prob­a­bly dis­liked the idea of stand­ing around in 38-degree weath­er more than I dis­liked group check. It’s all about per­spec­tive, folks!

A short rid­ers meet­ing, explain­ing the new mark­ing sys­tem, and we’re ready. For those who haven’t seen it, the new mark­ing sys­tem we’re using here in PST works like this: for each group (morn­ing, after­noon), each class is assigned a col­or. When you are walk­ing a sec­tion, all you have to do is fol­low the arrows that are your col­or. For exam­ple, Advanced class was white. So I sim­ply had to fol­low the white arrows all day. Pret­ty sim­ple, and I thought it was easy to use. It’s still pos­si­ble to miss a mark­er, but it’s hard­er to mis-under­stand a sec­tion this way.

Gath­er up into groups and we’re off. Bit of a traf­fic jam at Sec­tion 1, but that’s give a chance to what oth­er rid­ers a bit. Looks like a typ­i­cal Gold Bar “Tech­ni­cal” sec­tion: lots of jumbly rocks, but noth­ing scary. Should be a cake­walk. Right. My back wheel gets kicked off line at the entrance gate, and I’m so stiff that I floun­der through with a 3. Many of the rest of the sec­tions were sim­i­lar, jumbly, slick, sharp rocks. Noth­ing dra­mat­ic, noth­ing scary, but chal­leng­ing of bike con­trol and line con­trol. There were real­ly only two excep­tions, Sec­tion 8 and Sec­tion 9. Sec­tion 8 was the Log Sec­tion. 3 Cross­ings of a slick log, seper­at­ed by 180-degree tight turns; The first cross­ing was easy, but you could get spooked going off of it, if you weren’t back far enough on the bike. My first time over, I wasn’t and felt the back end get very light and try to start to go over my head. The sec­ond cross­ing was the chal­lenge, as it was under­cut and the approach was lit­tered with a root and some rocks; you had to be per­fect­ly on line and have good tim­ing on the throt­tle and rear-end weight­ing. I flubbed this the last loop, didn’t get the clutch out in time; by the time the pow­er hit the rear wheel, the sus­pen­sion has already start­ed to set­tle up front and I plowed right into the log! ooof! I tried to recov­er by doing a stand­ing bounce up onto the log, but didn’t quite get ‘er up on top! dang! oh well. Sec­tion 9 was inter­est­ing in that it had some logs and some rocks, mixed togeth­er with some tight turns. Nev­er did get a clean here, as I couldn’t get the first sharp left-turn log cross­ing just right, took 1 every time. End­ed the event feel­ing pret­ty good, I tight­ened up dur­ing the sec­ond loop for some rea­son, then had a decent third loop, except for the above 5.

Over­all it was a very tech­ni­cal tri­al, and a bit eas­i­er than a lot of last years advanced tri­als. I believe the win­ning score was 34, where­as a lot of win­ning scores last year we’re in the 45 – 60 range. I don’t have a strong opin­ion about the score range, although I very much like the very tech­ni­cal tri­als, as opposed to the event with lots of big-scary obsta­cles. On one hand, the tech­ni­cal tri­als give me a bet­ter chance of going back to work on Mon­day with all my body parts intact, but I also under­stand the sen­ti­ment that these types of events don’t real­ly pre­pare our up-and-com­ing younger rid­ers to com­pete at the expert lev­el. I’d very much like to hear what you folks think about this.

All in all a good start to year. I’m excit­ed for the next event, have some ideas for a few more improve­ments to the bike, and plan on get­ting at least one prac­tice ses­sion in before that event.

Keep those feet up!

New Pictures

Two gal­leries of pic­tures from last week’s day-trip to the Fri­day Har­bor in the San Juan Islands for the pur­pose of pick­ing up the pig. (Yum­my fresh pork!)

First a gen­er­al gallery — most­ly shots that Jim took.

docking at anacortes

dock­ing at Ana­cortes

And a col­lec­tion, most­ly mine — a few of Jim’s, tak­en at the fer­ry dock at Lopez Island on the way to Fri­day Har­bor.

detail of a bumper (jim's photo)

detail of a bumper (jim’s pho­to)