Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Texas Map

One good map deserves another and there's no rule saying they can't be awesome places in meat space.  So: Texas!  It seemed like a pretty good and natural choice.  I could keep going on making maps like this for a while but I suppose I do have other things that should get built.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Map of Westeros

I started carving maps as a way to practice my tooling.  All those coastlines and rivers require some pretty fine control of the swivel knife and there's plenty of practice with a beveler too.  I have maps for Eriador (LotR), Vanadiel (FFXI), and Khorvaire (D&D Eberron) hanging over my desk and it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that if I enjoyed them other people might too.  I hadn't done anything with Game of Thrones yet so that seemed pretty straight forward.

I'm pretty pleased with how the frame came out and I think I'll be making another map in short order.  Maybe one of Canada or Texas so they aren't all fantasy maps.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Postapocalyptic Leather Goggles

I've probably mentioned my upcoming trip to PAX South next year and this was the first piece of my cosplay outfit.  I've been building it in my head for a a few... well, long enough that I'm not sure how long anymore.  It isn't the most complicated pattern either, essentially just building a frame for wraparound sunglasses with leather.

I ordered the lenses from a shop that sells such things (for reference: AC Red Tifosi Strada lens) and broke out the ol' bison side so that it'd have a good weathered look.  The lens are sandwiched between that bison and some stoned oil and there's a little bit of deerskin to act as a noseguard mostly for comfort.  Without the edge of the leather rides directly on the skin and gets a little annoying after awhile.

I wasn't entirely sure how well the buttons would work to fix the whole thing closed but they turned out to work pretty well.  I had been concerned they wouldn't fasten tightly enough or would fasten too tightly but it turns out they worked pretty perfectly.

I'd originally envisioned something less mask-ish and more goggly but I reckon these will work pretty darn well for keeping those pesky UVs out of my eyes while wandering the Wasteland.

Papermaking Round 14

At least I think this is round 14...  In either case, I'd started using corn starch as a size and that's working pretty well.  I've also replaced the sponge with a rolling pin to squeeze the water from the pulp.  It's a bit messier and there's a certain knack I'm still working on, but it's vastly faster and produces a better, more burnished sheet in the end.  Round 15 was made with just printer paper pulp but I'm still waiting for the sheets to dry so I'm not sure how that's come out yet.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Paisley Pattern Guitar Strap

I have to say, this was a challenging commission.  The client wanted a larger than normal guitar strap tooled from end to end with no borders using a complex paisley pattern and they wanted it within a few weeks.  First I had to figure out what a paisley pattern is and it turns out it's a floral pattern with a heavy use of fractals and Fibonacci sequences, essentially a worst case scenario for leather carving.  Lots of precisely placed identical elements that only vary in size and only minutely at that.  That would probably explain why all the leather paisely guitar straps I found had printed, stitched, or embossed the pattern onto the leather, but none of them had tooled it.  I managed to find a couple of patterns that I thought might be toolable and after the client selected one I did a proof of concept just to be sure.

When the test showed that the pattern could be tooled I got everything ready to make the real thing.  I cut and cased a big leather strap and even made a tap-off figuring the work would go faster with one.  So naturally it turned out that the pattern was too complicated for a tap-off to work.  I wound up using 5-6 printouts (all of which have gone into my to-be-pulped bin) to transfer the patterns by hand.  I was hoping to get all the tooling done in one long day but we happened to be having a heat wave that day and the leather was decasing too quickly so I had to stow it by about 17:00.  It took another whole day to get the tooling finished.  I'd estimate it took a total of about 16-18 hours to finish all the tooling so it's probably a good thing I figured out a few ways keep the leather from decasing in half that time.

The final assembly with all the lining and trimming and staining and stitching and such took a day or two but didn't hold any surprises.  I'm pretty pleased with how the antiquing gel stains the leather.  Incidentally, so is the client who's immediately turned around and ordered a second one to be finished in four days.  So here I go again. =)

Friday, September 19, 2014

I got Mailbagged!

Just as I was starting to wonder whatever had happened to this thing I saw a pretty drastic spike (the Tested bump?) in my visits.  Upon investigating I found that Tested has just posted a new mailbag featuring the 2D Messenger Bag and a lovely model of a Gonk droid.  Looks like I should've added a few inches to the strap but they seem to like it.  Woot!

I've been busy with a commission for a large, intricate guitar strap for the past week and just got a commission to make a second one just like it.  So it looks like I'll be hopping busy at least until the end of the month (and no doubt beyond) but I'll try and get a blurb up in a few days about the strap.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Talking Nerdy Gear

Anyone who follows my twitter account no doubt knows that there's a bevy of excellent podcasts that I listen to while I'm working away at the workbench.  Among them is Cara Santa Maria's Talk Nerdy podcast which is pretty much what it sounds like.  Every Monday morning she releases an hourish long chat/interview with another science-y person usually around their science-y specialty or some social issues (or both).  These science-y persons come from all over the place so there's a pretty wide ranging diversity of topics, perspectives, and representations which is something I've had a hard time finding in other podcasts.  In any case, it's good stuff.  And also Nerd Corps.

As it happens, Ms. Maria is a fellow transplanted Texan and that might be why I felt I needed to make her a name belt of her very own.  I've listened to her podcasts long enough to have some ideas on what sorts of things should go on just such a belt, but as it turns out "CARA SANTA MARIA" in 1" tall letters doesn't leave a whole lot of room for tooling.  As I studied photos on the internet to try and get a guess at the size of the belt I reckoned some pyramid studs would probably match her aesthetic better anyway.

Being a cool person, Ms. Maria has a wee pup (no doubt suitability) named "Killer" and I didn't want to leave the little guy out.  Especially since I found a couple of teeny tiny conchos that looked like they'd match his little skull and crossbones tag he seems to have in any of the pictures I could find.  Though if trying derive a woman's belt size from a few pictures was challenging, I'm not really sure if it's at all practical to guess at a dog's collar size.  I have a suspicion it came out too large to make a serviceable collar but I guess I'll have to wait to find out.  If Canada Post's ETA is accurate then Ms. Maria and Killer should be getting their package about the time this goes live on the blog.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Papermaking Round 12

The weeks since we came back from Grand Forks have been too busy for me to find any time for making paper but fortunately that started to let up just a tad a couple days ago.  I've been starting to experiment with the chemistry of the paper which, at the moment, mostly means trying different size agents to see how they affect the result.  Size is the term for anything added to the pulp to make the paper more consistent, flexible, flat, etc.  In Batch 12 I used a water based contact cement and had what I would term as "moderate success."  The paper is slightly better than Batch 11 but not by an overly significant degree.  As soon as I hit the baking aisle at the grocery store and free up a few more hours, we'll see how Batch 13 turns out.

"Garry" Name Belt

Name belts are something of a staple for the leatherworker, or at least they have been for me.  I seem to make at least a couple every year now and I expect/hope that they'll be ever more frequent.  This particular belt was made on commission from my Grandmother-in-law for one of her brothers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2D Messenger Bag Prototype

This is largely the reason why it's been pretty quiet around here for awhile.  I'd gotten the notion from a Tested video showing a bag of similar design that Will had bought off Amazon.  In the video he mentions a few things he wished were different about the bag he had and I figured I could make all those things happen.  The bag itself is simple enough to understand when you look at it but turns out to be fairly difficult to describe to people with words.  As I understand it, the original inspiration was apparently cartoons but my first thought were the classic sprite-based graphics in what we'd now call "retro" video games.

It was a few months before I had the chance to give it a go due to other projects and that whole life thing and it turned out to be an unexpectedly complicated build when I got down to it.  There's a little more than a dozen pieces of leather stacked in about four layers with contours that have to line up just so.  That may not sound like much but five days of holding the mental CAD pattern for this thing in my head was giving me a headache.  The result of which is a prototype that's taught me a fair bit and is currently on its way to San Francisco for Mr. Smith and Mr. Chan to gauge (one might even say "test") whether it meets their criteria.  I'm looking forward to what they'll have to say but in the meantime, interested parties can always order their very own custom 2D messenger bag through the Etsy store.