Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Carving Knife

A friend who has arthritis in his hand wanted a new small carving knife for carving details in cottonwood bark. I decided to use a small knife blade made from small pen file. I felt that a larger, fatter handle would be more comfortable for my friend. Here is the step-by-step process that I went through. The first photo is of the knife made from a pen file.
This photo is of the blade and a drill bit. Notice that the drill bit diameter is a little larger than the knife shank.
I selected a piece of walnut for the handle. I made a pattern of the handle profile, and traced the pattern on the walnut blank. The handle is ready to cut out.
Cut out the handle, but leave a flat bottom at the end of the handle. Set the handle blank on a flat surface, locate the center of the blade end of the blank. At the marked center, drill the hole to accept the knife blade shank.
Without the blade in the handle, rough shape the handle. I use a drum sander in a rotary tool.
Wrap the handle and the cutting end of the knife blade with masking tape. This will protect the wood and the cutting surface of the knife from the epoxy. Mix up the epoxy and put come into the hole in the handle. Roll the knife blade shank in the epoxy and push it into the hole. Position and align the blade and let cure.
After the epoxy has cured, remove the masking tape and finish sand the handle. Apply any type of finish you want.
The idea here was to create a detail carving knife that would be more comfortable to use, when your hands might be tired or sore. I think carving with the fatter handled knife after using smaller ones will achieve the goal.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting Old!

Every now and then when I look into the mirror, I see an old guy lookin back at me. Some folks say the process of getting old is gradual. I'm not so sure of that. What about the time when a guy looses 12 - 15 pounds over night? Any ol guy readin this will know what I am talking about. You go bed and everything is normal. You look the same (pretty much) as you usually do. You wake up the next day and get dressed, but your pants are too loose. You think,"wow! that's neat. You go down to eat breakfast, and mention it to your wife. Your wife takes one look and starts to giggle, and states, "your butts gone". You say, "what", and go look into a mirror. And sure enough, your pants are loose and flat in the back where your butt used to be.

That is one of the first signs of old age. And it happens over night.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A New Challenge That I Have Accepted

On another blog my daughter and another quilter have accepted a challenge to make 100 little doll quilts in a year (next year). Well, my daughter challenged me to do the same thing. There's no way I could ever get 100 little doll quilts done in a year. So, not wanting to appear to be a slacker, I said, "I'll carve 100 Santa ornaments and/or pins". That's not so many to carve. Besides I'll get better with the practice. Suddenly it occurred to me, "what will I do with 100 carved Santa's"? My next thought was to somehow work them into my Blog. I thought that someone might be able to use the Santa's in some way to help make Christmas better for others. At that point my mind quick working, and I hit a dead end. But when one is writing an entry on a Blog there never is a dead end.

So, this is what I am proposing. I will carve 100 Santa's. I will donate them to someone who will put the Santa's to use helping others. What I need from the readers of this Blog who wish to participate, is a description of how you would put the Santa's to use helping others. I will post those ideas, and you all can then help me select the "winner".

Friday, December 26, 2008

An Old Friend

Spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day East of Cleveland, Ohio - smack dab in the middle of the lake effect snow belt. However, this year very little snow, just rain, ice and all associated yuck. Was at my daughters house, where I got reacquinted with a rag flannel quilt I made several years ago. This is the quilt where you cut the top flannel and bottom flannel squares, and then cut the batting. Then you sandwich the three together and machine quilt the individual squares. As soon as you get enough you sew the squares together with the one inch seams open to the top, where they will fray. This is a super easy quilt to make. And when the outside temperature is around 38 degrees and pouring rain this is the quilt to wrap up in.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tole Painted Santa

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas. This hand painted fellow is perfect. Several years ago my wife decided to take a tole painting class. I think this might have been her first project. I also think that it is excellent. A great example of tole painting. I thought maybe I could talk her into painting some of my carvings. If you have looked closely at my painted carvings I am sure you can tell that I have not been successful.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Ornament Swap

I am a member of Woodcarving Illustrated magazines message board. Several members have participated in the annual Christmas Tree Ornament swap. This Christmas wreath is decked out with the hand carved ornaments that have been sent to me. This swap is different from the doll quilt swaps. If there are 20 members participating in the swap, you have to carve 20 ornaments and send them out. Of course, the really neat thing is that you 20 back. I think you'll agree that there are some very fine carved ornaments here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Forty some years ago I learned that my wife was not a morning person. That meant no prepared breakfasts for me. Well, for the past 18 years I have been driving down the road to a local diner owned and operated by three Greek brothers, for my breakfast. Before they had the diner they had a bar, which I also was known to visit. By now I know these fellows well. In fact several of us have grown old during this time. For years whenever conversations at the diner got around to crooked politicians, welfare cheaters, and other local misfits the Greek brothers would say "to The Hole with them". It wasn't long before someone asked what they were talking about. They explained that in the Greek history of Sparta (which is the region they are from) they had a bottomless hole. And that into this hole they threw all their enemies, crooked leaders, and anyone who could not or would not contribute to their society. The "hole" was featured in the current movie "THE 300". Anyway, the Greek brothers were raised with threats of "To the Hole" if they did not behave.

This simple carving of "The Hole" , plus a bottle of excellent Greek Brandy is my Christmas present for the brothers. Now , when confronted with an unpleasant customer they can just point, instead of muttering "To the Hole".

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Traditions?

Well, the holiday season is upon us. To a lot of us this means Christmas. And Christmas means a lot of different thing to us also. Among what Christmas means is family and traditions. Traditions being those things that memories are made of. As I look around me, I see what might be the birth of new traditions. I hope what I see don't all become traditions. My memories and traditions might be replaced with the "new".

* Mine!

*Family goes outside and spends time together picking out a Christmas tree then cuts it down.
To many times now, mom goes to the basement and brings up the predecorated artificial tree.

*Everybody gathers around the radio, record player, or Grams piano and listens to Christmas songs.
Now kids are in their rooms or elsewhere, with things plugged into their ears, listening to who knows what.

*Family loads up the car with presents and heads to Grandpas and Grandmas house.
Too many now just give em a call on the cell, or Instant Message.

*Not too long ago kids still wanted lots of things for Christmas, but only really asked for 1 or 2.
Kids today ask for everything they saw on TV and probably expect it too.

*Church on Christmas Eve.
Each family member watching a different DVD.

*Mom, dad, the whole family making and decorating cookies.
Buy an assortment at the bakery.

I like my memories better!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fridays Blog topics - all dried up!

I have run out of ideas for todays posting. Nothing happened today that would be of any interest to anyone, unless they had a sewer plant being built across the road from their house. I just spent the day in meetings on that issue. My daughter said take the day off. To that I said "won't the Blog police come after me for not posting?" Sorry, I'll have to stir the pot tomorrow, to see what comes to the surface.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I should have asked, someone should have told me! But, alas! nobody said a word. Everybody let me discover that RICK-RACK shrinks when it is sewn. And Kelly, if you're readin this; I am also holdin you responsible too. After all it was you who sent me the fabric and the rick-rack to be made into a doll quilt. However, in defense of Kelly, she did send some ribbon too and left the choice up to me. But I was never warned about rick-rack.

First, I tried to sew it on with the machine. I couldn't even keep the stitches within the edges of the rick-rack. It became evident that maybe one must hand sew the rick-rack on. Okay, I can do this. I pinned the rick-rack around an inner border and left about one inch overlap at the end, then cut it. Found some yellow thread that matched the rick-rack and started hand stitchin it on. No problem. It takes a while, but still no problem. No problem until I get to the end and find out that while you hand stitch rick-rack it shrinks. It has ended up one 1/2 inch short.

I tried pullin my hair out, but well, it's already bout all out. What'll I do?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Small Stuff!

Just how far does a genetic predisposition go between parents and their children? We all know that a predisposition for certain medical conditions can be passed on to children. We can all see evidence of physical characteristics too. Most kids looks just like one or both of their parents. But does a predisposition also include things like likes And dislikes, interests, etc, etc. I say YES!

When I began to carve, I soon found out that I preferred to carve "small".

When my daughter started making quilts, she soon found out that she preferred making quilts that were composed of very small squares. You can judge the size of the log cabin squares in this large lap quilt by comparing them to the ruler.

And the doll quilt is only about 8 inches square in total. I just wonder how many other "predispositions" exist. Lets hope just the "good" ones.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

At The Senior Center

Every Tuesday morning I go to the local Senior Center and meet with a group of others and carve. This Tuesday was no different. This first photo is of a Cottonwood Bark carving in process. This carving will be Gnome Houses, carved to look like they were made from stones and rocks. Cottonwood Bark is a soft woody fun thing to carve.
This second photo is of two carved spoons.

This is what happens when you drop a wood spoon on the floor. A job for super glue, for sure.
Nope, this one is not carved wood. This is limestone. One of the fellows carved this. He's real fine wood carver, now it looks like he's a fine stone carver too.
Since this blog is titled Quilting and Carving, thought I'd add this photo. As I walked into the senior center this morning, these quilts were displayed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Cards!

Lets hear it for gift cards! Hip Hip Hooray! Not enough time to be a serious shopper. Not enough good gift ideas to be a serious shopper. Too many problems with shopping, trying to determine what gift will be liked. Lets hear it for gift cards! Hooray!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Banned From The Mall

We have a rather large and modern Fashion Mall in our area. I only go to this mall twice a year. Once when daughter and grand daughter visit in the summer and once at Christmas time. Well the other day was the Christmas trip. Had some last minute presents to get. My wife did, I haven't started yet. After this last trip I don't think they'll let me in the Mall again. Both the Mall management and my wife are probably drawing up papers right now. I just don't understand it. How can I be insensitive, I was just trying to be helpful. Here's the rest of the story:

My wife went into Sephora (expensive makeup store) and I choose to sit in the mall area and wait for her. I didn't want her to feel rushed, with me lookin over her shoulder. I selected a bench kinda in front of the Victorias Secret store. There were a lot of girls and women going in and out. I mean a lot of younger girls in line to get in. I noticed that more than half of these young girls were a tad bit on the big size. All I wanted to do was keep them from being so disappointed, when I told them that there wasn't a long line at the Lane Bryant shop. Oh! and then there was issue of me telling the clerk in the Hollisters shop that she could hear us and see us if she turned the music down, and turn some lights on. I don't really want to go back anyway. Just walking by the kids play area was enough for me to get some kid cooties and a sore throat and ear ache.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bag The Presents

Every year during the Christmas season, folks know what presents are from me, before they are handed out. There is usually some snickering, and a little outright laughing, because of the way that I have wrapped them. It seems that I always do a messy job of it, with way too much tape. The corners are all messed up with extra folds and wrinkles. I never realized that it was just like making a bed with hospital corners, until right now. I usually have to splice a piece of extra wrapping paper, to cover part of the gift, because I cut the paper too small. BUT NOT THIS YEAR! Last year after Christmas, Walmart was closing out their fabric in a smaller local store. All fabric was $1.00 a yard, but Christmas fabric was $ .50 a yard. I bought yards of the stuff, and have cut and sewn it into large and smaller draw string bags. I have three different sizes of bags to use. Now I just have to be sure that the present in the bag is worth more than the bag itself. I am also considering adding a tag to the bag that reminds some of the folks that the bag can be recycled. It could even be recycled next Christmas with a present for me. I doubt that I could get away with that. But there better not be any more snickering and laughing at the way I wrap presents.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bah Humbug.......Maybe!...

I am lucky if I get todays posting done. Do the words frantic, busy, behind, hopelessy behind, over committed, frenzied, etc.; ring any bells. How many days until Christmas???How much work do I have to get done before I can even think about Christmas? It's no wonder I'm beginning to get the Bah Humbug thoughts.

I know what a nervous breakdown is, I know what a physical breakdown is; but is there anything kinda inbetween the two?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last Santa Ornament Order Done

Hopefully this is the last bunch of Santa Christmas tree ornaments that I'll have to carve this year. I lost track of how many I carved for this Christmas season, but it was several hundred. Actually, these are not going on a tree; at least at first. Customer will first use them as pendants.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ALTO'S Quilt Cut 2

When in California, my daughter give me her Alto Quilt Cut 2 system. She would rather just go back to the basics and use a mat, straight edge, and a rotary cutter. This system comes with a 41 page instruction manual and a DVD. Now, being a male I'll do anything to keep from having to read the manual. Watching a DVD is totally out of the question. Anything that is so complicated, that one must watch television to understand it, is just wrong.

So, I am asking if any reader has used this system for cutting quilt fabrics. If so, please leave me a comment and any tips on its use.

To show my appreciation, all comments received by Friday December 12th will be put into a hat and one pulled out; with the winner having won a hand carved Santa Tree Ornament.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Voyager 17, Update

I am happy to report that the adjustments made to the Voyager 17 seem to have solved the problems that my daughter was experiencing with the machine from the beginning. Here is a full sized quilt that was quilted, using five bobbins of thread. Daughter reports that there were no problems with the Voyager 17 during this three hour effort.
She quilted the quilt with a medium meander stitch pattern, as can be seen in these two photographs. Just click on the photo for a close up.

Now , we'll just keep our fingers crossed, that the adjustments have indeed solved any problems with the machine. Several readers have contacted me regarding what I did to solve the two major problems we were having with the machine. The first, being thread shredding. The second being the thread tension and its inconsistency. If the adjustments that I did hold, I'll post a description of what I did.
By the way! That's a great looking quilt. You can tell my daughter likes the scrappy look, as well as the log cabin block. Well done kiddo!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

First Snow 2008

While in California, winter arrived at home. First, it was just cold, then last night the first bit of snow. The first two things that I noticed was that the snow covered up the leaves that I did not get raked up, and the conditions are getting right for me to begin to get into the spirit of the Holidays. But there is still lots of stuff to do. A new order of carved Santa's, a doll quilt to complete for a swap, three book shelves to make and finish, a Christmas woodcarving exchange carving to complete, Christmas shopping, change oil in car, maybe have windshield replaced (stone on trip), a cottonwood bark Santa to finish for a customer, plus all the stuff that I have put off for over a year, that I promised myself I'd do this year. Not a chance! Maybe I'll give myself an industrial sized dumpster for Christmas; and start throwing stuff out. Nobody accumulates more stuff than I do.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Observations From Driving Across the USA

First of all, I like to drive. I hate to fly. I am not afraid to fly, I just don't like it. The following is a final recap of driving across the country. Just some of my observations. There is no order, no hidden meanings, just what ever pops into this tired ol head; and manages to come out the two fingers that I type with.

1. Nobody except me drives the speed limit.
2. There are fewer and fewer professional truck drivers these days.
3. Even truck drivers seem to drive with a cell phone in their hand all the time.
4. There are more and more female truck drivers every day.
5. The price of gasoline is the cheapest in Missouri.
6. Nine out of 10 customers that are seen in a McDonalds are grossly over weight.
7. Fat teenagers out number thin teenagers ten to one.
8. You can gain 8 pounds in one week by eating breakfast and lunch at McDonalds.
9. No teenagers in the USA ware coats anymore.
10. Flashing roadway sign in NM "DWI BLITZ - COPS EVERYWHERE"
11. In NM, at freeway cross-overs there are signs that say "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY"
But, there are also signs at those cross-overs that say "WRONG WAY", "DO NOT ENTER"
Does this mean that the cops in NM get confused and go the wrong way on the freeway?
12. If there are only two trucks on the road, they will be trying to pass one another in front of you, while going up a hill.
13. The signs that warn of a "SAFETY CORRIDOR" where fines are doubled, has nothing to do with SAFETY. It's just a way to get more money in fines.
14. When signs that warn of ROADWORK AHEAD, HIT A WORKER - GO TO JAIL, does a "worker" have to be working to qualify? I doubt it, it seems that there are always 4 or 5 "workers" standing around while one might be working. What if a worker wanders in front of you and gets hit? Do survivors go to jail?
15. I have discovered what happens to all those sand bags that highway workers weight the signs down with, once they are done with them. They recycle them as motel pillows.
16. Count on a stone being kicked up and breaking a windshield (at least 50% of the time).
17. Since when do motels allow dogs in the rooms? I'll start asking for a non pet room as well as a non smoking room from now on. I wonder if you can do that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sewing Machine Switch-over

When in California I delivered a very nice Singer Featherweight sewing machine to my daughter. I acquired this machine several years ago, and was supposed to take it to her last year. But, being an ol man, I forgot to pack it. Not this year. For those that have one of these fine machines you all know that it comes with a foot that is quite narrow. If you want to use the foot as a guide when assembling squares you'd have an 1/8 inch seam.
I switched the foot from the White Jeans Machine with the Featherweight smaller foot. The Jeans Machine foot is wider and great for use as a guide for the 1/4 inch seam. These feet seem to be interchangable.

The Featherweight smaller foot on the Jeans Machine, can be used fine with the tape on the machine, to form a 1/4 inch guide for the standard quilt square seam. Or the smaller foot can be used when my daughter makes the small doll clothes that she makes.

Now here's the big boy! The Voyager 17 long arm quilting system with the cruise control, and everything else. This is the machine that I think I beat into submission. I originally thought that this machine was a female machine. Female machines are very difficult to get adjusted, and almost never stay in adjustment. But after I checked the serial number I was dismayed to find it was a male machine. That's why I had to "beat" it into submission. Once this machine gets into, and stays in adjustment it can be real fun to drive. Hopefully, we have come up with a set of our own instructions and fixes, that are an improvement to the ones that came with the machine.
All in all, daughter has a first rate set of tools, to match her first rate quilting.


There's no place like home! An uneventfull trip. That's just what I wanted. Perfect weather all the way from Southern California to Ohio. No snow, no rain, no ice, no speeding tickets. Although I could have caused all kinds of trouble for us, if my wife had not insisted that I just shut up and go with the flow. As soon as one passes into Indiania you are greeted be signs that announce the speed limit as 70 mph, and a plea to REPORT IMPAIRED DRIVERS, DIAL *54. Since I was driving the speed limit, and everyone else on the road was passing me I wanted to dial *54 and report each of those drivers as driving impaired - reading impaired, at least.

More, later!