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Posts from the ‘12 Months of 2012’ Category

Welding: Kayak Rack (almost) Complete!

It’s taken me a while to finally get this posted.. My welding class ended a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance to photograph the kayak rack I made on the truck yesterday! It works! I am utterly amazed that I was able to create something with right angles and exact measurements that is actually functional. It’s definitely not my natural tendency – I prefer organic shapes and just making things up as I go along. Ok, I admit it, that’s partly because I’m lazy and measuring things and planning them ahead is well, a lot of work! But with welding, I found that I really had to plan ahead, especially with something functional… so this project definitely pushed my out of my comfort zone.


Above: Removeable center piece for carrying two kayaks. Holes serve as tie downs to secure cargo!

Even though I went into it kicking and screaming a bit, once I started seeing this precise, exact thing come together that I made with my own two hands, it was pretty amazing. Something so new for me, and ended up being so rewarding to stretch myself into areas I’d previously defined as “things I just suck at”.


Details, Left: Loop to attach chain for the pin. Right: Vertically adjustable, with pin to secure.

A nice thing we realized when putting one of the kayaks on the rack is that it will be one we can grow into, as we have pretty short kayaks right now, but plan to buy longer ones down the road. It can also be used for transporting just about anything else long, like lumber or ladders… and with a piece of plywood laid out on it, it becomes a temp work table! I still have to get the it all painted, definitely going to rust if we use it like this at all! So painting will come soon! To paint myself or to have it painted? Hmmmm!

Operation Art Market: The BIG Plan


Completed five large felted heads last week.. here are 4 of them, Approx 2 in diameter (Dog, Fox, Cat, Lion)

So now that I know what I’m making and how much time I have, I’ve broken out a detailed plan for how to actually get all this done! This is where my 12 Month project from last year has become really helpful… I think I got pretty good at making detailed lists last year in order to make SURE that a project got done and got done on time. So below I’ve broken out a full schedule of all things to be done before the Market date:

Market Date: June 16th, 2012  /  Total Work Time: 12 weeks
Items to Sell:
Felties & Wire Critters

Critter Breakdown:
Large Felties – 10  /  Small Felties – 20
Large Wire Critters – 8  /  Small Wire Critters – 15

Types of Critters: (this took some brainstorming with friends to nail down, and still may change some)
Felties – Cat, Dog, Fox, Lion, Owl, Snail
Wire Critters – Frogs, Lizards, Snails, Turtles, Bugs

Schedule:
To keep things doable and interesting, I’m focusing on large felted critters and small wire critters first… and then switching to small felted critters and large wire critters. I don’t really have much rhyme or reason other than wanting to get the large felted ones done first, since they are the most time-consuming of all.

week 1: 5 large felted heads
week 2: 5 large felted heads, Make 3 small wire critters
week 3: 5 large bodies, Make 3 small wire critters
week 4: 5 large bodies, Make 3 small wire critters
week 5: Finishing touches on 5 large felties, Make 3 small wire critters
week 6: Finishing touches on 5 large felties, Make 3 small wire critters
week 7: Make 5 small felties, Make 2 large wire critters
week 8: Make 5 small felties, Make 2 large wire critters
week 9: Make 5 small felties, Make 2 large wire critters
week 10: Make 5 small felties, Make 2 large wire critters

weeks 11 & 12: Make business cards, get booth design nailed down and buy all supplies, Make price tags for all critters, and other misc items to be ready for the market!

So thats it… my big dream for 2012 and my big plan for achieving it! I’m actually a week in already, and on schedule so far with 5 large heads done. I’m sure this is going to be a pretty tall order and I may not make my total goal… but at LEAST there’s a plan to stick to! Off we go to make this thing happen!

Turning 30 and Chasing Dreams

I’m turning 30 this fall.. and since last fall I’ve been wanting to do something BIG with this year. I’ve struggled with just what that thing would be for a many months now. I started with a year-long photo project shooting barns, which was fun, but not something I could work on daily. I guess i started to realize that I was really missing that daily creative project like I had going on last year. It became such a part of my life. So, while I still plan to continue shooting the barn series, I’ve moved it to the back burner for something new. And in the last week of February I found that something… the big thing! Thanks to a chat with a few fellow creative friends who inspired me to be brave, and the Nike-licious advice of my boyfriend to “just go do it!”- I now have a plan!

Operation Art Market!

Since I was a little girl, I have always had a dream of selling my art at a festival or market. For years and years I’ve replayed the same tired pattern. Going to art festivals each summer, flitting from one inspiring booth to the next in total glee… knowing in my heart of hearts that “I should be doing this.” And every year like clockwork, I talk myself out of it. “I don’t really have a cohesive body of work” or “I don’t even have a style” or “No one would probably even buy my stuff” and of course the ever popular “How would I ever have the time to make all this stuff?” Oh the powers of self-persuasion. Within a day of a festival I’d have already managed to cloud my vision and totally squelch the burning fire for this dream. Ah! No more! I will fulfill these dream before I am thirty years old!

Just Do It Anyway!

That’s it. My whole mantra and answer to each of the above self-defeating questions is “Just do it anyway! (dammit!)”. No more of this talking about it and overthinking it. I don’t have a cohesive body of work… that’s still true. But I’m going to do it anyway. How the heck else will I ever GET a cohesive body of work if I never get my stuff out there? (and do i even need one anyway? lol) I don’t have a style (at least not that I’m aware of!) and I really like to dabble in anything and everything from photography to crafts to sculpture to design. Too bad, we’re doing it anyway woman! Not getting out of it this time!

Picking A Date & Deciding with Simplicity

Ok, so now I’m doing this… no way out. Fortunately I’ve already known of (and daydreamed much about) a local art market here in Dallas for over a year now that is small, inexpensive to rent at and a great place for budding artists to start out. AND they have a market day once every month until December! In order to get all the work done, I’ve picked the market on June 16th, 2012 to start. This will be before the Texas summer gets too insanely hot – so I imagine a strong turnout if the weather is nice. This gives me 12 weeks of production time. Now to decide WHAT to make.

Going by the old Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy, I picked the first two things that my gut said to do. And the gut said to go with making needle felted art toys and small wire/metal sculptures. I started needle felting last January for one of my projects and have been in love with it ever since… making small art toys here and there in my spare time. I’ve been doing wire sculpture on and off since early college..in particular small frogs and lizards with found objects like spoons and old screws and bolts incorporated into them. They’re both things I love doing and I think the two could go well together.. I’m even looking to try mixing the two into some wire and felt combinations.


Barry the Cat (needle felted from hand-dyed wool roving, March 2011)


Wire lizard (Dark anodized steel wire, bolts, spoon)

My mind kept whispering on for about another week “are you SURE you don’t want to include some photography? And maybe some other things…” I am standing firm with the gut’s decision. “Nope, two things only. And the two we picked are doable in the time we have and we think very marketable. There will be time for the rest later.” Phew, what a relief it can be to just tell your mind that there will be time for it’s concerns later! Quieted right down. =)

So that’s the big plan! I cannot express how exciting it has been just this past week to be working on something that I have dreamed of doing for so so long… to be truly giving myself permission to chase this dream without worry of how successful I will be or if I make money off of it. It’s made my soul so happy to finally be allowing myself to be deserving of doing this, no matter the outcome.

I’d love to hear from anyone else out there about your dreams. What sort of big things have you accomplished and how did you get up the courage to commit to them? What dreams are you still waiting to give yourself permission to chase? And what is it that always seems to stop you from starting?

Resources:
Time Lapse Tutorial on Needle Felting – by Laurie Sharp
Needle Felting: Basic Shapes Tutorial – by FeltAlive
22 Secrets to Discovering Your Dream and Living It – by Leo Babauta on DumbLittleMan.com

Quarterly Project: Welding & Malformed Metal Frogs

I haven’t posted in a few weeks about my adventures in learning how to weld. Since my last post, I’ve gotten to try out the plasma cutter and practiced just doing straight lines of welding beads to try and get the form and technique down. Plasma cutter is gloriously fun – mostly used for thin metal to do more finely detailed work. It was a ton of fun – like drawing in metal!

Finding My Niche
In my last class I also decided to mess around with the torch welder a bit. I grabbed some scrap re bar and started heating and bending it… my teacher showed me how to braid re bar, and off I went braiding away. Pretty sure I’m in love with bending and forming metal. My teacher said that I would probably really like blacksmithing because its more about bending and manipulating the metal form. Oh my.. looks like I will just have to take the blacksmithing class next!

Making Malformed Metal Frogs
This past weekend I started on an exciting project. Back in early college, I made these fun little wire frogs for my sculpture class. Over the course of a year, I sold about a dozen of them to various folks. Back then, I’d wanted to make larger versions of them, but the wire became too hard to bend at thicker gauges and I didn’t have any access to tools, so eventually I just filed the idea away. That was almost 10 years ago. And now I’m excited to get to dig this project back up and finally make the giant versions of these little guys I’ve dreamed of for nearly a decade!

Last Sunday I started on a test version just to see what size I want to make them, and to test the proportions of the limbs to the body and such. All I had to use was some pretty thick re bar scrap from the shop, so as you can see this little guy came out a bit malformed so far. Talk about some giant feet! I’m going to go buy some more metal in smaller diameters and try again next Sunday to hopefully get things closer. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error for sure. One of the trickier parts has been cutting all the ends on the arms so that the angle will match up to the body piece it needs to weld to. It’s a lot of “put piece in vice, cut it, take it out, check it, put back in vice, re-cut it, check it, grind it down, check it…” Definitely not anything as quick as just wrapping some thin wire together like the small versions! I’m excited about the challenge though, I think I can get there in maybe a month’s time.

Quarterly Project: Welding Is Definitely NOT Sexy

This past Sunday was my second welding class – and we got to do a bit of welding finally! I’m definitely not having the same awesome “fish in water” experience with this as I typically do with most artsy things. A little frustrating to not feel like comfortable as quickly as with drawing or photography – but we’ve all got things that don’t come naturally for us! So I’m having fun realizing that my vision of being this sexy welding chick is not exactly fitting into reality…

Yup. That is me. And I look like man. Lord almighty, welding is definitely not very flattering, particularly when it’s cold outside and you have no choice but to wear a 3XL leather welding jacket in which you can barely bend your arms enough to do the welding. I went to buy some leather work boots yesterday –  an area of women’s clothing that could really use some help. They make my feet look so immense that I look like Meg from Family Guy. Despite my disappointments in being able to retain a ladylike appearance in any form, I did grow up a tomboy – so really I quickly forget about all that and am suddenly lost in learning this cool new process!

Oh yes, and that helmet? You can’t see anything (and I mean anything) through those things until you make a few sparks – so it’s pretty impossible to actually weld where you planned on.

In the shot above I’m doing some MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding – which is essentially like a big hot glue gun. There is a piece of steel wire that runs through it, and when you hit a button on the nozzle it comes out and uses an electrical current or arc to melt the steel onto your metal surface. Pretty neat stuff! It took me some practice to figure out how to comfortably hold the nozzle and all, but after a short bit I started to get the hang of it.


(Instructor and one of the other classmates doing some stick welding)

We were introduced to stick welding too – which made me a little nervous. You use two giant positive/negative clamps like you’d use to jump your car. One clamp attaches to the metal table you’re working on and the other will hold a stick of steel that you weld with. Yeah… this just sounded like a bad idea to me. Alas, I did try it – and sucked pretty bad at it – but proud of myself anyway! Really hoping I can do most of my welding with the MIG welder though!

We’ll be starting our first projects in the next week or two. Right now, I’m thinking of making a truck bed extension for Andrew’s truck, so that we can more securely transport both of our kayaks this summer! It’s a pretty basic construction, just an L-shaped piece that fits into the trailor hitch with a bracket or bar on the other end to hold the kayaks. I’m a little nervous about making something functional – but going to give it a shot! Very excited!!

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