The aesthetics of disassembly

Via Boing Boing, a set of really lovely photographs of disassembled household appliances.

While I often find the innards of objects quite lovely, I rarely manage to capture that in photos. I try to remember to photograph the things I take apart, at every step and from all angles, both to document the process and because, if I decide I -do- want to put it back together, I will not have to rely on my memory alone to remind whether this tiny ^%$#^&%$^ screw goes in -this- hole or -that- one. Especially when it’s been months since I last handled it. If I get pretty pictures, I consider that a bonus.


Picture hangers – not so easy, actually

There’s a pile of unusable fluorescent light fixtures in the basement; their ballasts are dead, so they are good for nothing except scrap metal.

I thought they would be an excellent source of metal for making picture hangers, of the kind which could fit over a bookshelf, so that you can hang pictures in front of little-used books in rooms where there is NO EMPTY WALL SPACE WHATSOEVER on account of being lined entirely with bookshelves. What I want is a strip of metal about 16″ long or so, which I can bend into a square hook at one end (which will fit around the back of the shelf and keep the hanger in place) and fold into a hook shape at the other end.

I’ve been plotting this for several months, but despite it being a pretty easy-sounding project, I hadn’t actually done much more than sketch up some diagrams. Until this weekend.

I made a stab at cutting strips of metal off of the discard fluorescent fixtures with which to make over-the-shelf picture hangers.

And rediscovered that cutting lengthy strips of metal off of a larger piece is not as easy as cutting strips of cloth or paper or even chipboard, because the larger piece is – shockingly – just not so flexible! And so it gets in the way as you make progress with the shears/snips. Especially when you did not start with a flat piece, but with a piece already folded in several places to make a sort of boxy shape.

I did not succeed in getting anywhere near the 16 or so inches I need.

Conclusion: need access to appropriate power tool OR should break down and buy appropriate strips of metal already cut.

Am hoping that the impending community workspace will have such tools, because buying the material pre-cut seems like cheating, and then what I would do with this pile of ex-fixtures?? There’s plenty of good metal in them, after all, it would be a shame to throw them out.

Meta: guilt at having not worked on any projects and thus not updated blog forced me down to basement to hack at metal unsuccessfully. Also to buy more rubbing alcohol to finish cleaning tool chest. Blog may not be such a bad idea after all.


To-do – more old things to fix

Figure out what to do with the box with the resistor test kit in it. Nice box, interesting old electronics, kind of a shame to separate them but the circuit boards feel . . . sticky. Like the plastic is melting or something. *dither* Can’t decide what to do.

Have a couple other old wooden boxes which need purposes. One is pretty crude; could do with the outside corners being prettied up – metal wrapped around them?

Um, that lamp base. Some kinda swing-arm dealie. Missing a bolt/screw at one joint. Also missing the lamp bits. You know, the part where you screw in a light bulb. It shall be another frankenlamp. (Another? What do you mean “another”? Well, there’s this other small lamp which is very cute but needs its lamp shade part fixed up or replaced, and I said, “Well, I could always find another lamp with an interesting head on it, and remove its head and put it on this base,” and then the engineer said, “You scare me,” and I said, “But it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do!” and he said, “That’s why you scare me!” and I asked, trying not to grin too much, “Oh, it scares you when I’m reasonable?” So there’s another lamp that needs some fixin’.)

So I need to fix that thing so I can have a good swing arm lamp again. I even found a matching clamp with which to attach it to my desk!

Find uses for those wonderful, glorious old indicator lights. Uses that can be out of sight of the good doctor, so as not to offend his aesthetic sensibilities.

And then there’s the mysterious thing that looks like a small swing-arm lamp – sort of; it doesn’t so much swing as bend in several places – but has had both its cords CUT CRUDELY OFF and the part that used to perch at the end of the bendy arm was nowhere in evidence when I spied the base and decided I must take it.


Progress on the tool chest

Saturday afternoon (no, really; this blog is choosing its dates in a way that is wrong) I hauled the chest outside and set up under the ever-watchful wisteria.

It was a nice day, except for being attacked by blood-sucking monsters (mosquitos; I won those battles. mostly) and by the blasted wisteria. I think HP Lovecraft must have been inspired by a wisteria. Nothing else with tentacles could possibly be more savage and treacherous. Every time I walked through the yard, I risked losing an eye to one of this year’s new vines.

Anyway. I set up beneath the baleful plant, smashed a few mosquitoes that had apparently been awakened by my presence (it was the middle of the afternoon! I thought those damn things were nocturnal), and got to work with rubbing alcohol and a big pile of cotton balls. And a really nice 6-in-1 paint scraper thing.

Rubbing alcohol doesn’t smell nearly as bad when you use it outdoors.

I got most of the adhesive removed, and then I ran out of alcohol. But it all went pretty quickly, faster than I had hoped, even, so it really shouldn’t be too long before I can sand down the rusted areas and repaint.

On Sunday I pruned the wisteria.



I confess that I have a weakness for shoes.

I don’t buy many pairs (really!), but that is only because I value comfort over looks, and most cute/pretty/sexy/awesome shoes hurt too much. Largely because most women’s shoes have those &^%#$$#ing HEELS on them that force your feet/legs into uncomfortable, unnatural postures. No thank you.

Flat shoes and boots are really not that easy to come by. And flat shoes or boots with a flexible, comfortable sole are really rare.

So for quite some time I have been thinking it would be really neat to have one pair of awesomely comfortable “base” shoes, with a thousand and one different tops for them. As in, today I want green corduroy, but this evening maybe something shiny and black, so I’ll just peel off the corduroy covers and stick on the leather.

I have just started to work out how shoes (normal shoes) are put together. They are impressively complicated, which is no surprise, though it is a little dismaying.

I mean, you have to start out with flat material, cut into a shape that, when curved around an odd-shaped base, with form the right kind of three-dimensional form. Feet are not a nice, regular sort of prism.

And they MOVE. Your feet flatten and widen when you step onto them, plus they bend. This makes constructing a container for them kind of tricky, when said container is made of anything stiffer and less stretchy than knitting.

I have a pair of very pretty, sequined and beaded slip-ons. They’re too small; it hurts to put them on for even a few seconds, despite the fact that they are actually my size (lies, all LIES I tell you!). However, they are very, very simple in construction, so they seem like an excellent way to get started with patterns.

Except that the sole is almost perfectly symmetrical. And are feet symmetrical?

No, they are not.

So transferring the vamp (that’s the bit that wraps around the front of your foot) and the heel patterns to a sole that more closely resembles a real foot, that doesn’t work so well. You wind up with an unattractive bulge over your foot.

While searching for shoe making patterns, I found this post, which had one pattern that looks like it might work for my purposes, more or less. Haven’t tried it out yet, as I am still fighting with the sparkly shoe pattern as well as one I made up.

As for the other tricky part of this project, I haven’t done more than start thinking of ways the shoe covers might fit to the base.


Tool chest renovation

I recently acquired an old Craftsman tool chest. A small one, with small drawers for small tools. All the drawers were lined with felt. A lot of the felt was pretty worn in spots, down to the metal, and the top most part of the chest had been visited by rodents, so there was that kind of mess, too. Plus, the outside of the case has some large rust patches.

So the whole thing is really in need of a good sanding and repainting, plus felt removal and replacement.

It turns out rubbing alcohol does a number on the adhesive used to glue the felt down.

It also turns out that that quantity of rubbing alcohol should NOT be used in a closed, poorly ventilated basement, so I shall be taking the tool chest OUTSIDE to remove the remaining 95% of adhesive and felt (most of the felt came up pretty easily when I pried the edges loose and pulled).

I haven’t quite decided what to do about repainting the tool chest. On the one hand, I like the old paint, because I like the way old stuff looks. But it’s not in good enough condition to leave as-is. I don’t want it to keep rusting, nor do I want rust to get all over me/other things.

I’ve been toying with the idea of painting it all black, or blue, and then painting a viney jungley sort of scene all over the outside, with trees and flowers and screeching birds and that sort of thing.

I’m also pondering giving it a coat of primer, and then covering it with interesting paper or fabric.

It’s a surprisingly heavy thing for its size. When I first decided that yes, I did want to take it, I removed most of the contents, hoping that would make it a little easier to haul away. It did not. So it might be kind of amusing to put fabric on the outside, because of the contrast between the softness and lightness of fabric, and actual heaviness of the metal.

Upholstered tool chest? Sure, why not.


To-do list

Feather fan. Not the handheld kind, the kind attached to a motor powered by a USB connection.

Bristlebots! With feathers, of course, and those used toothbrush heads I should admit I am never going to mail back to the manufacturer for recycling.

Repair the original mask.

Make the original mask useable by itself again (needs a strap to go around my head), rather than only useable by attaching it to the headpiece.

Brackets for hanging framed pictures from the bookshelves.
– use the metal from ex-fluorescent fixtures


The purposes of this blog

To document, for myself, my processes, so that in the future I can read about what I was thinking and doing. And to keep track of my to-do list, because having it in pieces in half a dozen notebooks is not useful.

To share my techniques and methods and such, as I have enjoyed reading about others’ techniques and methods. Having a community in which to discuss projects is a good thing; who knows if this blog will ever develop into that sort of thing, but at least I can go comment on other crafty/makery blogs and maybe people there will come and talk to me and etc.

To show off a little.

To guilt me into actually working on all the things I keep telling myself I will work on, because I know it is sad to turn to an interesting blog and find that it hasn’t updated in ages, and therefore the thought of my hypothetical audience being deprived will spur me to go -do something- so that I can blog about it.

And I needed another project.

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