Completely, totally, off ... topic ... totally, uh, huh!

Albert Bierstadt, "Western Kansas"

Best country/western song ever .... "Someday Soon", by Ian Tyson, the old Canadian Cowboy, heck, he's even older than me, and still performing.

Best Western Movie; "Open Range", made for TV I believe, but Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, and ..............  Annette Benning, love her presence on screen. A quiet acceptance of what is, and moving forward proudly, and this is coming from somebody who sides with the native Americans most of the time. Well done movie, that is closer to the way it probably was, than any John Ford epic. Hollywood close, of course.

The image, by the New York studio artist, Albert Bierstadt. I'm not sure he ever actually went to the west, but like much about the west, the iconographic, mythological WEST, supersedes reality.

This is all due to working late, and listening to a playlist that covers a large range; pop, rock, reggae, to some classical,  but ........ hey .... it's still the best C/W song ever! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.


A little more ... tools and sharpening

Some more on the previous post, and other things.

Two cabinetmaker tools I use regularly on frames. Forefront, a low angle, block plane, used to chamfer a slight bevel on the back edges of frames, thus making the fragile edge more durable. Background is my favorite chisel, a one inch paring chisel, used for cutting glue off the backs of miter joints and cleaning the inside of the joint, in the rabbet area.

The block plane is also a favorite, from the Canadian firm of Lee Valley Tools. It is their own design and manufacture. Adjustable throat, set screws for keeping the blade in line, and a large, heavy blade. The smooth, rounded cap, and the indentations in the side make for a comfortable and secure, one handed hold. I have a small collection of block planes, usable antiques, but this is the one I grab first.

Paring chisels have a long, thin body, and are designed to be used much like the block plane, one handed in a paring type cut, pushed, by hand, not with a mallet. See here. They are designed to cut with the back flush with the work surface. I will also use this chisel when mortising for door hardware when hanging or refitting doors. Then, I do use it with a mallet, but if I really need to chop out some wood, I use a thicker bodied, general wood working chisel, especially in refitting work, where one encounters all sorts of trash. I have returned to the studio after a refitting, with one or more of my chisels "rounded" into a mangled mess, but never the paring chisel. Fortunately, I can restore the edge rapidly. I've been working with a small, neighborhood group, trying to bring back some of the old houses here, my specialty being doors and windows, a craft I learned as a very young man. It's satisfying to take an old door that won't open or close, and bring it back to "snicking" closed, as the latch settles in, and it gets me out of the studio once in a while.

A simple way of testing an edge, other than actually cutting something, is to lightly lay the edge on a fingernail, and feel the grip. If it's sharp, it will grip the nail.



The grinder station. At the top, clamps, hand screw clamps, hanging from a lumber, and long clamp rack. Spray cans, lubricants, etc., then two shelves with thin profile cuts of various moldings I make. Grind wheels, and to the left, bits, burrs and cutters for the Foredom rotary tool, hanging from a swing arm on the other side of the window, Another post. Then the grinders, from left to right. Hard felt buffing wheel, soft felt wheel, 60 grit aluminum oxide grind wheel, and a fine wire wheel.

Grinding an edge, using the forefinger of my right hand as a "fence" against the tool rest, for how to "place" the tool being ground. After much experimentation, I've come to the conclusion that a basic grinder, medium grit, is all you need. No wet grinders, or slow speed grinders, or diamond grit, horizontal wheels. Just a plain old grinder, but you need the secret ingredient; patience. The grind wheel needs to be clean, right forefinger clamped to the tool, and quick, light passes. After each pass, touch the just ground tip; it should be cool enough to touch; if not, you're not being patient. In spite of the lack of "jig", very accurate, and maybe more accurate, because I can vary the approach easily, which is more accommodating to the irregularities of most hand tools. I'm going for a slight, hollow grind, with the edge perpendicular to the sides of the tool. This is an antique cabinet chisel, but the same holds true for carving tools.

 Here, the hollow grind on the edge of the tool.

Here, the stones. I keep my various stones in water, distilled water, because it doesn't grow algae, in plastic tubs. Behind the tub, held in place by two spring clamps, is a Japanese water stone. Above that, the shelf for the tubs of stones, and to the left is the spray bottle, filled with distilled water for wetting the stones when in use. The spray bottle is handy for the glue pot as well.

Some slip stones in the tub, used for honing the inside of carving tools, and to the right, the special stone for flattening the water stones. I have also used wet sand paper laid on a flat surface, for flattening water stones. The Japanese water stones get hollowed very easily, but that is also why they sharpen so quickly.

 Here, I'm flattening the back on the just ground chisel, on an American water stone, of 100 and 220 grit, using the 220 side. Get the back flat.

Now, sharpening the bevel. I'm again using the right hand forefinger, between the stone and the tool, as a guide, or fence if you will, to control the angle. A slow, gentle back and forth, patience, with the two edges of that hollow resting on the face of the stone. Lap the back, again, then move to a finer grit stone. I usually start with the 220, then 800, followed by a 1200 stone. If you let the 1200 dry a little as you are working it, the slurry produced gets finer, and you will get a more polished edge. You can go beyond 1200, though an edge from 1200 cuts oak, walnut, and basswood very well. With a carving tool, the tool will need to be rotated through the back and forth so the whole edge is sharpened. This is where no jig can help, as the carving tool needs to be sharpened "freehand". Getting comfortable with the process on a cabinet chisel, will make it easy to do the more complex carving tool.

Now, a little lazy controversy. I hone my tools using a buffing wheel, a hard felt wheel for the bevel side, and on carving tools I'll use the soft wheel on the inside. (See first image) Here, I try very hard to be both patient and judicious, being very careful to lightly approach the edge. There is a fear of rounding the edge, so to speak. But I routinely touch up an edge on the buffing wheel as I'm carving. And it works. I use one of the green oxide polishing compounds, but any kind will do, just adjust for how aggressive the compound is.

It is possible to buy any number of tools and gadgets for producing that "miracle" edge on tools. Bevel gauges, jigs for holding the angle, special grinders, or you can do it the way it has been done since we started using tools; by hand and feel. If you learn hand and feel, you can sharpen a tool anywhere, and with whatever is at hand; concrete, sandpaper, your jeans, or the palm of your hand. Stropping a tool in the palm of your hand, either with some of the slurry from the stone, or not, works quite well.

There are nuances I'm avoiding, but for the good reason, that I want the tool to do some work, and I have little interest in going beyond getting the job done. I can shave micro thin slices, with or perpendicular from any wood I'm working; more?, nah, I'm too lazy.

Edit: Changed "stopping" to stropping, second paragraph above.


The Morning Walk, Random Thoughts and Images.

Bright, sunny, crisp morning, sans snow and gloom.

The Online Photographer, which sometimes has posts about photography, has had some recent posts and commentary touching on Fame, with related" woulda, shoulda, coulda " angst. My chosen medium, of wood, gesso and gilt, is in a field that embraces obscurity as part of its ethos. I am, however, not inured to the desire for some acknowledgement. I'm proud that one of my frames has been accessioned as an object of sculpture in a museum collection, and I'm told, is quite popular with the tour groups.

Though I have studied and worked as a photographer, it was never for me something I wanted to do full time. As with my painting, quiet, slightly melancholic views of the unspectacular, at odds with the contemporary art of my time; for a variety of reasons I've been unwilling to expend the energy of exhibition and promotion. I usually sign frames on the back, obscured from view, so it should be no surprise that my paintings are also signed on the back, with only a small monogram on the front. Apparently I'm comfortable being obscure, regardless of medium or material; flashy, bravura, bombast is not conducive to any message I'm trying to convey.

The regrets, cringe inducing idiocies, mistakes and malfeasances of my life are not about career, or choices and decisions related to the artistic life I lead. I'm comfortable with those decisions, and maybe  I'm getting to a level of maturity that allows me to not indulge in the dangerous fun of regrets and guilt over the other life choices and stupidities. Eschew guilt, and obfuscation, too.

Work smarter, not harder. PFUI, sometimes you can get so "smart" that you don't get anything done.

Images are from my new walkabout camera, a Canon Elph 110 HS. A little research has led me to what seems to hit the "Goldielocks" point in a pocket camera. My only complaint is that it is a little hard to hold one handed; so I added a small piece of Velcro loop material as a "gripper" for my thumb. Much better.

Eschew guilt, obfuscation, be proud and carry on. 8-)

An aside, that obfuscation is very much in keeping with my personal, artistic ethos. Eschew art that needs several chapters of verbosity to "explain". And, yes, that is one of my famous attic window images, though that wasn't the idea.
Here, have another:

From an older and bigger pocket camera, now promoted to official "In the Car Camera", Canon SD 800 IS