Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the bra is FINISHED!!!

And now it needs a name.

Suggestions, please?

Oh, and for the record, this is one of many bras that will be auctioned off to raise money for breast cancer stuff. I know the auction is August 1. I think it is in Pittsfield, Maine. I'll let you know more details once I have them.

But first it needs a name.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I am so tired

I can hardly think.

We went to Portland a week ago and haven't made it home yet.

Pride was awesome.

Seeing old friends was awesome.

Making new friends was awesome.

Having Quinn with us was a lot of fun, if trying at times.

I came down to spend a week doing a job for a friend and it rained all week. Bleah. It was an outside job. Could you guess? Yeah.

So we had a good week. The job finally got done, later than I had expected, and now my tools are packed and we're ready to head back up the highway tomorrow toward Bar Harbor.

Hopefully I will be able to write more when I am home and rested.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mark V

This is the beauty that I built the box for on Saturday. I have no idea yet what most of these things do. I expect to learn by reading the owner's manual that has a price list from 1965.

It is as old as I am.

So I expect it to have some things that don't work like they once did. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

all I need is a cannonball...

You know, when a Civil War reenactor says such a thing, nobody flinches.

When a historian or a museum curator says such a thing, people consider it a reasonable request.

But when I say such a thing, they get nervous.

Here is a sample transcript of several nearly identical on-line conversations I had last week on facebook:

Dawn: I need a cannonball. Anybody got one?

Friend: You want a what?!

Dawn: a cannonball. You know, round piece of metal, like a ball, but steel.

Friend: Yes. I get that. WHY do you want a cannonball?

Dawn: To make a bra.

{very long silence}

Friend: To make a bra?

Dawn: yup. I need a cannonball.

Friend: to make a bra?

Dawn: yup. any idea where I can get one?

Friend: Why are you making a bra out of a cannonball?

Dawn: it's for an art auction. For breast cancer. I'm making the bra out of metal. I need the cannonball so I can hammer the metal into the shape of the bra cups.

{the light goes on}

Friend: Oooooohhhhh. OK. No. I have no idea where you can get a cannonball. Have you tried the park? By the cannon?

Dawn: those are all welded together. And I think the hysterical society might have something to say about it if I show up there with a piece of sheet steel and a ball peen hammer and start banging away.

Friend: right. well, good luck with that.


Now for a little back story. My friend Sharon, over at the Queen's Blog, is working on a project that has something to do with breast cancer stuff. I think it is a fundraiser/awareness raiser kind of thing. Anyway, she has asked lots of people to craft bras into pieces of art to be auctioned off by folks (we hope) drinking loads of wine and willing to pay big bucks for artistic renderings of a piece of women's undergarment. Here's one of her posts on the subject. At least I am guessing the wine might make that process flow a little more smoothly... Anyway, Sharon asked me to craft a bra from welded metal.


It all begins to make sense now, doesn't it?

See, people automatically think the worst when I ask for a cannonball. Humph.

Only Sharon asked me to do this back in April, I think. There is a July 1 deadline. You know what's coming next, don't you? Yup. Wait for it...

So I started thinking about how to make a metal bra last week. Yes, in the second week of June. You got a problem with that? No? Good answer.

Well as it turns out, nobody could find or lend to me a cannonball. But I did find a shot put. I have right now, an eight-pound shot put on loan from the MDI High School Athletic Department, courtesy of the AD there, one fella named Bunky Dow. I called up, explained what I was doing, what I needed the shot put for, asked to borrow it, promised to return it, and he said "sure, swing by the gym tomorrow morning around 9:30." I love a small town.

The shot put is a steel ball approximately four inches in diameter and filled with lead. It is heavy as shit. Eight pounds of shit, to be precise. Holy crap.

So I took the shot put and headed of the the garage to get Laura's exhaust worked on. While I was there, I poked around in the junk pile where the guys tear apart wheel bearings and found a short piece of stainless pipe that once served as a wheel bearing housing. I asked, and the mechanic said sure, and I cleaned it up and brought it home to serve as a little platform/coaster kind of thing to hold the shot put. Very cool! Also while I was there, I picked up some steel ball bearings. I am not sure yet whether they will be used as nipples on the bra or as the ends of barbells through the nipples (think piercings). In either case, they'll find some cool use, I am sure.

I brought my newly acquired treasures down to my basement workshop and started hammering. Um. It takes a lot of hammering to bend sheet metal around a cannonball. In short order my wrist was sore. Off I go to Lowe's to pick up an air hammer that will run off my compressor. Wicked cool, and only 20 bucks. Nice. I got some extra chisels to go with it, too. I came home, and cut the pointy tip of one of the chisels right away and began to use that flat tip as a hammer. MUCH easier than a regular old ball-peen thing. Very nice.

Only now I have realized that the ball is going to give me a very shallow cup on the bra. This is not good. I need a bra that looks like it actually might hold real tits, you know. So far my comparison process involves me hammering the steel for a while, then holding it up to my own breast to see if it even comes close to looking like an actual bra (it didn't), then placing it back on the ball and hamemring some more. Eventually, I turned the metal over, and began to bang it with the ball peen again, only into the ring of the cannonball holder. OH! That works really well. Only the ring is about three inches in diameter, and I need something bigger than that. Like a piece of 6-inch pipe. Maybe even something bigger. Hmm.

Saturday, after I picked up the shrubs for a client, I stopped at the hardware store looking for a section of pipe that would meet my needs. I told the hardware store guys I was hammering out a bowl. It was easier than dealing with the looks I'd have received. One guy, who apparently spends many Saturday mornings hanging around the hardware store, directed me to a local contractor. "The garage is open" he said "there's usually guys there on a Saturday working on trucks." Off I went.

I found the garage, and it was indeed open, but there were no guys around. I did stop to admire a Luna moth hanging out on the side of the building, though. That was really cool. After a couple minutes, a guy in a BIG dump truck showed up and offered to help. I told him about my quest for short pieces of scrap pipe, and he directed me to the boneyard.

A construction boneyard is where the extra bits of this and that land after a job is finished. A searcher will find all kinds of things there, including odd pieces off pre-cast storm drains, extra lengths of metal and plastic corrugated culverts, odd, twisted pieces of I-beam, and (bless my heart!) scrap pieces of metal pipe. I found three likely pieces - one four-inch, one six-inch and one eight-inch diameter pipes. None of them is a foot long, and all will work splendidly on my workbench. I was very pleased with my acquisitions, and particularly since they were free. Woohoo!

Now it is Monday, and I am still puttering. I am going to pick up my Shopsmith Mark V today, dropping off that book shelf that I built Saturday, and looking for a larger ball peen hammer that I can cannibalize into something that will do what I want. I have no pictures yet of the metal, but once I get going in a direction that I think will be fruitful, I'll take some pictures and put them up. I will certainly post pictures once the project is complete.

But now you know why I was searching for a cannonball and why (and how) I am making a bra out of metal. I only hope it will look good next to the others at the auction. Time will tell.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I think I over did it today.

It was the first sunny day since I have begun to recover from that gawd-awful cold that smacked me down so badly for TWO WEEKS. You know, I can handle being sick occasionally, I understand that it happens to us all and I'll take my turn like everybody else, but for TWO FULL WEEKS? That was just unreasonable. I tried to recover, but ended up doing more than I should have and got smacked back down for another four days. Bleh.

So today was beautiful. After almost 10 straight days of rain and crap, we woke to sunshine and blue skies. I left the house by 8 and went to the garden shop to pick up the rest of a client's order. If the sunshine holds, I can get those planted this coming week (fingers crossed). Then I stopped at the hardware store for some advice, then at the boneyard of a contractor for some junk pieces of pipe. I'll explain that quest in another post, maybe tomorrow. You'll like it, I promise.

So I got home at 11 and started working out in the yard. Within an hour I was back inside to trade my t-shirt for a tank top. It was HOT out there! I had about four things going at once today. I needed to clean out my tool chests in preparation for a trip out of town beginning next weekend. It's going to be a work trip, so I need to maximize what I have and what I am bringing.

The first step to organizing such a project is to remove the contents from all of the tool chests (keep in mind these are HUGE chests - four feet wide, two feet tall and two feet deep, BOTH of them) and strew them about the yard. Good. Then I remembered that I had planned to actually build some stuff today, too. Oh, that's kind of a problem. But, hey, I have the tools out already...
so I started building a bookshelf out of some scrap lumber. It's not pretty, the lumber was not perfect, but it's for some friends who have a greater need for a bookshelf that works than they have for fine furniture. So I put that together, and then I started working on a box to house my newest tool acquisition.

Feast your eyes on this:

Yeah, baby. It's a Shopsmith Mark V. It does a ton of stuff - it is a table saw, a drill press, a lathe, a lateral boring machine and a disk sander. And the one I am getting is old, probably a 1960's vintage, but it is in fantastic condition and has all kinds of do-dads and whatsits that come with it. And it was free. Yeah. That was an amazing thing. Seems the old gent who so loved this thing has passed on, and his widow nor his kids really have any idea how to use it or any inclination to try, so they decided to check out how to donate it. Only it is old enough that it doesn't have any of the new-fangled high-tech safety gizmos that come on modern machines, so no non-profit wanted to get near the thing. But a friend of mine at one of those non-profits suggested that they could get a warm fuzzy feeling (if not the tax break) by donating the monster to a hard-working tradeswoman in their area. And that tradeswoman would be me! I went over to check it out last week and was just amazed at the shape the thing is in. It is simply beautiful.

It won't fit in my basement workshop, though. So one of my projects today was to build a box (on wheels) in which to store and transport the thing. After the bookshelf, I started on the box. It turned out to be quite a substantial thing, this box, using almost all of three sheets of 5/8 inch plywood, plus eight or ten of those little not-quite-two-by-somethings. You know, they're smaller than a two by four, but still enough to put a nail into. Yeah, those. And I put some wheels on the bottom so I can get it in and out of my truck.

The tool itself measures just about six feet long at the base and 22 inches wide, and it is about 40 to 42 inches high. The box will keep out most of what mother nature wants to throw at it, although I think I need to get some handles to help steer it. It's a bit of a beast to negotiate. Oh, and it does not fit in my truck. Allowing for six feet of tool I built the platform to that specification, but the added thickness of the plywood walls made it just an inch too long to let me close the tailgate. Dammit. Oh well. I'll get some good tie-down straps to secure it. For now it is tied in with some rope.

Like I said, I did a lot today. I emptied both tool boxes, burned a ton of scrap lumber that was cluttering up the yard, then built the bookshelf and the cool box, and tomorrow I have hopes to build a box to transport my air compressor. The thing is a lifesaver, but it is heavy and awkward to carry as is. I want to make a box with handles so I can lift it with a helper or move it by myself using a hand truck. And if it is in a box, I won't have to scramble to get it indoors and down the cellar stairs if it is the back of my truck when the rain starts. Maybe. We'll see if there is anything left of me when tomorrow gets here.

Now I think I am off to find the aloe. Ouch.

Monday, June 8, 2009

sorry for the delay

There was this tile job, see... well this one was not as complicated as some (ahem), but it has a great story nonetheless.

I got this little tile job about the same time a blog buddy took me up on my invitation to come up and say hey. Thankfully, Leo McCool over at butchgirlcat was amenable to coming to the tile job during her visit.

And honestly? Leo rocked. She's wicked smart (just got her Ph.D.) and can read sixteenths of an inch without being shown which lines those are on the tape. I like that. I guess the best way to do this is with pictures. I'll put them up, explain what they are about and fill in the rest. Here goes.

First, let me say this. Never install wall-to-wall carpet in a bathroom. Never. Never, ever, EVER, you understand? Oh nasty.

This job is going to have some challenging spots I think. I'll have to cut around the back of the commode and around that air vent. Hmmm.

First things first, gotta take up the old carpet and see what's underneath.

Oh, this is interesting. There seems to be TWO carpet pads under here: a blue one with a moisture barrier and an older, yellow one stuck to the floor with industrial grade adhesive.

In case no one you know has ever mentioned this, those carpet pads are really nothing more than large, flat SPONGES! That means they absorb. It's what they do. Putting them in a bathroom next to the sink and the tub and shower makes no sense, never mind the toilet!!!! Ewie!!!

I pulled back that foam and is smelled like a colony of weasels had lived there for a decade. Oh man, it was bad. I had to open the window, open the doors to the house, and take a walk outside for a minute. That wet foam had been under there for years before I peeled it back. It was a new kind of bad. You can see the lines left by various soakings of the carpet and the pads beneath. Yeah. It was bad.

So I got all the foam scraped up and all the nail strips around the edges and I sanded what I could of that horrible industrial glue off the hardwood underneath it all. Yes, that is a hardwood floor. Looks like maple, actually, three-and-a-half-inch-wide white maple. Yeah. wrecked with glue and nasty foam.

It looked like there might be moisture damage to the wood near the front of the commode, but it turned out it was ok. That would have been a horror show to fix!

This is one tight damned corner behind the flush and in the corner. and the glue was extra thick back here. Lovely, I tell you. Just lovely.

Just so you know, it is very difficult to cut a ceramic tile on a curve. Leo and I did our best to cut around this little ogee. What fun. Not.

In order to get all of the carpet bits out and to make sure there was no rot anywhere, Leo and I pulled the toilet out of the room and sanded the floor underneath. The hair dryer was for drying up the water we splashed around while moving the thing. The nuts and bolts were so rusted that we had to cut them off with my Hitachi reciprocating saw. We both grinned.

Leo helped me paint the floor with a pigmented shellac to seal it and cover any stains and smells that got into the actual wood. Then we drew lines on the floor and dry-laid the tiles. We had to make some pretty fancy cuts. Unfortunately, Leo had to head back to civilization before we got them all cut, but she did an admirable job with the wet saw and following directions. Here are all the tiles dry-fit in place.

Notice how the tiles fit around the front and back of the toilet. Those were miserable, miserable cuts to make. On the up side, I only wrecked one tile in the process. Below is a shot of the three most difficult tiles I had to cut. See how tricky that one was that has to accommodate the hot air register? Yeah. Loads of fun. (Actually, I like the challenge.)

And this is what they look like with the grout in the joints. Some of the corners are not as square as I would like, but they do the job and look decent. As for that grout on the baseboards? This is the first in a series of steps to re-do the bathroom from floor to ceiling. The baseboard is going to be painted black, so I did not worry too much about it.

Now look at the cuts in these tiles. Gah!!! Crazy-making cuts, I tell you! I am most pleased with my efforts!

Again, the trickiest ones. That one behind the toilet loops all the way around, and that one with the heat register was delicate going. I was very glad to be done grouting them.

And here's that one by the curvy part of the tub. Damned tricky stuff, I tell you.

Ah yes. The home owners have a puppy. His name is Malachai, which I think means he is the first Jewish Siberian Husky I have ever met. He likes to eat harnesses and then get loose. He's not terribly bright. While I was on this job, he had was his people called his "British operation, you know, the snip & chip." They joked that their dog had a sex change and would soon have puppies and that they had LoJack installed so that the next time he gets out they can call the police, who will activate the identity chip and he will simply lay down and wait for them to come get him.

I work for such creative people!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Feeling low

Some days I really feel on top of the world. This is not one of those days.

That is not to say I feel really bad, just that I have a cold, it's been hanging around for about a week, I am tired of it and I spent the last two days trying to outrun it and now my throat feels like everything I swallow is mixed with crushed glass.

I had a great afternoon hanging out with some marvelous women and soaking up some sun. Last night, my sweetie and I went to a party where we met some really interesting people and made plans to get together again soon, and that was fantastic. But we were out late. Like 2 a.m. late. And as much fun as we had, I am beat. I am getting to be too old to be out that late, and certainly so after battling a spring head cold for a week.

So today, instead of staying in bed, we got up, left the house and went to another party - a much more reserved party, but still, it meant getting up, getting dressed, driving for close to an hour and socializing with people. And socializing, while fun, can be taxing for my natural grumpy mood. But no, I did have a great time, but damn, I am just exhausted. Late night, then up and out and going all day again, and now it feels like the cold has caught up again. Bleh.

On the up side, we got Laura a car last week - a 1996 SAAB 9000CS. It has 199,000 miles on it, but very little body rust, zero rust on the frame and vital bits, and needs only moderate repairs to the exhaust for it to be inspected and all street legal. Huzzah! It looks a lot like a shortened up station wagon - more of a four-door sedan with a hatch back instead of a trunk - but it is zippy as hell and has a kicking sound system. I took it to a meeting Friday night to test drive it for the first time. I popped a mixed CD of older Melissa Etheridge stuff into the player, cranked it loud, opened the sunroof, and dear god but I was 25 again and looking for trouble. Wow. I Turned right at a stop sign and the front of the car lifted and the rear sank as I accelerated. I'm going to bet I squealed the tires, but I had the music too loud to tell. I tried to hold back on the rest of the ride home, but there are some wonderfully snaky curves that are made for a car to hug, and well, let's just say this: When I got home, I declared that I am NOT to drive that car again if it can be avoided. It's just too much fun. Wow. I take it to the mechanic tomorrow to check the exhaust thing, but after that I think I'm better off in my old truck. Yeah. Much better off. Damn. That thing's got some real vinegar.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I god a code id by node

Ad I cant breave.

When my sinuses clear enough that I can see to fiddle with some pictures, I'll post. Gimme another day or so and I'll have something worth looking at. I promise.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

thought of the day

killing doctors does not make you pro-life.