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Archive for July, 2013

One of the great things about the digital age and on-line commerce

sea turtle in frame

sea turtle in frame

is that it is possible to get direct access to an amazing range of independent artists. Jewel Rene is one that I first met through the Regretsy group. She does an adorable series about a one-eared blue elephant called Hellephant, (and she recently published a children’s book about him, “Hellephant Has A Day”) as well as a group of Grumpy cat portraits as famous authors. (I have Edgar Allen No on a t-shirt) Most of the art that I end up framing for the store is antique or vintage but now and then I like to mix in some new ones and couldn’t resist her sea turtle. The frame he’s in is a Fotiou molding that looks like tortoise-shell, so it was a perfect match! The image may be fairly small, since it’s a 5×7, but he has enough presence to still work well, even with such a dramatic frame. (there is also a good article about her here)

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Another year and more tomatoes. With the cooler temperatures and regular rains,

"early girl" tomato, July 2013

“early girl” tomato, July 2013

they are growing a bit more slowly than the last couple of years, but a couple of varieties are moving along well. The “early girl” is living up to the name and has already provided a few ripe fruits. (and set many more) The flavour isn’t as exciting as the Brandywines, but they are still better than what you can typically buy. We’ve also gone with the ceder sawdust mulch again since it seems to have helped to control the late blight. (I expect the extremely dry conditions had the biggest part in keeping it under control last year, but the mulch does appear to make a bit of a difference, so we’ll keep using it) A few were larger when they went into the ground and are making good use of their head start, but the rest are starting to catch up. I have noticed that while we’re getting good fruit set, the plants themselves are staying a bit on the spindly side. I’m not sure if that is a result of the large amounts of water and the recent intense heat. If they choose to grow tomatoes, instead of greenery, we certainly won’t complain!

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This is the larger of the two Nerf guns. The same Krylon paints in brown and silver were used

Nerf "barrel break"

Nerf “barrel break”

on it as on the Maverick, to cover the original yellow and orange. It’s a “barrel-break”, so the barrels pull out and down for loading. I had been a bit worried about how well the painting would go, but there was enough space between the sliding parts and the Krylon paints seem to have very little body so the movement wasn’t affected. (and no seam lines appeared) This one had a trio of

complete steampunk mod

complete steampunk mod

flat panels on each side so it got named “Dragon’s Breath’ and I stuck to a dragon theme in it’s Scrimshaw panels. Luckily, the widths of each panel were an exact match to the widths of the side veneers, on the smaller ones, and the tops for the wider. The only trimming I had to do was on the lengths. For the wider picture panels, each one used a pair of piano key tops. A pair of clock parts replaced the grill, on the back and a snowflake obsidian cabochon, set in copper, was added to the pommel. The joining of it could have been a bit cleaner, but since it was all going to be covered by the reclaimed leather wrapping, on the grip, I didn’t worry about it much.

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I love blackberries. It’s been a very long time since I access to wild ones,

blackberries, July 2013

blackberries, July 2013

so have been settling for the ones on offer at the grocery stores. Almost every time I’d eat them, I’d wonder what it was about them that I’d loved, since they have mostly been rather dull. Last year, after a couple of years of settling in, our blackberry canes produced a small handful of berries. Then I remembered why I’d wanted to plant them. They were sweet, juicy and fragrant. That was why it’s so exciting to see a huge number of flowers setting. The brambles seem to have quadrupled in size over the last year and it looks like every one has flowers on it. (and there is a giant spike, rising from the middle of the patch that has us concerned that it’s really a Triffid, in disguise ) I’m trying not to count my berries before they ripen but it looks like there might even be enough to make the best crumble in the world!

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Finding a pair of Nerf guns, I decided to Steampunk them up! These are my first Nerf mods,

original condition of Nerf  Maverick

original condition of Nerf Maverick

and I had been more than a bit worried about how hard it was going to be to get them apart, and then back together, with the mechanics intact. It turned out to not be all that hard, but taking photos of their innards before taking things out is essential. For this one, the Maverick, which had held six foam darts, the magazine was cut down and each channel was filled in with vintage vacuum tubes and glass pieces. (always be sure to pull each tube out of it’s package because simply having the same code does not mean

finished Steampunk mod

finished Steampunk mod

that they will all be the same size and shape) Some of the branding patches were sanded off and it was repainted from the original yellow and oranges to silver and brown. Then some of the silver sections were gilded, to give them an even more realistic look and the whole thing was antiqued. (a small amount of accents were gilded in gold too) It got five scrimshaw panels. The two small ones are “TELM Maverick” (for Tesla Electric and Manufacturing) in Elvish script. The other three are all adaptions of Tesla patent drawings. Since it can no longer fire any darts, the end of the barrel was closed over with an antique mother-of-pearl topped brass button. While it can not fire, all the rest of the mechanics still work, the top slide will still cock and the trigger will pull, and spin the barrel. The grip was wrapped in vintage leather.

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A couple of years ago we found a clematis, lost in the tangle of plants beside Land and Ross,

purple clematis, July 2013

purple clematis, July 2013

to the east. Last spring we had the house front garden to the point where it was ready for the vine to be moved in. The transplant went well and there were a few small flowers last year but it didn’t put on a full display until now. It had some very vigorous growth this spring and we were hopeful that the flowers would be abundant and it performed even better our best expectations! It has crawled over a good chunk of the east corner of the gardens iron fence and is covered in showy blooms. It’s a thrill to see it doing so well after only a year and I can’t wait to see what it does next year.

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While I’ve made up a couple of Steampunk outfits for show garb,

"Dragon's Breath" scrimshaw panels

“Dragon’s Breath” scrimshaw panels

I hadn’t gotten around to much in the way of accessories. A few different concepts had been bouncing around in my head but it was hard to pick one. When I stumbled across a couple of suitable Nerf weapons last month, they made a good focus. Since these would be my first mods, I figured it was best to keep things pretty simple. There was very little change to the body of each but I decided to add in some accents of scrimshaw. I’d been given some antique ivory veneers that were pulled off a piano that was being scrapped and wanted to make some panels for each gun. The larger one was named “Dragon’s Breath” and so it’s panels are two drawings of dragons with the name done in Elvish script. Each piece was cut and trimmed to size first, then the image sketched in pencil. I used my Dremel to scratch in the pictures and then filled using casein paint. Since they are antique panels, each one has a wonderful, aged finish that really adds to the finished look. Considering that drawing isn’t really one of my strengths, I like how they came out.  There is still some work to do on the gun bodies before the panels can be attached, but I will put up pictures of the completed mods.

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