Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Quick Little Update

I've been chipping away at a new saddle pad over the past couple of weeks or so.  It still has a ways to go, but it's coming along.  I think this is one of the more intricate patterns that I've done.  It's a new one that I came up with, based on another real pad.

After yesterday's great unpacking debacle, a familiar face is back to modeling for halter making.  

I came close to finishing three halters today; I'm hoping I'll get them all finished tomorrow.  They will be a yellow, hot pink, and another purple one.

Another thing I'm up to is looking for some Creative Challenge ideas.  I stumbled across this one a couple of days ago and, though it appears to be geared toward photography, I'm thinking of trying to adapt the list to something crafty - particularly paper crafting.  I used to be part of a little online group that did a monthly greeting card challenge and it was fun.  Things like this help to spark creativity for me, they also help narrow the focus for a given time period when I have SO MANY IDEAS coming at me at once.  I've been thinking about setting up some sort of challenge(s) for myself as far as customizing horses too.  I'm still missing some essential supplies (like paint..), but once I get set up, I'd really like to start cranking out some horses and get back to practicing my skills there too.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Some Good News

After writing my last blog post, something occurred to me.  I suddenly remembered something else that I'd meant to pack myself before the moving chaos became..  more chaotic.  The movers came and started packing a week early and when they returned a week later to finish up, I was stuck in Colorado visiting my Granny.  I ended up being snowed in there, trapped by closed mountain passes, and didn't make it home until the packing was in full swing.

The other things I'd meant to pack up myself were my small collection of Hagen Renaker animals.  The Breyer horses have proven their durability, not breaking or taking more damage than minor rubs and scratches, despite being crammed into boxes with no padding, but...  what about the HRs?!

I did have two HRs in my old studio room, a fox and fox cub.  The same guy who "packed" my horses, wadded these little ones up in a ball of paper with a heavy Stone Critter (!) and some other rocks.  :|  Luckily, the only thing they suffered was a tiny chip on the cub's ear.

I could make it sound dignified and say that I casually set out to find the other HRs after writing my last blog post, but that wouldn't be true...  Instead, I hurried downstairs and marched into the living room to pick up the "L/R figurines" box that I had a feeling they were in.

Yep, they were in there and...  they survived!

I was most worried about my moose, but he is intact!

Everyone looks fine, including the Shetland ponies,

my spindly-legged "Buckskin colt",

and my Pit Bull.

What I found funny about it was that they have their own box, full of packing material, that I've carted them all over the U.S. in.  In preparing for the move, I had put their box right next to them, intending to wrap them up myself.  Instead, the guy who packed them, wrapped them in packing paper, put them in a box and put their box in that box, empty.  So their box came with them...  separately.  Haha.

I'm very glad that my wee ceramic menagerie survived the move!

Not. Happy.

Today started out with me unpacking some more boxes in the living room and then heading for the studio.  I decided I wanted to make several new halters today, but first I wanted to get out another horse to use as a model.  So I thought I'd take a peek into the "figurines" boxes where my horses are.

What followed was a few hours of me unpacking ALL of the "figurines" and becoming more and more angry.

Is this how you would pack some model horses - or anything breakable - for a cross country/overseas journey?

Me neither.

They were just standing in the bottom of this box (and other boxes) with a couple pieces of packing paper laid on top and another layer of horses laid in (in most cases, on top of each other).

Some were bodies packed in this way, but most weren't.  Thankfully I didn't find anything broken, but a lot of rubs and scratches and even warped legs.  I'm trying to decide if it would be worth the hassle to try and file a damage claim for the move.

What makes me most angry is that any time Jeff and I were around while the guy was packing up the horses, we saw him wrapping them individually in paper.  However, it obvious that when we weren't around, he was cramming them in the boxes with no padding at all.

Hey, do you see any NAN-qualified SR Pacers in the box below?  I'm not sure I see anything LSQ anymore either... Thankfully the Pacers at least had their blankets on.  Pretty much everyone here had damage in the form of rubs, except Rana in the lower right.  He somehow survived seemingly unscathed.  I have no idea how.

What the hell... So much for the guy wrapping each one...  when we weren't around.  Two more (former?) mint OFs.  The Flash is okay I think, but the Bolya has a warped leg and scratches/rubs.  That is one of my favorite horses.  :(

See how beat up the inside of this box is?  Those were hooves, noses, tails, shoulders, hips, all pressed into the cardboard with no packing material.

After my irate inspection, I wrapped everyone up to wait until I have safe places to keep them out.  Here are some of them, more well protected to sit in a closet than they were to cross the world.

One might say, "oh he didn't know what they were, he just thought they were toys" (someone here said that to me tonight after I told the story), but then why was he wrapping each one so carefully whenever Jeff or I were around?  The whole thing really stinks.  Thankfully I didn't find anything broken (surprisingly), but plenty of minor damage on several of them.

I had originally planned to pack them all myself, but then the movers had showed up a week early.  We really thought it would be okay when we saw the guy wrapping each horse in paper.  The only ones I packed myself were all of my minis and my resins (Thankfully!!).  So at least they should be okay.  I haven't checked them yet, but I'm confident they are all fine.  I shudder to think how many busted Stablemates I'd have now if this guy had thrown them all in a box.

Worst case scenario, I guess I have a bunch of new bodies to customize.  That would be fine if most of these weren't my childhood models (many -were- still in great shape) and many are favorites.  I might be able to fix some of them, I don't know.  It's just not the same.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fishing Floats

Back when we were waiting at the airport to fly to Japan, we met a woman who was also going to be on our flight.  In talking to her, she asked me if I'd heard about the people who collect glass fishing floats.  I hadn't, but she told me about them and it was something I started looking into as soon as we got here.  Jeff and I went to a get together of local float collectors after we'd only been here for a week or two.

At the meeting, we learned about the different sizes, shapes, colors, and color patterns that the floats come in.  Also, most all floats have a stamp from who made them.  Some people get really into that, trying to collect all of the different marks.  I knew pretty much right away that I wasn't going to be too worried about that, but I knew that I did want to try and find some floats.  I had hoped that I could in the years that we'd be here.

I got some information from a couple of the collectors about good times to go float hunting.  It helps to monitor things like the tides, wind speed and direction, and so on.  Jeff and I had then gone out a few times and found nothing.  Well, I always find a ton of beautiful shells and some other neat stuff, but no floats.

Today we went to the beach, walked a total of 7 miles... and found 5 floats!

I am so happy with them, especially the tiny one in the lower right of the picture.  I'm pretty sure that is the smallest size that you can find on the beaches.  I had hoped to find one of the tiny ones after learning about them, but had also heard that they are very hard to find.  The "baby float", as I've been calling it, was actually the first one we found today.  The one on the top right has a wire net around it and some sort of flashy tassel hanging off - some type of bait I wonder?  It was our last find of the day.

These are all small, I think we ended up with a 2-inch, two 3-inch, and two 4-inch sizes.  However the floats can be much bigger in size, all the way up to 14-16 inches I think.  Jeff was hoping we'd find a big one, but no luck with that today.

I had thought that if we ever actually found any, that would be it - I'd be good and wouldn't have to search anymore.  But I think we would both like to find a big one and it was very thrilling finding all of these today...  So I'm sure we'll go beach combing again at some point.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Now There Will Be More Colors!

Today Jeff and I did a little bit of shopping and a bit more exploring around the local area.  We ended back at the (magical) 100 yen store again tonight, where we bought some cool things last week.

I... picked up a few more things.

When we went last week, I ended up getting a neat clear stamp set.  So tonight I picked up the other one that they had (on the left).

I also got this cute roll of washi tape with a woodland animal theme, including foxes!  I haven't really used much washi tape, but they have a lot of it at this store.  This was my favorite.

Lastly, these beautiful papers.

Everything was 100 yen a piece - about 80 cents USD!  It is such a neat store.

My biggest announcement though is that I've decided to really go for it with the halters I've been making (and I'm going to start making other stuff like it too) and so now I have several more colors to work with:

Here's a hurriedly put together color chart with some crooked strips of color...  From top to bottom: paisley, purple, yellow, light green, hot pink, red, black, and white (though you can barely see that one).

I'm exciting to make some more halters, and a few other things too.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Crankin' 'Em Out

I made another one today.

I wasn't sure how this pattern would look, but I like it.  The material actually has sort of a paisley pattern and I wasn't sure how it would look cut into in thin strips, but I think it works.  I'm not entirely happy with how it fits her, I might try it on a different horse and see if it fits better.  It looks to me like the cheek pieces ended up a bit too long.

I did make something extra on this one: a matching lead with a custom "snap".  It's not much to look at, but I'm pretty happy with the basic shape of the snap for my first attempt at fabricating something like that.

I'm thinking I'm going to keep making these and maybe even offer a few of them for sale eventually.

Still working on locating the rest of my supplies, as far as for the leather working I had just started dabbling in before the great move.  I have no glue (wasn't allowed to bring that either...), so I'll have to get some of that before I can start building leather stuff again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finally Made Something!

I made this:

The other side:

I also made this, I call it the "popsicle stick prototype":

(It's a good first try, but it needs more work)

I tried making this, repeatedly, and failed.  I will try again later:

It felt WONDERFUL to make things again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ode to My Dremel

I had already planned to write this post when I found my Dremel yesterday.  It was actually what I was searching for when I ended up unpacking most of the studio boxes.  Then I had a question from Dressagekid of Trail Blazer Farm about using a dremel, on my earlier post , so I thought I'd go ahead a post this now!


I love my Dremel.  I've had it for 17 years (!!) and have used it to work on a LOT of things over the years - mostly model horses.  Jeff is amazed that I've had it for that long and that it hasn't even needed any maintenance along the way.  I guess I just got a good one.  I don't work it very hard or for very long at a time, I think that has helped it last so long too.

Yesterday when I was emptying all of the boxes in the studio, I was hunting for my dremel.  (it was in the very last box that I'd decided to unpack, at the bottom of the pile of boxes - haha)

I was so happy to see this old dirty case.

The inside - hello, little buddy!

A closer look

Loose from the case.  I don't think they look like this anymore.  The last time I looked at them in a store they looked way different.

One concern I've had is that many of our appliances/electronics don't work well here.  So I flipped it over to check out the specs.  I can't remember the difference at the moment, but I think back home was 60Hz and here we are at 50Hz...  Yay, it looks like it will work from 50-60, so it should work just fine here!

Though it came with a bunch of attachments (and there are MANY more available), these are the only ones I use when customizing horses:

First up are the sanding drums or bands.  I use the smaller ones on small horses or to get into tight areas.  The larger ones I use on bigger models or to grind off a lot of material.  I go through a lot of these when I'm in customizing mode.  Shortly before we left home, I found a store selling big bags of the bands for only $5 a bag and I stocked up!

Next are the cut off wheels.  Again, I sometimes go through a lot of these, mainly because they have a tendency to break apart and snap off during use if you're not careful or if they get stuck in the material.  (and the pieces go flying - a very good reason to wear eye protection!)

The last things that I use most often are these teeny-tiny engraving bits.  I used then for carving out nostrils, ears, and hooves.  The tips are very fragile and can be broken off easily, I never leave them in the dremel - if they are knocked against anything, the tip will snap right off.  So I put them in the dremel, use them, then immediately take them off, and put them back in the case.

Another bit I use occasionally is this one.  I'm not sure what it's actually called, but it is handy for removing a lot of material, especially in tight places that you can't get to with a cutoff wheel.

I've most often used it to cut minis almost in half to flex their back or tuck their hindquarters (grisly stuff)  ;)

Two scary, old, in-progress minis that need a LOT more work...  :-/

A few more things have been added to my little dremel arsenal since starting the epic Stagecoach project.

First up are these teeny tiny precision drill bits.  They go all the down to 1/32" which I call the "hair bit", because it almost feels like I'm trying to drill with a strand of hair.  I've used these a lot, drilling tiny holes in various stagecoach parts.

I had to buy a special chuck for the dremel to hold them, especially the smallest ones.  The standard chunk inserts don't close small enough to grip these tiny things.

A top view of the chuck.  It will twist all the way closed.

Another thing I added to my kit is this, from Jeff's collection of rotary tool supplies. It is scary and I don't like using it...  It is basically a miniature metal saw blade.  It did really come in handy for doing some precision cutting on a few of the wooden stagecoach pieces, but this thing is dangerous.  It won't break apart like the cutting wheels do and it could really do a lot of damage if it grabbed a finger.  So, I don't use it unless I have to.  I should be done with most of the wood cutting in the stagecoach now and if not, I'd rather use a little hand saw that I have now.  I only figured I'd show it, because it might be useful for cutting apart models, but I have not tried it and I'm not sure I will!  I like my cutoff wheels...

Look at the tiny metal teeth!  *shudder*

That's about it!  I hope you liked this look at one of my essential tools and that maybe it was helpful if you are new to using a Dremel!

All Work and No Play, Sorta

Yesterday I spent the entire day in crazy work mode, unpacking a ton of boxes, doing more dishes, laundry, organizing the trash and recycling for trash day, etc. etc.  I was exhausted by the end of the day and had declared that today I would spend the entire day in the studio, making stuff!

Well...  I did spend the day in the studio alright, but it was work, work, work in here too.  Basically, I wanted to see if I could find a few more of my supplies before I went into making stuff mode.  Then I decided I'd go ahead and unpack most of the boxes, to see what all I have to find new places for.  That lead to another day of unpacking.

However, it was fun, because I did find more treasure.

I was happy to see that Lionesse survived her ocean crossing!

I dusted her off and let her stretch her legs for a minute or two.

Then, sadly, it was back into the box with her - that's still the safest place to be until I get a quake proof home for her.  She's actually been living in that box since I won her; I've been too afraid to display her, in case something bad happens.  But I do think she's pretty and I'd love to have her out where I can see her.  (I say, now that I'm living in a highly active earthquake area...)

Another good find was the first sighting of some of my bodies.

I took them out and put them on a shelf - it's not too big a deal if they tip over.  I also found most of my Stablemate bodies, my heat gun, and my trusty old Dremel.  Except for primer, paint, and sealer (which sadly I was not allowed to bring...), I'm almost ready to start working on custom models again!

Tomorrow I may do some more unpacking in the studio.  I unpacked everything today except the "figurines" (horses) and I think I might take a peek in those boxes tomorrow.  Other than that, tomorrow...

I will make something!!!  ;)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Craft Time and Tiny Critters

Today I was productive; I unpacked a dozen or so boxes, did dishes, did laundry, sorted through a bunch of files, books, papers...  Then I couldn't take it anymore and I headed for the studio!

A few days ago, I bought a big box of popsicle sticks and a bottle of black acrylic paint for a project idea that I have (which has now turned into a few ideas),

I can't tell you how good it felt to be painting something!  Even if it was just some popsicle sticks.

After Jeff got home, we had dinner, then headed to town to check out a couple of stores.

I found this clear stamp set for 100 yen (the equivalent of 80 cents USD).

There are several "100 yen" stores here, that are basically like a Dollar Store...  except they have amazing stuff!  Each of them has a craft section and I've already seen a ton of things that I want.

Next we went back to a store we'd stopped at a week or so ago that had a big plant selection.  I miss having houseplants and Jeff knew I wanted to have some here.

May I present, my new baby trees!

I love the pot that this one is in - a pretty blue:

I have always loved Bonsai trees and have always wanted one.  This is as close as I've gotten so far.  They had several neat ones, along with a lot of other beautiful plants, and it was hard to chose.  I'm not sure what type of trees these are, but as it turns out - I just checked out a beautiful book on Bonsai today from the library, so hopefully tomorrow I can identify these pretty little guys.

Speaking of little...  I also picked up a new little pet...

She (I think she's a she) is a Dwarf Puffer fish!  She's about the size of my thumbnail.  I had seen a few of them in the pet department of this store when we had stopped by before and thought it would be neat to have one.  I did a little bit of reading on them and then picked her out tonight.

Now for a name...  As usual, it might be a while until she tells me her name.  Sometimes it's hard to come up with a good one.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to work on a couple more projects in the studio.  Oh...  and maybe finish the laundry.  ;)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Simple Happiness

I like drinking coffee in the mornings.  It helps make me happy.

For the past couple of weeks or so, I've been drinking coffee out of... a drinking glass.  It is so not the same as drinking it out of a coffee cup, but alas, we had no coffee cups here yet.

Several days ago, we were in a local cafe and Jeff bought me one of their limited edition coffee cups.  It has cherry blossoms on it!  It is very pretty.

Then, when our belongings arrived, I had started unpacking some of our kitchen things, and I found our coffee cups.  I then had the opportunity to ponder: Why, when I'm pretty much the only coffee drinker in the house, do we have 14 coffee cups?  I may have a problem...  but...  I like coffee.  And clearly a coffee cup is the only way to drink it.  ;)  And there are so many pretty coffee cups out there...

I'm looking forward to sipping coffee out of my pretty new mug tomorrow as I continue work on the new studio.  I think I have all of the furniture arranged the way I want it.  Now it's time to stock the shelves, and my desk, and start working on the model horse earthquake protection options!  ;)