Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sally Field in a blue uniform swearing at you

We all know the U.S. Postal Service is the model of efficiency and timeliness -- oh, wait, I shouldn't "blog and merlot" at the same time. So what's mail like here in Iwakuni? Imagine Sybil is your mailman. Ok, I'm dating myself. For the younger crowd, "Sybil" is a 1976 based-on-true-events movie starring Sally Field in the title role of a woman with multiple personality disorder.

So for those playing along at home, imagine Sally Field in a blue postal uniform, randomly shouting obscenities like a sailor with Tourette's, occasionally punting deliveries into your yard, sometimes feigning to not speak English, but mostly just pretending you don't exist.

Got it? Ok. Now start an online business.

So if you go to any website and order something, they'll usually give you some shipping options, like UPS or FedEx, etc. Well, Crazy Sally Field is the only game in town. So if you want to order something, brace yourself and hope she took her medication that day. Those websites also usually list estimated arrival times, like "first class 3-5 business days" or "ground 5-7 business days." Of course, with Sybil as your mailman, you just randomly insert exponents and variables, then solve for X.

Why do I bring this up? Well, if you're like me, sometime around, oh, 5:30 p.m. on December 24th you realize you should get your loved ones a little something for the holidays. It's not intentional. The love is there. It's that whole "planning ahead" thing that just doesn't click with me. I have a hard enough time figuring out what just happened, let alone what's going to happen a few minutes, a day, a week or more from now.

So Sybil says that if I want to get any packages actually in the hands of people back home before X-mas, I have to get them in the mail by Dec. 10. If you've been thinking of getting that special someone a fine writing instrument, the earlier you contact me, the better. And if you need some incentive, use the Etsy coupon code " BLOGGERSGET10" to take 10% off any order on the Etsy site. That code is only available here on the blog, but feel free TO SHARE THE BLOG ADDRESS with all your friends and relatives. If they can make it to the end of this post, they get the discount, just like you ;-)

I want to know! What's the most variable and unreliable part of your projects?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Island of Doctor Piper

Part of the fun of doing this is being surprised by the experiments in form and design. Especially when I first started learning pen turning, what I intend and what came out in the end are at times very different things. I confidently make a cut or series of cuts, "knowing" how they'll turn out, only to stand at the end thinking, "How in the ... ?"

One of my favorite examples of this was "Crazy Spider." The idea was a wave design in purple heart and canary wood with an offset inlay line. After the fairly simple cut and glue of the purple heart and canary, I turned the blank 90 degrees and cut another wave, inserting a padauk inlay and then just gluing the two pieces back together. The surprise came when I turned it on the lathe. The width of the pen just happened to coincide with the peak of the inlay wave. Sanding to that point created the red padauk "X" that came out in the final pen. It may not be pretty, but it sure is unique! I've been able to duplicate this a few times, but it's not easy.

Another fun thing is to just cut and assemble, with no idea what's going to happen. Most of the Sanitarium Line are like this, at least in specific shapes and patterns. They're designed to be abstract, so if they make a discernable shape it really is a surprise. I thought this one looked like some kind of Picasso-style eye when it turned out. That silver dot, by the way, is a piece of aluminum I had no idea was in there.

I used to make fun of abstract art!

I want to know! What surprises do you get at your work or hobby?