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Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Personal Challenge

I've had a couple of pretty decent day. When that happens, I usually mess it up by over doing things and making myself hurt worse than ever. Well, so it goes. That's exactly what I have done. As I sit here in pain though, I am sort of proud of myself. I sort of made myself a personal challenge, and I succeeded.
It started with yesterday. I wanted to see how many blanks I could prepare in one day. That was not all of the challenge though. I did not want to simply throw together two simple pieces of wood. I wanted to make interesting blanks. Then, whatever blanks I was able to make in one day, I wanted to see if I could turn them all in one more day.
In my mind, I was thinking I would aim for five blanks. Well, without putting much though into it, while waiting for some glue ups to set so I could add more, like on the celtic cross designs, I started playing around with pieces in my scrap bucket and glued up two extra blanks. That made for seven blanks total. That is when I realized I had actually put myself in a predicament if I was planning on doing them all in one day. I still wanted to go through with trying anyway. 
So, today I went to the shop to see if I was up to the challenge. I'll start left to right in the above photo of pen blanks and tell you about each one. Let's see how far I got.
I think I have the celtic cross design beat now. Once I learned that the biggest obstacle is patience with this design, it seems so easy that I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to get it right.
This one is yellow heart with walnut for the celtic cross. The cross pieces were cut and glued in on a forty five degree angle.
This one is box elder and walnut.
It actually was not turning out at all like I wanted. So when I realized it was going to look terrible the way it was going, I reversed the blank on the back end of the pen to make the swoops opposite each other. That change in mid-stream, while it wasn't exactly the look I was going for, I think saved the pen from complete failure.
Next up, since I had the celtic cross figured out and had one with dark in light contrast, I wanted to make one on the opposite end of the spectrum. So here is one in red heart with box elder cross pieces.
This one is a different take on a design I've done several time. I usually make a double curve along the length of the whole pen. I was just wondering what adding more curves to the mix would produce. I like this design very much and actually started thinking of some other variations I may try in the near future.
This one is purple heart with a box elder strip.
I admit that I really don't know where my thought process was going with this one. It looked magnificent in my mind. I think it turned out kind of plainer than I imagined though. It is a nice pen, but I don't think it is nice enough to revisit the awkward glue up process it took to make it.
It is made of sweet gum and the strips are walnut and sapelle.
This one is one of the scrap wood pens. Actually, it is entirely scrap wood. Each and every piece of this particular pen came out of my scrap bucket. All I done was cut some notches in some of the pieces, stacked other pieces of scraps on top of it, and then took it apart and rebuilt it one piece at a time, in between waiting on other glue ups, and glued the pieces together.
This is my other scrap wood pen. This one is not completely scrap wood. I cut notches for this one in a sweet gum blank. Then I glued the little squares of scraps in those notches. I don't know what I was expecting out of this one. I think it did turn out very interesting though. It looks almost like polka-dots to me.
Were you keeping count?
I wasn't. I had turned the last pen for the day when I realized that I had met my own challenge and turned all seven pens in a day. I was proud of myself. I was also aware of how bad my back had started hurting. I hate it, but I highly doubt I'll make it to the shop tomorrow, but it felt so good to meet my goal.

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