Friday, April 29, 2016

Another successful visit to Ren's

Gozer wanted to walk to Ren's this afternoon. At the point where we can either take the path that eventually leads to Ren's or the path the skirts the Blue Springs Pond basin (which is a former quarry), she wanted to take the path to Ren's. I, on the other hand, wanted to take the other path because it leads to home more quickly. A walk to and from Ren's is at least 90mins, plus the time in the store.

Gozer tends to pull on her leash when she wants to go somewhere. I used to try to drag her in the direction I want to go, which resulted in her digging in her heels and pulling even harder. These days, I stop, face the direction I want to go, plant my feet, and hold the leash around my bellybutton with my arms close to my body while saying "no". I give the leash some very gentle tugs to indicate that we can move on but we don't start walking anywhere until she lets the leash go slack and gives up. Yes, it can take some time but eventually she will give up.

What often ends up happening is that she'll walk a couple of feet and then veer off in the direction she wants to go. I then stop again, repeating the same maneuvers as above, and wait until she's ready to go. If it ends up that she takes a while to go where I want her to, and that we have to make multiple stops to wait for her to give in, so be it. I'm finding that the longer we do this, the shorter the time until Gozer gives up.

Anyways, so we didn't walk to Ren's this afternoon but I did tell her that we could go after we got home and we ended up driving there after dinner. She had a lovely time sniffing around and getting treats from the cashiers. She really liked those treats because she ended up getting four of them.

There were two other dogs in the store: both were boxers, and one was pulling at its leash to see her. The first time we saw them, she turned away and so we ignored them. Later on she wanted more treats from the cashier, who was talking to the boxers' owner, and she went closer to the boxers although didn't get close enough for sniffs to be exchanged. The one boxer was lunging and making noise and Gozer was cringing away from it so I took her away. She relaxed quite quickly and continued sniffing around.

We left because I got bored, not because she was upset, although we were only there for 20mins or so. I ended up buying her a new squeaky that had a good loud sound but was different than her other loud squeakies. She carried it to the cashier and out the door so I think she liked it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Spring is here! The plants are coming up, leaves are starting to come out, we're starting to see flowers, the chipmunks are back, and there are birds everywhere. I love putting seed out (both in the feeders and thrown on the ground) for the birds and chipmunks and watching them eat and hop/run around.

We have at least two juvenile chipmunks in our yard. Sometimes they'll stuff their cheekies side by side but often one will chase the other away (only for the other to watch and re-appear when the first one leaves to bury the seeds. I expect to see quite a lot of sunflowers later in the spring.

Even the grackles are funny. I think it's mating season because I've seen them gather giant silver grass leaves as nesting material. I also saw one sit on a hanging coir pot and do this thing where it would puff up its feathers, make a squawking noise while deflating the feathers, and the pluck at the coir. It was as though it was showing other grackles that it was a good mating choice because it had such great nesting material.

There are a ton of robins around which Gozer loves to chase. Sadly, they can outsmart her fairly easily without even having to fly away.

The daffodils are flowering, as are some hyacinths, and there are some other little blue flowers that we have that I don't recognize.

It's definitely a time of growth and renewal; every day there's something new to look at.

Of course with spring comes yard work. At least this year the ground has been fairly dry so I've been able to get out and do yard work; in past years, it's been so wet that I've had to wait and do everything all at once. Right now I can do a little each day and that's good. Even so, the work is hard. I've been trying to take it easy but I managed to hurt my back, which in turn has made my hip and leg hurt like crazy. I'm having to walk with my cane, which I definitely don't like. It'll get better as I get used to the work and as my back heals.

Monday, April 11, 2016

More foldforming fun

I was in the studio the other day playing around with a different type of foldforming: line folds. Line folds are ways to make raised lines on sheet; on the one side, it looks like square wire has been soldered to the sheet, and there's a groove or channel (depending on the depth of the fold) on the other side. They can also be made narrower at one end and wider at the other. They're a lot like pintucks, really.

Line folds can be made the full length or width of the sheet or can take up only part of the sheet, and they can overlap.

So here are some practice line fold pictures:

Simple line folds that overlap, from the top.

The same simple line folds, from the other side. You can see the grooves that these lines make. You might notice different colours showing up on this side; some artists make these colours happen deliberately. It's a pretty effect.

Two short full-length line folds and one that's centred on the sheet. It isn't terribly good; when I made the fold I hammered too much and ended up pinching some of it out, making it uneven and a little wonky.

My centred line fold, which looks a little wonky from this side. But look how lovely that fold on the left is!

The center fold is a basic line fold and the two on the right and left are variable width folds. The one on the right worked out really well; see how the line looks so sharp at the top and more like a bump at the bottom? The one on the left is ok but it's too sharp at the bottom.

So... I don't know why this picture is rotated but I'm leaving it as-is. The variable fold that was on the right above is now on the bottom. I could probably flatten these out even more.

Because line folds have a fold (pintuck) on one side and a groove on the other and can be made variable width, they remind me of the veins on leaves. So I started playing around to see whether or not I could make some things that sort of look like leaves. Here are my attempts.

So it's possible to make folds that stop at other folds, and that's what I've done here. I know it's a bit hard to see, but what I did here was make the line folds, texture the piece, and cut it out. The effect is ok but not great because the texturing with the hammer made the folds wonky.

The back side of the folds (which, if this was a real leaf, would be the front side, and the folds would all stop short of the edge and would be slightly wider towards the bottom or intersection point).

Here I tried making the line fold first and then texturing it. The texture looks fine but while texturing, the piece distorted and made the line fold wonky at the bottom. If it hadn't folded over and I could have centred it when I hammered it open, it might have made a nice-looking fold.

As you can see, the groove part looks just fine - it's the other side that doesn't look so good. I actually love the colours that I got on this side when I annealed this piece.

So then I tried texturing first and then making my fold. Here's the textured piece; the texturing affected the shape of this piece (it was originally much squarer)

Here's the finial product, from the top, with a variable line fold. I think it worked out pretty well, although the line should stop short of the end. I like the texture.

Here's the leaf from the bottom, after pickling. It worked out pretty well, I think.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Taking Gozer to Ren's

This afternoon I took Gozer to Ren's, a local pet store. She likes going there because she can sniff lots of things she's not allowed to have - like rawhide and beef pizzles - and smell all the different kinds of food they carry. Sometimes she gets to meet other dogs there, and she also usually gets treats from the people who work there. In the spring and fall we can walk there (it's about 45mins each way so we don't do the walk when it's too hot or cold) but I needed to buy birdseed and there's snow and mud on the ground.

Things didn't go well the last time we were there. There had been a dog who was unhappy and making sad noises, which bothered her, and then she was surprised by a big dog coming in. She ended up peeing on the floor. I felt really bad because I had seen that she wasn't happy but I was trying to get my shopping done and so I kept her in there too long. At the first sign of distress - that time, lowering herself and moving much more carefully as well as showing the whites of her eyes - I should have taken her out of the store but I was more focused on me than her. That was a mistake, and I decided that I would do things differently the next time because I don't want Gozer to be so upset that she pees on the floor.

This time, we went in the afternoon because I knew that it wouldn't be busy. Before we went in, I decided that I wouldn't try and do my shopping while she was with me; instead, I would watch her and at the first sign of distress, I would put her in the car and go back and get the bird seed that I was there to buy. I wasn't sure what signs to look for, exactly, but I decided that if her behaviour changed at all that she would leave.

This plan worked really well. She happily sniffed around the whole store twice, getting two treats in the process, when all of a sudden she started panting. I know that she pants when she's nervous or upset so I took her out and put her back in the car. Another owner said that his German shepherd wanted to meet Gozer but since Gozer doesn't normally like big dogs and she was exhibiting signs of stress, I nixed that meeting. When we got home, we had snuggles in front of the tv and she seemed happy.

A note about treats there: I know she's not supposed to eat pretty much anything but I figure that a couple of small treats won't be that bad and they make her visit much more pleasurable. I want her to associate Ren's with happiness and treats are part of that. Besides, Gozer knows that she gets treats from each and every cashier; in the past, she's barked at the one cashier out of three who hadn't given her a treat. It's pretty funny to watch.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Foldforming project

(updated with a couple of links and some more words at the end)

I've recently become interested in forging silver and copper, which is basically the process of using a hammer to move the metal into the form you want. At some point I'll be wanting to do things like make bowls from a single sheet of silver but I need to perfect my hammering technique before I get on with something like that.

You'd think hammering metal would be easy but there's all sorts of things to consider like ergonomics including how to sit and how to hold the hammer (especially important for me because of the tendonitis in both my wrists and the lymphedema), how to control the amount of force in each hammer strike, and how to strike the metal in the right place.

In the meantime, I'm taking a Craftsy class on Foldforming, hosted by the inventor of this method of manipulating metal. It involves folding metal in different ways, hammering part of it, and then opening up the fold to make a unique, nature-inspired piece. Because there's so much hammering involved, I'm getting to practice hammering.

Recently, I made what they call a Rueger fold (here's an example from this online tutorial), and I took some pictures of the process that I thought I'd share with you. These photos came from my phone and are uncropped because I'm super-lazy. See the pictures after the jump.