Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Fabulousity: FlippyCat

I just discovered youtuber FlippyCat's mind-bogglingly amazing domino fall videos.  The linked video is particularly lovely.  The next one in the playlist, the fall of the dinosaurs, is also well worth watching. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Poetry Tuesday: Poem on Airing Books on a Starlit Night

We unfasten the chest
Of books and
Offer this gift
To the stars who meet
Only tonight
                                                                                        -Emperor Go-Youzei, trans. Ann Yonemura*

Written on the custom of airing books on the evening of the Tanabata festival, celebrating the once-a-year meeting of the Weaving Maiden (Vega) and the Ox-Herd Boy (Altair), from the Chinese legend. 

*Found in Twelve Centuries of Japanese Art from the Imperial Collections, p. 70

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Caturday Post: Who Sits By the Window

Reference to the lyrics for "The Greatest Adventure" from the very old, animated version of "The Hobbit":

The man who's a dreamer
and never takes leave
Who thinks of a world
That is just make believe
Will never know passion
Will never know pain
Who sits by the window
Will one day see rain:
start at 1:05 for the relevant verse

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Mad Person-Who-Stitches: A Fabulous Hat, Part 2

Elisheba asked for a fabulous hat, ideally with a ship on it.  Read part 1

My original planning scribbles for the hat:
I wrote about making the ship in part 1.  For the base I lucked out and found a 1/4 inch wide metal band headband at a local Target.  (Plastic bands tend to snap after about a year, based on my own cheap headbands.)  I padded it top and bottom with 1/2 inch flexible craft foam left over from Trapeze Doom Guy, cut very roughly in half to be ~1/4 foam.  The foam sopped up enough superglue that I had to reglue a lot, but eventually the foam was stuck on.  (I need to work on taking more in-construction pictures, sorry.)   I then wrapped the messy-looking thing in sparkly black stretch velvet left over from a leotard and stitched the wrapping shut.
Then I needed fabulous, sparkly fabric.  I was originally thinking of something with sequins in gold and scarlet, because of the viking dragon ship for the hat, but Gail K Fabrics (my favorite local fabric store) had a bolt of this:
and obviously this was the fabric to use.  It's feathery/leafy/wave-y and bright pink and blue with tiny silver sequins!  I cut out parts of the feather pattern, working from the flowers, and wired them with 20 gauge crafting wire left over from making a plush Hakuryuu.  Sewing the wire onto the back of fabric sections was easy but tedious.  But then I got to start putting everything together:
Here it is before I put the ship on:
The feathers were the only part the cats were really interested in.
back view

And with ship in full glory:
Elisheba says the feathers are not too much.  It's her hat, therefore the feathers are not too much.

I am very happy with my first attempt at a hat. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Mad Person-Who-Stitches: A Fabulous Hat, part 1

On Elisheba's winter solstice festival wishlist was "a fabulous hat, ideally with a ship on it."

At first I thought to find a wide-brimmed straw hat and glue a model ship to it.  Then Elisheba specified that she preferred fascintor-thingys to full hats.  Then while searching for "viking dragon ship" on the internet I  discovered that a group of amazing Norwegians have built a Viking dragon ship, Harald Harfarge, and sailed it across the Atlantic to North America:
I was inspired!  I thought to acquire a little model viking ship and glue it to a headband.  Then I failed to find a small enough model dragon ship ready-made.  So I decided I would build a little dragon ship and make a fabulous hat myself.  Thus my latest project.

Because I wouldn't be able to acquire and learn to use woodworking tools with sufficient skill in the month before the winter solstice festival, I would make my draken out of paper and cardboard.  The draken Harald Harfarge would be my model.

First, the math, using the numbers for Harald Harfarge from their website: 
(Disclaimer of a former maths professor: this is my own private scratchwork.  I would re-write it completely, with much better annotation, for any formal purpose.) 

This video was incredibly helpful for outlining how Harald Harfarge was built, as well as being fascinating in its own right:
The skill that goes into a ship is extremely impressive!

Laying the keel: stiff cardboard wrapped with a flexible cardboard:
 I wasn't satisfied with the strength of the result, and the corrugated cardboard refused to carve into sharp details for the head and tail.  So I cut two outer pieces from stiff non-corrugated cardboard with the detailing and cut the detailing out of the original keel, gluing all the layers together.  
I couldn't quite do these details in cardboard, but I did my best.

Then I laid the strakes.  The cardboard I used for the outer keel pieces was too stiff, and paper was too flexible, so I cut up a box for instant oatmeal, which was the perfect cardboard weight.
a heap of different weights of carboard
 My fingers are too big and my patience too small to deal with 20 or so strakes, so my draken has only 3 strakes.  Without suitable clamps, there was a lot of listening to HPPodcraft, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary podcast, while I struggled to hold strakes in place and waited for the glue to set enough to hold.  A lot of HPPodcraft and waiting.  Thinking it over now, I think I should have cut each strake in two, shaped them individually to stem and stern and let the glue set, then glued them together in the middle.  As it is, I tried to make them in one piece, and my draken has two relatively gaping holes in the hull at stem and stern.

Then the first coat of paint, seen here with the unpainted, unglued decking:
 Raising the mast on my tiny draken was easy: I rotated my X-acto knife in the soft corrugated center keel to bore a hole, dripped in a drop of superglue, and inserted the length of dowel rod (leftover from another project).  It's traditional to put a coin beneath the foot of the mast, but even my smallest coin was too big, so my draken will have to sail penniless. 

Then I put in the decking.  My draken was already a stiff and coherent whole, and will only sail on a froth of ribbon, so I skipped all the interior bracing.  I painted the details:

And raised the sail.

I'd at first intended a red sail, like Harald Harfarge, but when you see the fabric I found to make the background of the hat, you'll understand why I embroidered a fuchsia dragon instead.  The yard is a thin twig of bamboo, which grows as a feral pest plant in these parts.  The rigging is sewing thread.  The sail is white cotton-polyester twill from my stash; it is sturdy and tightly woven and took the embroidery very well.  I gave the fabric a brief (~30 minute) tea-bath to reduce the blinding whiteness to a more reasonable shade.  
tea-dyed square against the undyed original fabric
 My tiny draken:
My draken is not an accurate model of the Harald Harfarge, as its goal is to look "right" on a hat, rather than be seaworthy.  Most notably the head and tail of my draken are exaggerated in size compared to the body of the ship, and the keel is flush with the hull.  Clearly I have no steering oar or working rigging.  But I hope it captures the spirit of the Harald Harfarge.  I'm very pleased with my first attempt at making a dragon ship out of cardboard and glue and thread.

Tamerlane the World-Conquering Sword found it sniff-able: