Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sculpting with Clay

I got some polymer clay and tools to try and do some sculpting with the kids. We went with Super Scupley - it's soft when you work it, but you can bake it out in the oven to set it hard as a rock. We all sat down one night last week to give it a shot. They really seemed to enjoy it - we'll probably make some more stuff tonight. Last time I made the little one-wheeled robot on the left, and Carter made the Pikachu on the right. Sean made a Pikachu as well, but he hasn't painted it yet and he wanted me to wait before I took a picture of it.

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Travel Uke #2

This was another travel ukulele I built recently. It sounds really good, but I've got mixed feelings about the lack of headstock and its replacement by the zither pins at the tail end. The zither pins are more of a pain to tune (although truthfully, not much) - but I think it's the lack of a headstock that I find the hardest to adjust to. I hadn't realized how much of my 'intuitive' sense of where I am on the fretboard (without looking, I mean) depends on the feel of the neck as it transitions from the end of the neck proper into the back of the headstock. With this travel uke my hand slides up the neck looking for this transition, and I just sort of almost slide right off the top end. Still, I prefer the look and sound of this one over the travel banjolele a couple of posts back.

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Travel Banjolele – Update

Well, I tried the changes I talked about in the last post - plus a few others. I made a new nut and floating bridge to space the strings out a little further, lowered the action a bit, and crowned the bridge a lot more sharply. Those changes definitely made the difference! It sounds much better now. Surprisingly loud for such a small instrument, too. All the strings ring nice and clear now. I've got another 'travel size' ukulele coming together in the workshop as we speak - a wooden one this time. It remains to be seen which will be better suited to traveling with me. I may be taking a work-related trip in the near future, so I will bring one of them along with me as a test.

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Travel Banjolele

This project was an attempt to build a 'travel-sized' (soprano) banjolele that I could take with me when I go backpacking or when I travel for work. it takes the same aluminum cake pan approach as the larger banjolele I made last year, only this time I painted the pans black. The neck is made of walnut. On the back of the resonator I painted a sort of octopus/kraken thing - it's got ten legs, so if I call it an octopus someone is going to call me out on it (heh). It still needs a few tweaks - I'm getting a few buzzes on a couple of strings, and I think I need to crown my saddle a little more sharply to get the strings to ring clean. But with a few adjustments it should be good to go!

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Family Tree

This is a project I had seen online a couple of years ago, and have always been itching to do. I painted a tree on the wall behind our couch, then printed out a bunch of black-and-white photos of family members to hang on it. It came out better than I had anticipated. But I still need to get a few more matching frames and add a few more photos. Turns out I could fit more than I thought I would be able to without it feeling cramped. I figure another three or four should round it out.

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Paper Portrait for a Friend

Here's another paper portrait that I made recently. This one is a friend's son, and was sent to him as a surprise. His son is pretty photogenic - and you've gotta love that hat!

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Leather Patch

Here's one of a pair of leather patches I made. I had a custom brass stamp made from a pattern I designed - and it was surprisingly affordable. I had plans to make a whole bunch of these and give them to friends and family - I probably still will, in fact. But I've been slow to move on that idea. So far I've got one on my day-to-day backpack, and sent this one off to an old friend.

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