Sunday, 5 December 2010

The End of my Week Off

Well, I got a fair amount done. The cabinetry took a lot longer than I thought it would, but  I did it myself! I’ve put up some curtains too. Oddly, I had this huge fear of putting up curtain rails, but when it came to it, I actually found it quite easy. Although a longer spirit level would have been helpful.

 Here is my study.

 Some things need more work to make them steampunk - I will stain the craft cabinets to match the rest of the woodwork soon.

I didn’t get around to covering the books with leather paper, but I have got it and will begin.

These are my steampunk objects. The prints I ordered didn’t come in time to be framed, so they aren’t up yet.

I have just rounded off the day (and week) with a massive meal. Sweet potato soup, oatcakes with smoked mackerel pate, goat’s cheese and red onion tart, and sticky brownie cake. 

I enjoyed this project, but things still seem incomplete. I’m aiming for a scientific steampunk theme - can anyone suggest anything to make it more obvious?

Building a Cabinet whilst Clueless

First, draw some plans and work out what dimensions you want the thing to have. (OK, given I did actually do that first maybe I’m not totally clueless).

I wanted my cabinet to fit into the window, so the dimensions I needed were 80cm high, 25cm deep, 102cm wide at the back and 116cm wide at the front. For simplicity’s sake I decided to make the box part of the cabinet a cuboid and just stick a wider front and a trapezoidal top on. 

First obstacle - bits of wood 116cm long by 25cm wide are relatively expensive. I didn’t want laminate, chipboard or MDF because I was planning to stain it to match the other furniture. So… I bought 2 14cm wide planks and stuck them together with glue. I should have used floorboards, because they have that little notch that makes them stick together accurately.

I was a bit worried it wouldn’t be strong or smooth enough. But it was! 

I made the front out of 14cm wide planks, using a chisel for just about the first time. Funnily enough, my Dad taught me how to use an electric jigsaw and a power drill, but never a chisel. I marked and cut my notches for my step joints, and they actually fit! So I glued and screwed them together quickly, before something went wrong.

On to the sides. Because they are so narrow, I made them out of solid blockboard I found in the cellar. Next obstacle -  my jigsaw Did. Not . Want. to cut the blockboard. Well, one piece - it cut the rest fine. I still can’t work out why it threw such a tantrum, but I finished the cut with a hand saw. 

Then I made a box with the ends and three narrow beams, about 2cm x 4cm. The back was just a bit of hardboard, the thin stuff, left over from covering the bathroom floor. Then I screwed on the front to the framework. Everything just about matched, and I was very elated. I was also tired, and it was 11pm. So I glued on the top and left it to dry overnight.

In the morning I removed the clamps and sawed the top to the desired shape, and checked it fitted in the window where it was meant to go. It did.

Lastly, the doors. I had wondered about just shelving it and not having doors, but the scrap wood I used for the sides was bright blue. Not a good look with my red, cream and dark wood. I thought about making them solid but that would require more wood than I had. So I just built them like picture frames and nailed black cotton on for the panels. 

I gave everything a double coat of varnish, and (after my third trip in 2 days to the DIY shop on the corner) hung the doors using brass hinges.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Wednesday Night

I’ve got a lot done over the past few days but most of it not photogenic. However, I have a new pile of loot.

Why yes, that would be a Black and Decker jig-saw. Oh, the fun I can have now!

As I was getting back from Glasgow at about 7pm, the man came to deliver the carpet. He was a fairly tall man, carrying a 4 metre long roll of carpet over one shoulder. I was getting lots of things in from the car and walked up the path behind him, when he shifted the carpet to put it down in the hall. 

It smacked me squarely on the top of the head.

I squawked, as one does when unexpectedly hit on the head. He turned around as the carpet hit the floor, and I thought his eyes were going to pop out. Then I started laughing, and after a moment he joined in.

“There were visions of claims and compensations running through my head there,” he said. I assured him I was completely unhurt, so he gave me a bit of brass stuff to fasten the carpet down in the doorway, and left. They say we live in a compensation culture - I do wonder if anyone would consider claiming on something as insignificant as that. 

I’ve stained my big wooden storage thing from Pine to Rosewood. That took care of a lot of little marks as well. It’s been sanded too, and looks much more in keeping with the period. I was going to put on another coat but it looks like that would make it too dark, so I’ll settle for lots of beeswax instead. I’ll treat my cabinet the same way, when it’s finished.

Ah yes, the cabinet. It will be finished tomorrow and then I’ll post notes on how to make a cabinet whilst learning how to use a chisel.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sunday Night

Well, it’s Sunday night. I meant to go to Glasgow tonight but…

I decided I’d rather not slither thirty miles. This also put a bit of a damper on one of my other ideas, sorting out the gravelled bit of the garden and making it look finished. But that was fairly low down on my list, so I’m not too bothered about it.

Cake is baked. The house was tidy, but then I started trying to clear out the spare room.


Some Progress.
More Progress.

Anything still on the floor here is either rubbish or recycling. That does include the laptop. What do you do with a dead laptop? Throwing it in the bin feels wrong, but it has no logic board, no hard drive, and no RAM.

This room actually has quite nice bones. It was built in 1890, so it’s in the right period for steampunk. Unfortunately, upstairs’ sink leaked last week and some of the cornicing above my window looks like it has melted slightly. I suppose that could be made a feature, but to be honest I’d rather they fixed it.
I’ve spent a lot of the past few weeks reading right through the archives of The Steampunk Home. I love a lot of what she’s got up, and I can browse through the links she posts for hours. In fact, she’s my main source of inspiration. My first introduction to steampunk, though, came from browsing the Cake Wrecks blog and following the link to Jen’s other blog, EPBOT. She’s amazing.

A short list of (new) things that I want to do:
  • Make this. Isn’t it great?
  • I found a shredder under the junk in the spare room. It must have been there when I bought the house, because it isn’t something I would have bought. I wonder if it could be steampunked?
  • Do lots of fancy baking, and ice a cake prettily. The one I made today is chocolate and walnut, so tastes good but looks… brown.
  • Paint that messy red chair matte black and upholster a red leather seat for it.

What I’m going to do tomorrow:
  • Measure and cut what I can for the cabinet for under the window. Work out what else I need to build it.
  • Go shopping. Very girly shopping - a jig-saw, a chisel, some wood stain, some varnish and a shower! I think it might be slightly odd to be excited about buying power tools.
  • Sort out fabric for curtains.
Let's see how far I get with that lot.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Week Off Begins

As of 1pm Friday, there are 9 days before I go back to work! 

Given how little time off I have, I have to make the most of it. The spare bedroom is the big thing, but I also have to install an electric shower (gulp - me, water and electricity all at once?) and spend some time at my parents' house. Those are the must-do things. The I’d-like-to-get-this-done things are to numerous to list, but as I complete them I may mention them.

The past week I’ve been gearing up for this, and I’ve acquired a small pile of loot.

There is more on its way, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Tomorrow I’m going to go to all the charity shops in town, both to see what steampunkable things I can pick up and to drop off some stuff. Oh, and to buy Christmas cards and an Advent calendar. Oxfam have done the best of both of those as long as I can remember. 

One thing I’m very excited about is this.

I’ve ordered the plans from Clayton Boyer Clock designs, and I’m keeping them for the end of the week as a reward for industriousness. He has lots of incredible designs. It was difficult to keep from ordering several. If this one turns out well I might get one of the more intricate ones for my (non-steampunk) living room.

If I plan too far in advance, I get off track and give up. So here is my plan for tomorrow only:
  • Tidy the house.
  • Clear out the spare bedroom.
  • Check to see if I have enough wood already to begin building the cabinet for beneath the window in the spare room. Measure and cut what wood I have.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Attend the Farmers’ Dance. I might get pictures. After all, my camera is shockproof. It ought to survive ceilidh dancing!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Initial Enthusiasm

I was going to start this blog after NaNo was over, but Life intervened. Finishing the novel this month is not within the bounds of possibility. Writing with fingers swollen from a dog bite is just not going to happen. There’s always next year.

Anyway, this lets me get on with my next big project - steampunking my spare bedroom!

It's basically where I dumped everything
 as I decorated the rest of the house.

I have lots and lots of plans for this. At the moment I’m waiting on a parcel of books from Amazon, and some bits and bobs from Ebay. I have a week off from the end of next week and this project is going to take up a lot of that. Of course, I will also have to find time to do some writing, some exercise and some baking, and go home to my parents’ for a bit. 

There isn't even a carpet in this room at the moment. The walls are very pale for steampunk, and the wood is painted, but I'm not changing those. I thought a deep red carpet and red velvet curtains would be enough to restore the Victorian feel. I'm going to oak stain and varnish all the IKEA bookcases and get some leather paper to cover all my work and craft books. There are other crafty plans too, but I feel that's a good start.