Saturday, September 15, 2018

Painted Pentagram Sketchbook

I recently visited a local craft store and found some nice 8x10 (ish) sketchbooks with cloth covered boards. They were surprisingly cheap, so I grabbed a couple for a future project. I have stacks and stacks of sketchbooks sitting around waiting to be made into custom books, but, I liked the cloth covers on these ones and, again, they were really cheap.

So, the other day, I was working at the store (my clerk was out for medical reasons), and I got bored. In my boredom, I had an idea for a quick paint job that I thought would look really nice on those new sketchbooks. This is essentially the same paint job that I have done on my kraft paper covered journals in the past, with a few minor differences.

I started by cutting out a paper stencil of the pentagram. I have a huge stack of pentagrams that I photo copied about fifteen years ago, and I have been pulling from that pile ever since. I cut it out with an x-acto knife and used mounting spray (a weak spray adhesive) on one side to fix it to the sketchbook cover. I originally intended to center it, but the stencil was a little too big for the cover, and as I was laying it out, I kind of liked how it looked off-center like this. The stencil wrapped around the spine, so I made sure to stick it down into the french groove with the bone folder.

The second step was to use a sea sponge and dab the cover randomly with dark red acrylic paint. To do this, I opened the covers so that I could paint the front and back at the same time. I let the pages dangle straight down, and used two large cardboard boxes to support the covers. This worked, but it made it difficult to get any paint into the french groove, so on future ones, I just left the book closed and did the front and back covers separately.

Next, I repeated the painting process with a brighter shade of red acrylic paint. I made sure to leave plenty of area where the dark red and even the black of the original cover, showed through.

The fourth step was to remove the paper stencil, revealing the black book cloth beneath. This was more difficult than I had thought it would be. Not that the spray glue grabbed too hard, but the paint soaked the edges of the paper stencil, and so the stencil tore at the edges, leaving behind a very visible white deckled edge along much of the pentagram's border. This I had to carefully scrape with a hobby knife to try to get the remnants of the stencil off, without damaging the paint or the book cover.

I managed to get the paper off, but there were several places that my scraping was very visible. It detracted significantly from the overall appearance of the book. I decided to try to mask the damaged areas with another layer of paint. I used a stiff bristled brush to dab on some copper acrylic paint over the most visible trouble areas. Then I used the sea sponge again with the copper paint to blend in those dab marks and hide them. I used the copper paint very sparingly. I did not want to obscure the pentagram design.

I could have just used the sea sponge with the copper paint, but there was a chance that the problem areas I was trying to hide would fall in a "dead spot" on the sponge and I would have to make several passes over the area with the sponge to get the coverage I needed. This would have made the copper too heavy handed. Using the paint brush first ensured that the worst spots were covered by the copper paint, and then the sponge would hide the deliberateness of those repaired spots. Not only did the copper highlights cover the trouble areas, it really brought the design to life. Now, I can't imaging the book without it.

The last step was to spray the entire cover with a spray sealer. It only took about an hour to paint this book, and I am very pleased with the way it turned out. It has been several years since I have made a modified journal like this. I think I need to get back to it.







Thursday, September 6, 2018

Planchettes v1.5

My planchette project started out as a quick weekend thing, and it turned into a three month long saga. This project took for freaking ever to wrap up, and I still have some more woods that I would like to make some out of, but I need to walk away.

So, while waiting for the black marbles, my 40mm glass cabochons arrived. I had saved about half of the second batch to experiment with insetting the glass cabs into the open hole.

This second style (I guess we could call it v1.5) has a slightly bigger hole that was set a little farther back on the body of the planchette. I used a 1-5/8" forstner bit to cut about half way through the wooden body (it was as close to 40mm as I could get without a metric forstner bit set), and then I used a 1-3/8" forstner bit to drill the rest of the way through. This gave me a small rim to rest the edge of the cabochon in. This ledge is visible in the pictures above, and this is the underside of the planchette.


 This batch I finished a little differently than the first two. These were finished with three coats of tung oil, and then followed up with a coat of paste wax.


 I attached the marble feet first, using E6000 glue and drilling recess holes, like before.

The flat side of the cabochon faces down, and from the top side, the domed side of the cabochon pokes up a little through the slightly smaller hole.The glass cab was glued in place from the underside. The glass cab has a nice magnifying effect for objects seen through it. I think it will work well for reading the letters of the spirit board through the hole. A small bead of E6000 was run around the lip of the hole, and the cab was dropped in.


 I didn't like the black marbles I waited so long to find, so I ended up using 10-12 mm marbles I found at Michael's.



 Here are the third batch, all finished. Many of these will be going in my Etst store, and some will be sold in my shop.

Cherry


Cherry


Mahogany


Mahogany


Elm


Mahogany


Mulberry


Elm


Mahogany


 I'd still like to make some planchettes out of hickory and walnut, but I have to set this aside for now. I'm planchetted out.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Planchette v1.0

It took me a little while to figure out what I was going to do with the beautiful spalted maple scrap wood I recently got from my friend, Carl. I thought about making it into a rune set, but then the pattern of the spalting would have been mostly lost when cut into small pieces. I thought about making it into a tarot card box, but it was just a little bit too narrow, and that would have been a lot of work. Finally I decided that I would make some simple custom planchettes that would showcase the beauty of the wood. For any of you that don't know what a planchette is; it is that heart shaped thing you put your hands on when using a Ouija board. The spirit boards I sell in my shop come with planchettes that I think are really sub-par; so I wanted to offer some nicer ones as an option for my customers.

Here is the wood that I am talking about. I showed it in a previous post. This was old cribbing material that was used on a semi-truck. It cleans up real nice, don't it?

I was already planning on making some inexpensive custom planchettes on my laser cutter, and had already begun laying out a design on the computer. I made a few adjustments and printed the design out on paper.

You can ignore the decorative elements on the paper template. They will not be incorporated into this project. I spray glued the paper template to the wood and cut it out on a scroll saw. Then I refined the shape on a disk sander. When following a template like this, always cut just outside the line, then sand up to the line. I had to use a spindle sander to get into that little divot on the ass end, and I used an 1.25" forstner bit to drill out the hole. The cut pieces were sanded smooth and finished with two coats of shellac.

These particular ones will just have an empty hole, but I have some 40mm glass cabochons on order for future planchette projects.

I liked the way these came out so much I decided to look around for some other scraps of wood to make some more. I have a small pile of off-cuts left over from slabbing some beautiful aged cherry logs. I grabbed one of the larger ones and ran it through the planer about a hundred times to get a usable plank, about a half inch thick.

I looove this cherry wood. Trust me, these pictures don't do it justice. When you get some finish on these, or splash some mineral spirits on it, the color just lights up like flame! These are off-cuts that are mostly sapwood, so the effect is less dramatic, but there is still a little of that flame in there.

 I used the same templates and glued them to the cherry wood and repeated the same steps as I did with the spalted maple; cut out, drill, sand, shellac. Here are the finished cherry planchettes.

The final step is to put feet on them, so that they slide smoothly across the board. I was originally going to use those craft store glass drops that people use in flower vases, but they were a little too big and not uniform in size/shape. It would have worked, but I didn't like the way it looked. Instead, I decided to drill a small indent into the underside in three places, and glue in a glass marble.

Unfortunately, I struggled for several weeks to find marbles that I liked for the job. I checked all the local places; craft stores, dollar stores, discount stores. I checked many of them more than once. No luck. I wanted black glass marbles. I even looked online, but had trouble finding what I was looking for at a reasonable price. I finally found one item on Amazon, which I ordered, but it never showed up! I waited over two weeks, and eventually the order got canceled and refunded.  Then I found another offering on Amazon. It was for black glass marbles, but slightly bigger than I wanted, and I had to get five pounds of them!


So, after a month of searching, and two Amazon orders, my black glass marbles finally arrived. They were not as small as I would have liked (I originally ordered 14mm and ended up with 16mm), and they were not as high of quality as I would have liked (noticeable surface creases), but they were the right color, and they showed up, so off we got to installing them.

I made a few test holes in a scrap piece of wood to see what size hole, and at what depth, would give me the surface profile I wanted. I tried 1/2" holes and 9/16" holes for the 16mm marbles, and the 9/16" holes, drilled just deep enough that the marble doesn't bottom out, seemed the best. I have to be careful not to drill all the way through some of the thinner planchettes. I wasn't originally going to drill into them for the feet, so the first few planchettes I made were planed a little thinner than later ones.

Note: Just about every time I use the word "planed" (as in, running a piece of wood through a thickness planer), I have to look it up to make sure I am using the right spelling, and I'm usually not. If you see me writing "planned", or "plained", just roll with it. Sometimes I miss one, or I forget to look it up, or I think I remember the proper spelling from the last time I looked it up, and have it wrong again.


I looked through my stash of parts and found three colors of marbles that were smaller than 16mm. I don't like the colors as well, but someone else may have different tastes, so I decided to use some of the smaller marbles as well.

Although I still think black is the color of choice, the more I look at them, the less I like the black marbles I got. They are too big and too imperfect. I doubt I will be using very many of them.  The tiny clear marbles I found at Michaels are my favorite so far. I did find one website that had exactly what I wanted, and for a reasonable price, but the shipping was outrageous. I wouldn't pay it. Anyway, I've got five pounds of these ones I don't like. I'll probably sit on them for years.


Here are the first two batches all finished. These are spalted maple, mahogany, cherry, elm, and mulberry.

Spalted Maple

Spalted Maple


Cherry


Spalted Maple


Spalted Maple


Cherry


Cherry


Cherry


Mahogany


Mahogany


Mulberry


Elm


Elm

The shellac finish on the second batch gave me trouble for some reason. I ended up putting it on really thick and sanding it back to try to smooth it out, then i followed up with a coat of paste wax. I was not happy with the finish at all, so for the third batch I tried something different.

I have a third batch that is now finally finished, which are slightly different. We'll call them v1.5 (next time).