Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hi Hi Birdie

So yesterday morning when I was leaving for the hospital I saw that there was an injured bird in the driveway (I actually had to spend some extra time getting the truck out to stop from running him over). He was doing a choatic hop-about and obviously couldn’t fly, but I was rushed so I texted Caitlin to go save him. She couldn’t find him, but I managed to track him down and bring him in when I got back. He has a broken wing and a badly broken leg. We have racoons, possums, rats, and a number of feral cats that live around our building, so he’s lucky to have even survived the morning. There’s no way he’d survive the night outside, so we set out on what I hope is not a fool’s errand trying to nurse him back to health. I do wish Nefarious was here to help, she would love this.

Right now we’ve built him a makeshift safehouse here in the studio out of a giant box, and have been giving him water and lots of food that he’s seeming to eat in decent quantity. And shooting out the other end as well, which I take as a good sign for his survivability. On the other hand, he can’t really stand up and sort of just rolls around so he’s very pathetic and sad looking at the moment. We weren’t sure if he was even going to make it through the first night here but he does seem to be doing a little better. Fingers crossed for him. As soon as he seems well enough to fly he’s back out into the wild. Maybe we’ve given him a chance. I’m guessing that he smucked a window and was stunned and then maybe got clipped by a passing car or something. It doesn’t look like he was attacked.

I wonder if he has bird friends who are wondering where he is…

Other than that, yes, I did make it out to the post office with a small mountain of skull rings and goodies to mail. I’ll try and update the shop tomorrow with cool new stuff as well. I made a set of new molds for the “women’s” size skull rings (sizes 6 through 9) but I made an error and they are deformed so I have to remake them tomorrow. But I might put the two funny quasimodos up anyway. I’m going to set the eyes and see how they look first. I felt a bit bad at the post office because some people who were there to just send single things had to wait for half an hour as all my stuff was processed. I’d have let them go in front, but this post office is small and only has one computer so they couldn’t (as far as I know) pause my processing. Still, I didn’t deserve their dirty looks in my opinion!

Dead Snow-inspired SS Zombie Tattoo Update

Straight-outta-the-bandage, here’s the tattoo work that Shane Faulkner (here’s his facebook link for those looking for a Toronto tattoo artist — and Damian that he shares a College and Bathurst-area shop with is also outstanding) did for me yesterday. We went over the main zombie in the tattoo to really bring out the contrast and darken him significantly. The only thing left to do (on this character), and it will likely be the only colour element, is his armband. I have another appointment later in the month so I’m quite thrilled with how quickly we’re progressing.

New Soap Molds (Skull Soap + Zentastic Soap)

I spent the afternoon getting tattooed, completely going over the big Schutzstaffel zombie (inspired by one of the characters in Dead Snow, although Shane has given him a new face). If you look at Shane Faulkner’s facebook page in the next day or two he took some nice pictures of it when we finished the session, and I’ll post some as well when I’ve unwrapped it and it looks nice again. I don’t think I got enough sleep last night so it hurt a lot, but nonetheless, I really do love everything about tattooing, including the experience.

Before leaving though I poured some quick soap in the new molds I cured last night — a skull soap, and a Zentastic promo soap. I will put some of these in the shop in the next couple days ($5 seems to be the going rate for hobby soap, so I guess that seems like a reasonable place to price it, although it might end up being less), but I think I’m going to put them into orders by regular customers and large orders for free as a thank-you gift. Here are the two bars that I made, cast in a goats milk soap with slight peppermint scent.

In addition to the goats milk, I also cast them in a clear soap (also peppermint):

Per Caitlin’s suggestion I’ll do some experiments with speckling in red blood in various ways. We’re debating whether it’s better to drip the “blood” (which will just be a deep red tinted soap) when it’s all liquid (Caitlin’s thought), or to splatter it into the mold first (my thought), then let it harden (maybe even freeze it to make it resilient) and then pour the bone colour on second. Both will be tried.

Other than that we have temporarily adopted a sparrow that broke its wing. We’re not sure if it’s beyond saving but we are doing our best. Assuming the horrible cat does not figure out a way to eat it in the night I will report more tomorrow on our little friend.

I realize that with the opening and closing teasers, it is apparent to everyone that I have posted pictures of the least interesting part of my day. I’m sorry, but for now it’s the only part that I’ve photographed. I will amend it tomorrow. Tomorrow will not be an entry containing only a picture of me going to the post office, even though I am planning the ammunition for that.

Oh The Places You’ll Go, Skulls, Pewter in Plasticine Molds

Years ago I read a great many Dr. Seuss books to my daughter a great many times. I think that they moved me even more than they moved her, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” and “The Lorax” most of all. I am both embarrassed and not ashamed at all that there were times reading these to her that I was not-completely-successfully holding back the tears from how deeply they affected me. “Oh The Places You’ll Go” surely had a guiding effect on my life, and I’ve tried to go out and live — and create — the most-often-but-not-always wonderful kaleidoscope world it imagines. Whether you’re a fan of the story or whether you are simply a fan of such a rainbow existence, I’m sure you will enjoy this beautiful Burning Man-themed edit of Dr. Seuss’s poetry.

Fullscreen is the best.

Also if you’re in the watching mood, I’ve been enjoying the videos on TommyEdisonXP’s YouTube channel which document his life as a blind man — ever wonder how a blind person cooks food? Uses an ATM? Sets up a DVD player? There aren’t a ton of videos but hopefully he’ll make more. The cooking one is especially good.

Yesterday Caitlin and I walked down to Kensington Market to have a Big Fat Burrito which was delicious as always. The walk was about 8km in all, which while a decent length walk for anyone, seems to be about my upper limit these days, down from almost double that a month ago. I don’t know if that’s because of the damage I did climbing all the zip line towers in Mexico, or if it’s just part of the normal decay and destruction. I feel like I had a couple months where I was feeling alright, but now I’m back to pretty much constant unbearable pain. Tomorrow I start a new pain treatment program that I have mixed feelings about, and they’re supposed to stick me in a CT scanner soon to see how the brain damage aspect of the disease is progressing. I’ve actually been doing a ton of programming lately (as in software development) to try and keep myself from going nuts from the pain — doing data processing and analysis and simple AI work seems to pull me out of the physical and keep my mind broadly occupied better than just about anything else I’ve found.

Back to nice stuff. As I said, I’ve had lots of people with dainty fingers asking me to do a skull ring that’s appropriately sized for them. So I have been making roughs for a potential new skull ring or two. The ones in the picture are size 6 and 7, and can be up-sized to a 9. I’m also making them all with gem-set eyes, which is why the eyes are hollow. I like the way the gem-set eyes look so much that in this run they’ll be that way by default. I hope to have the molds made for these in the next few days, and I just got shipping notice that I’ll have some new cabochons later in the week in addition to the gems I already have here.

Finally, I wanted to share with you a little experiment I did the other day for making quick one-offs. I discovered that the “melting point” of plastecine is high enough that you can actually pour liquid pewter into it. The pewter that I use melts at the incredibly low temperature of 138 degrees Celsius — not much more than boiling water amazingly! I found that you can take your positive (in this case a little fairy figuring wearing goggles) and press it into the plasticine to make your mold. I also put in a little graphite to reduce air bubbles, although I didn’t do enough tests to be sure how big a difference it makes. The pewter then, melted stove top, is poured right into the depression in the plasticine and allowed to harden there. To my surprise, it works perfectly. For applications like making one-off coins or medals for a kid’s party and things like that, this seems like an ideal zero-cost method. The pewter can be bought for around $20 a pound (or you can just melt down broken pewter cups from a used/junk shop), and that’s the only special item you need!

Perhaps I will write a tutorial some time.

Other than that Caitlin and I have been watching the “Face Off” SyFy reality show which is pretty fun. It’s one of those “Top Chef”/”Project Runway” type contest reality shows, but it’s about theatrical and special effects makeup. The second season starts soon, so we grabbed the entire first season to watch over a couple days and have just one episode left. There’s a lot in the show that overlaps with the sort of jewelry work I do because of all the mold making, so it’s interesting to me on a first-hand level.

New skull ring eyeballs and Cabochon love

A customer asked me to order them some custom stones for a recent order, and along with their request I got some others in stock. Most of these will be in the shop soon, and I always like making custom stuff for people so please let me know if something you see strikes your fancy. Anyway, this first one is a pair of 8mm orange CZ. It’s insane how bright they are. That’s in part because of the stone and the cut, but also because it’s such a tall stone that I had to mount the eyes very high in the socket (otherwise the backs would poke the finger) and they really glitter.

These next ones are 8mm rainbow topaz and are also quite intense — they are iridescent across various blue, green, and turquoise tones that are hard to capture in a still photo.

These blue or deep cyan stones are a pair of 8mm simulated blue zircon.

Next is the actual stone that was ordered, a pair of 8mm black spinels. Totally black and opaque.

Also in black, I ordered a bunch of 8mm high dome black onyx round cabochons, which are basically half spheres. I got these largely as an experiment as I’ve never worked with them before, and wow, do I ever love them. They really look incredible. I made a couple of rings using them as eyes that’ll go into the shop in the next day or two.

In addition, I have started mounting cabochon’s on the backs of these rings whenever possible, inside my “signature” tattoo logo. It’s a very beautiful touch, and I feel like my work is getting better and better with time.

I have some more cabochons on order, so in a week or so I hope to do some more experiments. I have some really neat looking pyrite ones, some blood red almandine garnets, some green malachite, some very psychedelic glittering opal, some turquoise chrysocolla that looks like a planet, some pearly moonstone, and some stunning lab-grown star sapphires. Finally, because I have had so many requests to do a version of this skull ring but in a smaller women’s size, I’m beginning work today on a new skull ring that should fit sizes 6 through 9 (the rings about are size 10 through 13).