8 of many trades, Jack of some

BigBall, part 1

Twice a year I go camping with 1200 of my closest friends. Some of us bring “art” to the camping. In the past few years, along with some campmates, I’ve built a few things. This spring I’m working on building a big ball. Big as in 8-foot in diameter, and glowing. And one of the cool things about this camping trip is they often kick down some dollars to help pay for the “art”. Yay, art grants!

Constraints: it has to be portable, and constructable/deconstuctable in a relatively short amount of time with minimal tools — my tool collection is modest and mostly handtools. Also, it’s a 4-day camping event, you don’t want to spend the whole time building when there is other fun to be had. And there isn’t much in the way of heavy equipment to help the build.

I realize there may be other approaches, but I’ve decided to use 3/4″ EMT conduit and canopy fittings to build a frame. Then enhance the frame with hooping – made from hula hoop material. Then covered in white cloth. And lit-up from the inside.


Some framing in progress shots:

IMG_6657 IMG_6660 IMG_6664

We got this far, when we ran out of conduit. If you look closely, you can see a crossbeam is missing.


Leaf template. Yeah, they are big leaves

Leaf template. Yeah, they are big leaves

Then I made a dome-shaped cover (since I can’t find my parachute. I think I might have given it away). I used the sphere cover sizing calculator from this site:  https://simplydifferently.org/Geodesic_Dome_Notes?page=18

I opted for 6 leaves, and put in my numbers for this slightly larger than 8-foot diameter ball frame. Next, a trip to the fabric store for 12 yards of white suit lining fabric. Then a long evening making a cardboard pattern, then cutting the material. And then a long morning sewing it all into a dome cover.


IMG_6730Then shanghaiing a neighbor to help put the cover onto the dome. What this test highlighted is that I need to add much more framing if I want it to keep it’s ball shape when covered. The fabric drooped into all the open space. This photo is the most ball looking, and it’s just because the wind caught it and puffed it out.

Hmmm, more hooping – how about some hoops from the material used in hula-hoops. Lightweight, not to pricey, easy enough to procure. I calculated I need about 75 feet of hoop material if I’m going to add 4 levels of hooping.


This is pretty much how far I’ve gotten.

Next up, buying more conduit. And gathering some friends/campmates to finish out the framing. And figuring out how to cover the other half of the ball. And how to keep it from rolling. And how to light it best. But that’s all for another day.

For now it’s sitting in my front garden amusing (annoying?) the neighbors.

Book 3, Chapter 1, verse 3

“I’m going to live in San Francisco when I grow up”
“Cool, can I come too?”
“Yes, if you aren’t dead”

I have reconsidered this chapter verse metaphor in titling journal posts. It more like this is the third book in a series that is my life. Book 1 was childhood & college, Book 2 was corporate employee life, now book 3 is starting. Where will it lead? How will it end??

I’m NOT going to go back and re-title earlier posts. But moving forward, this will be Book 3, chapter 1.

On to this week’s verse : it is a dull one.

I’ve been getting less done than I envisioned a few weeks ago when this book started. I’m still very much in vacation mode, recharge mode. Plus the kid was homesick from preschool 2 days that interrupted some plans.

I did join Instagram as _tinkeress_

I do have an art project list – these will eventually become posts, God willing (and the creek don’t rise):

  • BigBall
  • LED light wall
  • Pennsic garb
  • SuperDragon
  • Affirmation Collection station
  • the subsequent Affirmation cage

And the less interesting adulting list: do my taxes/networking/signing&returning termination papers/bathroom remodel/Garden control/Ceiling repairs.

I had an interesting evening yesterday. I was a DuPont scholar at University of Delaware when I went 1988-91. And the university holds a yearly reception for former distinguished scholars and current seniors. I got to mingle with these clever people, most of which are just starting the second chapter book of their lives. Interesting small talk.

And then dinner with a friend I had from my college days. It has been some years since we sat down together, so we reconnected over much more in-depth real life talk.

And finally, a friend had invited me to his 2 day house party. More interesting types there – young art sorts – some great conversations on the Philadelphia art scene. But it was late and I was winding down, my conversation reserves well tapped. I got home just in time to see the clock change to 3AM.

Nightsky Nightgown tink

Last week I bought myself some new PJ’s, and the kid loved them. They have this cool star/moon fabric. She wanted ones JUST like them. Of course, mine are adult sized, no where near a 5 year old size.

So I went to JoAnn Fabrics in search of some similar fabric so I could make her some. Yes, I spoil my kid. Yes, I needed some sort of project to get into. And Yes, as I plan for making some Pennsic Garb for the summer, I figure it’s a good, low risk way to brush up on my sewing.


Fabric! My PJs on the left; Hers on the right.

IMG_20160228_122906506So I took one of her existing nightgowns and eyeball traced it on the 1.5yr of fabric, and cut it. I ended up with 3 pieces – two arms and a body. I cut the neckline a bit larger in the front than the back. I did the front and back as one piece – the shoulderline was a fold.
Next up, bias tape. I never have worked with bias tape before, so I figured this was the perfect chance to learn how. I used double fold, and added it to the neckline. Turns out, I made the neckhole too small. So I eventually cut it down the front so she could actually put her head through. But it’s pretty easy to put it. I hand based it on, then sewed it on the machine. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the joins. FotorCreatedThe last thing I did was also add some bias tape to the bottom hem. I haven’t gotten around to bias taping the wrists yet – and you can see how frayed the edge is now after one night of wear.

Next pinning around the armhole. Pinned on arm one, and (machine) sewed it. Pinned on arm 2, sewed it. At which point I realized I had pinned it inside out. Oops. Take out the seam, repin (right this time!) and resewed it. And  I waited for the kid to come home, because I wanted her to try it on before I sewed up the side seams. Which is when I realized the neckhole was too small and cut it open.

So, turn the nightgown inside out, pinned side and arm seam, and sewed it. Then the other side. And bias the bottom hem, and done enough for a first night wearing. (I”ll get around to taping the wrists and cleaning up the neckline some more. Soon.)

Bonus that the kid loves it and doesn’t mind that Mama’s seams are not perfect! 🙂 And this is sure to help when I make the tunics for Pennsic!


Tools: Scissors. Iron. Sewing machine. Pen for tracing on fabric. Knife for ripping out bad seam. Pins. Needle for hand basting. Thread.

Supplies: 1.5yd fabric. Bias Tape.  Cost ~$8. Time 2-3hrs?

Chapter 4, verse 2

KID: “What does aloof mean?” . . .”What does occupied mean?”

—  —  —  —  —

MAKING/MADE: Kid’s nightgown, Goulash

READING: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

PLANNING: Did very little planning this week, just some research on garb for Pennsic Wars (August)

I feel I wasn’t very productive this week. Though I did workout every weekday (twice with a trainer), so I’m pretending exhaustion had something to do with it.

Looking back on the week

  • Monday: Made Goulash, Chainsawed down that scraggly butterfly bush in my back garden.
  • Tuesday: Got a new phone
  • Wednesday: Workout with Trainer, Set up out of office for the last time
  • Thursday: Shopped for fabric
  • Friday: Workout with Trainer, Drove to DC
  • Saturday: Visiting family, DC trip to Lightyards
  • Sunday: Gaming & Visiting in DC, Cut nightgown fabric, drove back to Dover
  • Monday: Made nightgown – she loves it!


Third Chakra Blind

A weekend ago I was at a rave. There I met a fortuneteller. She read the cards for me. “You will find a worthwhile undertaking,” she read, “It will likely bring you fortune.”

“You will find true love, a sole mate,” she continued, “It won’t be just ‘some guy’, but the real thing, a deeper relationship that you’ve ever had before.”

“But first,” she said, “First you must visualize with your third(?) chakra these things, and what you really truly want.”

But she didn’t promise me many bambinos to go with the fortune and love, as that gypsy had 23 years ago. Times change.

Chapter 4, Verse 1

KID: “Whats that in the trash?”

ME: “Bones from the chicken stock.”

KID: “Did you save me the wishbone? I want to wish for us to be mermaids. Except on Tuesday, when we are fairies.”

—  —  —  —  —

MAKING/MADE: Kid’s nightstand, chicken stock, BigBall

READING: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

PLANNING: Vacation Trip to Los Angeles (April), Wickerman Burn (June), Pennsic Wars (August)

I’m still trying to find the rhythm of life now that I’ve downshifted from the daily corporate grind. I’m attempting to move forward on some project every day. Or at least on most days – I give myself the permission to have do-nothing days.

Anyway, Monday, and I want to look back on the week.

  • Monday: Snow day – entertained kid, built legos
  • Tuesday: Sick day (me, not the kid)
  • Wednesday: Polyurethaned the nightstand, and touch-ups; Pennsic garb research
  • Thursday: Polyurethaned the nightstand – calling it done; Submitted BigBall art grant request
  • Friday: Chicken Stock; Kid was sick, so a lot of quiet nothing time
  • Saturday: Do nothing Recovery day!
  • Sunday: Sugar Cookies (with Kid); Recruiting help for BigBall from friends


Chapter 4


And whew, entering chapter four of my life. Finally.

Chapter one: childhood-college. Chapter 2: New Orleans Chapter 3: Autodesk Chapter 4: The Dilettante Tinkeress

Yes I tinker. Or “make”. Today I made lunch. And started this blog.

I’m currently working on 2 more significant projects: a nightstand for my kid’s room, and an  art project for upcoming camping festival (it’s a big ball – more on that later).

Kid is almost home from preschool, I’ll post the how to on the nightstand soon.


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