Monday, July 13, 2020

dust collection and things

A while back Liz and I were trying to solve our dust collection problem. Liz sands a lot with her flex-shaft and I often grind things at the bench. We both end up wearing dust-masks/respirators (often for hours). With the current shortage we have been trying to solve it with "at the bench" dust collection systems. A while back I bought an under bench system off of ebay to use with the Jooltool (more on that later).  It more or less looks like this:

It actually works like a dream when I remember to use it (the rheostat switch it a little awkward). I bought it for two reasons: one, it was cheap and two because it collects the dust in a bag and we can refine it (the bags are all paper with one little rubber part that you can rip off before you throw everything in your refining barrel). This one was $100 but they sell some with foot pedal switches (I should have bought one of those). The one serious design flaw is that the hose is way too short for it to be practical. The good news is that is it the same size as a small ShopVac hose ($33 with couplers from Lowes). The other problem is that I needed a mount for my bench to hold the hose down and add more "in-take cone-age" to direct the dust.

Off to Rhino and the Cetus MKIII extended FDM printer. I also need to make another bracket to hold down the hose on the back of the bench.  

Cetus MKIII extended

New studio setup with printer and mini split

Measurements laid out in the software. 

Version one






Friday, July 10, 2020

Random ramblings and more

So many many many things to talk about.  

First, I can't thank the students enough. I have have now taught six online Rhino workshops with over seventy students! I have only had one "unhappy"student but think it was more of a miscommunication/understanding. As in....they thought they were gonna get X and I was delivering Y and we ended up settling on me going the extra mile and giving them Z.  

For example (not the actual conversation):  
Student: "I signed up for your baking class....."  
Me: Well the workshop is not a baking class, I am teaching an overview on cooking."
Student: "I read somewhere it is on Baking! Why is it not on baking!? Could you change the class to baking so I can take the class!?" 
Me:  Well, no because the other nineteen students signed up for a cooking class not baking."  
Student: "Well that is total bull and I demand more focus on baking!! or I will tell everyone you suck AND another thing it is false advertising! You said it would be on baking!!! I read somewhere it was on baking! I am writing a lengthy email to your host school complaining that it is not on baking...." (there was more) 
Me: " Well actually if you read the course description it quite plainly says cooking! I am so sorry you were confused. I will do my best to talk more about baking for the remainder of the class and maybe I could use baking examples to help explain cooking in general. Will that help you!?"  
Student:.............(crickets) 

They spent the rest of the class with their camera off and their microphone off. 

Oh well. 

While we are talking about being generous! I have been donating some of the profits from the workshops to a number of organizations. The first is Crafting the Future a great organization that...."supports the careers of young, underrepresented artists by connecting them to opportunities that will help them thrive." I believe education should be available to all not just the people that can afford it (it is the whole reason I started this blog and why I became an educator and why I am so generous with my time). The other is of course the ACLU. I try to auction a piece off twice a year on my instagram page (sometimes for the ASPCA). If you have money and you want to help....help.


Soon I will be making more donations in part because of the students and in part because it is the only thing I can physically do in this moment (I am literally working 12 hour days and come home exhausted).


In other unrelated news I am in love with my new headphones. I almost never do product reviews but I LOVE these headphones/earbuds?. They fit nicely under my hearing protection (muffs) and they have built in touch technology so I can quickly pause when Liz is yelling at me AND I can wear them at work and you can hardly tell (that way I can catch up on some Perceived Value or Making It podcasts)


Here is a link to the headphones/earbuds/doodads (TOZO).  They do have a microphone for zooming and wireless phone calls but I haven't yet tested it.


Soon I will post some new images of the studio which is finished-ish. We still have to paint the outside and get build a shed to house the mower and other yard gear!





Monday, June 29, 2020

More on the studio/Life is nuts

Prologue: 
I just wrapped up the intermediate CAD course through the Bench.  I am thrilled with the positive response and have had a great time teaching the classes. We have two more classes open for registration and I am excited to finally have some empty seats (all of the workshops were sold out before we could offer open registration!)  If you want to learn Rhino come on board.  We are offering a little discount if you sign up for both sections!  https://courses.thebenchri.com/



Chapter one

Life is nuts.  I have to admit ever since I left academia the pendulum has started swinging back in my direction. One: I have been able to really appreciate what I have now and enjoy it, instead of constantly trying to prove my worth to my department head and dean. I often would come home exhausted and just pass out. I literally walked through life like a zombie never really getting to enjoy all that I was working for. Two: I get to spend real quality time with Liz which I haven't really been able to do in a very long time.  It was always the job first everything else second. This proved to be complicated..."no babe this is a real vacation...I mean I have to do this quick lecture and workshop but the rest of the time we will hang out I promise."  Three: I no longer have the pressure of exhibiting, publishing or pursing an active studio practice to earn tenure. The stress has melted away.  I smile more. I laugh more.  I am enjoying life!

While I still have a strong desire to make and create jewelry I no longer feel the pressure. The truth is I had not been happy with the work that I have made for last ten years or more.  I gave almost everything away to my job.  Because of this I felt like everything I made was always a half-job.  I thought it all was "I gotta get some work out there to check that box on my tenure application".  It wasn't  actual work or it wasn't something I was proud of.

While getting ready to move our studio, I realized I have spent a lot..... I mean a lot of time and money making things that never really made it into the world. Odds and ends, doo dads, false starts etc. It is amazing how much money I have spent on my studio practice and in reverse, how much money I am saving not making work.  

On a related topic, for the first time in my career, I feel appreciated (at least in the work I am making for my current job).  What I mean by that is: before, when I was making work, the work didn't really have an audience and was rushed and therefore felt a little unauthentic. It was art jewelry for art jewelers. Now, when I deliver on jewelry the "client" is overcome with joy and often showers their gratitude, exclaiming "This is exactly what I wanted!  How did you know! You have made my year!".  It is soooooooo nice to see it up close and be a part of their lives in a meaningful way.  I am not sure I ever felt that when I sold/made my other work.  Maybe it was because the gallerist was the in-betweener? Or it was more of a collector-based type acquisition?  

I guess what I am saying is that I have been reflecting on all the work I have made and honestly I can't think of a single instance of it being rewarding.  Making it was rewarding but seeing it all in boxes in my basement growing mold sucks.  So I guess I have some thinking to do on what my new practice will become because I cannot go back to wasting time and money on something that costs me so much and doesn't give back in a meaningful way.  Life is too short.  Also there is a lot of garbage jewelry in the world already. 

In other news we are officially done with the inside of the studio!!! Liz and I finished the trim last night and we are ready to move in! I am posting a little before and after.  If you notice in the before photos the concrete footer had a yucky sil-plate (which was non dimensional lumber) So I decided to box it all in with and add some quarter round to transition into the dry wall.  The concrete footer preventing anything from being pushed up against the wall so the trim will not help with that it will just look better. We just have a little painting to do and we are all set. 



















Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bad news then good news and then more bad news...then more good news?


I had to take a quick break from the blog because life has been a little nuts.  First, the workshops have been going off without a hitch! Really great.  Everyone seems to enjoy them and I am figuring out quickly what is working and what is not working. We are moving on to more advanced specialized courses and hope to have more to offer soon. https://courses.thebenchri.com/  If anything it has been great to interact with people even if it is over the zoom. 

A bit of sad/bad news. Liz's mother passed away.  It wasn't a surprise but it was still tragic.  Liz's mom had been sick for quite some time.  She has been living down in Florida for over ten years now and for the last year Liz's father moved down there to take care of her.  We got a call around three weeks ago letting us know that she wasn't long for this world. After talking about it, we decided that Liz would go down there to be with her before she passed. Flying was insane apparently. The airline promised that the plane would be at 1/3 capacity (it was full). She has been away for three weeks now. I hope she can return soon. We haven't decided how she is going to get back.  Since flying was crazy she might drive but it is almost 24 hours without traffic. UGH. I hate that I couldn't comfort her when all this went down. With the workshops and work I have been working 12 hour days. 

With a lot of states going into phase two I have been called back into work.  Which is crazy.  We have been busy! super busy! Like Xmas busy.  I guess everyone is scrabbling to get their weddings back on track and want custom engagement rings....right away! I am lucky that I don't have to interact with the public and the owner of the store is providing masks at the door and there are four or five hand sanitizing stations around the store. 

Our studio is in full gear.  We finished insulating and the drywall has gone up. We don't have long now before we can move it.  We still have the outside, the flooring, the lighting and the ventilation. I bought all the furniture and it is now living in our bonus room (I may have jumped the gun on that) The cats have been using them as a jungle gym. 



























Tuesday, May 5, 2020

More work on the studio


All of the new windows are installed in the studio which is exciting. I think the reality of the size of the studio is setting in which is....small.  I think that we can do a lot with a small space which is ideal but it might be a tight squeeze. We are looking for studio furniture.  Because we are trying to do this the right way we are going all out. We have always been a huge fan of the Seville UltraHD workbenches so we will probably get a few rolling carts to go under those benches AND a number of other things.  We shall see how far the budget goes. I guess the ultimate goal is to add value to the house and to provide an ideal workspace for both Liz and I.  We also have a finished basement so we are going to probably extend some of the studio there (digital tools, laser printers, sewing machine etc).  I am super excited about it all. 

UltraHD Rolling Workbench CabinetUltraHD® 4-Drawer CabinetsUltraHD® 4-Foot Worktables

I am also launching Rhino courses through a local school here in Rhode Island. They were having a hard time filling classes before the virus hit so I am contributing a portion of the tuition to the school. They are doing all the back end organizing and monetization so they are for sure contributing their fair share. They are also awesome people so it is great that I can help. If you are interested in the class go to https://thebenchri.podia.com/ to check out when the next will launch. 

The mayor of Providence has recently closed parts of the city with barricades to allow for more public space. The idea is that there would be more room for people to walk around without getting too close. Luckily....our house is literally one house in from the barricade so it might be hard getting our drywall delivery. 

Here are a few images of the windows, a few screen shots from the class, some promo material. 






Friday, May 1, 2020

The floor is in!

The floor to the studio has officially been installed!  Here in Rhode Island they are closing down some of the streets to make room for more open public space so people with no yards can walk around freely with plenty of room around them.  It is a super nice gesture but....I am not sure if we are going to be able to finish up our job here. We still have drywall to do and we are not going to be able to get the truck in to do the delivery.  I am not hauling drywall on a cart for two blocks. Maybe.....if I get bored enough I might.  Gotta work off these quarantine carbs.