Ohai, I’m back, again.

So I got caught up in huge SL projects again. All my stores are split, Twisted is over, and I’m taking a bit of a break from it. So I worked on my little language script over here again. I got some basic controls for syllables in… but I’m having trouble getting beyond that. I might just write some basic scripts for the languages I want rather than trying to make a universal one.

Because I need to start worldbuilding/writing. I keep telling myself that. The world keeps telling me that. But I’m some combination of scared and unmotivated.

I need to figure out how to make names in a way that 1. doesn’t bug me on some weird fundamental level and 2. doesn’t take me 30 years to make a whole set of languages to use to name things.

I’m not Tolkien.

Wooden Spoon Lucet

(Reposted from my old blog at anachronistscookbook.com. I’m using that one just for recipes now, so the other stuff is headed over here.)

A lucet is a small hand tool that was used in the viking age and after to create a strong “braided” cord. The cords were useful for all kinds of things, such as draw-strings on clothing or attaching things to one’s belt. They were also sometimes sewn onto clothes as a decorative border. The lucet itself comes in several variations of shape, the most common having two tines or prongs and a hole somewhere to pull the cord through. They are mainly made of wood, although other materials such as whale bone or antler were also used.

I really love hand tools of all kinds. The knowledge of how to make and use tools was one of the most important parts of any culture that got passed down through the generations, and I really feel a connection to the people who have gone before me when I hold one of their tools in my hands, or at least an approximation that I’ve made myself. I also really love making them. So, since my project for the next while is hopefully going to be making some viking kit for myself and my husband, I’m going to start by attempting to make or aquire some authentic(ish) tools to do the work with. I’m also going to do so on a pretty tight budget. Hence, the wooden spoon lucet.

The consumeable materials for this project came from the dollar store:

  • a 3-for-a-dollar wooden spoon (Actually, I used 2 spoons, but that’s because I messed up. See below.)
  • a bit of sandpaper (got a pack for I think $2.50 with a bunch of different grits. I’ve used it for several projects now)

As for the tools… Well, I started out trying to carve everything with a pocket knife. That didn’t go well, especially when it came to making the hole to pass the string through. I got tired of carefully chipping away at the edges with my knife and decided to try and speed up the process of piercing through by hammering a nail through the spoon. That was dumb. This is what happened:

Half of a cracked wooden spoon.
It broke.

It was probably also not good that I cut out the shape of the tines before I drilled the hole, which probably weakened the whole thing.

So, in the end, I ended up using:

  • A hacksaw
  • A drill
  • My pocket knife

I started out with your typical dollar store spoon.

The top portion of a wooden spoon.
It’s a spoon.

Drilled the hole first this time. It chipped a little, but rustic is fine, I’m going for functional. The hole probably could have been a bit smaller (and thus less dangerous to the structure of the spoon) but I should be able to make some pretty wide cords with it at least.

A spoon with a hole.
The top half of the wooden spoon with a hole drilled near the handle side of the bowl.

Drew the basic shape of the lucet onto the back of the spoon (easier to draw on a convex surface than a concave one). You can see the big chip I made drilling the hole. Oops.

A plan!
The back of the above spoon with an outline of the final shape on it.

I roughed out the shape using a saw to cut away the big pieces. I probably could have done it with a knife if I’d been really determined, but it would’ve taken a lot longer.

Wooden spoon with hole, the sides cut down and a deep U shape cut from the top of the bowl.
Well, that’s ugly.

Then I went in with the knife and made the shape a bit nicer.

Same as above, but smoothed out with a knife a bit.
Smooth. er.

Finally, I sanded with progressively finer sandpaper until the whole thing was very smooth. I think I did something like 80, 150, 220 or something like that. It did get really nice and smooth, which is good, I don’t want it catching on the string as I’m trying to knit/braid/whatever the verb is for using a lucet.

A finished wooden lucet made from a spoon.
Ahh that’s better.

It’s a bit asymetrical, but as I said, I’m not that bothered about “rustic”, I just want it to work. And it does, mostly. I say mostly because if I was to do this over I would firstly find a bigger spoon; this is a pretty small lucet and I have big hands. Secondly, I’d try to angle the tips of the tines outward to make it a bit harder for the yarn to slip off accidentally. It does function pretty well though. I used it to make a bit of cord that will probably be a draw string eventually:

Lucet with yarn being made into cord.
It works!

The cord is pretty tightly woven, square shaped and just slightly elastic. I’m going to write about how to make it next time. Possibly with Gifs, or with a ton of pictures to explain exactly how one loops the yarn around to braid into cord.

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Tablets. No, not that kind, the kind for weaving…

(Reposted from my old blog at anachronistscookbook.com. I’m using that one just for recipes now, so the other stuff is headed over here.)

More tool building. I mean, I guess these tablet weaving tablets technically count as tools. Or maybe all of them together constitute a tool. Anyways.

A lot of people who do tablet weaving use paper cards (even playing cards with holes cut in them) but I wanted to make some more old-school ones, so I tried to make some out of wood. They were also made of horn, bone or ivory in the past, and those materials might be somewhat easier to work with since they could be made a lot thinner without splitting. Anyhow, here’s what I did to make mine. I don’t really recommend this method, for various reasons that I will explain, but it was basically free, so I can’t complain too much.

So when I thought of making this, I was out at the family cabin in BC and wasn’t anywhere near a “craft store” so I thought to try the hardware store and see if they had anything like the small pieces of basswood or balsa wood you can get at somewhere like Michaels. I was there with my dad anyhow picking up bricks to build a retaining wall and asked if we could find a small piece of plain, flat trim or thin wood. The guys that worked there just gave us a scrap piece for free. I’m not sure what that piece of wood was technically supposed to be, but it was about 1cm thick and 4cm wide rough pine.

Being out at a cabin in the woods with only the tools we had in the shed there, it was a bit of a process to turn a rough piece of wood into smooth little squarish disks. First it was just a case of marking them out to the same length as the width of the wood and cutting it all into little squares, and then drilling holes in each corner. Easy enough, there were power tools for that part.

Small square pieces of wood sitting on top of a rasp.
Took this picture out on the bench at the cabin showing my stages, as well as the tools I used. I finished about 12 of them then and I’ve been working on the rest which I brought home unfinished.

Then, I spent hours over several days with a dull rasp and a couple files to try and make them smooth and thin out the edges. My hands got shredded against the rasp several times and seriously cramped up from moving little bits of wood over the tools for so long. Then I sanded them all by hand until they were smooth enough to use.  That’s pretty much why I wouldn’t recommend using my method. It’d be a much better idea to either use power tools for the shaping and sanding, or to find better/thinner wood to start with, which is something I plan on doing when I make myself another set. Not only is this set too thick, they’re also kind of too small. They function, but it could be a lot better.

A fallen over stack of unfinished tablet weaving tablets, rough squares of wood with holes drilled in the corners.
These are the ones I brought home unfinished and have been working on with slightly better tools and more sandpaper.
A tablet weaving tablet - a rounded and smoothed square of wood with holes drilled in the corners.
Here’s one I’ve smoothed out. Yeah, it’s still pretty rough and uneven. I’m not really much of a woodworker o.O;

They are functional on a basic level though, just have to be rotated one by one or in pairs because of the thickness, and they look a little messy. Here’s what I’m working on now with them:

A tablet weaving setup.
I’m just doing a narrow band with 11 tablets strung with cotton embroidery thread. I’m not a terribly accomplished weaver, but I enjoy the process.

The beater shown in that picture is actually a paint stick that I shaped around the same time as the tablets. It was a bit easier, I think because it seems to be made of a softer wood.

A paint stir stick shaped into a beater for weaving.
The back side of the paint stick beater before I sanded the printed brand stuff off.

I’ll have to post a tutorial of how to actually *do* tablet weaving at some point, but I’m a bit of a novice myself, and I’ve only done really simple patterns. Some folks can do amazing interlaced knots and even writing and things, but I mostly do stripes and chevrons/diamonds/x-es. This piece I’m working on will hopefully be trim for a bag I’m giving away in an online swap… So, I’m going to get back to work on it now.

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Conlang code crafts?

Because one of my many projects is a sprawling work of fantasy fiction that exists mostly in my head so far.. I wanted to start making some worldbuilding notes over at WorldAnvil… and I ran into the problem I run into every time I try to do worldbuilding. I don’t know what to name anything.

I have characters, and ideas, and empires and plots but… I never know what to call them. And I want them to be named with some kind of linguistic consistency, because I’m picky like that. But I’m also not Tolkien, and I don’t actually enjoy the process of language creation much. Sorry conlangers, but for me, language creation is a means to an end. It’s about finding names for things, not the pure joy of creating complex grammars and etymologies. Don’t get me wrong, I actually find linguistics itself pretty interesting, I just don’t have the dedication/patience/time to go around creating naturalistic languages one word at a time.

So, I decided to try and code my way out of the problem. At least partly. I’m making a word generator that can be given lists of phonemes (consonants and vowels), and a bunch of options, and spit out a pile of words that follow a logical set of rules, and use a zipfian distribution to make letters have some kind of realistic frequency.

I figure if I pick and choose from those generated words that use the same rules, they’ll be consistent enough to have come form the same “language” even if there isn’t actually a language behind it. (Although, I might make a very simple lexicon of mostly nouns so that names have “meanings”. Maybe. I might repost my old article about naming languages here at some point too.)

So far, I have the distribution stuff in, and a few preset lists of vowels and consonants. The output is still pretty terrible (but much better than it would be without the weighted distribution). Once I add in the configurable rules for syllables, it should get a lot better.

I need to figure out a way to save presets though. Have I mentioned I’ve never actually done anything in Javascript before?

Anyways, here’s the WIP, with even more of my rambling at the top: lazy conlang word generator

Fun With Beeswax

(Reposted from my old blog at anachronistscookbook.com. I’m using that one just for recipes now, so the other stuff is headed over here.)

I’ve started assembling something that’s somewhere between a sewing basket and a tool box for my old fashioned crafting. I’ve made a lot of things myself, but there are some (like bone needles and linen thread) that I’ve been shopping around for. The one thing I thought would be easy enough to find locally was a little brick of beeswax to keep in the sewing kit. My gran had one in hers, and I have one in my modern sewing box that’s in storage in the US (long story) but after looking at fabric stores and craft stores and farmer’s markets… it seems like nobody sells them anymore! At least not around here.

I’ve also been making a few tools out of wood, so I wanted to make some beeswax finish for the wood, just to make it look a little more finished and protect it from getting dirt and stuff into the grain of the wood.

So I got myself a big block of beeswax (because I could buy a big piece, apparently, but not a small piece…) and spent ages trying to find moulds to make little bricks for sewing boxes. Most candy moulds and ice cube trays were too small for what I wanted, and most soap moulds are too big, but I ended up buying some flower shaped soap molds for small hand soaps that were around the right size, even though I didn’t really want flower shaped beeswax. Then I remembered the silicone ice cube trays that Ikea sells, and went and got some of the square ones from there. They’re still a tad small, but not too bad.

Since I had so much wax, I decided I’d also try and make some beeswax wood finish for my wooden tools. I’d seen a bunch of recipes online, most of which seem to be the same: 50% oil (usually olive) and 50% beeswax by weight. Easy enough.

I was also thinking I needed to get a pot to melt wax in, since wax is a pain in the arse to get off of things and I didn’t want to use a good pot. I went around to thrift shops and couldn’t find anything the right size that had a good top for pouring (I did find a little clay pot that looked perfect for storing the beeswax wood finish there though), but while I was at Michael’s looking for moulds, I found that they had something I’d never used before: plastic bags made for melting wax by boiling them in water. A lot cheaper than buying a pot for wax melting, and it seemed like a really convenient way to do it since you can just store the wax in the bag if you don’t use it all. So, I went with the modern method of doing things on this one. Results were mixed.

Boiling a bag of beeswax.
Boiling inside the bag was a pretty easy way to melt the wax at least.

I made the wood finish first, it was pretty simple, just half filled the little clay pot I found at the thrift store with oil (I used canola oil because that’s what I had) and added an equal weight of chopped up beeswax by weight. I put it all in the bag and melted it, and then poured it into the pot to set up.

Beeswax wood finish.
My little pot of beeswax wood finish.

It ended up hardening a bit more than I expected; I was thinking it would be kind of a shoe polish consistency where you could just push your finger into it, but it’s a much stiffer consistency and I have to scratch some off with the back of a fingernail or a tool to use it. I have used some it since making it, and it seems to work pretty well, but I’ll talk more about that when I post about more wooden tools.

Next, I set up the moulds and started melting some pure beeswax to pour into them. While I was waiting for the wax to melt, I cut a bunch of small lengths of hemp twine and tied them into knots so that I could insert them into the wax in the moulds, giving each of the little pieces of beeswax a kind of handle. Some historical re-enactors hang things like that from belts or brooches, so it can be useful to have something to attach it to. Also, it’s nice when using the wax for my jeweller’s saw to be able to hang it from a nail on my workbench so it’s both out of the way and within easy reach.

Wax molds and hemp strings.
The molds waiting for their wax. You can see my little string loops off to the right.

Then came the pouring… It was a bit of a disaster. When I did the wood finish, I just held the corners of the bag and it was stiff enough that using the other corner to pour the finish into the pot was really easy. I figured it would work just as well for the moulds, but I was wrong. Since I used the same bag as I had for the wood finish to melt the wax, and some of the finish had hardened near the edge of the bag, the hardened finish glued the edges of the corner together which stopped the flow of wax. I tilted the bag more to get it over that blockage, without really being aware of what was happening. The wax holding the bag together then melted from the heat of the fresh wax, and the whole thing came open at once. Wax everywhere.

A wax spill.
Oops.

And of course, it went right down the crack between the stove and the counter… Ugh. But, I finished up pouring and scraped the wax off the counter, and had just enough that I hadn’t spilled to fill in all the molds. I stuck the strings in before I finished pouring so that the wax pieces would mostly have smooth bottoms (what are these things called? I feel like I’m being vague, but I don’t know if there’s actually a word for “little bricks of wax for sewing kits”).

Beeswax hardening in moulds.
The filled moulds hardening. Yep, I made a huge waxy mess.

Once the wax had hardened, it was easy enough to just break/peel the excess wax off the sides and put it back into the melting bag for later, so the mess looks a bit worse than it was to clean up.

Now I’ve gone from having none of these little wax bricks to having a whole bunch of them!

Beeswax pieces.
They turned out pretty well considering the mess I made making them.

I might put a few extras on my Etsy store, which I’ve made my goal to re-open this week. Especially the flower ones, which are a little frou frou for me, but might fit someone else’s style better, or maybe be a good accessory for a more Victorian style sewing kit.

Incoming Reposts.

Ok, I’ve been working on stuff, really!

But as usual I’m pretty scattered. Lots of SL stuff, but none of it is all that interesting, mostly texture work for sales. One of the things I wanted to do here is drag all the unrelated things I’d posted all over the internet (or at least the ones I can find/salvage) into one place. So, I’m working on finding some of the old blog posts I’ve saved from previous blogs and posting them here. I’m going to post one a week, so they might last a while…

Also, the blog that the first few are coming from is being resurrected. Anachronistscookbook.com is a domain I’ve had for ages, and I’ve made several attempts to use. I’m going to try and put myself on a posting schedule for that at least, and hopefully recruit Mom to keep me on it (it will also get me to do my fair share of the cooking while I’m here, so… yeah).

So, incoming reposts. And hopefully other things… Soon… ish. I have a bunch of photos taken for Etsy, so I’ll be opening that soon as well. Mostly it’s destashing leftovers and experiments, but hopefully someone can use some of it.

Slow Progress…

Untextured dolls.

It still doesn’t look like progress… and I haven’t done much actual physical crafting this week either. Ugh.

I have accomplished a bit though, even though not much of it is visible yet. The massive task of sorting everything and packaging all the “for sale” things is done. I even took photos of everything for Etsy and started on listings, but then ran into the wall that says I need a credit card to actually post the listings, and I don’t have one. I’ll be buying a prepaid one in the next few days I guess.

On the SL digital crafting front, I slammed out a templated top for an event that seems to be going ok. I also decided to make a hina matsuri doll set for a gacha… which has been a lot of work so far. I’m not really discouraged though, last time I did silly little lucky statues for this event they sold like hotcakes, and these ones are more of a “set” than those were, so hopefully they’ll get similar sales when I finish them. Mesh is done, textures tomorrow, and I already have some templates that I can maybe use from the kokeshi I made ages ago. Without textures they look a bit like visual gibberish though.

Untextured dolls.
Blender screenie of my hina matsuri set in all it’s grey goo untextured glory.

And now I’m going to go play some Final Fantasy Pokemon World of Final Fantasy. Because it’s cute and fun and the news is giving me a headache.

The Great Destashing

Buttons

Ok, so I haven’t written for a few days. I have finished some digital goods for sale (and remembered that I should post links to my shops here, if only to show what I’m up to, so I’ll post them at the bottom).

Mostly though, my week has looked like this:

Buttons
So many buttons…

I’ve been going through all my craft supplies, sorting out what I’m going to keep into neat bins, and then packaging up the rest to throw into an Etsy store. I have a lot of craft supplies, a lot of the excess came from bulk orders I made online without realizing exactly how bulky they were! So yeah. That’s what I’ve been working on. Very little actual crafting, but much organization preparatory to crafting.

And digital “crafting” I guess. I made some maiko style flower kanzashi.

Digital hair decorations.
Digital hair decorations.

Here are my shops on SL, you can download a free viewer here if you’re curious.

Hello, Again, World.

Multitudes Sim

So… this is a bit of a late-starting New Year’s Resolution. This is going to be a rambly little manifesto about what I’m trying to do on this blog.

I want to try and put all of the random things I make into one place. Partly to make a record for myself, partly so I have an easier way to explain to friends and family what I do, and partly in case someone else out there on the internet finds it interesting and wants to see how the sausage (or… more likely, digital content and random crafty stuff) is made.

I also want to start sharing more of what I do on social media, not necessarily as tutorials (though I will probably make those) but more as project diaries, I guess. I make a lot of things, but I’m bad at talking about them and/or “selling” them to people, because I’m always shy and nervous that people will think what I’m doing is lame. So I’m trying not to care about that, and just putting stuff out there. Some people probably will think it’s lame, but… oh well. They don’t have to read this.

For the last few days, I’ve been working on finishing the build I have on my sim (aka region, aka …server?) on Second Life. I spend a lot of time making content for what will heretofore be referred to as “SL”. Yes, I do make money on it. It’s not great money, but it’s paying my student loans at the moment. There are a lot of people online who will tell you that’s impossible to make money in SL because they made some s**ty t-shirts or something and nobody bought them. You need to be creative, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s possible. Also you don’t have to create “adult” content to turn a profit, either. I don’t. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily, it’s just not my thing. I like making fantasy/sci-fi clothes, mostly).

I want to start branching out into other platforms as well as doing more “real life” design and crafting, since it does make me rather nervous to have most of my eggs in someone else’s digital basket. If Linden Labs (who make/host SL) decide to shut up shop, that’s it for my main source of income.

So  yeah. This is it. My new blog. No more splitting things up into different blogs for making miniatures/doll things, or writing name generators, or cooking historical dishes or jewelry or… well… any other random thing I decide to do.

(Yeah, I’ve done all those things. And more things. I make a lot of things. They’re starting to pile up. So…)

I’ll also have an Etsy shop. It will be random. Like this blog.

And that, world, is what I’m working on. Here’s a wireframe picture of my sim layout, because it looked kind of neat while I was looking at it that way to try and divide up the land under all the buildings.

Multitudes Sim
Wireframe view of Multitudes Sim in Second Life

It’s got a little bit of that old cyberspace dream in it, like what people thought Second Life would be after they read Snow Crash back in the day, and thought hackers flew through surreal 3d rendered landscapes to get to the data.

Or maybe that’s lame. I dunno. I just thought it looked cool.