Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Electric!...or not...

Much of today was spent watching my Dad rewire this fantastic salvaged chandelier for me. I love, love, love it. It was a little tricky to rewire as it used a small gauge that is difficult to find (my Dad ended up using some bell wire for one part) and it also was apparently protesting being hooked up again as it blew a few fuses and there were definitely some sparks flying once or twice. Luckily, my Dad is a trained electrician, so nobody died or burned a house down. Thanks Dad (for the chandelier and the non-burned-down-house!) I now need to throw a dinner party in honor of our new dining room lighting.

In other news, I finished up the bead board for the bean (that's a mouthful). They are totally wonky and handmade, but it makes me love them more. There are un-centered holds, shapes that go a little askew, and a dye job that is less than perfect. I used these veggie dyes from Whole Foods (thank you WF for stocking more and more decorating supplies that aren't filled with creepy chemicals) and just diluted them a bit (maybe 50/50, but I totally didn't measure). I rolled the shapes around in the dyes and let them dry for a few days. The yellow, red, and blue are straight from the bottle. The orange was made with yellow and red in a ratio of 10:1. I left the final set natural, but only after trying to get a good green or purple from the set, to no avail. Truthfully, I didn't spend too much time tinkering, so it probably can be done...or maybe the colors just didn't look right on the wood but they'd come out fine in a white frosting.

After the dye dried, I sanded it a bit which was an important step because it evened out the color a lot. It also pulled some extra color off of the edges of each piece which gave a sweet vintage feel to them. I applied two coats of shallac (sanded lightly in between each coat) and then glued the thin shapes down to the board.

Oh, and before all of the shallac-ing, I used my wood burner to write a message to the Bean. I used some of the dyes to color it in a little bit, too. This is my second try with the woodburner and this time I had better control because I went sloooooowly. In addition, a light sanding helped to make the burned lines more sharp.
Making these took me a while because I am a total newbie woodworker. If I were more proficient with power tools, these could be easily done in a weekend; though finishing takes a little time with drying, so it's not a completely immediate craft. Making these made me wonder why we (as a society) are currently so far removed from making things for our children. I'm kind of tweaky about plastic, so maybe it's just me, but it seems odd to consider going to the store to purchase a toy (which will most certainly be chewed on but was made with toxic materials and will not biodegrade) when creating these was simple and fun. I think it's somehow connected to this pressure I feel as a new parent to have something entertaining at the tips of my baby's fingers at all times...on the stroller, in the car seat, in the bathtub, in the crib...when it seems to me that looking at the world going by from the stroller, or in the car seat, or just playing with the water in the tub will help a child learn to be engaged by simple things and to use his or her imagination to stay entertained. I don't know, maybe it's just an only-child thing but I remember lots of time spent staring out the window on long car trips and thinking up all kinds of stories and adventures, none of which involved stuffed animals dangling within inches of my face. So I feel that parents are getting these messages to buy all of this stuff when really, a good set of blocks can take the place of probably 10 toys with electronic bips and boops because of the imaginary play they will spark. And plus, we won't have to poo all over the environment in order to keep our kids entertained. Alright! End rant. Make more toys!!

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made. by k.d.