Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crazy days!

It has been crazy these last three days. Sorry for missing a couple of days this week. I have lost count on how many seats I'm currently behind. I was able to carve up 6 seats and prep two others. ( total of 8) I still have at least 2 more left. Yesterday, We went to Grand Rapids to find seats and fix the car. We got lucky and found 15 at two stores. However, by the time we got home. I was totally spent. Tonight, with the new shop cat's help, I have to watch the poly dry so I can get two coats on before they ship tomorrow. ( Friday is last day of the week to send stuff.) Oh before I forget! November is WRITE YOUR NOVEL month. That is right for all you budding story tellers out there. Two years ago I wrote mine, ( last year my computer died on, that's right! November 1st!) So I will not be writing one this year. the rules are simple. In 30 days, write 50,000 words. That's it! It can be done because, I did it! Some day I Will try to get it published. It's still kinda rough ( I have a typing problem with end quotes, Weird huh?) Anyway, It was fun to do, and I did it while carving this many seats! Couple of pages every night. Much like blogging. Let me know if you are going to try. I would love to hear your progress reports and be your cheerleader. I also know that many of you that read this are probably getting geared up for the holiday rush on Etsy. I agree that November was a strange month to put it in, But I celebrated every page with a warm cup of flavored coffee, topped with whipped cream, ( it helps!) Here's the web site, They must be gearing up because the site is doing maintenance as of the writing of this post. I Hope you go check it out.
Cheryl wants me to write another one, And I must admit, I am tempted. I have at least three other stories running around in my brain. Cheryl is really the writer even though she did not finish hers that year, nor attempted one since. She is quite the eloquent writer and actually taught college English, philosophy, and logic. But she says that she has not yet earned enough "life experiences" to have a story to tell. I think she should write a book on how we started our business. Hope you try it, even if you don't complete it you can at least get an idea of what is involved. Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday mad house!

This week is becoming a crazy week! I carved up 5 seats tonight and I'm still 7 seats behind. The cat won't stop meowing, tomorrow I have to fix my car, ( prob no carving then either) and I still have to find a supply of seats! now more than ever!. The guy from our old supplier called and told us they are discontinuing their line of seats. Monday I spend all night trying to make a seat completely out of plywood. I'm still on the fence on how it turned out, if it is sell able, if anyone will care or even notice, And if the seat will meet the "perceived" quality of customers. there is little doubt that a plywood seat is very stable and strong. Splitting is always an issue with the solid wood seats. Splitting would be virtually eliminated with the plywood. It all boils down to how it looks. So here is a picture of the bear seats made completely out of Baltic birch ( I really want to go with the red oak plywood) Cheryl thinks that we should stain it lighter, then the lines of the lamination would be less evident. The overwhelming evidence is that all the stores are discontinuing the solid wood seat. We will need to adapt or fold! Making the seats myself would mean more work for me, but I would have control of the supply. Ultimately, I'm going to have to take the plunge! And leave the cat to turn the lights off.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catch up Sunday.

Pretty much carved all day today. Finally got finished. kinda late for the seats to go out tomorrow. Total of 10 seats needed to be done tonight, Only three are going to be able to go out. I have three more for tomorrow already! It rained most of the day today. and hailed a little. Winter might be really close.
Cheryl can't wait for the coffee table to get finished. In fact, since it had to be moved out of my studio so I could carve, She moved it into the living room. I might be able to work on it a little on Tuesday, But Wednesday, I will have to take the car to Grand Rapids for the water pump repair. What fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Coffee table Saterday.

So what would a weekend project be if it didn't take you the entire weekend to complete? Easy! Well this should have been easy. After going back to purchase another board ( which I ended up not needing after all) I spent the remainder of my Saturday hammering out the details of the coffee table. After 4 hours of cutting and assembly, I discovered that I was missing one board. That's right! One! the only one I cant piece together with some combination. The long side on the table top. So I did as much as I could and loosely assembled it for the picture. It's actually looking pretty good so far. Even Cheryl is impressed and already has her mind working on other projects. The one thing about this project is that the joinery is nothing fancy. I'll work on tenons, dowels and dovetails later. I'm actually having some fun with this one. Tomorrow I will have to set the table aside and work on my carvings ( I have five to do as of right now) I hate waiting till Sunday to pile all the carving up. But the coffee table was on my bench and I wanted to work on that. Most of the hard part is done now, so I'm thinking it should not take too much to complete it. Cheryl can't wait..

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coffee table Friday

Todays moto" I cut it twice and it is still too short!" So it's Friday and I'm suppose to take a break from carving and do something fun. Well, What better day to start on Cheryls Coffee table that she has been bugging me to make since the bed's completion. She has the plans and all the material list ready. So we go to Menhards and buy the supplies. Easy! I start with the legs. Cut cut cut...I assemble them. Piece of cake! Then I have to add the second shelf. OOPS! I'm off by one inch! ( too Short Of course!) How can this be? Oh! as I reread the cut list. I now know what the "top rest, and bottom rest are meant by. So Looks like I will have to start over and possibly buy more wood. Good thing it was the cheap stuff. To those of you who care about's one. My Guenevere sanding drum has once again blew out. I love this tool and thankfully, King Arthur Tools recognizes that the soft rubber part will become damaged over time. Cheryl the online shopper has purchased several new ones and they should be on their way. I was hoping to get farther with the table and post more pictures, but since it is after midnight and Cheryl wanted watch a couple of movies tonight. I'll just have to set the project aside. Enjoy your Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cool nights and hot cocoa.

Sold two tonight. So total of three carved and painted. With the new found time, I was able to make Cheryl a hot chocolate. Now it might be the culinary artist in me, but simple Swiss miss just won't do . Cheryl always gets mad at me for adding all this stuff to her cocoa, but she never seems to be disappointed by it. The recipe is simple enough. One pouch of Swiss miss ( Cheryl insists on this) 2 Tbs or Carmel flavored syrup, Boiling water, whole milk ( about equal portions to the water, to cool it down) and Whipped topping on top. The whole milk is great for the creamy flavor. Red agrees! Thanks for the cat germs, buddy! Now you might be asking where did we get those cute little Hersey cups? We ate about 1000 Hershey kisses and saved up the wrappers! ( I also have a great Hershey sweatshirt) what better way to warm up on a cold night!

Crazy Wednesday!

We sold 7 seats tonight! On a Wednesday! Could the crazy Christmas time be coming early? Cheryl sold a stocking and two purses. Yeah! Now the bad news. Our car has not fixed itself. ( stop leak did not work) So the car almost overheated on the way to the store today. We called Andy and he informed us that our water pump needs to be replaced and he can get to it on Tuesday of next week. This should not be too much of a problem, except that I have totally exhausted my stash of seats at the moment. Actually, I'm one behind! So tomorrow will be a "lets find the seats" day. Tonight, since it was late with that last order, I got to a late start and decided that none of them will go out tomorrow. I carved and painted, but since it is after 5 am, the poly will not have enough time to dry. At least I am that much further ahead for tomorrow. On a different note, the kitten seems to be slowly fitting into the cat household. I figured Red would be the first to accept him, Rasha will take a little longer... although Hiro has been sleeping next to her and she does not move away. She does growl a lot at him still. Looks like it might be a early night for me. Cheryl says the days seem too short. We might have to get up early tomorrow to track those seats down. Oh, by the way, I got to carve up a fox tonight, and it has always been one of my favorite seats ( along with the bass, another favorite) Each one ends up being unique and sometimes I do one that really shines. Tonight's seat might be one of those. See a video of me carving this very seat! The video is kinda old, And a good example of a dull dremel bits there. (Sharp ones cut better!)I may have to take a new picture of it to post on our website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two seat day. Cheryl's shop is going crazy!

So I started the day selling only one. ( cherry blossom) But Cheryl has been selling stuff faster than she can make it! The Christmas rush is beginning early on Etsy! She gets up and lists new items and sells them as soon as she gets them on. Her area looks sparse because she can't keep it stocked. It's unfortuneate that she does not get much for each one because She puts in a lot of time into them. I sold a Golden Lab later tonight so that brought my sales up with hers. Luckily I had it in stock and did not have to carve it up. We have run into yet another supply problem..this one with Packaging. We use packing paper in our boxes and even though Cheryl ordered it over the weekend, they did not email us confirmation till tonight. So several seats were delayed till tomorrow. Isn't running a small business fun? My dad always thinks businesses are greedy for charging retail. Until I actually started my own business I agreed. now I remind him that some one has to pay for the lights, lease, employees, taxes, inventory, shipping, insurance, and ultimately profit for shareholders ( if any) And much, much, more.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A new Seat! A new beginning...

Well, tonight we sold three more seats. Forcing us to face a very serious problem. If you have been following my previous posts, You will know that our suppliers have all dried up in recent weeks. There are only two places that offer solid wood seats at the moment and both of them are inferior to our standard. So tonight I have revisited making my own seat from scratch. I have toyed with this idea before but it was not cost effective. NOW when we look online at ANY suppliers, the seats alone start at $40-50! That would mean I would have to drastically increase my asking price and pocket none of the extra ( currently the "good" seats are $17.00 before tax) Well, tonight I took another stab at it to answer a few questions. To save time and make a durable seat that is very stable. I have considered oak Plywood. The cross grain lamination should prove very stable under stress ( i.e. people sitting on a thin piece of wood) I was wondering how it would carve up So I chose to carve up a black bear cub. I was surprised to find out that it carved up really well! After it's sanded and stained, It is difficult to see the difference even when I am the one looking. It painted up fairly well and I actually made it tonight in less time that it took me to set up my router table. I'm encouraged! The only way that Cheryl and I agree anyone can tell the difference, is from the side. And that might not be all bad. The layered effect of the plywood adds a certain "decoration detail" that the other solid seats never had. I didn't have the wood or the time to make the "seat" yet, but might try that tomorrow. We also will have to find a hinge supplier and the plastic bumpers that keep the seat off the toilet. ( each seat requires 5 for the seat and 2 for the lid!) There are advantages to this path we are considering. One, I did the math and the raw materials for the wood will cost $5-6! Not bad! Add hinge for Approx. $6 and maybe a handful or bumpers for $2 and we might have a $13 seat. Cheaper than Wall mart and better construction ( Don't get me started on the Wall mart seat. You get what you pay for is a fair assessment, and they have ruined solid wood toilet seat's perceptions) Anyway, I will also be in complete control of the stain, poly, hinge placement, and supply. These are all areas where we have had trouble before. With the China supply line apparently down, Cheryl and I have seen definite signs that cheap manufactured goods will be in short supply this year. This might be a good thing if your business does not depend on them. Like Foreign Oil we are trying to ween ourselves away from the Foreign seat manufacturers. So I will be able to Claim that our seat is 100% American made! YEAH BABY! Of course this will mean more work for myself in the coming months. Christmas is usually insane with 7-8 seats a night typical. I hope it will be that crazy and then some, and this time I hope I don't have to spend my time tracking down seats made in China!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One of those days!

Well, I finished the seats and sold three more ( YEAH!) But I was having one of those days...Cheryl calls me "Midas" for a reason. and sometimes it is true. Like a Seinfeld Episode, On certain days, everything I touch gets worse! Tonight, before we started painting, Cheryl asks me to vacuum a bit so she can have time to sew. Believe it or not, I didn't mind for a couple of reason. One: Cheryl always manages to mess up the Vacuum and I end up taking it apart and unraveling the ball of yarn she has run over,( causing the smoke, burning smell, and high pitched whine) Two: Cheryl never empties the vacuum, so it loses suction 5 second after she starts it. and Three: Cheryl is kinda short so I have to reach the corners etc. And 4: Any man can vacuum...right?
So, I start in the kitchen. I have to empty the vacuum and, right away, lose the cover to the filter. I look everywhere but can't find soon as I ask Cheryl for help...It miraculously appears! Ok, Slow start but now it's ready. I now have to unravel the cord that Cheryl just loops over the handle. Five minutes later ( and several choice words) It's untangled and the floor is covered with attachments. I'm getting frustrated now...The vacuum is dropping parts like autumn leaves! Slow down, breath deep ....start it up. start vacuuming.. I get the little bits of cat food and felt scraps easy. Then I see I can't get the area around the table. I decide to move the table ..or else Cheryl will point out that I missed a bunch of stuff and I suck at vacuuming ( no pun intended) So I move the table. Start vacuuming and BANG! hit my head on the kitchen light! (OUCH!) but that is not the bad part. the light now breaks out of the ceiling, and swings like a pendulum and smashes into Cheryl's sewing machine. sending it crashing to the floor where the front door and the light bulb break! With this, still rubbing my damaged skull, Cheryl comes out and wonders why I can't do a simple task like vacuum the carpet. You see, She is convinced that I "mess up on purpose" so I won't be asked to do that task. ( same with laundry, put it all in one load right? saves on soap and time...what's wrong with that) To be fair, this is why I cook. Cheryl doesn't cook very well ( I'll leave it at that) So now she is mad at me ( not really) because we have to go to the store to buy another bulb so she can sew tonight. She really is not angry ( she loves me after all) It's just that she is right on my Midas touch on certain days. BA!! Now she won't let me vacuum anymore.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Busy Saturday! Carvings and Car repairs! Oh my!

Sold a total of 7 today! I only had to carve up six since I had one in stock. Friday was spent hunting down seats all over Holland, MI. and I didn't mention it before but we discovered a small leak of coolant from the front of our car. Well, Midway through Holland, We started overheating! Very Stressful! Our car is not new and we do not have the cash flow yet to buy a "good" one. Basically our car is old. Runs great! but has "issues" from time to time. Well we added some stop leak to the radiator and as of right now. It seems to be working. About two months ago we blew a radiator hose After most stored had closed and that was stressful limping our car to the Autozone to buy the part. ( we only have the one car) Sometimes it's like chasing your tail, you have some good sales, then watch it trickle away. I'm very happy for the sales though, and since we had a few come in late this evening, I decided on making it a carving only day. We will paint them up tomorrow.
Cheryl took a picture of the leak and sent it to her brother (Who is a profesional Mechanic ) for a better assessment. I don't think it is the water pump. I'm hoping it is just the gasket and the stop leak fixed it. The only way to find out is to take it all apart, and even though I did put in the radiator, alternator, and fan belt, This job is slightly more challenging for a "small time" mechanic such as myself. ( I still have to learn how to change my own oil!) Hopefully Andy will give us the prognosis tomorrow and the damage won't be too bad.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Alaskan Soaps!

I'm very excited tonight! We got our Alaskan Soaps and I just tried out the apple pie amber soap and love it! We got it in the mail today and part of the package was open so I thought we might be missing a bar. But everything was there and then some! She gave us a complimentary Spruce tip jelly. Cheryl just toasted up a slice of bread and buttered some on. Its really good! We are trying to compare it to something we have tasted before, but can't! It's like a totally new flavor. Sufficiently sweet, with not too much tart. Very smooth and jelled. Anyway, the soap was a thick block slice( perfect fit in my hands) smelled good enough to eat! It was like I was back in Alaska for a few moments. Cheryl wants to try the pumpkin pie one later tonight. The only thing that is an observation, not a complaint, was that we had to wait 7 days for it ( hello! It was from Alaska! 4-5 days to get a letter to and from there) But the soap was worth the wait! You can find her shop here on etsy. It makes me miss Ak. I worked up there for two summers while in college. Then I requested to be stationed up there when I was in the Army. ( Ft Wainwright Battalion Mortars baby! YEAH!) There are soo many and yet not enough words to describe Alaska. If you look at some of my workshop photos, you will see some moose antlers and caribou head from there. ( don't worry, I never shot the moose) We sold three seats today for a total of 4 as of right now. I will most likely carve them up tomorrow. I did score three more cupboard doors from Holland MI. Resale store ( Solid oak $1 each! ) Cheryl says I have to build her her coffee table before I can carve up another one though.

Keeping things Sharp!

Having no sales tonight, ( actually just sold one an hour ago) I decided to do a little maintenance with my chisels. They are very old but still can be sharpened to an face shaving edge with a little time. Every now and then I dig them out to touch up a panel carving. Chisels are great for getting into and under those tight corners. Having dug them out for the panel, I realized that some were rather dull or shipped. ( because I don't take the best of care of them, I'll admit it) Anyway, not all needed sharpening, just the ones I used. I'm not fond of sharpening, It takes too long and I am always convinced I can get it more sharp. Then I will burn the tip or slip and dull the fragile tip. Since I mostly power carve, I don't lose much sleep on this subject. But part of me thinks that ole Gramps is looking down and disappointed that I do not take better care of his chisels. ( then I remember, I found them rusting in a utility drawer. Some with no handles!) Well it is rather soothing to hone the chisels to a razor sharp edge. Then I pack them up and put them away for several months till I randomly dig them out again. To be fair, I have used them on several projects, though never exclusively. I always break out my power tools at some point in the process. Here are some of my other carvings I have used them on. I temporarily fixed the camera by using a 6 " clamp to hold the battery cover on. It works! and actually holds better than before. I still want a new one thought.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New camera anyone?

Well our cats have helped us make up our mind on getting a new camera. Basically they pushed this one over the edge and broke the battery cover. Now it is almost impossible to hold the camera and take a shot without the cover slipping off and cutting the power. We obviously needed one anyway. And this camera is so old that the stores do not even carry them anymore. I'm hoping we can get a standered 8 mega pixel one that takes decent pics...nothing too fancy ( our current camera takes only 2.1 mgp and we thought that was Awsome several years ago!) It's not like we have tons of money to throw around. I was hoping for a new woodworking toy, or a computer of my own. Ah well, camera will have to be first I guess.

By the way, Cheryl helped "pimp out" the blog now. I don't know if I am totaly satisfied with the main page, but at least we now know how to adjust things.

2 sales and one panel.

Sold 2 seats late in the day and I decided to carve them both up tonight. They were easy to carve and are usually pretty good sellers. It's funny they have not been as popular lately. Anyway, I was planning on carving up a panel tonight and decided to carve that up too. I didn't bother with the router since it was getting late and I wanted to finish all the carving tonight. I got a request from a possible client to carve up a toilet seat with blue/green flowers with perhaps a bird or two. I found this little drawing in a magazine and When I saw this drawing, I thought it was just what I had in mind. However, instead of carving up a toilet seat, which are becoming very difficult to come by. ( read previous postings) I carved up the last panel . I didn't like this one because of the stain color and hopefully we will get an opportunity to get more this weekend
Currently, I'm down to one seat in my stash. Cheryl sent an email tot he store asking them about their change over and if they still have them available. With a little luck. .. They will and we can get them once again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Small change.

I carved up three seats tonight. I finished painting only two thought since Cheryl has to paint the flip flop seat. She is busy sewing up some slippers for her new project. The Cats have been Cheryl's shop cats lately. They love sleeping on her materials while she is working. Luckily they usually stay out of my shop when I turn on the vacuum.

She has been very busy as of late. Today she sold 5 stockings and two purses! I told her to prepare for the mad holiday rush this summer.. she is thanking me now. She has olmost depleted her "owl stocking" supply already!
In other news. This morning, I was surprised by a very strange, very loud sound coming from our front yard. Upon investigation, I found it to be a turkey chirping ( not gobbling) very loudly out in front of our house! The kids waiting for the bus were talking to it! As I ran for my Camera, it crossed in front of our house and into the small woodlot between the house on our other side. I could not get a picture...but it looked a lot like this one. he crossed back over behind us and was in our backyard for a while. Again, as I ran for the camera again ( yes I put it back after I didn't get the shot) He was back in the woods behind our house. This is not the first time we had turkeys in our yard. They have actually become rather common lately. but appear more towards evening. We actually have several flocks hanging around. Still, It's very cool to have them in your yard.


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