Sunday, January 27, 2013

I may be white trash, but my trailer's a treasure.

 No, that's not a Honey Boo-Boo quote. That's a TinyFixation original. 

As you may have read, I'm getting a new workshop. That's enough to thrill even the least-obsessed crafter. I'm a craftsperson of the very obsessed persuasion, and dammit, I've outgrown my craft palace.

This is how you may remember it:
 The main bench usually looks as above, but messier.
 ...and when it's clean.
 It actually doesn't look anything like this any more. There's been more 'organizational evolution' (if that's what we're calling it, like a garbage man is a 'sanitation engineer') since you've last seen it. Guess I should go grab a pic or two of that nonsense... just a sec.

Yuck. But I'm glad it looks like a shithole right now, just to illustrate a point. It can be workspace, or storage. Not both. A clockwise turn from the center of the room reveals catastrophe at every glance. I'm worried about my tools and projects getting lost, or *gasp* broken.

 Please, don't let the roombox cart hide this:
The piles behind it. Egads.
 And it continues...

It's so sad looking. I just grab what I need from the outer echelons and sit on the floor in the middle of the room. Or even worse... elsewhere. I've started leaching out into other rooms. The craft cancer is metastasizing...

...into the loft:

...and into the attic (through the other door in the craft room):

I'm even invading the garage. Band saw and dremel are down there on a current assignment.
We've spent a lot of great times in that 10' x 10' cubicle of a space, and boy has it been a nice place to play. 
 But this will not stand.

The dilemma is this: I really want a freestanding workshop structure, separate from my home. Our home is for sale. I'm not going to build a nice shed/cabin thing only to have to move out and start over again when the house sells. Ah, first-world problems. I'm just afraid if I don't finally concentrate and get started with TinyFixation on Etsy, I may never get to it. So I put both at the top of my very ambitious 2013 to-do list, a workshop and an online store.

I may have also mentioned that my husband is pretty brilliant. A man with a plan. I should have thought of the concept too, but seeing how we have the Winnebago as our recreational vehicle I never would have thought to buy another. He knew I needed more space months ago, after all, he's the one giving me all these amazing power tools for gifts lately, and wondering why I don't use them.

But a workshop on wheels is the ideal solution for my chaotic life and unpredictable living situation. It's also in our nature and history to buy old campers and redo them. This will be our third. He was going to get me one for my birthday but since he knows me like no other, figured I'd want some input. I'll be the one working in it. So we've been searching, with little luck at all. 
The trailer frame, roof, and enclosure need to be near immaculate. My favorite stuff is going to live in there. Bonus if the electrical, furnace, A/C, water heater, stove and range hood worked, but not any deal breakers there. 
The other features: dinette, couches, beds, toilet don't matter since I'll be tearing most of it out to make way for custom benches. The mice can keep the upholstery, for all I care. Enjoy, until I forcefully and brutally remove you with extreme prejudice. I hear you guys prefer peanut butter over cheese these days...

Bottom line: I need more square footage, more open, usable bench space. And some special considerations to make regarding storage since I have a small arsenal of tools and supplies for pretty much every craft except glass blowing. Shit, that sounds fun, man. So I wanted to double my square footage, and figured I could best do that in a 27' to 32' model.

So we've been around to look at three '80's era 30' to 32' slabs this month, all unfortunately not candidates.We had started calling on trailers that were 4 hours away last weekend, but those guys didn't call us back. Thank God.

Fast forward to this morning...
Vic is always on the prowl (sketchy as it sounds) on craigslist, for whateverthehell. Men.

"Hey, here's a 29' Argosy.........
...Babe. It's an airstream."

It was 7:45 am, but no shit there I was. Couch jumping Tom Cruise style, screaming:
"How long ago was that listed? Call that motherfu*ker. RIGHT NOW!"

He's all:
"Well, let's see, where'd they list the number... oh, here,
234-(trails off...),
No fucking way."

I'm dying over here, all:
"What. What?!
Is there a problem with it? Oh, no. Is it a pile?
...or do you know this guy. Oh my God, you totally know the guy!"

"Yup. And matter of fact, he owes me money."

So Vic gets on the phone with the guy, and we could go see it in an hour.
It has two broken windows, and the sub-floor is soft (if not removed in areas), mice have made themselves cozy, etc... but it had better bones than any of the newer model campers we'd seen. And it was old, and unusual, and had character! It's so perfect I can't even cope. It's exactly what I would have asked for if I didn't already know how expensive they are... I'd been briefed on the budget long ago. This is considered a very extravagant gift in our house. It was a gift, after-all, and I'd be more than gracious to get anything that could fulfill workshop purposes, however homely.

Which brings me to the real kicker. Go ahead hate me. It was free in exchange for forgiveness of his $500 debt. Seriously? An airstream for $500 (already under-budget), without even having to pay a dime?! Even I hate me for it.

She's a real fixer, but all four tires were in excellent shape (Tires alone = worth more than the price paid for the trailer. Ha!), so we were able to haul her glorious ass home today. I can't wait to give her a sponge bath. I think she's rough around the edges, but like me, will clean up nicely when asked.
 Hello, lover.

If you aren't pants-peeing excited over how beautiful that is, I don't think we can be friends.
Yep, I know. Rolling up my sleeves. Mouth guard, knee-pads, goggles...
 It's supposed to get up to 50F next week sometime, she'll be filthy until then. 
It was 20F today, so capital 'F' being outside.

I've been doing some research in the meantime.
 I've got the Argosy 28 twin bed center bath model. Date stamped on the trailer tag is 10/76. 1976! (I still have to do a VIN look-up to confirm). My floor plan is as seen (bottom left, in dazzling red), except the bathroom and closets are on opposite sides of the trailer.

I've found out that Airstream produced the Argosy line, which were a similar design/shape but painted. I looked on some forums and read conflicting information regarding their makeup. It's mostly aluminum but has a couple of panels made from galvanized steel. Tested it myself with a magnet. Mystery solved. I also found a full PDF manual from 1975.

I'll keep at it, and now that I've got some dimensions and a layout to work with I can start space planning.Our first steps will be to replace the two broken windows, put in new subflooring, and repair one leaky area. Until then it's pencil to graph paper, my usual process.
Which should be great practice since I have a basic plan for Undersized Urbanite.
I'll be doing up my dream Manhattan apartment, if I actually wanted to be a city girl. The catch, is that I could probably only afford 300 square feet. So it will be an adventure in cramming and creative space planning to make sure I'd be comfortable. I'm a girl who likes to stretch out.

I'll be able to construct a simple plywood roombox for this one. 
Nothing too fancy. Since 300 square foot apartment rarely is.
But only simple windows, and electrical. Nothing as elaborate as the roombox in that department.

Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess I should get started on both of these projects.
Until next time.
P.S. About that other thing I said:
My husband also knew I wanted to drive in a demolition derby ever since he took me to watch my first, so this year he's secured me a car worth destroying for the sake of bumper cars: the real game. It's a 1996 Ford Escort station wagon. White (for now). 5-speed. October 2013.
Gonna be so dope. What a guy.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A very pinteresting Christmas.

As previously mentioned, it was a very handmade Christmas for my family. Not for any other reason than the fact that they mean more, and I've got the means. When you hand-craft a gift, for the entire time you plan/design it, shop supplies, and whip it up, you're thinking about the recipient. About as personal as personal gets. So why would I buy gift cards for my favorite people on the face of the earth?! (Except for teenage girls. They're aliens. And not impressed by anything, itunes cards for all!)

I spend a fair amount of time on Pinterest. It's what I do on my phone when I have a few minutes to waste. My usual strategy is to click the 'everything' button and see what thrills me. I started seeing things that reminded me of my people, and started a board for it. It's secret.

I figured I'd just show, for fun, some non-minis that I made along with the 'pinspiration'. (I hate when people say pinspiration. But it is an appropriate non-term. Damn.)

One big victory, was the bike clock for my brother (a nationally ranked cyclist, brag brag brag). I'd planned on making this for the previous Christmas, but encountered logistical and part-sourcing issues. I'd bought the movement, the extra-long hands, and picked up a junked wheel rim at his favorite bike shop.

There was one spoke missing so I decided that spot could be 12 o'clock, and I'd make a marker of sorts. And I wanted to hang it differently, wishfully out of bike chain, but actually out of brass chain.

The inspiration:
Recycled Bike Wheel Clock by Pixelthis on Etsy

Leather and brass.
It was a hit. I'm proud of it, it was worth the wait to do it up properly.

My sister has a toddler (boy), and a baby girl due any time now. I knew with her husband out to sea soon (Navy) she'd have her hands full. For the soon-to-be big brother, I made this toy/snack bandolier. That way he'd have everything he needs at his fingertips, and mom can maybe have her hands a little bit free-er. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but try anything once. Right?

The inspiration:
Snack Bandolier, by WhipStitchFabrics

I went with a heavy but soft meanswear fabric in grey. A go-with-everything accessory, for sure. Granola bars, cars, 7 loops and a gusseted pocket for all his nescessities. What a big boy.

 And for the wee babe, one of those door mufflers so mom can look in on sleeping baby without the door latch clicking and completely blowing her cover. I'm only assuming the baby will sleep behind closed doors since there's a tornado toddler and a terrorist australian shepherd sharing the same roof.

I combined two designs for what I thought was a better combination of form and function.

The Inspiration(s):

I liked the ease of the elastic over ties, I imagine it would be a nuisance to get it positioned tightly and keep the ties even. And I also liked the look of the leather. I asked my mom to find out a little about the nursery for me, and she mentioned fucsia. I have a beautiful piece of magenta leather. That'll do.

Door Muff by sweetdreamsbytami on etsy
  I liked the bows for a girls' room, so I added additional ribbon to cover the less attractive elastic after the strap was positioned. I also went with the leather to keep it a no-sew project.


For my equestrian inclined sister who just got a new apartment, I decided on a set of six leather napkin rings. Unfortunately, I never got a photo of the finished product (if she can send me one, I'll update the post). Mine came out similarly, but instead of a rivet, I used snaps. That way she could choose the suede side or the smooth side. I recycled a nice belt in a rich caramel harness leather that I thrifted, with silver hardware. I got some pretty charcoal gray cloth napkins and put a ring on each for presentation.

The inspiration:
Napkin rings by Greenbelts on etsy

And for my princess of a niece (she's four), tea bags for regular luncheons with her "babies". Every little girl loves a tea party, So I got her a beautiful bone china cup and saucer, and made half dozen fabric tea bags that she can dunk in the water without destroying. They just dry out. Brilliant.

The inspiration:

 I filled them with glass seed beads for weight, and realistic feel. The strings are baby rick-rack, and little pink felt hearts for tags. I also whipped up a cotton cinch wash-bag to keep them in case they should get soiled.

For my dad, it was food. What do you buy for a guy who has everything, and if he doesn't he'll buy it for himself before you can?! His favorite candies are pecan caramel turtles. I saw these pretzel things, and knew he had to try them. They were super quick to throw together, and mindblowingly addictive. We'll be making these again. On the regular.
Another one without a picture of my own, but you really can't make them look much different.

The inspiration:
Rolo Turtles on so wonderful, so marvelous blog.

And then, because I hate myself, I volunteered to make an "american girl" doll bed for a work friend. This was the one that nearly sent me over the edge, but I couldn't disappoint a 5 year old. The more we talked, the more involved the design got. She preferred something colonial style, and then it would be awesome to have a canopy, and then stained dark, rather than paint. Ummm, I guess I thought I had time at first. I delivered it to her at work on Christmas Eve with the Polyurethane still tacky after staying up until 4 am to complete it. I did the best I could, I felt bad though.

The bed that supposedly goes with the doll is outrageously priced, which is why I originally intervened.

The original:
American Girl Doll Store

The inspiration:
Tosalena Furniture


 Solid oak, with Minwax English Chestnut stain and a couple of coats of satin poly. High-quality cell phone shots under fluorescent light at work.

And then, since clearly I'm the sucker around here, I also volunteered to create a rather large display for our office Christmas luncheon. It took a lot of time but luckily, besides supply shopping, I did most of it on company time. Nice little arrangement. I made the conference room credenza look like a fireplace. Here it is, the marketing department came down and took a snap for the hospital website. Otherwise, there would be no picture. Again.

So that was ridiculous. I absolutely love making gifts for my family. I will likely continue to do so in future years when I find the right items for the right people. But new rules: politely and gracefully refuse other peoples' project requests within two months of Christmas. No exceptions. Here's to a more enjoyable Christmas, 2013. And to knowing my new workshop will be ready for the task!