Friday, January 16, 2009

Off the Grid

Since my last post, I have been performing in small venue comedy clubs on an almost nightly basis. I have been traveling throughout the United States. For reasons that I will discuss later, I have been asked to stay off the grid until the end of my tour. Thank you for your well wishes and concerns but I am doing fine. I promise to be less cryptic in the future when this is all over and will discuss everything in much greater detail. Trust me--it's all good. Who knows, you might see me in your small, local comedy club. Just watch out for Russell Romano in a hole-in-the-wall near you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Little Confession

I need to confess something. In terms of Project One for the New Year, the project really wasn’t a weekend project. I explained it as a weekend project so I could get several blog posts out of a single project. Also, I broke it down as a weekend project for those people who might want to replicate the project.

The actual project took me about four hours to complete. A lot of that time was actually stopping and taking pictures and re-measuring. Now that I have all of the correct measurements, the project will take me about two hours from start to finish—mainly due to drying times of the various adhesives.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Project One, Day Two

Day Two usually starts with the assembling of the the boxes/cylinders. At the end of day one, I should have cut the pieces so I could assemble them on day two. For this project, I cut the pieces on day two.

Here are the cut pieces ready for assembling.

The toughest part of this process is the waiting time for the glue to set. When you are connecting Davey Board to Davey Board, I use straight PVA. Even though the boards are covered, whenever you join two pieces of board you should use undiluted PVA. Here are all of the pieces joined together waiting to dry.

Drying time.

If you noticed in the above picture. The two cylinders have the linings on the inside. One error that I made in this project was the need for all of the lined Davey Board. Only the cylinders needed to be lined because the box will be lived when it is covered with book cloth. To remind myself of this, I purposely put the lining on the outside of the box.

The next step in the process is to cover with book cloth. The book cloth is left over from a previous project. Since I hate the color pink, I decided to try to get rid of some of the extra book
cloth that I have on hand. Each component is covered with book cloth.

Front elevation of the component parts.

Top elevation of the component parts. Notice the lining
in the cylinders. How you can see why the lining
must be done before assembling the cylinders.

The next step after all of the glue is dry is to decorate the outside of each component part and to decorate the interior of the box. The decorative paper is another piece of paper that is similar to the lining paper. On the whole sheet, the pattern is a little too busy for my taste. It seems less busy when cut into strips this project.

Front elevation.

Top elevation with box lid closed.

Top elevation with box lid open.

There are to last items to take care of before the project is finished. A base must be cut and covered in book cloth. Secondly, the hinge on the box lid must be stretched so that it will remained closed. To do this, you place a piece of matt board or oak tag on the box, close the lid over it, and then weight it down. This will stretch the hinge so that it closes properly. If the hinge is too tight, the lid will remain open about 1/8th inch.

Stretching the hinge.

The last portion of this project is to glue all of the components to each other and then glue them to the base. Weight them down so that the glue will adhere.


The final project.
The final project doing its job.

When I do this project for real, I think that I will change the dimensions a little bit. It seems a little dainty for me. The base is only 4.5 inches square. I think that I might widen the width of the cylinders to 3 inches each (rather than the 2 inches they are now). I like the height dimensions so I will keep those. Overall, I am very pleased with the final product.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Project One, Day One

This project will be a desk top organizer made up of Davey Board, book cloth and decorative paper. This is the mock up which will be used as the basis of a future design that will be made from faux leather paper. When I work with mock ups, I always use leftover materials rather than the materials that I am planning on using for the real project. I would rather ruin lesser quality materials than the more costly materials. The only time that this matters is when you have differences in your paper thicknesses or paper grain.

The goal of the first day is to get all of the pieces ready for assembly. The first step is to cut the Davey Board. This is a shot of the entire sheet. Only a portion of this sheet will be used for this project.

The entire sheet of Davey Board. The arrows annotate
the grain of the board.
The pieces that will be used for this project. The
markings in the left bottom corner indicate the
right angle (or squared-off corner).
After the boards have been cut and squared. The second step is to laminate one side of the Davey Board with the paper that will be the liner of the cylinders and box. The liner paper has to be applied because when the individual parts are assembled, you will not have the opportunity to line them. This is a scrap piece of decorative paper that I had.
The lining paper ready to be pasted to the Davey Board.

The finished board with the lining attached.
Because of the size of the board and paper and the thinness of the decorative paper, Rice starch paste was used to adhere the two together. This type of paste allows you the most working time and is less likely to tear your paper. Because of the added water content to the Davey Board, the board will tend to warp (even when placed under pressure). To compensate for the natural warping of the board. it is best to paste some type of paper to the reverse side to counteract the warping action. In this case, I pasted a piece of newsprint to the back side of the board.

The board pasted with newsprint on the reverse side.
The last step on the first day is to weight the board so that it will dry flat and, hopefully, not be warped. I don't think that you can ever get all of the warp out of the board. But you can still hand bend pieces that have a little bend to them.
The Davey Board under weight.

Tomorrow will feature Day Two of the project. Cutting, Assembling and Decorating the finished project.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shigoto-Hajime 2009

According to Wikipedia, celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the "first" time something is done in the new year. Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the new year. Hatsum┼Źde is the first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on December 31 or sometime during the day on January 1. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono. Other "firsts" that are marked as special events include shigoto-hajime (the first work of the new year), keiko-hajime (the first practice of the new year), hatsugama (the first tea ceremony of the new year), and the hatsu-uri, (the first shopping sale of the new year).



So, this post celebrates the first weekend project of 2009.

It all starts with a clean studio.


A clean glue station.

A Clean Work Station

A Clean Cutting Station

A Cleaner Works-in-Progress and Drying Station


The first real order of business was to make Rice Starch Paste. I always make small batches of paste when I know I will be needing it. It never lasts very long and I end up throwing it away after every project. Therefore, I make the smallest batch each time. I get my Rice Starch from Talas and follow a different set of instructions that are not listed on the package.


I use 5 Tbs of rice starch for 1 cup of hot water. I make a slurry with the paste and 3-5 teaspoons of cold water. If you put the hot water directly into the dry paste, it seizes up and you never get out all of the clumps. After adding the hot water, you put the pan on a low heater and whisk until your arms fall off. When the paste thickens and turns translucent, take it off the heat and let it cool. It will thicken even more. If you want a thinner paste, you can use 3 (or 4) Tbs or rice paste. I prefer the thicker variety, personally. Keep the paste covered when not in use. I will last 3-4 days. If you do not have a lid for your paste pot, you can cover the paste with cold water and place a piece of cling wrap or wax paper on top (in order to prevent a skin). When you want to use it again, simply pour off the water (which should be riding on top of the paste), stir and Bob's your uncle. Some people put their paste pot in the refrigerator but I never have done that. I am afraid that I might get it mixed up with my morning oatmeal.


Put the kettle on, we are making paste

Making the slurry.

The final product cooling.


P.S. I always use a plastic container from my local Chinese food restaurant. I have a fancy for good Hot-and-Sour soup and keep the container. The small container (pint) is perfect for glue pots.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Paper Fridays--Red Drawer





Paper Fridays has returned for the New Year.




Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Travel Journal


I wanted to share with you some of the inspirations that I get regarding projects. I have to commute into Manhattan daily for work. I live in the Bronx near the Yankee Stadiums. If I have to go into midtown, it takes about twenty minutes on an express train or 30 minutes on a local train. When I have to travel longer distances, I can commute for 45 minutes to one hour. Because of all of this transit time, I usually carry my Travel Journal (or more importantly—my Idea Book).

I have several journals lying about because I usually keep the first mock up of any book project that I do. The first copy usually is an imperfect that I do not feel comfortable selling or giving away. Sometimes there are only minor flaws that only I would notice. Sometimes there are major flaws that only a Father would love. My good friends know where I keep these books on my shelves and will help themselves to a journal if they like it (usually just the minor flawed ones). Sometimes I think they only come for dinner is when they want a free journal and a free meal.

I have three idea books. The first is my traveling book. The second is my working copy book. The third is my recipe book. I will be writing about the second and third books in a later blog.

My traveling book is a general journal that I jot down ideas while I am commuting. I write about anything that I want during that time. Sometimes I write down ideas for my comedy routines. Sometimes, I doodle. Other times, I design greeting cards and decorative boxes. I always carry a stash of pens and colored pencils in Ziploc bags when I travel with this journal.

Today’s idea was a desk set made out of Davey Board and covered in faux leather paper. The set will consist of two cylinders and a lidded box. The first cylinder would be 6 inches in height. The second cylinder will be 4 inches in height and will be joined by a common wall. In front of the two cylinders will be a lidded box for paper clips that will be as wide as the two joined cylinders. It will be joined to the fronts of the joined cylinders.

As you can see by my sketches, I am not a drawing or sketch artist. Fortunately for me, I completely understand the sketch. You will also notice that I love the exactitude needed for decorative boxes. I love how they have to be cut in such a way that the angles need to be precise. A wonky box is not a good thing unless you design it that way—more on that in the future.

So this is my weekend project. I will be providing pictures of the project in progress—If I can only remember to take the blasted pictures.

Have a great 2009.

Best wishes—russ