Archive for November 2016

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round   2 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe biggest event of the year for us has, for the last 2 years, been Santa’s Art Shop in Ridgecrest. That event – its 35th annual – is this weekend, so I have been working long hours to get the inventory in shape for the big event.

Long hours.

And, since the inventory is growing again (and during our busiest month, too!), I am pleased to announce my 200th cutting board. This is only the 5th time that I have had that number of boards in inventory … and, as always, the number will be a fleeting memory by Saturday. In the meantime, however, it’s time to celebrate the accomplishment. Here’s the story of this unusual board.

After my years of a Cub Scout being square, I’ve seldom made square boards. It’s an occasional request, though, and I do like to show different kinds of boards to get the customers’ creativity flowing when they visit the booth.

This square, edge grain board features 6 kinds of wood:

  • Jatoba – AKA Brazilian Cherry
  • Hard Maple – which is in almost every cutting board I make
  • Cherry – AKA American Cherry or Black Cherry
  • Purpleheart – the # 1 commented upon wood in my booth, and these pieces with quilted grain will continue that tradition
  • Bubinga – I love using it because it’s just fun to say
  • Bloodwood – delightful fluorescence in these pieces

One of my current challenges in lumber supply is finding one of my favorite cutting board woods, Jatoba, in 8/4 thickness (that’s 1-3/4″ thick, sanded smooth, to you non-lumber types). The wood is commonly available in 4/4 thickness (3/4″), but rarely in the dimension I need for my thickest, big cutting boards. I did find some 8/4 earlier this year, and this board uses the last of it.

Bloodwood is crimson colored, and it’s the most challenging wood that I currently work with. It seems that every piece – every piece – is warped: bowed, twisted, cupped, or some combination of all of those.

Every piece.

It’s been said that woodworking is the art of solving problems, and it’s certainly true that using Bloodwood is one of those challenges that I face. But, I enjoy the work, and I always let the results speak for themselves.

Cutting Board 16 - Edge 029. Jatoba, Cherry, Bubinga, Bloodwood, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. Edge grain. 15" x 15" x 1-1/8".

Cutting Board 16 – Edge 029. Jatoba, Cherry, Bubinga, Bloodwood, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. Edge grain. 15″ x 15″ x 1-1/8″.

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The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later

The 200th Cutting Board

Odd   Leave a comment

The Last Bits Of Magic   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThis whole magic thing is out of control. With this group of Magic Bottle Openers (I call them MBOs), I have made over 200 of them this year. I anticipate my sales will be … over 200 of them this year.

See the problem?

I’m selling them just about as fast as I can make them, which is a wonderful thing from some perspectives. As long as I don’t want or need to take a day off, that is!

Mrs M has officially been made the first assistant for making these … she lays down the epoxy, and I insert the magic right behind her. That keeps the epoxy from setting before I can place the magic into the MBOs, which can be a terrible problem, I assure you.

I’ve run out of supplies again, so I went to Big Orange and bought more hardware today. I already have more magic bits on order for 2017’s first batch of these Magic Bottle Openers. More bottle openers are on the way as well; it wouldn’t do to have one without the other.

For the explanations of why these bottle openers are magic – and more pictures! – go here. All of these MBOs are approximately 5″ x 11″ x 3/4″. Pricing is simple: $35 for single magic models (wall mount), and $45 for double magic (fridge mount).

 

The Board Chronicles: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2016   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

carpinteriaThe Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts a monthly swap meet-style event on their grounds in their city. In November, the event transforms into a handmade-only holiday boutique. We’ve done the event for a couple of years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of this community event.

Here’s the Board Chronicles from last year: Carpinteria Holiday Faire 2015.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend is a bit crazy.

OK, so doing an event on a holiday weekend when we could be making product for next week’s biggest event of the year might be a bit crazy.

But we like the feel of this event! It’s community. It’s handmade. It’s what we do.

We’re in.

New Ideas

  • We asked for a booth on the front side of the museum (the city street) instead of our traditional booth on the other side (the parking lot, which is cramped quarters). No double space was available on the street, but the museum director assured us he would help us get the trailer through the unloading/loading process. We’re in.

Observations

  • We checked the forecast Friday … and it was bad. Rain was forecast throughout the event. In fact, the forecast said it would rain 10a – 3p … the entire span of the event! Rain would continue through 6pm, so we would not have any respite for the load out.
  • I just did a wet event last weekend.
  • Velda’s recovering from a bad cold.
  • We became 2 of “those people.”
  • I learned the phrase when I was running marathons: DNS DNF. Did Not Start, Did Not Finish. We stayed home.
  • We made product.
  • And the weather was awful; raining as predicted. We made the right call, IMHO.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 0
  • Booth cost: $150
  • Total sales: 0
  • Returning next year? If we continue down the path of not doing one day events….

Boards sold: 0

What, Me Worry?   1 comment

Beat in Denali National Park enjoying letting it all hang out. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/16.

Bear in Denali National Park enjoying letting it all hang out. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/16.

Posted November 26, 2016 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Ultimate Running Path   Leave a comment

I was only fortunate enough to run on this trail a couple of times, but, oh, my!

Running 184 miles from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park offers as much adventure as you can handle. Hiking and biking on the towpath is a favorite activity for locals and visitors alike. With so much history and nature to experience, you should #OptOutside this week to enjoy the fall colors. Photo by Kathi Isserman. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/16.

Running 184 miles from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park offers as much adventure as you can handle. Hiking and biking on the towpath is a favorite activity for locals and visitors alike. Photo by Kathi Isserman. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/21/16.

Posted November 25, 2016 by henrymowry in Running

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Expanse   Leave a comment

The last rays of sunlight catch the seedheads of Wyoming big sagebrush on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/15/16.

The last rays of sunlight catch the seedheads of Wyoming big sagebrush on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/15/16.

Posted November 24, 2016 by henrymowry in Photography

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Large and Very Large Cutting Boards   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeI display boards at events as large as 16″ x 21″.

Those are large cutting boards, especially when they are 1-1/2″ thick. But do I make bigger boards, people ask?

Of course. And today I delivered 2 of them.

These boards are not for the faint of heart. They are big. They are heavy. They are big enough for the Thanksgiving turkey (and that’s why they were delivered TODAY!). And, importantly, you need a lot of space for a board this big. If your house has an open floor plan, and the kitchen has an island with a 24″ square space … you’re in business.

Just don’t forget that you need a sink big enough to wash these boards in!

One final thought about today’s delivery: each year, I’ve had one board that was delivered horribly late. I missed Christmas for one customer (I thought it was a pickup, not a board to be shipped.), and for 2 customers, I missed an early fall delivery only to barely make a Thanksgiving delivery.

I carefully explain to everyone that it’s just me in the shop … and the boards will get done in the next batch after I get the order. But, when I miss a window, or make a mistake … well, as they say, the wheels come off. And that is never pleasant.

The happy ending is that the new owners of these boards were ever so excited to actually hold them in their hands today. I trust that made the waiting somewhat more tolerable, as they now get to experience the happy ending.

cutting-board-16-end-044

Cutting Board 16 – End 044. Black Walnut, Bloodwood & Hickory. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″. End Grain. Commissioned Piece.

cutting-board-16-end-045

Cutting Board 16 – End 045. Black Walnut, Bloodwood & Hickory. 23″ x 23″ x 1-1/2″. End Grain. Commissioned piece.

cutting-board-16-end-046

Cutting Board 16 – End 046. Jatoba, Yellowheart & Hard Maple. 23″ x 23″ x 1-1/2″. Juice Groove, End Grain. Commissioned Piece, to sit on the griddle between the burners of a Wolf double oven stove.

Supermoon   Leave a comment

Supermoon peers over Mount Herard in this amazing pic at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/18/16.

Supermoon peers over Mount Herard in this amazing pic at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/18/16.

More

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Dunes And The Rainbows

Gold!

Posted November 22, 2016 by henrymowry in National Parks

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The Board Chronicles: Affair Of The Arts   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

affair-of-the-artsWe decided to take this weekend off.

And then I changed my mind.

We had an opportunity to do a big, highly recommended craft fair in Orange County, but we declined that opportunity. The Lady had to work this weekend at her “job,” and it seemed like a stretch to do another event in November. However, this event popped up and seemed tailor made for my solo act. It’s set in Culver City which is an up-and-coming kind of neighborhood – Sony Pictures is just around the corner. The promoter has done a few of these art shows in this location for a couple of years, it seems.

I decided to take a flyer into the unknown.

New Ideas

  • Just me doing a one booth presentation from the woodshop at an art show.

Observations

  • Event # 7 of the 11 events we’re doing in the 4th quarter. Countdown mode engaged.
  • There were 40 booths (some shared between 2 artists) at this event. Live music. The plaza area we were in was alongside the ArcLight Cinema, Chipotle, a Mediterranean restaurant, an iconic hotel and Cold Stone. Trader Joe’s was across the street, and the event signage & canopies were visible from a very busy street. Traffic seemed to be built in – which is good. Booth traffic seemed to be more happenstance than generated by the event.
  • Without Mrs M’s offering there, the number of transactions plummeted. Only 8 transactions on Saturday, spread over 7 hours. (yawn)
  • Sooo slow on Saturday. Too slow. Not good.
  • And then it rained on Sunday.
  • Nothing to be done, of course, so I just sat there, moved the tables closer to the center and the boards away from the front of the booth … and tried to stay warm & dry. Traffic to the movie theater continued, and there continued to be traffic through the booths. Sort of.
  • Sunday was busier. And wetter.
  • A young boy in rain gear came into the booth and shook his umbrella, getting water everywhere. I immediately went to drying. The father said nothing at all. Thanks, Dad.
  • A woman in rain gear kept her umbrella up while accompanying her charge, a senior citizen with mobility issues. Her umbrella dripped all over everything, and she was oblivious. What is it with people? But then, when they left the booth, I noted that the umbrella covered her more than it did the senior citizen. (sigh)
  • When it rains, it drains … downhill. I only lost one cardboard box and a lot of packing paper, in the end. No damage to any boards that I was aware of, luckily. I’ll un-pack and re-pack everything – everything – to make sure.
  • So, I sat in the rain. It was consistent, but light, through the afternoon. I had a couple with credibility say they were going to a movie and would come back after to buy a Christmas present (never heard that one before) … so I waited, and resolved to pack up in an effort to be gone by 5pm when the rain was supposed to get heavier.
  • I waited.
  • The couple came back a little before 4pm, on schedule. Booth was closed by 4:05pm.
  • 25% of my total sales happened after 3:30pm on Sunday. In the rain.
  • Breakdown started at 4:05pm. It’s no fun packing when everything is wet. The only way to pack the side walls and table cloths was to wring them out, put them in plastic bags, and shove them into the car so they could be dried out tomorrow when it stops raining.
  • Ever been working, or perhaps camping out in the weather, and just gotten to the point where you gloried in the beauty of the rain and the feeling of doing work and being out in it?
  • Not me, not today. I think it was the third time I got water down my front while working on the walls overhead…. Or, maybe it was when the pool of water dumped on me from atop the canopy. All I know is when I finally got in the Jeep to drive home, I was soaked to the skin.
  • This is the 5th event I’ve done this year as a solo event with no Mrs M products. Four were one day events, and all 5 were in the bottom 8 for sales net of booth cost this year. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson there.
  • Go big, or go home. Or, more accurately, go big or stay home. That’s my mantra for 2017.

The Food

Saturday Breakfast: Hello, old friend.

Saturday Lunch: A burrito bowl from Chipotle

Saturday Snack: Yes, I know guac is extra

Saturday Dinner: Chicken surprise not cooked in the crock pot, because there was no time.

Sunday Breakfast: I went to Carl’s & learned 2 things: 1) the canopy over the drive thru window is just big enough that the drips from rain run into your open car window, and 2) their breakfast is messier to eat while driving than that from my old friend.

Sunday Lunch: See Saturday

Sunday Snack: See Saturday

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers. And a baked potato. And bourbon.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 162
  • Booth cost: $335
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: a few
  • Total sales: $1,230
  • # boards available: a Jeep load
  • Saturday alarm: 6a
  • Sunday alarm: nope
  • # transactions: 17
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none
  • # woodworking vendors: me & a toymaker
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 19:2
  • Returning next year? Doubt it.

Boards sold: 21

Magic Bottle Openers: 9

Cheese Boards: 4

Small Boards: 2

Medium Surfboard: 1

Small Surfboard: 1

Large Cutting Board: 1

Cutting Board: 1

Lazy Susan: 1

Cheese & Cracker Server: 1

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