Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finding Happiness

Things are crazy here, as usual.

I started helping my dad at his shop recently, and it is getting hard to keep up with orders in Caustic Threads, but I have been managing. I like helping my dad,

and don't mind the work, but I was hoping he would try a little harder to hire someone. Caustic threads is a full time job, and even working about 10 hours a week is taking a toll on both my family life and my business. My younger brother started working for my dad a few weeks ago also, but I know he has other things he wants to be doing too.

I am absolutely thrilled with the unexpected success of Caustic Threads. It is amazing to me that a hobby that was started with relatively low start up cost has grown into a business that allows me to stay home with my daughter autumn (and soon a second daughter, Penelope) and make more than I was making at my last job... granted, I have made more take home income at other jobs, but they required long hours and a lot of travel, which is just not very compatible with a family. (although I know some very amazing families do have a parent that has to travel often). I feel extraordinarily lucky every day to be married to an amazing man that I fall more in love with every day, have a beutiful daughter and another on the way, and to have been able to build a business that allows me to work for myself doing something that I love. I thank Adam, my husband, regularly, for giving me everything I never knew I wanted.

If someone had asked me 10 years ago, when I was 18, what I thought I would be doing right now, I never would have expected to be married, with children, living in Albuquerque. In fact, I think a senior paper that I had to write in high school was about what I wanted and expected to be doing at this point in my life. "Where do you want to be in 10 (or 5, or 15) years?" seems like a common question for people to ask 16 to 18 year olds, and it was always an easy question for me to answer, because I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was sure I would accomplish my goals. I would say, " I want to be a fashion designer, with my own label at some point. I would like to work for someone else to learn the ropes at first, and when I have some experience and capitol I will start my own business. I like the juniors market, it is fast paced, trend driven, and exciting- oh, and teenagers usually have part time jobs and no bills so they have more disposable income than other markets. I want to be single, with no children, living in LA or New York. Preferably New York. " That is really what I thought I wanted to do! I wonder if I had taken a look forward to see myself here now, if I would have considered myself a failure. I don't now, but I may have as a stubborn teenager- which is not to say I am not stubborn now- just that I know how unbelievably happy I am, and I wouldn't trade my life now for the unrealized dreams of a teenager. There are many parallels, and I think the progression of my life, and the steps that brought me here all make sense. All we really want in life is to be happy, and I am so lucky to have found happiness, in a life that I had never expected to be in.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pens and other small projects

Small projects are great, you can finish them quickly, have less time to get distracted, have less invested if things go wrong, and in the case of the small turning projects that I am talking about in particular here, are relatively safe and quiet and child-in-the-vicinity friendly compared to my normal hobbies.

As you may have noticed, I've been posting more not-knives than knives lately. Not because I don't enjoy working on knives anymore, but because I actually like to finish projects every once and a while.

It is amazingly satisfying to finish things, all day most days I work on projects that may take years or longer to finish. I am still finishing up projects that my predecessor started, and I've been at my job for about two years now. Coming home and adding an hour to a project that will take quite a few hour or multi-hour blocks is not very appealing most nights.

The inspiration for my small projects is the result of my friendship with Rocketpants and Bill.

Somehow I convinced them to let me teach them how to shave with a straight razor, and despite me spraying blood all over the bathroom (never wave a razor in one hand and wine glass in the other), they were game and now each has a razor and brush. Since I'm not ready (wrong set of tools) to try making the razors themselves, I decided to try shaving brushes, as seen in an earlier post (Bench and Brush).

Now Bill commented a couple times that I should try pens, since he likes fountain pens, so, because I needed more hobbies I started with some basic pens and a wine stopper (As the wood turns).

I thought they were pretty basic and realized that I preferred other types of pen, so I bought more.

I tried the POLARIS (like the rocket?) They look small but fit well in the hand, and take Parker style ink - which means that you can use gel refills - which I prefer to rollerballs. These are black titanium.

In Redwood Burl

In Maple Burl

I tried a heavy duty sketch pencil (5.6mm lead)

This is desert ironwood and chrome- the picture doesn't do the wood justice;

I tried a bullet pen (.30 caliber in this case) in black titanium...

This is the same block of desert iron wood - and doesn't do the wood justice either.

I tried a seam ripper...

In bloodwood, with copper powder inlay;

And finally I tried the fountain pen - first I tried Manzanita with turquoise inlay... and the wood tore off the barrel, then I tried Ancient Kauri, and the wood tore off the barrel, then I tried gabon ebony, and caught it and glued it before it tore off.

And I think it looks better than the other woods would have. I hadn't realized how much of the fittings were black. The shiny stuff is rhodium plated, and the tip is iridium.

Looks fancy! Writes well too.

Now all I have left to try from this batch is a walking stick - but I might need to buy some longer pieces of wood to pull this one off :)

And in closing, a gratuitous picture of Autumn:

Bye now!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

As the wood turns

Howdy folks, just in case you thought we were having too much fun selling t-shirts, knives, shaving brushes, art, and a variety of others...

I have recently expanded my wood turning hobby.

For some reason I thought that making pens was a good idea, so I bought a starter kit with all the fixin’s for 5 slimline ballpoint twist pens. They went together pretty easily with no major hiccups, and only a few minor ones. I used a couple of the blanks provided and a couple of my own:


Lignum vitae,

Salt cedar,

Cocobolo, and

Figured Sipo.

I also picked up a couple of wine bottle stopper plugs. I’ve only made one so far, out of pear wood – looks pretty good to me.

I was somewhat disappointed with the limited amount of customization and creativity that go into turning pens. The pocket clips limit the back half, and comfort limits the front, so you can’t do much beyond some gentle curves, and banding.

So, am I stopping at those 5? Of course not, I just ordered another $150 worth of supplies, not just pen kits and accessories, but a few other gizmos and gadgets.

What’s next? Sectional walking sticks, seam rippers, mechanical pencils, fountain pens are all on the agenda. And finishing some knives as well.