Circles of Light

We do the oddest projects.

planning_IR_IR.jpg  Initial Layout  

People who know us, know we are always working on something. It’s true.  Some have questioned what we are up to these days.

bending rings_IR.jpg  Cutting strapping material for circles (rings)

(Besides a gazillion other things), we tell them we are working on a chandelier.   “What kind of chandelier?”, they’ll ask.

compass_IR.jpg  Preparing jig to weld rings

cut template_IR.jpg  Cutting jig template on bandsaw

“It’s kinda hard to describe”, we reply

setup_IR.jpg  Ring set up in jig, ready to weld

“What does it look like?”

“A bunch of circles around a tube”, we’ll tell them.

weldring_IR.jpg  Welding one of many rings

After a pause and a quizzical look, they come up with their next question.

k grnd rings_IR.jpg Grinding one of many rings

“What’s it made of?”

“Metal … mostly.” We say.

grindpins_IR.jpg Grinding steel pin connectors

“How did you come up with it?”

We saw something like it 10 – 15 years ago in a fancy light shop… and were inspired by it’s uniqueness… and thought someday we’ll make something like it. So we wired the house when we built it (a decade ago now) with this chandelier in mind.

mockup_IR.jpg  Mock up of ring assembly

weldrings_IR.jpg  Welding rings together into subassembly

The design has been a complex math problem.  Our ceiling is 14’ high, and we want the chandelier  8 – 9’ off the ground. It should have a decent Length-over-Diameter to have a pleasing aesthetic. So we had to calculate not only the circle diameter, but their circumference as they are splayed out and reduce as it goes away from the center.

weldg_IR.jpg  Welding ring assembly

Should we do a splayed series of 3 circles or 4?  13″, 15″, 17″ diameter or 19″ diameter, (which equates to 30-some inches splayed out), or all of the above… Hmmm?  The bigger the ring diameter, the longer the overall length.  Decisions. Decisions… and lots of layouts and mockups.

grind rings_IR.jpg  Grinding ring assembly

Should we paper mache the exterior of the center tube or sand blast to assure the light bulb doesn’t become overly prevalent.  We’re looking for more of a ‘glow’ afterall.

sprayg_IR.jpg  Spraying spray tack on inner tube

As we work through building this unique project that has been on our project docket for well over a decade, it occurs to me that it isn’t just Circles of Light… but Circles of Life.

Our life, all the many projects, trials and tribulations, friends & family come and gone – on and off.

spraypaper_IR.jpg  Spraying textured art paper to coat tube

papertube_IR.jpg  Applying paper to tube and trimming

Somehow, as it comes to fruition after all this time, so many things have changed in our own life, and it makes us reflect on those things we have accomplished, and those things we have lost.

paintg_IR.jpgPainting interior of chandelier ‘shade’

As it shines down from it’s new home, it casts shadows, points of light, and a soft subtle glow.  It has it’s new beginning, and will shine long after we are gone.

finsished close_IR.jpgThe big reveal

finished far_IR.jpg

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Stained Glass Floor Lamp

glass panels4_IR.jpg  Finished stained glass panels for floor lamp

Remember those stained glass panels I wrote about here? .. https://kritterspaw.com/2019/03/18/one-thing-begets-another/ 

We have been working hard to get the woodworking done to receive the panels I worked so hard on… but the woodworking has proven to be as labor intensive as the glass work.

napkin_IR.jpg Initial back of the napkin concept drawing

I got a hearty laugh, when someone mentioned to me the other day, that as I put out these blogs, that people will know how to make our projects.

pillars groves_IR.jpg Making pillars for uprights to support stained glass panels

We never have plans for any of our projects.  Projects for us start as a hair brain idea and a need for something… in this case for a floor lamp to be able to read by… which morphed to wanting to match it to the stained glass door we had just finished.

pillargroves4_IR.jpg  Cut upright pillars

stretchers fit_IR.jpg  Trial fit of pillars to stretchers

We actually think through the project and ask ourselves questions as to how it might go together and draw up multiple concept cartoon drawings for the different pieces and phases of the project.

plans_IR.jpg  Cutting list

We then make a cutting list of the pieces and parts that need to go together, making sure to include stacked dimensions of the veneered pieces, various tongues, grooves, or other cut outs.

pillars glued_IR.jpgGlued together top section for glass panels

We often design on the fly, and the project may morph as we go along.

shelf veneer_IR.jpg  Cutting mesquite inlay for shelf

shelf_IR.jpg  Gluing shelf together

Which was the case when we decided to make a pull out shelf for the lamp base, so that we could sit a glass of wine (or coffee) on it while we read.

baseboard joint_IR.jpg  Making our own baseboard molding from pecan lumber (started as tree cut from our yard)

baseboard moldg_IR.jpg  Cutting moulding on baseboard 

Of course, in true Ritter style, the shelf had to have 3 inlays, made with birch, mesquite and pecan.

cuttg mirror_IR.jpg  Cutting mirror for light reflection

mirror ret2_IR.jpg  Retainer for mirror on top stretchers

To further complicate things as we went along, we decided to add a mirror to the top of the lamp to reflect back light that would beam through the glass panels… so yet another change had to be incorporated … no drawings to be had.

trail fit_IR.jpg  Trial fit of glass panels with light and mirror

Once we started on the base, cutting all the sides, top, bottom, and lots of pecan veneer… we decided the empty box would be better with a door… and power to be able to charge a tablet or phone.. and storage for magazines and such.

bottom ply_IR.jpg  Cutting birch bottom section pieces

veneer_IR.jpg  Cutting veneer

So with yet another change (no drawings) we are off on the fly again morphing the design to continuously improve this already interesting project we have embarked on (same ol’, same ol’ around here!)

partsnpcs_IR.jpg  Bits and pieces of bottom section, cut and veneered

door hinge_IR.jpg  Hinge recessed for door

With all the bottom pieces cut, veneered, shelf designed, cut, glued, door made, and new designs incorporated… we are finally ready for final sanding (and sanding!) and gluing.

bottclamps_IR.jpg  Lower section glued and clamped together

Someone else suggested once, we could put our projects on Pinterest… What?, and have them steal and make our ideas?  Ha, not likely.

basebd_IR.jpg  Gluing baseboard moulding

staing2_IR.jpg  Staining lower cabinet section

Since only a subset of the actual steps and operations are represented here (none of the jointing, plaining, mortise & tenons, etc, etc), no plans in sight, not to mention the 6 months of labor… I think we’re safe in no one copying our designs!  There I go, heartily laughing again.  You know what they say, ” Laughter is the best medicine.”

sprayg2_IR.jpgSpray lacquering cabinet top, bottom, and pieces

No matter.  We work for ourselves and do projects that intrigue and interest us for our own perceived ‘need’.  We enjoy the work, the problem solving, and the end product.  It is always intellectually challenging, fulfilling, and leaves us with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  That’s all that really matters.

finished vert_IR.jpg Finished lamp with shelf pulled out

finished lamp_IR.jpg Finished lamp in place

 

 

Dual Use Wine

So what do you do with the wine bottle after you drink it?  I know, I know… make glasses!  Not what you were thinking?  Well, that’s what we do with them.  It’s an insane project I must admit.

First, you have to drink the wine.

Then, you have to wash the bottle and score the wine bottle with a hand glass cutter.  We like using wine bottles that have some fun painted-on labels these days… rather than having to take off the paper labels.

Next (we have to figure out a better process someday), we use a candle and heat around the glass score mark the circumference of the bottle for several minutes… then run to the closest cold water spigot and chill it down…. keeping your fingers crossed and your breath held hoping it breaks perfectly when you gently tap it on the corner of the sink.

Finally, you sand sand sand to get the edge nice and clean.  Being careful to not overdue it, as if the glass gets too hot it will break in your hands.

sandingi.JPG

It’s a long tedious process for every single glass.  We often wonder why we continue to do them… but them make great gifts that our friends seem to enjoy.  I wonder if they realize how much work goes into every glass?

In the end, you have a cool wine bottle glass that tells it’s own story with individuality and uniqueness…. and you got to enjoy the wine.

Pizza Oven, Part One: The Prep

We normally do one big project each year.. along with quite a number of smaller projects.  We have moved outside for this year’s project and got a wild hair to do a pizza oven.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  We looked into buying one (which probably would have been a wise choice), but looked at the cost, particularly for a gas & wood fired oven.. and decided (like so many things we do) that we could do it ourselves.

So we embarked on this journey that continues … and continues.

before po

We identified where it would go and how we would go about it.  It should sit on a concrete block pad, which we would later wrap with stone and granite counter tops.  The oven itself would sit on top… and have a concrete pad lead in… and a flagstone area around it, where we would put the concrete table we made (remember that earlier post?).

Who knew how much work just doing the prep would be.  Suffice it to say it has been filled with long days and a lot of back breaking work… but it’s finally starting to look like something.  I gathered some photos and built this little video.  Wordpress does not allow me to upload directly, so I posted it on YouTube.

Check it out.  Next, we can now actually start the pizza oven itself.  Stay tuned…

Pizza Oven Prep

Concrete Tables – Progress

So, you haven’t heard too much about these concrete tables lately.  Perhaps you thought we’d given up on them.  Tempting… considering the amount of work they have become, but it’s for that reason that we couldn’t possibly.

If you recall where we left off … we had poured the concrete into the forms (in the snow, I remember well) with the metal bases we had made.  We allowed them to dry for some time due to the cold temps.  In late January we very awkwardly flipped the (now very heavy) table on it’s feet (with the help of John Deere).  We let the tops dry for another couple weeks before  attempting to pull off the plastic and plywood insets.

tractorpull_Ssi Forgive the crappy cell phone pic.

Getting the plastic off was easy… but getting the plywood insets would prove to be a pain in the backside.  We ended up chiseling it out.  In the process we ‘chunked’ out bits of the corners around the inset.  So we had to mix up concrete patch (which we had to color, best we could) to match the colored tables and benches.

We put 3 coats on… sanding the concrete between each.  (Yes, sanding concrete is as difficult as it sounds.) As a matter of fact, if this project is starting (?) to sounds like a lot of work, well… let’s just say that would be an understatement (and a little insane, yes).

Finally… we individually cut our tiles for our insert.  We mixed up some thin set, and began the daunting task of laying the tiles, and then with a toothpick removing the thin set from between the tiles.

table clean_Ssi benches_Ssi

Whew!  Almost done.

btt_Ssi

We still have yet to grout in between the tile… and waterproof with Thompsons.

Oh, and there’s the bit about prepping the whole area they go in with a retaining wall, sand / rock, leveling, tamping, and laying flagstone.  That’ll be awhile.

Maybe next time we’ll buy our concrete tables.  They did come out cool… and are the only thing like it out there.  Built to last in elegant style.