Friday, January 1, 2010

I didn't get where I am today...

... by giving up after the first try. It is amazing what a person can do when they put their mind on something. Look at me as an example. A few years ago, I was struggling to make my very own rune set using only the knowledge imparted by my father (who was at the time a taxidermist and part time crafter) and the raw materials I had on hand. What I learned was to visualize what you want your project to look like, then to make it look like your vision.

No matter what the tool in your hand is, you will learn from what others taught you in the past but nothing will be as good as a first hand experience. My first hand experience at crafting properly taught me this; if the project feels hard to accomplish, I am doing it right! What I mean is, by making numerous mistakes I learned what not to do the next time. Like Thomas Edison said once, “There's a way to do it better - find it.”

So on that rune set I wanted to make, I missed the mark on many, many occasions. Let me go into more details to make it more clear for everyone. The material I chose was a piece of antler. Hard material, can be polished to a great sheen with little maintenance can last almost forever. The idea was to make discs by cutting the antler transversally and then pyrograph the rune symbols on them. Sounds simple right? Not if you use the wrong tools. And I do like to try hard things first.

At first, I tried cutting the antler with a regular wood saw from a tool kit given to me by my wonderful in-laws. The first thing I realized was this; without a vise to hold the piece of antler, my hand holding the piece got cramped real fast. On top of that, because the piece kept moving in my cramped hand, the discs were cut VERY unevenly, to the point where you could see and feel all the teeth marks from the saw. That meant using more sandpaper to remove all the marks. To create a single disc took me an average of an hour using that method. After my fourth piece, I just put the project aside and reflected on how to accomplish my goal in a better and easier way.

That is how I came up with the brilliant idea of using a rotary tool instead. Great concept, once I discussed it with Wifey to convince her that the tool in question was a necessity. So off we go into town and get me that wonderful new toy. After a quick lunch, we rushed home so I can resume cutting discs out of antler and continue the making of my rune set. I set myself up with a cutting disc, got my antler, put on a face mask (Yes, I remembered that antler can cause a lot of dust that can be bad for the lungs and got a mask that same day.) and started to cut a new disc, in the high hopes it would be a smoother process. The amount of dust generated was phenomenal, never mind the smell produced by the antler being cut at high speed. I managed to cut about two discs when Wifey kindly asked me to stop using that tool, on pain of sleeping in the bath that night. Considering we only had a stand-in shower, I readily complied. Because I did not have anything to collect the dust properly, it was all over the room I had been working in. A good hour of cleaning was required to make peace that day.

The good news was that the newly cut discs were a lot more acceptable to look at. The really bad news was without a proper dust extraction system, the rotary tool was out of that picture. The next part nearly made me stop. To my consternation, when I attempted to use my soldering iron on the pieces of antler I had made, I quickly realized the tool was not hot enough to burn into the material. Another small failure on my part there to not verify how much heat was required to burn on antler. So instead of continuing with antler, I put the pieces away and made a set out of wood, which turned out to be a lot easier to deal with and a lot less messy.

A few years after this, I moved back to Canada (From England that is) and participated in my first outdoor festival selling my wares. I had the good fortune to be right next to a wonderful couple, Brad and Julie, who went to various events in their gypsy caravan in the back of their truck. That alone is a sight to behold! I must say I was (and am still) impressed by what Brad could make, from knives to besoms to various types of drums so I started to ask questions about everything he made, building momentum the more questions I asked. This is how I learned of a type of saw that could be used to cut antler easily. As soon as I could, I went and got the saw in question and lo and behold! The antler was cut very cleanly and without too much hard work or sanding to clean up the pieces. I also now had a small vise to hold the pieces of antler. After sanding and polishing the pieces to fine tune them, I proceeded to then burn the runes on the discs, with my new soldering iron that went much higher in heat then my previous one. It still took a long time but at least now I got the results I wanted and obtained a usable and great looking antler rune set.

Since I had a set made out of wood in the interim and was happy with it, I brought the antler set for sale the year after and quickly sold it to a gentleman who had been looking for a rune set that was different from the normal sets found in the area for a long time. I kept in touch with that person and the set is well cared for and appreciated by everyone who sees it in use.

The more research and experimentation I do, the better my project look. I often get told at events how much better I have gotten since the previous year and it is a nice reminder that perseverance pays. I now experiment with various materials and projects and try to come up with new ways of doing things. So far, I fail very few times. That is because I failed loads at first and kept trying.

I will leave you with the encouragement to not give up at anything you attempt, just persevere and a solution will present itself eventually. In my case, it took a few years. For you, it may take longer or shorter, but I can assure you the end result will be worth the wait.


1 comment:

  1. I have an absolutely beautiful set of amethyst runes that I did for myself exaclty the same way...had a vision...looked till I found the tools I needed...tried...stumbled a bit...and now they are just what I want.

    Brightest Blessings for 2010!