Working the Assembly Line

georgia_basket_cutting-uprights

Eric’s getting ready for the Georgia Basketry Convention. So that means it’s time for my pro bono work: helping Eric cut uprights (that’s the only job I think I’m qualified for in the basketry field).

You would think all it takes to do this job is to line up the long strands of wood (that’s what I call them and Eric rolls his eyes whenever I say that) and “snip.” Nope. You have to cut it at a precise angle/position with the scissors or you split the wood. A couple years ago, I thought I came up with a brilliant idea of cutting two strands at once, thereby saving time. That’s when I learned about the whole “splitting wood” thing. Eric is a perfectionist with all his materials so most of my new cut pieces became excellent campfire kindling.

Recently, I created a “repurposed invention” of sorts— I added to my “assembly line process” a vintage wooden holder, previously used for small weights. I found it at a thrift shop in Florida for only 99 cents! It’s now my new Upright Holder and it works perfectly.

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Why do I need such a contraption, now dubbed the Upright Holder? Glad you asked. In earlier times, I would count out the specific number of uprights for each package and arrange them in small piles on my flat surface. I cannot tell you how many times I would swipe something and mix the piles up or Chance would come over and hit his tail and neat piles were no more. I would have to recount them all. I don’t like the counting part.

Now, I sit them in this nifty holder and they stay grouped together in the correct quantity! (I get so giddy at the little things such as this…)

I think I’m becoming an expert upright cutter. Suhweet! Maybe I could ask Eric to actually get paid for my work?

Five Questions Friday: My Boss is a Jerk

Q: What are somefive-questions-doll-pickles-basket common misconceptions people have about being a Basket Maker?
Eric: That it’s easy, hence the phrase “I took underwater basket making for easy credits.” Mostly, when I’m asked what I do and I say I’m a basket maker,  I get a confused look and that’s usually the end of the conversation. Until my wife jumps in and explains what I do, better than I can.
(editor’s note: If you know Eric, you know that self-marketing is not his strong point. He does not talk about himself! But he’s getting better since I told him it’s about his product! Not him. When I remind him of that, he shines since his craftsmanship is amazing and he knows it! Sounds like a good post for the future – how to talk about yourself as an artist and your work!)

I think people give little thought about baskets and just see the cheap imports in the stores. Not all baskets are equal, like not all furniture is equal. It takes a lot of time, concentration and skill. It’s far from easy. Do you know no one has figured out how to build a machine to make a basket? Every basket, even the cheap ones, are made by human hands.
(editor’s note: I did not know that basket making has never been automated before I met you. I cannot believe that some baskets are only pennies from cheapo stores. From someone who has only made about three baskets in her life, I can say that it is very difficult and time-consuming. That’s why I have only made three baskets… I like stuff easy and quick. Walk in my studio and you will see about 15 unfinished projects all going on at once.)

Q: What do you consider to be the best “perks” of your job?
Eric: Not having a boss is number one. My usual motto is “I like working for myself, but my boss is a real jerk.”

Q: I’m “publicly” thanking you for taking Chance to the vet yesterday. So how was it at the Vet’s office?
Eric: I almost moved this question to “what annoyed me the most this week.” What a racket these folks have going. “Hey pal, I’m only here to get a few shots so he can continue to go into boarding when needed. Can you try to let me get out of here under a couple hundred bucks?”

Our dog is as strong as an ox with more energy than Lance Armstrong after a blood transfusion and these guys had a list of over five hundred dollars worth of tests and meds they wanted to give him. They also figured out a way to split up the shots so that they can get you in there twice a year. No wonder we’re both “starving artists.”
(editor’s note: I think we should change that phrase to “Starving Artists with a Dog.”)

Q: What’s for dinner tonight?
Eric: Don’t know, whatever is in the fridge. Can you say “Who eats breakfast for dinner!” (Refer to the post here to see what Eric is referencing.)

Q: What annoyed you this week?
Eric: The New England Patriots is number one. Since we will be in Georgia staying with friends at the time of the Super Bowl, we were hoping for a dream matchup of the Pats and Falcons, but nooo! Now all we have to look forward to is the half time show, fried pickles, the commercials, beer, chicken wings and oh yeah, there’s a football game going on.

(editor’s note: Did I throw you off with the title “My boss is a jerk?” te hee. I bet you thought you were going to read a long rant. Nope. We are both our own bosses. But I’m sure we could fill a few posts with rants about each other!)

Images above from:
Basketry Degree Diploma Doctorate Certificate
Voodoo Boss Office Kit: Doll And Executive Spellbook
Fried Dill Pickle Mix, Gluten Free

Creating a Pantry out of a Small Closet

We live in a tiny bungalow. And we both work from home as well. So space is at a premium. And every room is tiny.

Built in 1930, our kitchen is in two rooms and storage space is broken up as well. Things get lost in the tiny cabinets and were always disorganized. We really wanted a pantry. But no space! Our only option was an odd-placed coat closet smack in the middle of the kitchen between the guest room and the dining room. This closet had a door and was jam-packed with all kinds of stuff. It was organized, but of items that didn’t belong in a kitchen.

So we emptied out this closet, took the door off and Eric measured it out and headed to the workshop to make custom shelves. He even curved the edges so it looked original to the house. After he did all that work, I was in charge of the spackling. When you live in an old house with plaster walls, there’s lots of irregularities and divots, etc. Especially in a closet! And if we were going to leave the door off, it had to look great. But still keep its character of course.

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We chose a fun bright yellow color paint for the shelves and wall. We love how it turned out and wish we did it sooner! It is so nice to stand in our semi-walk-in pantry and see our food items. We even have lots of storage above (out-of-sight) for all our paper items. No more storing those under the guest bed!

pantry-in-a-closet

We completed this project in about a day. But remember to let the paint completely dry for a couple days before placing your pantry items or they will stick to the shelves! We topped it off with some blocks from my letterpress collection, spelling out PANTRY! (In case people didn’t know what an open closet with shelves of food items is.)

pantry-letterpress-blocks