Singing and Playing With Metal

I’ve been working on titanium, mostly in windchimes. Here’s a video of me talking (slowly, for some reason) about an experimental piece where I’m playing with flame anodization, electric anodization, sanding belt textures, etc.https://youtu.be/qdLQZWlx5tg

https://vimeo.com/628398537 has me doing a couple solos, a few weeks back. 5:20 and 27:00 are my pieces (the rest is a church service).

I just uploaded a recital from this past weekend https://youtu.be/VAiQViaru-k . I’m the first 3 pieces and the last piece (25:38). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAiQViaru-k&t=25m38s is a link to that last piece.

-D

Entertainment During Corona

It has been a very long time since I’ve written here. Some of that’s getting out of the habit. A larger part of that is that … well, there’s just nothing happening. I’ve been singing and working on windchimes, pretty much. But I realize that I’m not even sharing about the windchimes. So, here’s a story about windchimes and how I make them.

I’ve had a windchime calculator for quite some time, but just never really got to it. I found impetus to move to titanium from brass because of this video. His chopsticks look beautiful, and onlinemetals.com would ship me some titanium… and so we began. General process:

  1. Find yourself a decent chord at https://www.onemotion.com/chord-player/
  2. Look up the lengths (chime length & length of the hang point)
  3. Cut chimes to lengths
  4. Drill them
  5. Polish the bejeezus out of them
  6. Spin them up on a high-speed drill, while heating them with a torch
  7. Use a polishing belt to strategically remove stripes (yes, while everything’s still running)
  8. Hang them up (after they’ve cooled)

Metalworking 29

Above is what one looks like while in progress. That silver titanium will quickly oxidize to a “gold straw” color, because the metal’s already hot.

The least fun in this hobby is the sheer number of drill bits I’ve broken. I bought a drill press, which should help a little bit at least, just by keeping the drill bit straight. We’ll see. It’s definitely the bottleneck in the process.

Next up as not fun is that I really ought to get a band saw. I’ve got a jigsaw (pro tip: a “fine metal” blade on the end-grain wood setting is what you want, for titanium – just chomps the metal out beautifully). It works well enough, actually. The band saw would be a luxury upgrade, when I still haven’t solved the drill issue.

Metalworking 31

It’s the blowtorch stuff that’s the most fun, of course. Developing new techniques, seeing what works and doesn’t. Using a large torch to get a base color = a consistent heat platform to build on, whereas just hitting it with the small torch will give much more variation in color.

Making little decorations to go along with the chimes (I’ll work with brass when I’m frustrated with titanium – brass is like butter, in comparison) is also quite peaceful.

At some point I’m going to buy an SMT Micro Anodizer (have a look at some of the examples there), so I can lay down straight-lined patterns, one-color patterns, or can hook it to a paintbrush and paint with electrolyte.

That’s kinda what things have been like around here. Finish work, sing a while if it’s hot, make some chimes if it’s cool. Rinse and repeat.

-D

Desperately Seeking Springtime

Serena Says Launch 02

How are you, friends?

It’s been a minute…

So, 2021. So much has changed, but on a personal level, aside from losses of friends and acquaintances to aging and the robbery of this pandemic, change has largely been confined to the pictures on the calendar. The most surreal aspect of the last eleven months “Living La Vida Covid” has been the effect of days turning to amber, and we, like prehistoric insects, hang in suspended animation. What would we be doing, if we weren’t here? That question goes round and round. We certainly would resume plans for our trip to Europe, we’d certainly meet our friends in Victoria for that lovely Canadian getaway we were anticipating last March, we’d certainly go leaf-peeping, flower-appreciating, and to the beach, finding our way away from the crowds. As it stands, we’re really supposed to stay home, and barring that, only do “essential travel” within a hundred and twenty miles of our home address. It is been, for people who used to simply fill a picnic basket and get into the car for a good wander up the coat, a bit difficult. People talk about hitting a “Covid wall.” Yep, we’ve been close a couple of times…

T’s latest book in November was chosen to be a book club selection for Parnassus Books in Tennessee, a prominent independent bookstore which occasionally makes book presentations on Good Morning America, and PBS NewsHour. (After her book was discussed on NewsHour, T is much more fond of Tennessee now, despite never having been there.) Social distancing hasn’t stopped the juggernaut of publishing, however, so she signed a couple hundred book plates, affixed them to a couple hundred books, and turned right around to sign another contract. In December T was pleased to finally get an appointment with the ophthalmologist, and receive her contact lenses! She’d only been waiting since March…

Titanium Chimes 06

Himself has continued to work for an expanding and contracting list of clients, who do fun things like requiring separate laptops (3 so far) so he can work on an HR approved machine for each company, and putting meetings on his calendar five minutes before they start, but unlike others, he’s still working, so despite the annoyance factor, we call it another win. T&D have continued a loose relationship with our chamber group, doing a tiny concert to be released on Valentine’s Day, but have mostly shifted to other hobbies which don’t require Zoom. D has continued to do more with metal work, and has machined himself a few metal working tools to use on his small lathe. With a new drill and sander, he is turning out beautifully anodized wind chimes, just for fun, and the garage is full of sawdust as he begins experimenting with wood. T, meanwhile, is missing the feel of physical books from the public library, but is grateful for used bookstore sales, the Little Free Library down the block, and reading for yet more awards so she can share yet more books.

As usual, California has received insufficient rain, and we regret the brevity of the chilly season, even as we are astounded over the bird bath freezing and the myriad freezing mornings. Cold makes cycling and walking something of a chore, and it’s too easy to get lazy during these times and take up baking like it’s an Olympic sport. As much as we dread another year of fires and horrible heat waves, we’re more than ready to battle allergies (already there, actually), gophers and weeds to get back into the garden. T’s favorite gift of the season remains the beginning of her seed and the seed companies have very helpfully sent along the usual enticing full-color catalogs. The annual Going Over Of The Expenses occurs right around tax time, and as the day approaches, T is very reluctant to look at how much she actually spent on plants and flowers this past eleven months, especially considering how many of them the gopher outright ate… no matter if one faithfully grows one’s own carrots, greens, onions and tomatoes, gardening is never going to be one of those things which is actually cost effective, sadly, but it does make us happy, even as we are screeching at the weird beetles and things that eat the lettuce. (Also note: we found what appear to be EARTHWORMS in the fountain. Since most worms DROWN in the lawn in the rain, we’re pretty sure they’re not earthworms, but how bizarre is that!? You learn something new every season, apparently.)

Fremont 381

So, according to the Lunar Cycle, it’s the Year of the Ox… for whatever it’s worth. It’s never a bad time to celebrate stolid placidity, we suppose, especially not during a global pandemic when it takes stolid, placid stubbornness to carry on, so here’s to that – and here’s to you.