Friday, December 16, 2011

Bedside Essentials

The NookDroid and android phone (it's a Huawei X5) have pretty much made the ipod touch and the migear ebook reader redundant, but I keep them around for the same reason that I hardly ever throw anything away.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pity I don't play

This is the result of my latest project from 'tech — a little side-table with a parquetry chessboard veneered into its top. The body of the thing is pink birch, and the chessboard is kauri and black walnut with a pine surround. The brass handle was kind of a pain in the arse to inset; it's not perfectly square and the hole that had to be dug out to seat it was a bit of a trial, but it was achieved in the end.

I'm pretty pleased with it, really. Alas, I don't play chess.

Oh, that paddle-shaped thing underneath is just a little cheeseboard I turned up out of pine as a learning exercise. I'm not a wholly confidant wood-turner, but that worked out OK. Wood-turning is trickier than I had expected.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Passing the time with pencils and pens

Umbrella tree.

That chap in the background
must find his hat quite unmanageable
in anything of a breeze.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Library expansion

Behold the glory!
Having had to shift everything in the house around due to EQC repairs, I've taken the opportunity to build some new bookshelves to house some of the books that have been living in teetering piles all over the house for the last twenty years and more. These shelves won't cope with all of them, but they should make a significant dent.

I've made sets of shelves before, but then I had to do all the housing joints by hand, with a tenon saw and chisel. Now I have a router and a drop-saw, and everything is much more precise. It's a pity the timber is such shit; it's all 19mm cuttings-grade pine from Bunnings. It has the virtue of convenience of supply, and that's about it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fitzus Me Fecit, MMXI

I made this little X-legged table as a learning project in my joinery/cabinetmaking course. The wood is pink birch, quite an attractive tropical hardwood (and the product of sustainable forestry, so Not Evil like a lot of other tropical timbers), and the central section is formica-covered laminated MDF.

It's the perfect size for sitting at on a bolster or in seiza on the floor, and I think I'll get a lot of use out of it. It's very, very sturdy, and could easily double as a stool too.

I'm really enjoying this course; I like working with wood, and I just love making stuff.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eyes Sewn Shut

Painter VIII, charcoal-and-chalk 3-tone method

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Patriotism In Action

Patriotism, they say, is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Majestic Chin

Found this doodle in amongst a bunch of old lecture notes.
It must have been a bit of a dull lecture.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Go here to see a remarkable series of photographs of snakes in a black box. I find something strangely fascinating about them; the patterns and colours are beautiful, and I guess there's the frisson of all those millions of years of evolution telling me to stay the fuck away from snakes.

I actually rather like snakes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Your kitty-kat is PURE EVIL

This is what your cat looks like underneath all that cute fluff. EVIL!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Winter Weekend 2011

August 7th, 2011. Almost home-time. Photo credit: Diana Bidwell.
I had a good time, but because I was a late arrival I had to settle for a second-storey bunk (no ladder!). Surprisingly, there was no hilarious drunkenness-related bunk slapstick, but I did twist and strain my knee climbing out on the last morning. Ow! Lesson learned; it's clearly very important to limber up before getting out of bed.

About five minutes after this photo was taken it started snowing fit to bust, whereupon almost everyone bailed out before they got snowbound.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Today, our nice new wetbacked woodburner is being installed. Our 90 year old hot water cylinder made the tradesmen make sad faces, but they are toiling manfully to make everything work. Alas, it looks like the niche where the burner sits is about 20mm too narrow for legality, so I'll have to tile the walls around the fire or something so that the inspector doesn't drag me off to gaol by the heels.

So anyway, as a side effect we have no water supply just at the moment. And I am busting to go to the toilet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Important Realisation! (Not really)

I have no idea why I was thinking about this today, but I was, so I'll blurt it out here on to the internet:

I realised today that although I've often been frustrated by Microsoft products, and sometimes been angered by their corporate bastardry, I've never felt as personally offended by MS as much as by Steve Jobs' and Apple's contemptuous condescension.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Butterfly Knot

Building these symmetrical knotwork designs is pretty easy, and rather meditative. Animorphics are much, much harder.

Squeeeee! Dwarves!

Photo by James Fisher
First look at some of the Dwarves' costume design for The Hobbit. JED BROPHY as Nori, ADAM BROWN as Ori and MARK HADLOW as Dori.

I am SO looking forward to this movie, if only to see how they fuck around with the story to make it ZOMGMOVIE. Thank goodness it isn't being made by Michael Bay (though that does raise a few interesting mental images).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Steampunkery Ahoy!

Tom Banwell makes these things. Also other things in a similar vein. I like these things that Tom Banwell makes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boots of such majesty, such grandeur!

From Wikipedia:
"The boots reportedly originated around 2010 in Matehuala in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, located in North-Central Mexico. Following their creation, the trend has expanded to parts of the United States where large numbers of Matehualan migrants live, particularly in Dallas, Texas but also in Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
"The pointy boots are made by elongating the toe of normal boots by as much as 5 feet (1.5 m), causing the toes to curl up toward the knees. For those boys or men who can't afford to pay a shoemaker to prepare the boots, they use garden hoses to make their own. The boots are then further modified according to the wearer's personal taste. Alterations incorporate paint, sequins and can go as far as adding flashing LED lights, disco balls and even mirrors."

Fashion is sometimes just indescribably stupid. This is one of those times.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Give it a couple of years

Large swathes of earthquake-ravaged Christchurch suburbs are going to be abandoned.
The houses will be demolished, but if they weren't they'd slowly fall to bits anyway.
Which would be kind of cool.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hiatus and Changeover

Having made arrangements to transfer my tech enrolment from a general carpentry course to a joinery/furniture-making course, I now have a hiatus until the beginning of August, when the new course begins.

I found, after spending a day on work experience on site with a builder, that my ancient, creaking, ricketty body is no longer capable of the continual heavy lifting and carrying involved in the builder's trade. If I'd worked my way into it over the last ten or twenty years I'd probably be OK, but coming into it cold from a fairly sedentary lifestyle was rather a shock to the system. I'd probably manage a couple of days of continuous hard yacker, but by day three I'd certainly be well on the way to an ignominious collapse. Hey-ho.

The reality check came as a bit of a blow to my ego; at the risk of sounding big-headed, I'm not used to failing at things.

However, I think it might well be a blessing in disguise. I was always more interested in the joinery side of woodworking, and I went for general building/carpentry mainly because of its much larger employment pool. Joinery will be a lot easier on my aging body, as well as being more in my line, and I'm looking forward to it.

You can't stay in that tree for ever

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Head in Head

Oil pastel, A4. Click to enlarge.
The two earthquakes yesterday (one 5.7, followed an hour later by a 6.3) have once again laid waste to my workroom. I'm really getting sick of picking up thousands of little toy soldiers and roleplaying figurines and returning them to their little plastic drawers.

Fortunately, they (the earthquakes, that is) don't appear to have done any additional damage to the house itself. The roads are back to being a bit of an obstacle course, though nowhere near as bad as in February, and once again there is liquifaction all over the place — which means that we'll be back to having to carry dust masks when it all dries out and the dust clouds start to fly.

I have really had a gutsfull of earthquakes. They can fuck right off.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Change of Life

I've decided that since the money involved in freelance graphic design, illustration, web design and what-not is so unreliable, that I'll try something else instead. Since I like building things, and I like working with wood, carpentry or joinery seem like good options. Having had Christchurch fall down around our ears means that there will be plentiful work here for the next decade at least, as the city gets rebuilt.

Last week I started an accelerated (6 month, full time) pre-trade carpentry course at CPIT. Basically, it takes all the theory hoo-ha from a standard apprenticeship program, mushes it together with some practical skills training and work experience, and releases its graduates into the wild to pick up apprenticeships, beginning with a little relevant knowledge, and free from after-work night classes.

So far, it's been fun.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dawntreader Downtrodden

I just watched the movie adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In summary — it's not very good.

In truth, I find it difficult to assess how the movie stands on its own merits; it butchers the original story so bady that at times it could be described as "a movie based on the title of a book by C.S.Lewis". I'm aware, of course, that absolutely faithful movie adaptations of books are seldom dramatically successful, but in many cases the additions and elisions, and changes in scene order, characterization and tone in this movie often don't appear to have any justification except for the sake of fiddling around by the screenwriters.

I'll give it this much — the sea serpent is pretty cool and scary.

Friday, May 20, 2011

African Mask

Sgraffito — indian ink painted over a layer of white wax crayon on paper, and then the ink scratched away to form the image. It's the same process as scraper-board, but the resulting lines and areas are much less clean and precise.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ding-Dong, the Witch is Dead

Or in this case, Osama Bin Laden.

He was a huge drippy chancre on the swollen hæmorrhoids dangling from the arsehole of humanity, and I'm very glad that he's dead. I only wish that more of his charming comrades-in-arms shared his state.

I don't think it will make a blind bit of difference to anything at all.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Ball-point pen doodle done while listening to The Bugle bullshitting about the royal wedding kerfuffle

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For Gentlemen

Never again suffer the embarrassment, the humiliation, of failing to identify a chap's collar style.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Black roller-ball pen. Approx. 225 x 160 mm.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ball-point pen art


Mechanical riding-bird
Here's a couple more of my ball-point pen doodles.

I've been investigating the longevity of ball-point pen inks, and it doesn't look good. Black ink lasts longest, red ink shortest, but any of them have to be completely protected from any exposure to UV if you want them to last more than a few years.

Roller-ball inks tend to be more stable, but they're not capable of the tonal gradation one can achieve with the ball-point. It would be nice if somebody managed to produce an archival-quality carbon-based black ball-point ink with similar drawing characteristics to the dye-based inks in use these days, but I'm not holding my breath.

The pictures get bigger if you click them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lest We Forget

I made a little card flap to hang over our toilet's flusher, because without something to remind me, I forget about half the time. I don't really want Christchurch stinking like an open sewer for the next year or so, so I'm trying to do my bit.

Killinger und Freund motorcycle

From "Killinger und Freund Motorcycle":

"In 1935 a group of five German engineers named Killinger and Freund from Munich started to design a more streamlined and modified version of the German Megola front-wheel drive motorcycle that had won many motorcycle races in the 1920s."
Apparently it was quite successful in pre-WWII race meets. I wonder if the rear wheel has more tendency to drift in turns when it's being dragged along behind rather than pushing the whole shebang.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Inaction Figure

I would be willing to exchange actual currency for this. I would never take it out of its packaging, and it would become an heirloom of my house, to be passed down the generations into perpetuity. Eventually it would turn up on an edition of the Antiques Roadshow, and make some nerdy bow-tied British guy very excited, in a rather controlled, understated British sort of way.

Affordable high-resolution 3d printing needs to hurry up and become more generally available. If I had a decent 3d printer of my own, I would produce so much shit.

You can tramp all day!

I cannot honestly say that I've ever had any issues tramping all day with a freely-swinging nutsack.

Apparently this thing is "made just as nature intended"..... I guess the lack of a built-in version was just some sort of evolutionary oversight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


When I'm sitting around doing nothing much in particular, I doodle. This is one such doodle.

I've been rediscovering the joys of the ball-point pen, a much-underrated medium. I've written and drawn with pens costing hundreds of dollars, and disposable pens that cost just a couple of bucks, and as far as I can tell there's no particular reason to spend a lot of money on a ball-point pen except to display your wealth. A $4 Bic does just as well as a $150 Parker* so don't waste your money on pens. Waste it on something else, like whiskey.

* This turns out not to be entirely correct. My Parker-style refillable ball-point has kept going smoothly where the el-cheapo disposable pen started to stutter and glom up, so it looks like it might actually be worth spending a little more than $4 on a pen. (It also feels nicer in the hand than the extremely lightweight plastic jobbies).

Drawing - Cambodian temple ruins

I drew this in Corel Painter VIII, using its various Charcoal brushes, from a photograph of a ruined Cambodian temple. Colouring was done (very hastily) in Photoshop.

I had an idea of peopling the scene with a tribe of some sort of humanoid critters, but when or if I'll get around to that I have no idea.

Image may be clickified upon for embiggenation purposes.

Dear Santa...

Though this may be the least practical car in the history of creation, I nevertheless crave one with a potent craving.

I'd be very interested to know just how much engineering would be required to turn a 250cc scooter into one of these; I suspect not that much. I thought the body shell could be made from fibreglass quite easily, but it has been suggested to me that canvas would be even cooler. Canvas and wicker-work. Oh yeah.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The blog is dead, long live the blog

I have a blog at Livejournal that I almost never use any more. I've decided to move my miscellaneous random musings and blatterings over here to blogger, mainly because blogger makes it easier for me to upload images. Not that I do a great deal of non-gaming-related bloggery in any case, but what I do do I'll be do-doing here instead of there.

I'll be leaving the LJ blog up for the foreseeable future, but I won't be updating it any more. I have no idea how long they keep an inactive blog accessible over there — possibly forever.