Archive | November, 2019

Contrasting First Years

29 Nov

When M1 went off to university four years ago, we had periodic pictorial updates on the classes she took. As she was a Food Science major, obviously it was food-related and the pictures were experiments that were conducted in the lab for her classes. From the preparation to the end result, we had interesting pictures of how to make Camembert cheese and smoked salmon.


Fancy some cheese?


Or perhaps smoked salmon?

Now with M2 having started her first year at college––she has completed her Foundation Studies with distinction––we are also getting updates on her classes. As she is a Design Communications major, similar to my degree but mine was called Visual Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design, so obviously we are getting art and design-related pictures.

This being an assignment from her Illustration class. Dang… the details and patience! I am so glad she’s on the right path to nurture her creativity and shape her ability.


There’s Always a First

26 Nov

I’ve been wearing rimless glasses for as long as I can remember, alternating between my Silhouette and Lindberg over the years whenever my power increased and I had to change the lens. The last few years, I have been wearing the Lindberg pair and totally forgot that the Silhouette pair was made as a spare.

Over the weekend, I broke my glasses! Now, I have dropped my glasses several times before (the Silhouette more than the Lindberg) but the many times, it survived the fall. Alas, this time the Lindberg was not so lucky as the nasty drop cracked the lens and caused it to break off from the bridge.

It was after a golf game and I was in the locker room when the mishap occurred. Sigh… and the worse part, it wasn’t my home club and we were a good hour away from home. Thank goodness, hubby was driving otherwise it would have been a challenge to drive back, being visually-impaired without my glasses.

At that point, I was more worried that I didn’t have a spare pair to use because I honestly couldn’t recall about the Silhouette pair. So I had to manage moving about because it was several hours later before we got home.

When we finally reached the house, I decided to look for the Silhouette, hoping maybe it was made as a spare and I just simply forgot about it. True enough… I found the Silhouette glasses without having to turn the whole wardrobe upside down. Phew.

Being a dinosaur, insignificant things tend to be forgotten. How would I know this insignificance would be just the opposite? I’ve never broken my glasses before.

Obviously the power is different being an old pair but luckily still wearable. So for the time being, best to just use it or continue to be visually-impaired while the Lindberg goes in to be fixed.

I must admit I have been facing issues with the Lindberg’s power these past few weeks and I have been procrastinating to go have my eyes checked. But now with this unfortunate incident, it’s a definite push to have that eye appointment pronto.

The glass breaking is a first for me though and now we know why we must always keep a spare pair of glasses–and remembering we have it too–for an unforeseen and unfortunate situation such as this.


The Lindberg cracked and broke near the bridge; thank goodness for the spare Silhouette!

Serious Tools

25 Nov

Two weeks ago, it was the massive Singles’ Day (11/11) online shopping event. And like the rest of the world, I bought stuff on that day too and became part of the stats that made up the USD38.4 billion sales record. What an impressive sales record given the global economic gloom.

But that is not the point here, it’s more of what I bought – specialized whittling knives, a new set of serious tools.


The set came in a pouch and included a sharpening stone

Totally different (with thicker handles) from what I have currently, these knives are super duper sharp and scary because they are bigger than what I am used to. I foresee from here on, I would be whittling more than carving because these knives have better leverage for precision and better control. And it will be even more rewarding once I can handle them for my future pieces.

For the uninitiated, carving encompasses using chisels, gouges, the mallet and even powered equipment whereas whittling involves only the use of a knife. At times, the terms are interchangeable although both are different arts. But whether whittling or carving which I must say I do both, it has become something I enjoy doing.

A Cut Too Deep, Part 2

22 Nov

My MacGyver skills came in handy when it came to rescuing the Whale with the broken tail. Given a second chance to be completed and not abandoned, it would have a whole tail section transplant instead of an itty-bitty prosthetic!

This was what I did…

After evaluating the damage and the wood surface, an itty bitty prosthetic tail wouldn’t do because that part of the wood was too porous and it certainly won’t stick. It needed more to be permanent and a transplant was a better option to replace the whole section. A little bit more work but I felt better about this direction.

So I worked on another piece for the tail part. Luckily the Meranti piece that I chose wasn’t that hard and it was quite effortless to get the shape right quickly. But after aligning the pieces, my estimates were off! Haish… it didn’t look right and I ended up having to shave off a little bit more of the bottom part on the main body.


Bottom pics: Before (L) and after (R) trimming the base to fit the new tail section

Eventually, with the tiniest nails I could find, the tail section was attached to the main body. I then added Elmer’s glue and stapled the section to secure it.


How to add a tail to a whale, with nails, glue and staples

After the glue dried, I started puttying the piece to even out the nooks and crannies and the Whale was starting to look good. Phew! I decided to leave the staples in for peace of mind.


A saved whale is a happy whale!

When I’m done applying gesso on it, you can’t tell that this fella had surgery in the first place. And once I decide what color it shall be, it will certainly look good when painted. I’m so glad I persevered on this to give it a second lease in life after that unfortunate cut that was too deep. A saved whale is a happy whale, and a happy me too!

A Cut Too Deep

19 Nov

After completing Ginormous Gnome the Second, I moved to carving a Whale. Somehow for this piece, I had reservations when I started but I did not take heed. The two pieces of Meranti were different – one was too hard and the other too soft. I don’t know what I was thinking when I glued them together. I decided to go ahead to carve out the usual.

It wasn’t easy because one side being so soft, created a lot of craters when I worked on it. I didn’t even exert any strength and it would break. But the other side being so hard, I had no choice but to exert strength and this inadvertently hurt my elbow. Sigh… and I didn’t want to abandon the piece, so I ploughed on.

And then this happened – the tail broke off… Arrrghhhh!!!! I was aghast! What have I done?


The soft, the hard and the broken…

The piece was on lying on the softer side when I was shaping the harder side of the tail. But it was a cut too deep and the pressure broke the softer side of the tail.

Instead of abandoning the piece by now, which I was still reluctant, I thought a little prosthetic tail can perhaps save the piece. I felt that I have put in so much effort up till now, I didn’t want to give up.

How to salvage this fella? I had to plan and devise a rescue mission.

Here’s Ginormous the Second!

18 Nov

Ginormous the Second looks better from the side than the front

I’ve finally gotten around to painting up Ginormous Gnome the Second. And I must say it does look good especially from its side profile. Compared to Ginormous the First, the difference in body width is very obvious. I think if I have two blocks of the exact same size, both pieces would still come out slightly different.

As every piece is hand-carved, there’s bound to be some variation, subtle or obvious that gives each piece their unique character. The end result of both looking the same is only in terms of the overall shape and colors.

I’m pleased that the second piece turned out good and preparations are underway to start the next gnome soon.


Side by side, Ginormous 1 and 2 are very different in size!

The End of the Road?

15 Nov

Last Saturday at 5.30pm, my iPad Mini – a first gen unit and still on iOS9.3.5 (because it cannot update any further) suddenly died despite having about 50 percent of battery life left. It just went flat when I tried to turn it on. Zero power, nada, zilch, empty…

Within two days, this faithful device of mine pulled this stunt twice – drained to the core without any activity despite having battery life to spare. It has never done this before, so I don’t know why this happened. I’ve had it for seven years and that’s a long time.

I plugged it in to charge (and yes I did turn on the power) but it didn’t seem to respond. Oh dear… I hope it can be revived.


So now I am sort of iPad-less and I can’t decide if I want to buy a replacement. Then again do I actually need one? As the iOS keeps updating and newer devices flood the market each year, my poor old device can’t keep up and has been left behind.

It’s always quitting unexpectedly on me when I am in the thick of a strategic move especially Candy Crush Soda or it’s spinning endlessly when I try to read the news on Safari. And apps like Skype and Netflix cannot be used anymore because they no longer support older devices.

So I’ve stopped bringing my iPad Mini to the office because of these issues. The performance or lack of it has been very glaring compared to my iPhone XR which serves me well for all my needs.

But I just hope the unfortunate power issue was just a one (or should I say two)-off occurrence and won’t be repeated. I’d have to monitor and hope it’s not the end of the road for my iPad Mini.

A New Direction, Part 2

12 Nov

The efforts on Ginormous Gnome the second has been coming along fine. My only problem with it was its width – a wee bit skinny. It actually looks fine from the side profile angle but from the front, a tad too thin.


The nose job was tough!


Putty added to smoothen the surface throughout

The nose was the biggest challenge for this piece despite it being one piece unlike Ginormous One, which had an add-on. And since the overall body was rather skinny from the front, the big nose had to be shaved down to be proportionate to the body.

A lot of work but at the end, I’m pleased with the result. Once it’s painted up, another excellent Gnome to be displayed with the rest. Or I could give this fella away? Hmm…


Looking good from the side with gesso applied as base before painting it up!


Looks like there may be more giant Gnomes coming up considering I have recently gotten new supplies of wood. Yay!

In Memory of…

11 Nov

Today would have been official pet number one’s 12th birthday. Sniffle…

It’s been a month since Rooney’s passing. How time flies! There are days when we get home, I find myself looking out for him expecting a patch of fur lying at the garden terrace when I open the front door. But he’s not there….

We have been keeping busy so that we don’t think too much of the loss. The house has been rather quiet sans the barking or the act of talking to a pet who was literally our third child, our baby. To overcome this, I find myself playing music more often than ever on my iPhone XR. Sometimes I would up the volume on Spotify’s choices for me or simply blast my Music’s playlist so that it’s not so quiet. Sigh…

Happy birthday Roo, you’re in a better place but always in our thoughts and hearts.

A New Direction

8 Nov

After the bout of carving six Citizens not too long ago, I was ready for another big piece. Suddenly carving big pieces is the way to go! This latest attempt at another Ginormous Gnome is again a combination of three Meranti wood, making it the second piece with three glued pieces.

This time there’s no add-ons for depth, learning from the previous piece. Also I am unfazed by the height because I know what to do. And there certainly won’t be any hole in the cap because I sketched the Gnome to be smaller with plenty of room to shape.


Let the carving begin!

These days I seem to prefer carving big pieces over little Gnomes as it does not aggravate the left wrist because I don’t need to have a dead grip with the left hand. If you must know, carving Citizens is not painful because it’s on soft balsa, not semi-hard Meranti wood.

But I still have to find the right balance with this new direction because at times, the right golf elbow can still be aggravated if I’m at it too long – the repetitive motion on the semi-hard Meranti.

Sometimes if I have a weekend game coming up, I’d carve less to prevent any recurrence of pain. However if the pain persist on game day, I have no choice but to pop painkillers and use Salonpas patches to subdue it.

Perhaps with the new lighter golf set making golf enjoyable again, I can find the middle ground to have satisfaction to enjoy both golf and carving simultaneously without giving up one or the other.

I’ll see how, until then onwards with the new piece!


Slowly but surely it’s coming along!