Sunday, February 4, 2018

Not on Shelves Mini Meet

So, a much longer ago time than I care to admit, I came up with the idea of a stamp series that would be a bookshelf with book spines of books that don't really exist.  You know, books that exist in fiction that have a fairly recognizable name, but don't actually exist in real life.  Example: Hogwarts: a History (well, it doesn't exist at the moment - I don't put it past JKR to actually write it).

I had even gone as far as creating the design and carving the bookshelf.  I had transferred all of the bookspines onto OZ Kut when OZ was a new carving material - to give some of you a sense of the timing ;) And then they sat.  And sat.  Remaining mostly uncarved.  I've changed jobs, moved homes... and those transferred carves sat waiting.

Finally, at the 2017 Box ON (for which I'm horribly behind in posting about), I decided to get off my butt, finish the series and host a winter mini meet!

Yesterday, the mini meet took place.  It started off with a significant goof on my part: I forgot the event stamp at home and had to run home to get it.  Other than that - the event went well.

Sorta.  Philosophical question for you: when is a letterboxing mini meet not a letterboxing mini meet?  "Mini" means less than, shall we say, a regular Box ON! meet, right?  But how small does it get before you can't call it a mini or even micro meet?

At one point, there were around 20-23 people signed up, but for various and assorted reasons (I'm lookin' at you, mother nature!) that number dwindled down to 3.

Don't get me wrong: any time you get to meet up with boxers is a great day.  I had a blast, but I'm sad I didn't get to catch up with more boxers or that others didn't get to see the series.  (For reasons you can guess, this isn't a series I can leave in the library...)

It's all done though and would be really easy to re-host next year... I've been known to re-read many a book in my time...

Happy trails!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Carving Material Review: PZ Kut White and Orange

Well, by popular request, I've decided to take my sharp implements to these two slabs of PZ Kut to bring you a review of both - but have discarded the usual design theme for that series to create something that can be used for this year's Box ON!  That's right: if you want to see the following post's result in person (and perhaps whack me across the head in so doing) all you need to do is turn up!

I have both a piece of white AND orange PZ Kut.  I'm going to do a single post for both, but if you're new to this blog or letterboxing,  you should know: this carving material is now extinct.  You can no longer get it.  This carving material is no more. It has ceased to be. This is an EX-material! I've only come into possession of scraps due to the generous contribution of Fish Below the Ice.

Oh man.  Before I get started on this review, I gotta say, I had some serious angst doing this test.  The unfortunate result of this carving review series of posts is that I've gotten super picky about what materials I carve and particular what I like.  I had this suspicion that I wasn't going to like these materials because of my current feels about some of the harder-type materials that I had started carving with.

So, because the resulting stamps are for Box ON!, you should be aware that the review contains spoilers.  So,  in case you don't want to see the image and design and spoil it for when you actually see the stamps, I have the rest of this post below - you'll have to come back after the event ;)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hoarding PZ Kut *or* why I owe Fish Below the Ice and apology...

So it has been a while since my last post about Box ON.  But I have a terrible secret... and guilt.

As a result of a very generous gift from Fish Below the Ice, I am in possession of the following: 

If you're new to letterboxing or stamp carving (ie. post-2010?) you won't have any idea what is in that photo.  Maybe even if you are a long term boxer, you won't have seen this in a while... that right there is both white and orange PZ Kut.

I don't know all the lore of the PZ Kut, but from what I have gleaned over the years, it was a pretty devastating blow to the stamp carving community when it was discontinued.  I started boxing and carving *just* after the two formulas disappeared...

The reasons for its discontinuance also seem somewhat a mystery to me: I think I understand that there was a component of the formulation (unicorn blood?) that is no longer allowed to be used....

In any event, I've been gifted with this amazing stash that I morally should put this to good use - I should not squander the opportunity.  But I am in complete mental deadlock.  Part of my concern is that I might like it - but then never have it again!  Opposite concern: that I really *won't* like it, and have taken the opportunity to carve it away from someone who does (or face a lynch-mob of people who disagree with me).

Here are the options:
  • Carve both the white and orange to contribute to the carving material comparison reviews (I believe Fish implied that's what they're for).
  • Regift (I think Fiddleheads would bear me a child for this stuff)
  • Carve both as contribution carves for this year's Box ON
  • Continue to hoard them until I have better information...

So.  Thoughts?  Advice please!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Box ON! 2016

Battlefield Park, Stoney Creek, Ontario
Hello and welcome to my long neglected blog!  If you're just joining me, you'll find that you want to bash me in the head sometimes because I forget to post somewhat important things... One of those important letterboxing things is Ontario's premiere letterboxing event: Box ON!

Last year was the ninth year of Box ON! and was hosted by a brave letterboxer and his family who have not themselves been to one of these events.  I think the established letterboxing community would agree that he hosted a wonderful event that was enjoyed by all!  So many thanks and much kudos to Bon Echo for hosting an amazing event!

For this edition of Box ON!, we all headed to Stoney Creek, Ontario to Battlefield Park, which was (is) located helpfully off of the highway and has direct access to the Bruce Trail.

As per usual for these events, it was lovely to reconnect with Ontario boxers and meet some folks who drove in from out of the Province - the carvings were spectacular as usual, and Mother Nature held out for us and only gave us a sprinkle at the end of the day.

Which way is north? An important question in Hamilton where the lake is north, unlike most of Southern Ontario.
 Myself, I loved the venue because I am growing every increasingly appreciative of historic buildings and places...  I haven't had a chance to visit during the war reenactments, but it's something I may look into.

 In fact, this place is a bit of a historic letterboxing location for myself.  One of Gwynlais' purple-diamond-worthy letterboxes, which has been planted since 2010, is still alive and well.  Although I have already found this box, because the folks I was boxing with wanted to claim the find for themselves, I got to see my old log from spring 2011 (now six years ago, what?!) and one of my original signature stamp impressions.

A letterboxing find from 2011.

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling so well this day, so I didn't find as many boxes as I would have liked, but it was a lovely visit and a wonderful day to be boxing.

Thems some boxes in them thar rocks.
 So many thanks once again to Bon Echo who did a fantastic job.  Fiddleheads has once again taken the chair for Box ON! 2017 - Time Warp.  This will be the 10th year of the Ontario event and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again - hope everyone will sign up!

Happy (Bruce) trails!
Bruce Trail marker, Stony Creek, Ontario

Monday, July 18, 2016

Carving, carving, carving... {SPOILERS}

Ahoy!  I've been having a great, but busy, summer so far and I'm really looking forward to the end of August because I've got some time off and am doing a staycation.  Need to get out there and do some letterboxing during that time,  methinks ;)

One of the things I've been working on is helping Bon Echo with some stamps for Box ON! Stoney Creek. {You should come!  For anyone reading this who doesn't know where Stoney Creek is, it's just a short drive from the US border if anyone wanted to make the trek}  And one of the stamps I just finished is the event stamp...  Read on if you don't mind being spoiled ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Carving Material Review: Daiso's Eraser Stamp

This carving material review post comes once again from the lovely people in Japan, who clearly know what they're about when it comes to stamp carving.

I stumbled across this particular carving medium while searching broadly for any kind of carving material that might be out there in the world.

Daiso itself is a fairly popular 100 yen store and has brick and mortar shops in Asia, as well as Australia and the west coast of the US.  They also have an online presence for the US here. In essence, they are a dollar store which happened to carry a Daiso-branded carving eraser material.  I mean, how good could it be? My expectations were quite low for this stuff, but I did want to try it for the purposes of this blog.

You won't find this stuff for sale online in their web store.  If you Google "Daiso eraser stamp" you'll find some great English blogs talking about stamp carving and such, but you'll notice they just drop off around 2013.  I *think* this was a temporary offering by Daiso, and I believe they discontinued it sometime around that period.

Having said that, slabs still exist, but they are hard to find and will slowly disappear.  This obviously has a consequence for trying to get this stuff.  So, originally, at 100 yen, you're looking at a cost of C$1.24 or U$0.95.  Keep in mind, the block is not 4x6", rather about half that size.  However, at that price it's pretty great!  Things are never so simple though: because it's no longer being made, you will only find this by resellers and you need to pay for shipping.  As of writing this, I could not find any on eBay and the only people selling it are on Etsy, at around C$5 per slab plus shipping.  Um. Yeah.

Is it worth it?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Carving Material Review: Butter Kut from Stampeaz

Butter Kut from Stampeaz
By popular request, my next review is of Butter Kut, a material that appears on Stampeaz.  I'm not clear if Stampeaz makes it or if they just carry it as part of their offerings, like Speedy Carve.

(If you want a particular medium reviewed, feel free to send me an email or put it in the comments below - otherwise, I'll just keep going through the materials as I pull them out of my drawer.)

The price isn't too bad for the size of the sheet, although I'm skewed because of the shipping charges.  But heck, I'm a hussy for carving mediums, I'll try anything ;)

My first thought when it arrived was to be taken aback at how thin it is.  I'm so used to all of the other white materials that come out of Stampeaz's shop, that it never occurred to me that it would be any different...  On to the review!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Carving Material Review: Unnamed Chinese Carving Material (SLQ)

Solid coloured carving material
So, this continues a series of posts on all of the different carving materials I can find that can be used for stamp carving.  If you want to see how each stacks up against the other, you can check out this comparison chart.

Like the sandwich-style material, this slab comes from China with no real explanation of who makes it or any other sort of brand info.  If you're a letterboxer, you may have seen on the AQ forums this referred to as SLQ, referring to the Etsy/eBay name of a user that was initially selling it, SweetLoveQiner.

To be honest, having searched the breadth and depths of various sites for importing this kind of thing from Asia, I think both this and all the other similar solid colour listings each come from the same factory and are essentially the same.  Same goes for the sandwich style stuff.  I haven't been finding great prices, but if I do, I will definitely be buying...  cuz this stuff is great.

Either this is close scrutiny or napping.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Carving Material Review: Firm Kut by Stampeaz

Firm Kut by Stampeaz
Back to a real stamp carving material, fingers intact.

If you're not familiar, Firm Kut is actually a carving material that came into existence just after I started carving.  I never did get to try either of the PZ Kut materials, which disappeared before I started carving, but Firm Kut is (was?) Stampeaz's first foray into trying to recreate the material that everyone seemed to love.

Now, right off the bat, there were concerns that this first formulation was too hard to carve.  If my recollection is correct, that is how it took on the name of "Firm".

I remember agreeing that it was too hard, and was happy when Stampeaz came out with its next formulations (MZ Kut, then NZ Kut), so I gave this one up quite quickly.  I ordered this slab a couple months ago for the specific purpose of including it in my reviews, but going back to the Stampeaz site, it looks like it may have gone way of the dodo.  The cost was comparable to the other Stampeaz house forumlations, but other than for the purpose of this review, I wouldn't try to track any down ;)

Monday, July 4, 2016