Friday, August 31, 2012

Great craft fair...

You can go downtown to see some Toronto pigeons!
Hello letterboxers out there! In case you're interested, I just wanted to do a quick post about the Creativ Festival that is this October.  I went last year and was able to score some great deals on ColorBox inks.  At the time, that was pretty much all I was using, so I wasn't paying attention to other brands.  But I got some amazing deals last year, so I just wanted y'all to be aware.  Apparently they have other craft stuff too, or so I'm told.  *shrug*

This year it's at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on October 12-14, 2012.

More info here.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Death by carving

A week after, almost like it never happened.
Okay, so I probably shouldn't be so melodramatic, but I really cut my thumb good about a week ago. When I did it, I actually hardly felt it and went back to carving for a few moments. Then I couldn't understand why my hand was so sweaty, it wasn't, it was actually blood.

Then it started hurting. A lot. It's interesting to me that I only felt pain after I saw the blood.

Life moves on.

Then yesterday I was cleaning up one of my carves after finishing with a u-gouge when I slipped and gouged the tip of my pointer finger.  (As an aside, skin cuts just like pink stuff.  Coincidence?) That started hurting immediately and bled all over.  It is throbbing even now as I type this.

For the record, if I get some freak strain of tetanus and die, I want to be buried with a permanent spot in my tombstone for a permanent letterbox and a big-assed logbook. Please take a mold of my carved fingertip as the stamp.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Letterbox Event Planning for BoxON! 2012 - Mystery Markham

Okay.  I've got to be honest here.  I'm becoming a little concerned.  What was I thinking?  Why did I agree to do this?  We are one month out and I have almost 50 letterboxers relying on my ability to actually plan an event...

I have a lot done, but I still have a lot to do.  I have a scary pile of stamps staring at me in a box on my desk that need to be planted.  I have still more stamps that are... theoretically... in the mail coming to me as we speak.  I have letterboxes to make, plantings galore, logbooks to finish, clues to write, clues to organize, follow ups with the venue, food to organize...

And then random other things pop into my head: what if it rains? do I need to entertain the kids? I don't know how to entertain kids... what if the kids revolt? what if they mutiny and the police need to be called in?

I'm sure I'll get it all done.  I always do.  But now I'm starting to wonder why on earth I agreed to do this. Work [read: that thing I do to give me enough money to allow me to letterbox] is going to be crazy in September, so between working late at work and working on this stuff...

Tick, tock... time is running out...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Encouraging others to letterbox...?

It's like being the lone person in the crowd who has a fantastic secret to share...

On the AQ boards recently, I saw an interesting post, here... Really?  1500 listings within 30 miles of Douglas, Massachusetts??? Holy crow!

There are in the neighbourhood of 780 listings in all of Ontario as of today.  For any non-Americans, Ontario is much bigger than a radius of 30 miles in MA.  Quite a bit bigger.  So not only are there fewer boxes - around half as many to be exact, they're generally spread over a larger area.  So, what? Well, I'm jealous.

But what to do?  Since I can't spell that state name and have to look it up every time I type it, moving to Massachewsetts Massachusetts is out. Some of the allure of letterboxing is that it is a "secret" hobby and that there aren't too many who participate, so I can't exactly shout it to the world, either.

As I've mentioned before (I think), I have had thoughts and concerns about the critical mass for the hobby for Ontario letterboxers.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our fore-boxers, there are great areas in Ontario to live if you just discover letterboxing.  But, if you're new, I can only imagine having it pique your interest and then dismissing it if you live in an area with few or no boxes to be found.

Notice shelter - there are signs here. Do these have a real name?
So again, what is a Bumble with these types of concerns to do?  Should anything be done?  I suppose if you wanted to introduce people to the hobby, likely the most receptive to it would be avid outdoors people who are already hitting the trails... or letting craft geeks know, as it's a great excuse for printmaking and book making.

I've turned a couple people on to letterboxing that I know personally - mostly thru the craft geekery route.  But every time I hit a trail with a notice shelter - or whatever those things are called - I'm temped to post a big sign that says:


Probably not a great idea - and certainly wouldn't do it on a trail where there are boxes by other boxers - in case of malicious muggling... but still...

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to make a piano hinge book

My latest creation: a piano hinge logbook.

Here is a cute special book that I've made before for some of my letterboxes. It's called a "piano hinge" because of how the spine works - take a look at a piano hinge on a door sometime and you'll understand.  It's really nice to look at and feel in your hands because it moves differently than a regular book, but if you hate sewing signatures together for logbooks, this makes an interesting alternative which involves no sewing.

Anyways, here is what I needed to make it:
  • Paper all the same size to be used for the signatures – I used 6.5 x 4.5” cardstock because I want really good impressions for stamping
  • To decorate my cover, I have this replica map that I will be using to make the cover
  • Bamboo skewers – I used 11 for this project
  • Matching embroidery thread

Tools I needed:
  • Scissors, 
  • ruler, 
  • bone folder, 
  • double sided tape (I hate glue sticks – you can use that instead if you like), 
  • and super glue.

The first thing I did was fold my signatures. Because I was using cardstock, I only used two sheets per signature. For 11 skewers, I need 10 signatures – however many signatures yours is, use one more skewer than there are signatures.  Use your bone folder, but don’t worry about getting the creases tight, you’ll see why later.

All folded and ready to go!

Next, making the covers: take a page of card stock and fold it over and tape it shut...
...making sure that the folded edge is folded over a skewer which is then removed.

After that, I covered mine with the reproduction vintage maps that I have, but decorate any way you like so long as you still can put a skewer down that folded edge.

Next you need the magic number for all the cuts we’re going to be making.  Measure the edge of the signatures/cover that will be the spine – then divide by 5.  The result is your magic number.

Using that magic number, measure along the hinge of your covers marking dots every measure.  You should have four dots.  Then cut in perpendicular to the spine at each dot making five tabs, essentially. 

On the front cover, cut off the first, third and fifth tab.  On the back, cut off the second and fourth.

Make sure you use pencil for these dots – they’ll show if you don’t erase them after.
Next make these dots along each of the signatures you made – you will not be cutting tabs off of these, but at each dot just cut in about one centimetre at each cut.
Next, time to weave with the skewers.  Take first the front cover and the first signature.
When you put the cover and first signature together, you'll see that the tabs align and there are doubles at the second and fourth place.
What you’re trying to do is to insert the skewer and weave alternately signature then cover tab, then signature, cover, back and forth again until you’re out the other side.  It’s a little tricky forcing the skewers through and it’s sometimes helpful to take another skewer to help open up the hinge holes a bit from the opposite end as you go.
When you’re done, two tabs will be stick out from the first signature – take the second signature and do the same thing again…
And again...
And again...
And again... I think you get the point.

Almost done...
Voila! The binding is all done and the book is complete.
Next, you're going to have to weave the skewers together then clip the extensions off with the scissors - don't use your good scissors.

Do the same with the other side.  I then used a touch of glue at the skewer and thread at each skewer to hold the binding together.
And it's complete!

Done and done!

 Finally, finished with a celebratory adding of chocolate to milk.

Happy book making!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Letterboxing in Stratford, Ontario

On the river in Stratford, Ontario
On a bright and beautiful Saturday, I headed out first thing in the morning to travel to Kitchener, pick up Vivian the Viking, and continue on to Stratford, Ontario for some letterboxing.

The day started out great and I managed to get out of the house nice and early in order to do some letterboxes on the way to Kitchener.  I ended up having time for two: The Butt of the Joke and A surplus of 'Riverside'.  Ms. Fiddleheads has once again done great work and has taken me to an unexplored area south of Guelph.  Very nice and I had a good chuckle.  The Valiant Zeekers took me to an area of Cambridge I had never been in before and I had my first near-a-river letterbox for the day.

I then picked up Ms Viking and we made off... Stopped in New Hamberg really quick to nab two of Water Lily's Mennonites of Ontario Quilt Block series - Double Wedding Ring Quilt Block and Amish Windmill Quilt Block. Vivian had already found these a few years ago, so I checked out her old sig stamp [snicker] and added mine to the rest.

Finally we made our way into Stratford and headed down to the river to visit Fiddlehead's Festival Theatre Tragedies boxes.  There were birds galore on the trail for these boxes; ducks, Canada Geese, sea gulls, and swans. Lots of swans.
On the trail to the first of these two boxes, we had a great time and chatted... mostly letterboxing gossip, really. ("I hear that so-and-so carves with SpeedyCut", *gasp* "NO!")

Coming back from the re-plant

It was a lovely day for a stroll along the river, so it was quick work.

We kept on going and saw a whole bevy of swans... but didn't notice anything weird.  We kept going and found the second box and avoided some muggles while stamping in.  Great job on both for a nice series for a day out at the theatre.

On our way back, we stopped to see a group of three swans munching away on who knows what under the water, and saw a very conceited black swan who loved to be photographed.

Look at me! Look at me!

I'll come closer for you!

Look at my gorgeous curly feathers!

Off in the car and on the road again, we headed over to find Primrose Up the Garden Path.  You know this is deep Fiddlheads territory, right? It was yet another beautiful garden and there was a concert band playing somewhere and the fun music floated in while we stamped in while sitting on the embankment of the river.

Picture sitting and stamping in here.

Some of the gorgeous Stratford architecture.
Just around the corner, we went to the local Stratford Public Library branch to find John Neville as Richard II, again by Ms Fiddleheads.  Methinks her fiddleness is an avid play-goer. John was hiding exactly where it was indicated, and the icy-cold A/C of the library was a welcome reprieve from the 35 degree weather. It was getting pretty hot, let me tell you.

I'm a big tea person, so I was really happy to make our next stop at the Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar to find Tastes Just Like Pu-erh!. I chatted with Karen while stamping in and sampling teas.  I bought some of my favourite jasmine tea and had a lovely time.  Now this is the type of refined, cultured letterboxing that I've been dreaming about ;)

Delicious tea nearby
Heading back out, we went to go find The Bard's History and Comedy, again by her fiddlyness.  Man, was it hot.  Out on the trail we started trying to follow the clues.  It was realllly hot. There was a lot of stopping, looking at the clues, looking around confused, looking back down at the clues, and looking back up.  Trying to follow the clues, we wandered a bit and ended up at a water treatment facility.  I don't think this was it.  It was hot and the clues weren't making sense.  In retrospect, it is possible that the clues weren't making sense because it was so hot. Just a thought.  In any event, we threw the clues up in the air and headed back to the car. We had done great work - we'd find these boxes another day.

Hot and irritated

Next, Viv followed as I tried to plant a letterbox but ended up chasing a coven of witches through a cemetery.  Very weird experience.  We made ourselves feel better by stopping into a chocolate shop.

Delicious chocolates... Shakespeare themed.
Anyways, I know I said I was going to post on both paper-based boxing compared with paperless boxing, but after all the sun I got on the Saturday, I wasn't up for more boxing on Sunday.  No worries, I will box again soon and that post will come!

Happy trails!

Double, double, toil and trouble

...eye of newt and and toe of frog...
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. 
Thrice; and once the hedge-pig whin'd.
Harpier cries:--"tis time, 'tis time. 

The weirdest thing happened while I was down in Stratford this weekend.  I was planning on planting a letterbox and thinking about my favourite Shakespearean play, Mac -- maybe I shouldn't say.  You know. That play.  The Scottish play. But when I said its name, suddenly, three witches appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the letterbox out of my hands, floated away, cackling.

Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.--
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!

I was following them at a careful distance on John Street North when I saw that they darted through the gates of the Avondale Cemetery.  That couldn't be good.  I chased them straight up the hill and then went left at the yellow building on the left.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.
I continued following them on the asphalt until I saw Mackay, Lockheart and Mary Hislop Turnbull on the right - at that point we veered to the left again.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

When they came to the T in the road at the stone house, they continued straight and to the left.  And at the next T, I followed them to the right.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

As I noticed Ferguson and Meharry on the right, they darted left off of the asphalt and down a gentle hill. As I followed them past the last stone of Mary Powell, I could see them heading down to the water where they pulled up short at a small river, not daring to cross moving water even with a bridge.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangl'd babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,--
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.
Instead, at the giant two-pronged dead tree, they headed to the right.  I chased them taking 30 steps along the path which became cedar chipped until I saw them dart behind yet another giant to-pronged dead tree and dance on a dead log behind and touching it.  There, I saw them dance and chant.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.
I was too frightened to do anything about my letterbox, so I turned tail and ran.  So, I'm not sure.  It might be there.  So might the witches.  If you do see the box, please come and leave a comment here to let me know how it is.  And if you see those witches... run.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Technology & Letterboxing

So I've planned lots of letterboxing for this weekend.  Today, I'll be letterboxing out west with the hilarious Ms. Viking and tomorrow I'll be letterboxing with a friend who likes to tag along. (Yeah, I know, I'm trying.)

But as I'm sitting here, printing out my clues, I'm wondering why.  Why am I using paper when pretty much all other aspects of my letterboxing experience involve technology?  In fact, once I'm on the trail, I use my iPhone quite extensively:
  • I can access AtlasQuest and LbNA and their full sites;
  • I can access clues through BoxFinder;
  • I have GPS as well as built in compass;
  • I have an excellent camera and video camera;
  • I have my Geocaching app, for double checking my plant locations;
  • I have hike tracking to map out my routes;
  • I have amazing photo and video editing available;
  • I have an emergency resouce otherwise known as a "telephone" at my fingertips;
  • I have some tunes for the car - podcasts to boot;
  • I have up-to-the-minute weather information;
  • I have a whole slew of generally useful apps; and
  • I have clues in disguise - rather than weirdly hiking with paper in my hand.
Hmm.  So, since I won't be back home to print my Sunday clues, I've decided to go the tech route and not print them at all. I'm sure there's argument to be made that somehow the use of technology is not really congruent with the whole letterboxing experience, but really to each their own.  So high tech letterboxing it is.  C'mon, a compass used to be the height of technology.  I'm sure someday someone reflecting on my use of a smartphone for my letterboxing journies will think, "that's quaint". I'm sure of it.

I'll check in tomorrow with my travelogue... and let you know how how I feel in the high tech vs. low tech experience treats me.

Happy trails!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mini logbook making

So, now that my fingers are actually wanting to do work again, I've started getting some of the logbooks made that I need for Box ON!. Today, I started sewing some mini-signatures I use in making my little magnetic letterbooks. 

Generally speaking, now that I've gotten into the swing of making my own logbooks (a big change from the earlier days when the logbook was a total afterthought in the letterbox-creation process), I actually prefer to make them from scratch.

By making your own, you have the following benefits:
  • Save on cost - it's way cheaper to make then to buy;
  • Make them the exact size that you need them (you know, as your lock 'n lock size dictates);
  • Make them exactly when you need them - no hunting around at stores or debating the usefullness of little lined notepads; and
  • Make them to go with the theme of the letterbox.
All in all, I'm pretty happy to make my own nowadays.  I'm pretty fast at sewing my signatures together, and I like reusing all sorts of different papers for the signatures or covers.  And, as I mentioned before, there are some great things when making your own books in terms of hiding - like these below that I'll be using for some more of my magnetic letterbooks.

Next step - magnetic letterbook!
 Looking forward to a weekend full of letterboxing... happy trails!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A quick logbook and thoughts on lined logs

The last couple days, the stamp carving has ground to a halt.  The Box ON! carvings are on hold. I have a huge pile of finished stamps, but still a large pile of stamps to be carved.  And my fingers, well, they don't want to cooperate anymore.  My fingers are sore even at work... I dread going back to band rehearsals which often make my fingers sore as well (I'm a nerd far beyond just letterboxing - I play piccolo too you know...)

So, logbook making instead, right?  Yeah, right.  My fingers don't seem to want to do that either.  But, I have a box that must be planted this weekend and a logbook must be made. So instead of going through any lengthy process to made one from scratch, I took a bought lined notebook and recovered it. 

I was sixes about the idea until I was finished.  I essentially took a printed page from a play, used it to cover the front and back of the logbook, and then took a dying ColorBox ink pad and antiqued that baby, and voila.  I actually quite like it. 

I know, it's lined... but does that really make a difference?  I'm not sure.  I think the thought process goes that lined books aren't ideal because it interferes with the beauty/art of the stamp impressions that are put inside.  I agree, I think.  Certainly I would never use a lined personal logbook.  But it's not something that I dislike when I find letterboxes.  Actually, I'd much rather find a lined logbook than I would a little series of blank papers bound in the corner with a zipstrip. Ugh. And in fact, I have a terrible time writing evenly when there is no line.  So I'm going to be happy, buck convention with this one, and feel content in my heart with a lined logbook.  But I'll likely hypocritically go back to unlined versions for my next ones...

Happy trails!