This is the story of our exploration of the human condition... continuing the adventures in our BattleWagons until something great happens or we decide it's a lost cause. Est. 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Recreating a Wax Seal

It's been a while since I've posted, and I apologize, but I've been so busy.  However, I haven't forgotten about ya'll.  Here's a project we worked on last month at the shop.  It was a sand-blasted wood sign, and the customer had asked for what looked like one of those old wax seals that you'd see in official mail and what-not.  My boss provided me with a picture and a piece of 1" thick foam.  I used a drill press to score a large recessed area in the middle, and began chiseling away at the block.
 After getting the shape roughed out, I sanded all of the harsh edges with a piece of 80 grit sandpaper.  All of the corners and rough edges were rounded and smoothed out.  Then I put a coat of plain white latex primer on the piece.
 After the primer dried, I took some regular drywall paste and filled in the hole left by the drill bit in the center.  When that dried, I put on a coat of white 1-Shot paint.  (For those that aren't familiar, 1-Shot is a paint originally made and still marketed to sign painters.  It's oil-based, and freakin awesome.)
 After the white 1-Shot dried, it was time for some color.  We chose a maroon 1-Shot for the second coat.  One of the nicest things about 1-Shot is that when you put it down, it really flattens out for a nice, smooth, even finish.  I had an idea in my head of what this was going to look like, and this really exceeded my expectations at this point.
After the maroon paint dried, I put on a second coat, just to make sure that the color would dry in a rich, color.  It wound up really looking like melted wax.  When the second coat dried, we got some imitation gold vinyl and cut out the letter and ornamental ring and stuck it down on the middle of the emblem.
 Here's the finished product.  The outside border of the sign was stained with a regular wood stain.  The background was painted with a latex beige paint, and the inner border and letters were painted with 1-Shot.  The wax seal piece really brought it all together.  Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2014

ARTWORK FRIDAY - My Baby Announcement...


I designed this when my daughter was born.  A fun little project.  Turned out pretty good, I think.  ;-)

THURSDAY FEELS: Optimism in Brief

I count my blessings tonight.  It's been a rough few months, months that included a move across the country, the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, the loss of a job, the borrowing of money from family members, the receipt of gifts from family, friends, and strangers, and the list goes on.


I count my blessings, because, in spite of have to go to the food bank to get it, there is stuff to eat in my cupboards.  I count them because, inspite of the fact that the paint is all flaking off, it's rusted out under the doors, and it has trouble moving when you step on the gas too hard, we have a truck that gets us from A to B and even allows us to drive a short way out of town for hikes.  I count them because even though I'm not making as much money as I was making in Alaska, I have a job that I really enjoy, working for honest people, and making stuff that's incredibly beautiful.  I count them because I have a son who I get to talk to almost every day, even though he lives 15 hours away, a happy dog who doesn't realize he has only three legs, a beautiful girlfriend who told me not to stay up too late (it's 12:30 am now...), and a daughter who has already been "memed" twice at 2 months and 2 days (3 days now) old.

It's funny how true the cliche is that implies you one doesn't realize the value of the small things until you lose everything else.  We've had to sell so much stuff.  Our kitchen table has a metal folding chair and another chair I found by the dumpster a few weeks ago with no back.  We don't have a vacuum cleaner.  Some of this stuff is just ridiculous.  Still, we have free internet, which allows us to invest $8/month in Netflix, and that's a beautiful thing.

We found a church that has been wholly supportive of us.  We're going to dedicate our daughter there soon.  The Unitarian Universalists are wonderful people, and no matter what sort of spiritual cravings we have, we can satisfy those cravings there.  That, and they've really looked out for us there.  We found our mechanic through them.

Now we're ramping up to dig out of our hole and downsize even more.  No matter what happens, we'll be happy because, despite everything we lost, we have each other.  We can play rummy and watch documentaries about Nazis and re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  We can come up with 50 creative ways to cook rice.  Whatever we do, we laugh, we hug often, and we both don't waste a day forgetting how lucky we are.  When you get there, that's all you need.

WEDNESDAY SKILLS - What's New with Work!

We have been doing all sorts of cool stuff at work!  Here's an old sand-blasted sign that they made at Signs & Designs Unlimited (my new job that I lucked out and love.  It's been re-painted once already, and I was told to do it again. The first step was sanding off the white paint on the numbers to give the new paint a place to stick.  

After sanding it, I taped the edges and then "gound" in the background with a color called "Hamilton Green", a color created by the owner of my shop's dad, the man who started this business in Bozeman, Montana in the early 1970s.  (This makes us the oldest running sign shop in Bozeman... no big deal.)  After letting that dry, I hand-painted a coat of white letters and the Emerald Green border.  This was done in 1-Shot, which is one of the coolest paints I've ever worked with.  

Here's a different project, one of three sand-blasted signs for a local dentist.  This sign was stained, and then I used a color called "Chamois" to paint the letters.  I'm finding that attention to detail here is crucial in preventing touch-ups, an inevitable step, but the fewer I have to do, the better.

Here's another sand-blasted sign.  The paint is all down, and we're just waiting on vinyl lettering and graphics and the pin on the bottom that makes it official.

This is the same sign (albeit with a blurry picture), to show what the finished product looks like.  We should be installing this one next week.

Here is one of two concrete trucks we did graphics for today.  My boss and me and a couple of ladders took care of this job.  The graphics on the drum were printed on Oracal RapidAir film, and went on pretty well, all things considered.  We had a couple of hiccups, but my boss is very competent, and anything rough was smoothed out.  All in all, it's been fun!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: What's New with the BattleWagon

Phew... so what have I been up to?  For starters, I have the newest BattleWagon, and her name is Road Kill.  She's a beautiful beast of a 1983 Suburban.  It's the perfect truck for what I have going on, living in Bozeman, Montana with my new family.

Our long term goal is to have enough property for a few farm animals, a garden, and a yurt, and maybe another property back in Alaska to visit or shoot for as a bug-out.  For now, we're in an apartment with a year-long lease that ends next Spring.  We also got caught extremely off guard moving here and losing work, so now we're digging out of quite the financial hole.

Still, living here is beautiful.  I had the experience of the country song on a back road in Montana in an old Chevy truck with a beautiful girl sitting in the middle of the bench seat, right next to me.  It was amazing.  And, since we're cheap, we go hiking and have fallen in love with Hyalite Canyon, one of the many, many canyons that have raging creeks and start at small, clear lakes high in the mountains.

As practice for bugging out, we're going to do some family camping trips this summer.  The funds simply aren't there for the ultimate goal of yurts and overlanding, but we'll get there.  We're lucky to have landed in a place that has tons to offer in relatively close proximity, and for that, we're thankful.

MONDAY THROW-BACK: December 17, 2007 - Monday - 4:55PM - Denver, Colorado

[Personal Journal]

"My body is sore from a ¾ day of snowboarding yesterday at Loveland.  [The Chin] has made a very dramatic improvement since I rode with him about a year ago at Eldora.  A few more times up, and we may  be able to try some trees together.

"[BattleWagon1] has an oil leak somewhere.  I may be grounded for Christmas because of it.  I'll email Dad and get his thoughts.  If only I could ride the old Columbia to Salida and not die...

"Work today seemed productive.  Since [Lindey] was training to run the new printer, I had few distractions and accomplished a bit.  We were supposed to get a truck this afternoon, but it never showed.  I hope that doesn't throw off the rest of my week.

"I've been thinking a bunch about [The Oldest] over the past few days.  It's a little unsettling having him here.  I wish we could scatter him at Lily Lake, but I don't think [His Mom] or I are ready to discuss it yet."

It's interesting looking at brief accounts of what I was doing over seven years ago.  Here, one of my best friends, a dude with a huge chin, a total asshole of a pervert with the biggest heart you'd ever find, went snowboarding at Loveland Ski Area.

My first van, the original BattleWagon had a leak, too.  I remember one time I drove it from 13th & Quebec to 13th & Grant in Denver and had to put three quarts of oil in it to get me there.  I was convinced it was going to cost me thousands of dollars, so I didn't drive it for weeks.  It turned out to be a $100 (with labor) O-ring.

Lindey Staar, one of my favorite co-workers of all time, was working on the FujiFilm Acuity flatbed printer that the company I worked for at the time had recently purchased.  Since it's December in this entry, I'm guessing the truck I was talking about was one we were going to do graphics on.

Posting these entries are also forcing me to talk about my kiddo, the oldest son of mine, who passed away from SIDS when he was less than 5 months old.  He died in 2006, about a year and a half before I wrote this.  I had just been given my "share" of his ashes, and was bitter with his mother for a long time and for various reasons, many of which remain unjustified.  I was also crushing on a place called Lily Lake, a small, high-altitude lake on the backside of the Blanca Peak Massif in southern Colorado.  The Chin and I had hiked there a few months prior, and it was a truly religious experience

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Big Sky Series: The Update

It's been a while since I've posted. Life takes some turns. I find myself in Belgrade, Montana, quietly waiting for a young lady to run to the bank and get a title squared away. Last night, my family sold our only car, Chandler, a 1996 Geo Prism, and this morning, I'm adopting her replacement, a 1983 Chevy Suburban named Road Kill. We've found that having a sedan is difficult when there is two adults, a toddler, a newborn, a dog, and any amount of groceries or stuff to haul. Sacrificing fuel economy to be able to put everything in one car and still have room to pick up other people could be a game changer.

Yes, I've said it. A newborn. For those who don't follow me on Facebook, our little Fidget was born March 19, joining our growing family in our new place to call home, Bozeman, Montana. We decided to move here from Ketchikan, not in response to disappointment with all of the grandeur that is Alaska, but to be closer to The Boy, my son and My Queen's step son, who lives with his mom in Denver. The community here has been beautiful, and we found ourselves hitting the ground here running with overwhelming support from friends and family, new and old. K and J, friends of friends, let us stay on their futon before we found a place. The Unitarian Universalist church here has been wonderfully supportive and intellectually challenging. Gas is a dollar cheaper per gallon. Our biggest hurdle to overcome as a family continues to be financial, as my income after child support for The Boy and rent continues to allow only a hundred dollars for food, fuel, and various other expenses.

Still, My Queen and I feel optimistic that we're going to come out on top, knowing before we left Alaska that this was going to be the most difficult year of our lives. We're confident that, in a few years, we'll be able to tell stories about how hard life was and how we got through it together, laughing about the times we had only a few boxes of store brand macaroni and cheese to last us until payday, three days away.

Life is fickle, but it is also beautiful and to be cherished. We're going to be okay. We have help, donations of furniture, money, clothes and baby gear, all thrown our way, and while we'd love to pay it all back, we're accepting that, when we can, we'll only be able to pay it forward, and we'll do that. Life may be fickle, but it's so damn good to hear The Boy laughing when I get home from work that it's all worth it. Don't let the bastards grind you down.