Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year in review 2014

It is another year over and one more begins.  It was an interesting year for me.  There were some changes made last year that affected this year and some unexpected surprises. Here are the highlights of the goals I had last year.
  • I wanted to finish the monster trucks.  Check, done and complete.  I am grateful they are complete.  It was a fun little project but one I will not soon repeat.
  • Catch up on the Wood Magazine construction equipment.  I did and I am now three behind.  They have a front end rear loader, cement truck and crane that I have not done.  Honestly probably will not either.  These toys have become more intricate and fragile that I really do not want to build them.  In addition the hardware alone for the cement truck was $54 plus shipping.  Really not worth it.
  • The CNC equipment has been a lot of fun to use.  There have been some projects that have been posted on the blog from this piece of equipment.  I still feel guilty sometimes that I am cheating when I use it.
  • The Christmas project was completed and I have requests for more.  It will be featured later when I take pictures and post it.
So in review, here are some of the highlights of the year.
  • The biggest and most noteworthy is that I have started to design.  It has been so much fun and rewarding.  I designed a dump truck at the beginning of the year and things just started to fall into place. Two of the projects were directly a result from requests.  I am currently working on the city trucks version of my designs.  I hope to have them completed end of February.
  • We moved again.  The garage is slightly smaller but I did buy a miter saw and a drum sander.  I actually purchased it with money that I had earned over the past two years.  I am far from funding my hobby but I felt like it was an accomplishment.  I am still far from a lathe.  I am still going to need some type of dust collection in the garage before I think about a lathe or planer.
  • I joined the Inland Empire Scroll Saw Association.  Small little group of relatively old people, but they have a lot of fun and have a lot of talent.  It is a little bit of a narrow scope of wood working but it is something that I am learning and growing in.  In November they have a toy drive of all handmade toys.  The group donated over 1500 wood toys.  I think I added 9 to the mix.  We will have to see what next year brings.  I have committed to make two of everything, one for my kids and one to donate.
  • I was contacted about my alien nativity.  It was some one interested in making one for a school and where I had purchased the plans.  He was from England.  It was a nice little reminder of why I created and maintain this blog and how small this world has become with technology.  I also found the shepherd plans and so my nativity is complete.  This was also the first year that I displayed my nativities for all to see at the Upland Creche festival.  I do not know if there was any comments but it was nice to show them off since they do not get displayed much.
My favorite projects this year.
  • First was the train.  Let's face it, it is an awesome train!  It was a challenge and was my first big design project.  There were things that I learned and it was enough of a challenge to keep the project interesting until the end.
  • A close second was the excavator.  It actually scoops!  The design was the challenge of project and I was always anxious to see it all the moving parts would work together.
I don't know what next year will bring.  I have some ideas but I really don't know.  Here are some things that I would like to accomplish.
  • I am going to continue designing. I have about three designs in process and hope to add some more.  I am thinking I need to design some toys for girls but not sure what to make.  
  • I am going to stick with the scroll saw association and see where that takes me this year.  I have learned that my toys are simple in the way of design.  I like being intricate with the scroll saw designs.  I do not have a Christmas project picked out next year. Maybe I will take it off.  
  • I hope to get a website launched.  Several people tell me I need to sell my stuff.  I think that I will start with plans.  I really have a fear of not making deadlines.  If I miss a deadline, I ruin a kid's present.  
It has been a fun year.  I am looking forward to 2015.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thoughts on making Nativities

I have made a couple of Nativity scenes and will probably continue to make them.  I probably think too much and over analyze things.  Although this is not a religious blog, I would like to share some of the things that go through my mind and challenges I face with each scene.  It starts with the pattern.  In my life this event has great importance.  The birth of our Savior had been prophesied for melenia prior to his birth.  I choose patterns that I feel will portray the significance of this sacred event.  Here are the parts of the nativity from the easiest to cut to the hardest (It does not matter the pattern or set).
  • Star -  This little aspect of the Nativity scene guided the Wise men to the baby Jesus.  Honestly the artistic stars look better than the large balls of burning gas.
  • Camel - Not ever sure if there was a camel in the nativity, but I am sure that the Wise men had to ride of something.  Granted these Wise men came some time after the birth of Christ. 
  • Stable - This is a structure and could be made in several different ways.  At the time it was for animals full of imperfections and probably just barely standing.  Yes it did protect the Baby from the elements.  It was a temporary place. 
  • Angel(s) - Not sure where the angel comes from in the scene.  If it is the scriptural account, they should be with the shepherds.  I guess there were angels present in the stable where they are commonly placed.  These angelic figures are represented incorrectly with wings, so I figure they must have some sense of humor or be used to being made with wings.  If you wonder where I get my idea of angels don't have wings; I firmly believe that we are created in the image of God and his children.  He doesn't have wings.  We will also be resurrected to our perfect selves.  I am pretty sure I never had wings.  I apologize to all the angels out there.
  • Wise men - They provided a valuable testimony of the birth of our Savior.  They did travel a great distance and watched and waited for the sign of His birth to appear.  They knew of His importance before He was even born.  They were men of importance and I expect they were humble enough to know that if I messed up, they would understand.
  • Sheep - My guess is there was sheep in the stable.  They were very common and used as sacrifice in that time.  The lamb was a used several times in the Master's teachings and was a representation of Him when sacrificed.  The lamb needed to be white and without blemish.  I feel I have saved the sheep I make from sacrifice because there are definitely blemishes on them.
  • Donkey - This beast of burden carried the mother of Jesus while she was nine months pregnant.  First of all, what and honor for the donkey to be given such a responsibility.  Secondly, I have to wonder if the donkey knew who he was carrying and took extra care and tried to make the journey a little easier.  
  • Shepherd - Probably the lowest in rank and privilege and stature that saw the baby Jesus,  but one of the more remarkable.  Angels came to them to announce the Saviors birth.  They went immediately to see and then proclaimed it through out the area what they had witnessed.  I also have to reflect on the role of the Savior as the true shepherd.  His shoes worn walking in front of his herd, constantly looking for and working about the lost sheep and always to ready to help when the need arises. 
  • Joseph -  I realize that he would be Christ's step father, but the responsibility he bore was heavy.  He could have condemned Mary, been judgmental and not shown as much care to Jesus because he was "technically" not his son.  He taught Him a trade and brought Him up as his own.  Even though there is not much written about Joseph, I am sure he was a great father.  He did help raise the Savior of the world.  I may be putting him in the place where I put myself in my family and he may have felt the same.
  • Jesus - He is not the hardest to cut.  Although perfect in every aspect in life, I know that he will forgive no matter how small or grievous of sin in that I make.  I can slip up and cut where I am not supposed to and I know that he know that I have tried my best.  He is usually the smallest part of the nativity but the biggest part in our lives.
  • Mary - I feel there is a special place in hell for those who belittles, offends, mocks or degrades our mothers.  I know that our Savior held his mother in the same respect.  He proved this while hanging on the cross.  Even when dying he made sure his mother was taken care of.  She will always be cut with a new blade and will usually be the last one to be cut out.
Yes, this is what goes through my head with each nativity that I make.  It does not matter if I am making one or several.  Each piece has an important part in the story.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to recreate this remarkable event in history.

If you are wondering what my favorite nativity made is, it is the Alien nativity.  First wood nativity I did.  I failed the first time because I was not experienced on the scroll saw.  I needed a little dose of humility before I could attempt to make it.  I spent two years making puzzles to get accustomed to the scroll saw and gain the confidence to make it.  The pieces are vary much imperfect and several mistakes.  Some of the pieces do not even fit together.  However, through time and patience the scene was complete and I am proud of it.  The second favorite may be a surprise.  It was made before I even started in by wood working hobby.  I don't know if I was even out of grade school at the time.  It is not pictured here and probably will not.  It was made out of plastic canvas.  It is not made well and all parts have glaring mistakes. I was young and it is the first nativity that I did on my own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Alien Nativity part two.

I do not remember how I came across the shepherds plan but I did.  The bad thing is that I ordered the wrong size.  I ordered the yard size instead of the table top size.  Seriously, the large shepherd was over 30" tall!  I shrunk it down to make it look the same size.  I cannot see how that could be cut out with all the curves.  Anyways, this was a nice little addition to the alien nativity.  It came out nice and seemed a lot easier than the original, probably because I have done a lot more scroll work since the first one.

The only issue is the color does not match.  Wood does age over time.  It will take some time for the shepherds to match.  This was recently displayed at a creche festival by my house.  There were lots of nice displays there.