Friday, December 21, 2012

Wooden Latch-lock

This is supposed to OUR 'secret' lock, accessible through the hole in the gate.  I had to make this because locking the gate does not suit.  It is to prevent or make it difficult for people who 'intrude' into the compound while we are away.  It is because many do not close back the gate while they go out and the stray cattle may enjoy my plants. So I thought it is better to deter their entry with this.  Postman, Courier-man, electric meter reader, water meter reader, gas cylinderwala and it can be anyone.  

It is a simple arrangement that we can operate with one hand through the gap in the gate, standing outside it.  Of course, we can lock it from inside too.  An old hook, a hinge, a few screws and a few wooden pieces were all that were required for this project. I had to use two base pieces of wood and they were shaped to fit in the gap between the metal sheet and a support bar of the gate so that they were tightly in place. Pictures are explanatory. 

Gate as seen from inside. 

Open position allows normal circular movement of the latch. 

Now seen in close or lock position.  The wooden piece fitted to a hinge is turned to stop the latch from rotating.  This wooden piece required a stopper. So it was another wooden piece, operates like a hook but stops the other piece on the hinge from opening. To open it, this has to be lifted up.  I fitted a hook which has to be opened first. 

The locked system in place.

This is the open position. The horizontal piece now sits on the smaller block.

Steps: Open the metal hook, lift the wooden hook, turn the other wooden piece on its hinge and then leave the wooden hook to rest.

This is a modified version of the previous one in place made of stiff wire.  It was done in a hurry 2 years ago and needed a better arrangement.  Wanted to do on the same lines, but as I was scratching my head, this new idea fell out!

I've to wait and see how tough it would be for intruders who may use their brains to barge in.  They can only feel the weird thing from outside if they try.  If they manage to come in, they are sure to look at the arrangement as this could be the only kind in the world!  I cannot help if they still leave the gate open and go away!  If gates are open cows may enter our garden and enjoy the greens, a horrible sight to see!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Termite Sculptures

What if Captain Haddock from Tintin comics got troubled by the terrible termites.  What curses he would have mouthed at them?  

Termites are home owners' foe.  But nothing in Nature is 'unpurposefully created'.  They aerate the earth with their underground channels. We are living in their land!  Here is a brief list of ten facts about termites. [Click to read, informative].

I only imitate Captain Haddock with just a couple of curses when I see termites damaging wood and paper at home or in the Yarden.  They can do immense damage.  They can even reach wooden rafters and reapers as I noticed in our century old tiled roof. It was 20 feet high.  I wondered how they went so high rising 'through' the walls!  But when another old smaller structure in the premise was demolished, their handiwork was on view. Let me show some pictures. 

Removal of roof tiles exposed the work of termites on rafters resting on walls.

Look at the reaper. Teak is said to be termite resistant because they do not like the oil in it.  When the oil dries up with ageing of wood, they will be vulnerable.

There were many rafters eaten up by termites and some were precariously close to collapsing! 
This one had been lowered carefully and I observed something here!! So I asked the carpenter to cut the portion carefully.  Then I happened to find many damaged ones in the lot and set aside all those that had some appeal, before the wood was taken for resizing for reusing the fine teak wood required for the new house that has now come up.  
I had kept the others aside, as if on display. 

Now this is what I created from the great sculptures created clandestinely in the walls by the 'thundering termites'.  The set becomes a part of my Yarden. I nailed all of them in line to a termite damaged reaper which formed a base and rested on two nails on the wall. There was another termite torn plank that also went up on show.  The badly defaced pieces were used for the hot water boiler as fuel.

This is the 'Sculptor'. Many thousands of them will be working on shift basis!

Group Picture! Closer view of my latest 'Junk Project'.  That was the purpose of this post.


Now let me show how dangerous and what a nuisance these can be.  There is no guarantee of any wood or item containing cellulose to survive.  If they are not moved or noticed, they can eat up the whole thing.  This was a 2 1/2 inch 'Termite Tower' risen from a little crack in our room floor.  They had completely eaten the books in a book shelf that was not noticed for about 2 months!  Many books were lost that way. They had come up through the wall and the shelf was embedded in the wall.

Some wood kept for a week were attacked. Look how they come up through the gaps in the floor. 

A toy bat had a lot of cellulose!! 

A simple trellis I made was damaged some years ago.

They attack the bark of trees.  

An old wooden tub attacked from its base, despite keeping on bricks. Since it was noticed soon, it could be saved.

An old radio cabinet, junked but not disposed, suffered.  They had come through the crack in the old wall.

A piece of torn rattan from a junked chair deliberately kept on the ground to see if they attacked, was surely attacked - in 4 days!

As such, I do not use much wood that touches the ground, in my Yarden.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wind Chimes, bells and 'tings' like that!

Ting... ting... ding... ding... dong... tung..... I just love to hear those pleasing sounds. Old telephones had those melodiously sounding bells.  How I miss them, even though we did not have it at home!

I had not known the name 'wind chime' in the early 1970s when I made my first wind chime.  There was a tubular wind chime in someone's house that produced a most delightful melody. It must have been an imported one.  I wondered if I got something that could 'ting', I could make such ones too, or so I had thought then!

We had bought some small bronze cymbals, more as toys than for using in the worship room. Two pairs, each attached with a string.  

This was during our trip to Gokarna in 1969-70.   These were found at odd places, carelessly neglected.  It used to get entangled with other things and when they were taken out or fall down on the hard floor and make a pleasing 'ting'!

Since I wanted to make a wind chime myself from things that I had, lo, there was a 'ting' in my head!  These cymbals were my first objects of my wind chime project.  I had used all the four cymbals earlier - spacing was tricky.  I had used a brass ring of an electric bulb holder [see in the pic below] to strike them.  To catch the wind, I had hung the thin foil that was used to seal tins - in my case, it was a 'Bournvita' tin foil which I had cut up when opening it, neatly.  I have since remodeled it and used only two and lost two, know not where and how.

I was at a shop in the market place two years ago when I found the sound from this wind chime [picture below] too pleasing.  Just bought it! 

Another one, but less pleasing.  Poor buy. This is a somewhat a junk in itself. The thin tubes does not resonate well.  

The 'U' you see here [below] is from a broken lock.  It hangs free, on our main door frame.  The bell is fixed to the door shutter.  When the door is opened, it hits the 'u' and the bell 'tings'!  We can hear this in the rooms. Just to know that someone is moving in or out of the door!

The broken leg of a century old writing desk became the handle of this bell.  A bronze cup that was in the attic became the gong!  It produces a beautiful sound.  The writing desk was used by men sitting on the ground doing their work. They were in many homes. This desk was in poor shape with one of the four legs already missing and  was in the attic.

Some brass cups [tumblers, as we call - picture below] were lying unused in the attic.  If they are sold, we are not profited. So, I picked up the oval wooden board - which my grandfather made in his college days [1920] for his carpentry project!  It was used by my grandmother for many years to roll chapaties. It was worn out, but still usable. I fixed these cups using screws after making holes.  Hung rings from a small thread to strike the edges when the entire board is shaken. It is connected to a thread outside the main door.  This becomes one of the 'calling bells'. Together, they make a good sound.  This was inspired by my childhood memory I still carry of a particular pair of doors inside the Nanjangud Temple. When we visited there, I used to go and shake the doors [locked] and tens of bronze bells fixed to that trellis-like door produced a great sound.  Children got lot of pleasure doing it, in those peaceful days.  I still wonder why that small temple beside the main deity was locked. It had an idol inside.

Door curtain tubes were found useless when I replaced them with curtain springs. I wanted to make my own tube wind chime that resonated nicely.  It worked!  Steel pipes, chrome plated and rusted. Made small holes to hang them vertically.  Wires used for hanging prevents vibrations, but thin thread has to be used to get the full vibrations. Nice wind chime!  Disturbed my mother's sleep - it was in the yard.  So had to shift it away.

Bicycle bells wind chime.  Old junked bells, very old junked and rusted strainer [deep frying].  Bent the handle of this to hang.  Used the existing holes to suitably space the hang of the bells.  Each bell vibrates in a different frequency.  This is also in the yard where there is good breeze.  Steel links of a 'chain swing' I made 2 years ago strike the bells. The wind is picked up by a coconut shell and two plastic caps.

This is another of my favourite little calling bell at the main door. Pic below. A thread [actually a tennis racket gut] is left outside the door to pull.  It is hung this way. I've used a piece of toy 'meccano' and stiff wire as 'axle'.  This bronze bell - famous in the house as 'Dinu's bell - was my toy 50 years ago and produces a very pleasing sound.  Its original handle had broken about 40 years ago.  This handle-less bell was kept here and there!  I made a handle, from a piece of aluminum tube and is now in good use as you can see below.

A few old computer printers had been junked at the workplace.  I picked up the square rods from their paper feeding units.  Using the tiny hole, I tried to ting by holding it with a pin.  There was a very soft and pleasing 'ting' when I struck it.  Slender cotton thread for  hanging them gives best results as it does not absorb the vibrations. The striker is a steel ring I salvaged from a torn vanity bag.  For catching wind, I have used a piece of balsa wood that is light weight.  A long thread and heavier weight will make it oscillate more often.

One more wind chime I made from a spoiled 'ding-dong' electric bell.  The plates are the ones that vibrate.  I hung them with thread and put paper pieces to keep the hung threads above the hole away from the plate. If it touches, it affects the free vibration.  I used a steel ring from a discarded vanity bag as striker.  I have hung this ring in such a way that there is some imbalance which would make it oscillate more times.  The wind catcher thread and the hung thread are tied on the same half of the ring.  It produces pleasing 'tings'.

I'm fond of anything,
That will 'ting'.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Magnetic Smiley

The Smiley has been around in print for many years now but the electronic 'keyboard smiley' :) celebrated its 30th anniversary in September 2012.  The old print smiley used to appear in comic books and has been used as adhesive sticker on car bumpers and at other places. I grew so fond of this simple and effective representation of the smile and happiness that I used to paint a little smiley using sketch pens whenever I wrote letters to my friends. Little smiley stickers were available for that purpose.

One day I thought of displaying a larger smiley in our verandah, along with my two other water colour paintings.  I used a 3-inch wide bottle lid and stuck my smiley water colour art on it.  When it was hung, it looked nice.  Later when a steel almirah was bought, I had also found a magnetic rubber strip.  I made a new painting on a new lid and I stuck this new find to the lid's back. Lo and behold!  I had a 'magnetic smiley'!  This scores over the self-adhesive sticker because of its 'messless', removable quality.  It is another way of 'repurposing' unwanted lids.

 Nivea cream lid and a jam jar lid. See the date I made.

With the advent of the internet, the word 'Emoticons' came into being, with many expressions of the face.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A vintage sleeping cot

My great grandfather had built a large house to accommodate one and all as it was a joint family system that was in vogue a hundred years ago.  With passing years, family numbers dwindled to the extent that the house was seen as 'too big'.  My grandfather who was now the head of the family decided to move to a smaller house which he bought close by.  So it was rented out in 1950.

When this shifting took place, many old things were dumped in a small room upstairs.  Most of that lot were not required for use but some were, but less frequently, like the Dolls for Dasara Festival.  So we went there to fetch them on an annual basis and then to keep them back after the festival.  That first floor was also rented.  Because that extra room was in bad condition they were dumped there and it was not a serious issue with the tenant. 

In the early 70s, nearly 20 years after they were dumped, my father started to search for a big cot as he wanted to reassemble and use it.  He could not find all its 'parts'.  Some items were also hiding in that small cluttered room.  They were never touched [except for the doll box] for 20+ years.  It was such a tight clutter that items could not be moved to search at the back!  So he got disgusted and dropped that idea.  At that time, I was wondering how that cot would be.  He used to say it was a tall one.

The first thing I did when the tenant had been evicted in 2008 was to search for that cot there!  By then, my father too had passed away and we too had to leave that house following the inevitable event of property partition.  Remember, they were dumped in 1950 and now they were destined to be removed by me!  Dusty junk!  At last, I found all the parts of disassembled the cot, including the mosquito net frame.  I was not even patient to reassemble it in the next hour.  It had to be done immediately.  Such was my curiosity.  It was a fantastic cot. 

In the meantime, I had already moved to the old house my great grandfather built [in 1911] and now I brought it for use.  In all probabilities, it belonged to my great grandfather.  Going by the intricate workmanship, my guesstimate is that it may be from the 1880s, when he was young.

The first thing I did was to wash it with water because of the amount of dust it had accumulated for nearly 60 years.  Visible here.  Also see the planks.

The workmanship that was covered with dust was visible now when water pushed the dust!  The cot is of rose wood inlaid nicely with different wood.  In some places, the inlaid pieces have fallen off. 

Beautiful workmanship.  The carpenter's skill is on show, esp. with the way the 'diamond trellis' design is made.  

Close up showing inlay work of both wood and brass.  When I applied colourless polish, it looked nice.  I also 'zero sandpapered' before applying polish.

Notice the big brass rings to the poles on both sides. One portion of the trellis is missing. So I have used that space to place my bedside radio!! Not seen in this set of pictures. 

Room is small, so I could not go back to get the full view from the camera.

The vintage 'sleeping cot' was itself sleeping for more than 60 years.  I woke it up.  Now it makes me sleep!
It was not actually junk, but 'junked' away.  So I thought it would fit in to my blog. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vintage tile chips rescued and reused


My workplace is in a century old palatial building that was built by the Mysore King.  

Cheluvamba Vilas

Some years ago, they were replacing the entire original mosaic floor of a room.  The beautiful little chips in perfect geometrical shapes and dimensions were being broken.  It was an exercise too difficult to watch and I wish not to divulge into detail. 

That is one of the three mansions built for the three Princesses at that time.  All the structures are a delight to connoisseurs.  Their interiors are exquisite.  Just to show how varied the patterns and colours were, in many such palatial buildings, let me show you the flooring of the other mansion [Karanji Mansion] which I visited some time ago.

This was not in good shape.

Now it houses the PTC.

Now let me come to ours.  Pictured below is a portion of the original floor and design the entire floor area had.  Observe the shapes and colours. They had been imported from England at the time of building these mansions.  Such mosaic floors of that period are so pleasing to the eye.

The broken floor debris were being heaped in the room to be loaded to trucks for landfills.  So sad.  Being a lover of heritage, I thought of preserving a tiny portion of these chips in my home.  In "Dave's Garden" I had seen what gardeners create with mosaic chips.  So I randomly picked up some of those to try my hand.  Mosaic art is a vast and creative subject many gardeners and hobbyists do for passion.

'Stepping stones' was an idea I had in mind. Those chips were now separate.  I tried different combinations and found that many different patterns were possible.  I set about working on the project.  Sand and cement were ready.  I put a piece of chicken mesh at the bottom for extra strength and carefully filled cement and placed the chips in the patterns I created.  See picture of 'work in progress': 

Five distinct patterns were made from the available good chips and embedded the 'stepping stones' in my yard, after proper curing.

The following picture shows the work I did in the centre of our living room with better pieces. 

But now we can see only one half of it.  Shortly after this was created, it so happened that a wall ran through the hall at that very spot.  Picture below shows the base for the wall getting ready. Observe the visible portion of tiles.