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. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is junk?

My colleague Nambiar, some years ago, had told me some funny definition about 'junk'.   I was unable to recall  the exact wordings when I started to write this post.  I took 'outside help'. It came in the form of my blogger-friend Raji Muthukrishnan.  To my luck, she was online.  I thought she was the right person to ask if she knew about that and gave a key-word-jumble from my cluttered memory.  From her memory she came up with "someone's trash is another's treasure" but it was not the one.  She asked me to wait as she was going out soon.  

Promptly, she came back some hours later.  She had consulted the 'Urban Dictionary' and found two definitions.  One of them was in fact, the one Nambiar had mentioned me.  I had asked Raji because I was aware of her intellectual resources to tap at the exact place on the web.

Here they are:  Definitions of Junk.

~ Seemingly useless rubbish which sits around for months and is inevitably disposed off, the day before it is needed.

~ Stuff that you keep lying around forever, and then throw away two days before you need it.

As if aware of that, I seldom threw away things, unless and until their full value was squeezed out or if they were completely useless or badly damaged!  Not throwing away things seems to be some people's wont.

True junk. Odd iron pieces I sold for recycling.  The wooden container was used in our cowshed, before my time, 70-80  years ago.  It was on the attic.  Now broke in my time. May be I'll cut one day and use as firewood.

Old latches, door hinges and door bolts, beaten back to shape. The carpenter who removed by pulling them off rashly from the old doors had bent many of them into 'anger causing shapes'!  Old is gold and bold, so I told myself to reuse the old gold, boldly.  Old quality is unbeatable. They have been fitted nicely again to new doors!

Screws properly removed were reused [century old]. I remade the groove on the head using a hack-saw to enable firm grip of the driver on refitting. Others bent and rusted are not used.

Junk again. That is a garden pot holder stacking junk!

Looks like junk.

More junk. Seems so, but most were reused.

Junk corner.

Dismantling the tiled roof and house, we got this treasure. Termite damaged wooden rafters of teak!  The carpenter cut off the damaged part and gave it to me.  He kept the good wood separately for taking to the mill.

This was the best of the lot.  Now it adorns a 'show-shelf' in the hall, neatly cut flat!  Termite art! 

Two old and unusable oil lamp stands 'repurposed' as 'helmet holders'.
This 'repurposing' is a new word.

Junk junk junk. Enjoy more images.

Junk corner again, from a different angle. I hope one day, the junk corner will not exist there.  Hope that day will be soon. 

More in the inset of the house.

 Stove holders, rusting.  May be they can be used to hold potted plants.

My garden..... squeezed between two sheds, one on the left has junk waiting to be unjunked.

Charcoal stoves, rusted.

Wooden pieces - good for use... but for what?  Till an idea strikes, they have to lie here, there or somewhere.  Too good for firewood and too bad to keep!

There are many "Master Junk Converters" [as my e-friend Sue puts it] that have creatively done wonderful things, but when will my junk melt away from its place?  I have a dozen watches and clocks, but I just cannot find time!! :)

Telescope I had made

That post is related to watching Halley's Comet.  So I will be brief here.

Junked flaslight cabinets.

A table lamp stand and the holder is from another broken table lamp.

Toy lenses.  The smaller one is of a 'view master'.

Toy binocular eye pieces for my requirement. I had combined 3-4 and that increased the magnification power.  Accurate focusing was possible with the body of the telescope.  I could slide it in or out as the cylinders were correct fits! 

I had taken a photograph also through it from my old house, of the very distant Palace atop Chamumdi Hill using a film camera by holding it in front of the eyepiece.  The view of that Palace was clearly visible just above the top of the house behind our house.  There were no tall houses or trees obstructing view.  It was an experiment I did, may be in 1978.  The image through my telescope was actually sharper than the picture my camera captured.  

This is the one. 

Below is the zoomed view [from my digital camera] of the hill from our present house.  From my telescope, I could spot people walking near the Nandi Bull [marked near the white building].  You can imagine the power!  I had once taken my telescope to the hill to view my house, but was unsuccessful.  I could not locate our house roof top. 

I dismantled it when my dream of having a Binocular came to fruition. It was a Tasco which could bring objects 7 times closer.

The telescope was great fun!

Cassette Tape Winder

When audio cassette tapes were popular, I was also listening to the Hindi and Kannada film songs from my collection.  Rewinding or forward winding was necessary.  The normal way to do that was by pressing the << or >> buttons provided on the tape recorder.

My music collection in Cassette Tapes. 

National Panasonic Stereo Radio/Cassette Player, bought September 1984.
This was shortly before Radio License Fee was removed by the Dept. of Telecommunications!  I had paid the fee of Rupees fifteen twice, annually.

But I just wanted to do it manually at times, which appears crazy!  For minor works like that the most suited manual tool was the hexagonal pencil .  But a "Reynolds" ball pen with its hexagonal was better fitting.  This is an amazing connection between a pencil/pen and an audio cassette tape!

It took a long time to wind half the length of the tape in the cassette.  So I improved on this method by adding a  'flywheel' to the pen.  This was an old rubber wheel that a friend had given me from his 'aeromodeling' left overs. For holding the mechanism, I put through a bicycle spoke which also became the axle for the operation. One twirl would wind a lot of tape as the flywheel did its work.  The need for this tool used to arise when the tape got jammed and entangled in the body like this:

Image from the web.

Cassette image from the web.

 I had this tool ready on hand near my desk where I had kept the player.  It had also become my time-pass hand toy which I simply twirled while listening to the songs!

I have misplaced it at the time of posting this, so no picture of it is here.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kerosene jet gun to kill pests

Cockroaches and other insects sometimes show up in our living area at wrong times, more so in the summer months.  The worst is the flying variety.  I get freaked out at the very sight or imagining a roach.

How to tackle when they are sighted inside the house?  A handy broom to smash it is one option.  But the most preferred is my Kerosene Jet Gun which I have made esp. for this purpose.  Ejecting kerosene 'on target' requires swiftness and aim like Olympic shooters because the 'blooming creatures' are fast moving having the ability to climb on people!!  It is the worst thing to imagine! Being repulsive to this most horrible creature probably made me 'invent' this jet method.  I rush for this weapon when I notice a roach. and keep it in a place that is easily accessible.  I can't tolerate someone misplacing it.  When a roach is spotted, the gun HAS to be THERE and with content.

This is how I use my weapon: Take stance, arm with gun outstretched in the direction of the enemy intruder [most usually the roach].  The position of the feet is also such that I can spring away using my reflexes if the creature suddenly moves or flies towards me before or when the jet is splashed on it.  Sometimes my aim can miss as I have to maintain a safe distance lest it 'attacks'!  I usually go nearer the creature if it is a lazy type.

Usually, 2-3 drops of kerosene can kill the roach in a jiffy.  Some are late to surrender. They run helter skelter.  Such ones require a second shot.  Once they run very fast, I know the kerosene has had its effect. They will suddenly slow down, become weak-legged and die in standing position, but most others collapse to their backs.

I don't drive away lizards because they help control the roaches and other insects to some extent.

There are many varieties of cockroach.  But here, two are most proliferate - Periplanata americana [the video in this link is amazing!] and the Oriental Cockroach [white spots on its back and wingless]. 

Someone said that if you spot one roach, there will be a hundred in hiding.  They cannot be destroyed easily due to their ability to multiply and survive in large numbers and in places we wont reach or notice.  It is one of the few creatures that has not evolved over millions of years due to its adaptability to varied conditions and can survive without any food for many days.  

I saw with my own eyes how a Oriental Cockroach ran out of my charcoal iron box.  It had been hiding in it.  The charcoal had already generated a lot of heat when I heard a little splattering sound.  This amazing animal still escaped through the hole in the box!  They say it can survive even the cold winters.

I forgot to tell how I made the Kerosene Bottle Gun [with jet].  It is just a flexible plastic bottle - like what they have in chemical laboratories - wash bottle.

[Web grab image]

I have modified the jet, the crucial part.  I have extended the nozzle by using a ball pen refill. I had seen my high school classmate Kariappa remove and replace the tiny ball in the ball point pen. He was such a skilled boy.  I used this concept by removing the tiny ball so that a fine jet is sprayed through.

The ball pen refill has to be completely done with so that no ink is left in the metal nozzle. I use a tiny metal wire to clean the nozzle in case of blockages.  I cannot see the bottle lying empty.  It has to be 'on the ready' 24x7, just like fire engines in fire stations!

This 'bottle-gun' has served me for close to four decades now. It was once white. I remember to have bought it in the famous Mysore Dasara Exhibition in the early 70s.  I also use a similar one to keep lubricant oil for the sewing machine and bicycles. The ball pen refill is so useful!

This has proved very handy even when there are no roaches or insects to kill.  For cleaning or washing hands or fingers when a just a little amount is needed, this is a very handy item to have around.  Moreover, it is non messy.