Friday, January 18, 2013

Shelf from shelf shutters!

A small old dilapidated structure was brought down 3 years ago. There was a small shelf built in brick which was also dismantled.  I looked for any picture I might have taken before that, but this shelf was out of frame in the one shot. So no picture to show its original location.  Its wooden planks and wooden shutters of teak were saved.  They were lying around asking for reuse.

In my room, I needed a rack to keep some books and other items to fit in the space beside a window bay. Only recently, the idea that this pair of shutters might suit this project flashed like lightning when I had woken up at about 3 a.m.  I do not know from where this came from!

The height of the shutters were about 4 feet and to fit that space it required a width of 24".  The plank available was just perfect because I did not want to cut the teak plank.  I thought of using a couple of cracked planks as shelves, but I decided it was not a good idea.  Instead I looked around if there were some plywood from another project.  I found some quarter-inch thick plywood, which was left over.  Its 'ready-width' of 22" also suited me!  So I cut up the size from that board.  

For the top, I used the original plank as it was.  But there was a slight shortfall towards the top front.   A broken plank [from another such shelf] which had cracked along a curved grain was used after properly shaping it. It can be seen in the picture below, lying on the ground.  It came nicely to my own satisfaction.  For the back, I used some old hard board which was also left over from some other project.  I have used only nails to assemble this rack.  I had to screw in four plastic bushes at the bottom to allow the broom to push the dirt from the gap.  Now some pictures.

Ready to go into place.  It surely needs to be painted. 

Placed. Don't get distracted by the 'stand-out' rosewood rack.  Look beside it.

Top plank piece shaped.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vintage Writing Desk unjunked

I was the only one who climbed the attic in the old house.  Clearance to the roof was so low, that sitting on haunches, the head would touch the roof.  It was a deep and dusty attic built of wood on the worship room. It was accessible at the kitchen. A shelf placed there served as a ladder to climb up. Whenever there was a need to take out the huge brass vessels [once used in the large family itself daily!] for cooking  before a large gathering arranged at our house, I was summoned to climb and also later to keep them back.   Many of the items 'dumped' there were perhaps untouched since 1950 when my grandfather had moved in to that house.  I used to take that opportunity to look for curious things I had never seen.  

One such thing was a writing desk that belonged to my great grandfather.  The person using the desk squatted on the floor in front of it while it held papers, pens and ink. The writing plank was a shutter to the contents and it could be locked too.  I have grabbed an image from the web to show how it was: 

I brought it down.  One of its four legs was already missing.  I found out it was of rosewood and really old. It must have been an item my great grandfather used since his childhood in the 19th century, or so I thought.  The 'writing' plank was also broken.  But only the drawer portion with two brass handles was fine.  The smoothness of operation of the draw itself is testimony to the workmanship and also the amount of use it has undergone with my ancestor. It seemed to have lived its full service life.  

But I still saw some life in the lovely drawer. 

After thinking and thinking how to use it, I got a wonderful idea.  At the same time, I was yearning for a drawer to my old desk where I needed to keep my pencils, erasers and pens. Necessity is the mother of brilliant ideas, right?  

So what I did?  It was on 15.2.1991 [recorded in the draw liner by me!]  I measured the width of the draw, cut up the horizontal piece from the desk to fit it.  I used 'L' brackets below the desk to hold the unit in place. By doing this, I increased the utility value of my desk manifold.  I retained two of its back legs as if 'hanging down', one of which is visible in this picture. 

The original lock was missing.  Old brass handles.  It is a pleasure to operate the draw!

That slanting desk had a portion that had 8 little compartments a la an elephant stable.  I was using this on the wall for sometime to keep electric bulbs, one bulb fitted in one compartment. Now it has gone back to the junk box.  But this 'drawer idea' is one of my favorites.   

Two legs are intact and one was missing, right?  I forgot to tell what I made with the third one that I had to cut because it would hurt my knee when I sat at the desk.  A few years ago, it found some use:

Handle.  The bell is a vintage bronze cup!  Produces nice and loud vibrations!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A little photo I rescued

I post this today, 12th January, 2013, the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda [12.1.1863 to 4.7.1902].  Grand celebrations in memory of the Great Monk is being held in many parts of the world.   But in the morning, I was saddened to see [in front of my house] many school children being taken in processions on the streets holding placards with some messages.  Public stunts by schools or so I thought, and what a cheap way!!  What do they do with those placards?  They throw them into garbage and burn. Was that what the Swami wished?  Where are the schools heading to?  Let it be, but this post is about a picture of the Monk I found at home.

Many old framed pictures from the turn of the early decades of the 20th century were lying in the attic in a wooden box. Imagine 30-40 pictures of all sizes being displayed on walls of homes in the days of yore!! They had been removed as they were not found relevant by my forefathers.  One day, about 15 years ago, I dove into it in an effort to discard some really bad and damaged ones.  Some had their glasses broken also.  

Among the smaller ones, I found this. There was a nail on the wall of a dark passage in our old home and I had simply hung it there during that operation.  Some years later, I happened to lay my hands on it and took it out to wipe it clean.  I got goosebumps when the 'signature' of the man in the picture was noticed!   I knew it was Swami Vivekananda and that was why I had taken it out and hung.  Now suddenly it deserved a better place than a dark passage! 

I found another frame which was neat, old and good and it suited the picture's proportions. I reframed it into this.  The pose in the picture is a popular one now available all over the net. 

In all likelihood, this was from my great grandfather's time around the turn of the 19th century.  The picture could have been taken in Chicago in 1893 when he attended the Religous Conference [and made a very famous speech] there. It must have been mounted by "Harrison", in Chicago itself going by the name printed on it.  The 'signature' on it looks 'originalish', but it could be a printed fascimile.  I do not know.  Anyhow, now it is displayed in a proper place at home and the frame is befitting its 'vintageness'.  

I cannot imagine it was junked that way.  I found satisfaction in 'unjunking' it and more of it while bragging [read blogging] about it on his 150th Birth Anniversary.  You saw the picture at the top.


Just to mention that the Swami had visited Mysore in 1891 before he attended that conference and had stayed in a building called "Niranjana Mutt".  It has been restored now, but this picture is before/during renovation taken in 2011.  

For that tour to Chicago, our Mysore Maharaja, H.H.Chamarajendra Wadiyar had made donations to aid his travel.  They also had a letter correspondence.

Toy Monkey on a Spring

During the 1960s and 70s, there was a simple, cheap and popular toy esp. sold at Mysore's famous Dasara Exhibition [annual event, on which I have made a separate blogpost - Click on this: ].  The components of this toy, created by some unknown ingenious person somewhere, were merely a bicycle spoke, probably a ball pen spring and a little plastic monkey which was molded for that.  A few sand grains inside it would produce a rattling sound, just for effect.

Likelihood of anyone saving even one 'original' sample from those times is nil.  So I thought of manufacturing one now, about 40 years after, just for 'old times sake'.  I could get the spring and a bicycle spoke and substituted something else to do the 'monkey role'. I found out during trial and error that there is a fine balance necessary between the tension of the spring and the weight of the 'dancing monkey'.   I had to try different springs from my 'junk pen box' and using some clay to get the right weight!  

You must imagine the monkey to be holding the spring and to visualize its tail curved like a 'U" behind would be funny.  Sorry I could not make it when the images were captured.

My happiness jumped like a monkey when my new toy worked like 'old times'!!  I had to make a video for the present generation.  Watch this:

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Now I preserve this in my 'shoe box'!  

This is the real monkey - just imagine this scene.  A shot I took of my favourite animal near the foothills of Chamundi Hills.