Monthly Archives: June 2015



Raven got a ride down the hill yesterday eve with her room mate, a vardo tour, white peaches off the tree are on and a bundle of garden herbs. Raven stayed over in the vardo.

I awoke late but earlier, played in the garden, stuffed a new bundle of rattan in the cleaned water bucket as Raven got up. Off to town for coffee, the farmers market, we were both wanting BLTs, serendipity. We bought real thick bacon from a woman at the market, fresh vine tomatoes, I have fresh romaine lettuce in the garden and sourdough in the freezer, plus some organic avocados from TJ’s. We stopped back to Safeway for a salad for Raven’s dinner, served with TJ smoked trout. Off to Garret’s hardware for some screen as it’s getting hot in the vardo.  A stop at Salvation Army looking for a small table and chairs for outside the vardo set up, not this time, but a nice folding stool a little taller than mine.


It should make a good seat for serving at the window in the vardo, or just a good seat.

Home and hungry, Raven picked some lettuce bibs as I fried the bacon, sliced tomatoes and avocado, toast with mayo. Ah glorious food, served in back with a view, so good.

Raven is working on screening the door Dutch style open on top. Velcro doesn’t want to do it, pins for now.


Perhaps a frame would work, future build. The sink window still needs a screen. I get the serve window screen and copy it using the table saw, it takes a while with the jig for cutting the center out on the short ends, trimming the long center ends on the flat over and over, damn, the saw height keeps moving up smaller, adjusted each time. Shims with card stock will do to adjust for gluing. I sanded the parts on the drum sander to loose the saw marks. Glued and clamped. I still need to chisel out the short corners to allow the plastic ribbing to fit around the corner and hold the screen in. Meanwhile Raven stained the other side and the last small wheel. There are enough pictures of wheels. The glue needs drying.


I want to play with the baskets. This new rattan is purchased, “the stuff” for baskets, all even 3.5 mm, soak it for 15 minutes and go for it. It’s been soaking for longer than that, no problem. Last weeks willow from the river was rustic and cool. This stuff should be a cinch, it is. I cut the six even, three and three cross from the shortest in the bundle. A longer piece, doubled and gently bent with three hard close folds, this stuff takes it without breaking as long as it’s wet. A square twist around and again, then twist each radial strand twice around. I could add a piece, but choose to switch to single weaving and add the twister instead for an odd count. That works, but I’m running low on stock, tuck the end in and add another tucked. Round and round weaving even, tucking the short ends back inside with the new tucked to continue. The base is big enough. I add two longer pieces to each spoke tucked in, three together and bind all the spokes upright with a shorter cut off piece to make the basket sides turn up. Tuck another long and keep going. I notice when you transition to go up instead of out, the rows before become loose without a form. It happened on the willow as well. Something to figure out. Up we go with a new weaver tucked in, still in over under mode until the weaver runs out and gets tucked in. This rattan stuff is easy. I want to try the three row roving. I tuck three strands into three consecutive spokes. The left most behind the tucked one, above two and behind one. Same with the next, back, above two and behind one. Again with the third and keep going. It goes fairly, for awhile until the weavers are running short.


Tuck them in and tuck one to resume standard over under weaving with three spokes up for a while. The original center spokes are getting short, time to finish. I pull the spoke three behind one and over the next, leaving it loose for the last one to tuck in. All the way around tucking the last out, then tucking each three sets back in even in the second gap to make a good braid. One center too short, I clip it back and add a new one from scrap stock, tucked in. This works perfect. Braid them all in and clip the ends to the inside as the short pieces won’t tuck, but it’s a good basket.


I go out and pick some peaches to fill it for the first time, it’s beautiful, on the new stool.


Tomorrow we’re off to Oakland for Raven to catch the Greyhound to her Mom’s as I work on Elliot’s place. A fine day today, screens, peaches and a basket.



Wow, I woke up early as it’s the big day at. Our grand debut at the Geyserville Flea Market. Out to the vardo just after 5am with a can of wasp foam before they wake up. I spray into the eaves with my flashlight. Back in for a movie and shower as Raven will be here at 7. I set up neighbor Jana’s truck last night with the hitch attachment and have the key. I spray down the vardo with the hose to wash off the wasp spray, Raven and friend Syntha arrive right on time. I take the truck for a short spin up to the grapes, turn around, just to get the idea of how it handles, automatic, OK. I back in, park, check, adjust, park, a couple times, not bad and lower the hitch. Chain on, I need to whittle my plug to get it to fit, light checks good. I pull out slow and wide, just cleared and up the road. I’m not worried about the vardo, she went 60 to the DMV, but I’m taking it slow with wide turns. Half a mile up and we’re there. Raven checks with the vendor parking guy, he sends us up the next driveway under the oak tree behind the main venue, but lots of room to maneuver and park, perfect location in the shade. Disconnect and jack it up. I head for home quietly returning the truck, grab my own pickup with a couple wagon wheels loaded and head back. The wheels set it off nicely.

“We’ll need a table, the one in back and the web duster”, “The red stool?”, “yea”. I’m off to home, load up and return. Time for coffee, Raven is busy setting up, I walk up to Mud’s, ah. “Chocolate would be nice.”, I have some at home from TJ’s. a basket of crystals would be a good addition, with small 2×3 plastic bags. Home again and back. They’re set, I’m off to the farmers market in Healdsburg and Safeway. Tomorrow I have a potluck to attend, potato salad would be good, 5 pounds of red potatoes. green onions, celery. I have the rest. Additional zucchini, green beans, mushrooms for work lunches. A stop at Sally’s, Some fake gold leaf and a hack saw frame for a buck. Everything is swell at the flea market and they brought lunch. I head home and cook up a good batch of potato salad, celery, green onions, eggs, garden dill, tarragon, cilantro and parsley. Add capers for Dad, apples for Mom. It’s good with a touch more of wasabi mayo.

I break out the willow stems I soaked last night and start a basket base. It’s crude as the stems are still a little brittle, not quite wet enough, but good to work with. It’s fun. I run out of soaked weavers as the base is to size. Back to the fair as it’s close to closing time. They’ve done well with showing off the vardo, though few sales. The basket base.


Syntha did a card reading inside.


Raven made Turkish coffee and entertained high spirited guests.


The set up was cool and in the shade. The people liked it.


Somebody gave a jolly roger flag, perfect for my boat, not pictured but very nice. Here’s a shot of Raven and vardo gypsy fashion.


We loaded up the stuff in our trucks, I headed home parking out by the garden and fired up Jana’s truck. Easy to hook up with the tongue facing out. A smooth ride home with a lot of back and fill to get the vardo where I like it in the driveway, room to get around. Raven and Syntha head for home.

I don’t have enough sticks to work this basket. I head for the river. My favorite patch of greenish red. With Spanish speaking people down at the river swimming as I clip, strip the leaves and stuff the angle cut branches into the spokes big stem two each spoke. I tie them up together but that doesn’t last, keep pushing that way. Adding weavers, tucking the ends down into the weave and another. It’s hot here, move to another patch in the shade, greener but supple, good willow weavers and cooler with soft sand to sit. I get it made, a complete basket, quite crude as I finished the spokes however they fit tucked in. But a complete basket. I show the swimmers my work, Canasta in Spanish. It’s a good size willow basket. Here in a chair for size.


My first complete willow basket. Very crude as the bark has stripped in places as I tucked it in, twigs have snapped, some missing. I replaced a few. But this is a real basket, slightly oval and big. It will hold stuff. I expect the green parts will shrink and loosen up, but it works. A basket.

Cathy bought some round rattan stock for me, two sizes from the Berkley Cane shop. That stuff is industry standard and should work smooth, looking forward to it. But this river willow is excellent free material. I made a basket.

We set up the vardo. Wow. I look forward to improving the vardo systems water and electric with a battery and solar charger to run the pumps off line. I hope the grey water tanks are sealed with the more epoxy, we’ll see. Fantastic day.



How to make a simple basket. I’m using European sedge grass, an invasive weed that grows along the California coast. It has long flexible strands. Dried then soaked a day or two.

European Sedge Grass

I also used weeping willow from the neighbors tree with success for a base and some grape vines with difficulty.

Start with two sets of three crossing. Take a long strand and fold it in the middle, around three, twist, around the next three, twist the same way (the outer one to the inside, then the inside becomes out), around three, twist, into a square.


Keep doing that for a few times, then grab each individual strand with the twisting pair to separate the spokes.




Next we need to add another spoke for an odd number. I use my Swiss pen as a bodkin, but anything solid the size of the strands will do. weave it into a gap, tuck in the new strand and knot it center to keep it in place, knot to be trimmed out when the basket is done.


Keep twisting, as you run out of fiber, add another one a few weaves before that, tucked in and start following the individual weave, over, under, over each spoke as a weft pair securing the short end with the new strand. You will use this method to add strands throughout the basket, trimming the loose ends tight later. Now we are weaving not twisting.


Keep going, as the spokes get thin, add in a couple to each side using the bodkin for three each.


As the basket gets to the size of your base, tie all the spokes together with a spare strand above. I used my bead can to hold the base in place, then kept going up. You could twist split the three individual strands for a larger basket or hat, I just went up.


When I reached a nice height, I started finishing the basket by folding the spoke under the next and out again, leaving room on the first one for the last.





Next I tucked each one up to resemble a braid.


Then trim the ends on the inside to complete.


You can clip all the loose ends in to clean it all up. Here is the finished basket.


Wow, I just got back from the river with a big bundle of willow wicker. Several different varieties, all the same plant but some older stiffer brown, young wispy red stuff, the best patch some really long reddish green stock. All stripped of leaves and drying on the back bench.


I’m going to let it dry to prevent shrinking, then soak it for a week, maybe in the river as I don’t have a container that long, even the bathtub is too short. Hmm, maybe if I build a wooden trough and line it in plastic. The big end is large on most of it, maybe split it for bases or use for furniture, that could be a challenge. I think it could be really good stuff to weave on the finer end for solid strong baskets. And it grows in my back yard on the river. It’s not as wispy as the weeping willow, but it grows longer straight pieces without the multiple shoots the weeping willow does. Potential good stuff. We’ll see, and I’ll let you know how it goes here.



Vardo day, Raven has a car as she dropped off her friend at the airport. We met as usual at Safeway Bucky’s for coffee, picked up some jasmine rice and headed for the farmers market. A zucchini, carrots, Duncan’s mushrooms, we’re good. We need bleach, to the dollar store, some lunch containers and ‘D’ cells for the water heater.

Next stop Salvation Army. I found a very partial set of router bits in a nice case for a buck. Raven scored a cool tablet case with a tree cover and button, nice and fit her apple perfectly. I noticed a few things but forgot. To home.

Lunch of rice, broiled chicken tenders, and a basic stir fry of zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, from my garden a few last pea pods, new green and yellow beans, pac choy leaves, herbs, onions and garlic, with two pats of butter at the end. Served out back with a view.

I fiddled with the start of a soaked sedge basket, good fun, but there are other things need doing. Back in the bucket after changing the water so it doesn’t dry.


We need to sterilize the water system so I filled a five gallon bottle mostly with water and added a lot, maybe half a gallon of the cheap chlorine bleach. It’s smelling plenty strong. I put the bottle under the sink and inserted the pump tube, switched on the pump. opened the faucet as the pump kicked in, bwaaaammp, with water flowing all faucets, excellent. Outside I opened the joined hot water system and spat a bit out the shower valve. Everything is full of bleach, all sinks hot and cold. Shut it down and leave it.

Raven is cleaning the roof and sides, concentrating on the serving window. Finishing the screen with panels tacked down with the tiny nails and sanding. She cleaned the steps, swept everything tidy. The screen is prepped for stain.


Meanwhile I’m working on the last wooden wheel, The fellows need sanding and drilling, as the last fellow has already been done weeks past, cool. I’m pounding the fellows onto the finished spokes with difficulty, back to the drill press a little deeper, a slight sand on the spoke as they fit into place. I’ll need one more welded tire to fit as Raven stains the wheel.


Meanwhile I remember at Sally’s there was a rug I forgot to tell Raven about, 2 x 7 feet, red and patterned, it’s 4ish, there’s time. Also a cool spinning wheel way over priced I’d like to measure. We jump in my truck and head the three miles. Score on the rug at half price.


Measurements of the spinning wheel at 20 inches diameter, 24 x 6 tapered to 4 on the base with the wheel 30 inches up to center. The wheel has a curved crown groove around it like my band saw but with extra edges. 2 1/2 inches wide on the wheel and fancy turned spokes. The crank connected to foot pedal is missing though a large spool is up front, perhaps raw wool or finished yarn, I don’t know, and two more spools. Too bad I didn’t bring the camera, maybe next week as the price is high. I’d like to build one as wheels I have down.

Raven worked on the chalk board, a bit slanted then straight, all good and erasable to start again or not.


She headed to town for tea in the new Black Bird Cafe. I drained the chlorine out with hose and a full bottle of fresh water, then wrote this. She just got home heading for bed after a 4am morning. A wonderful day.



Yesterday I cooked a bunch of lunches for work, fun that. A Thai coconut soup with chicken and rice, just one as I ate the other, yum. A large batch of pasta y fagioli, a pasta and bean soup I like with pancetta Italian bacon, carrots, celery, onions, garden herbs and diced tomatoes. Raven needs picking up in Sebastapol as her truck is serious down. I brown a cut up London broil for a stew and dose it with beef broth to a boil, shut down and head for town as it tenderizes. I need parts to fix a ukulele I bought at a yard sale last weekend for $10. Banana’s music has strings and an oversize bone nut I can use. I still need a wood saddle and bridge.

Joe lives close to Sebastapol and called earlier, I’ll stop by to see what he’s done. He and Cat are out back planting as I pull in. New asparagus crowns, artichoke starts, bunch of other stuff growing strong, amazing. The old pumpkin patch is volunteered all over again. It’s beautiful. The new laundry shed nearly complete with French doors, a roof and drywall going in, an excellent job, nice trim outside. Joe has a piece of mahogany that matches the Uke from the wood shop free bin up the street. Cupcakes and fresh mint water as we talk, I brought a double pasta y fagioli soup as the kids are off. Cat picked a box of veggies for me, wow. Time to get Raven, just up the road.

We meet at Whole Foods on time as planned, walk up to People’s Music where they have a fine saddle and ukulele bridge, good folks. To home. I finish a good batch of stew, everything is home grown or organic, wow, and a lot of food ready, refrigerate and freeze.

This morning sleeping in, laundry started and to work. We already have coffee, Bucky’s left over but good nuked. I started working on the ukulele, this one is small, a smaller bridge than the one we got, Joe’s wood on the table saw and a couple pieces to spin for needed window pegs. I forgot the eggs I hard boiled caught at a quarter inch not burned, OK, munched one.

Raven is working on the door stop I cut and folded at work this week from thin flashing. It doesn’t quite fit yet, needs trimming with scissors to clear the 2x door jams (Raven) and the lower part needs a quarter inch less. I break out the paper cutter and carefully trim it down. Now it fits, Raven punches for screws and drills, a little deeper good. A couple wacks with the taper punch to sink the screws down and the door closes fine.


Lunch time, I made a huge batch of stir fry with all these veggies, gifts from Cat and Michael last week, the farmers market and my own garden. So many spring peas, fresh green beans, pak choy from my garden, fresh Joe’s carrots, red and white chard, spinach, bought bean sprouts, Duncan’s FM mushrooms. O chicken tenders, I figured out if you hold the tendon and scrape it with the knife one side and the other, removes the tough stuff, then chop it for bite size perfect. Garlic, fresh ginger, onions. It barely fit the wok until the greens settled. Five spice and garden herbs, finished with a corn starch thickener and oyster sauce. With rice, perfect. Lunch and five more containers. Crispy veggies, chicken so good, stored for more lunches.

The grey water drain lines need reinforcing, I break out some fiberglass tape and marine grade white slow epoxy, dose the connections, wrap it with glass tape and more glue, smearing it down tight with my gloved hands around the lift wires. I hope it holds water tight, should.


I show Raven how to spin a tapered mahogany plug using the drill on the lapidary drum. After cutting the stock square on the table saw, cut to length on the band saw. Using the sander, trim the corners opposite then across to make an even octagon, then lightly spin it round to fit the drill chuck. Chuck the piece, spun against the sander spin to a taper to match the reamer I have as close as possible. A tapered peg will always fit. We made four tapers. With the lower window propped wide open with a water bottle, we drilled a smaller hole, then reamed it conical to fit the pegs. It works perfect to hold the side windows open.


The grey water vent hose still needs to be secured. I made some brackets of plumbers tape, painted black and screwed it in.


Raven worked on the screen for the windows. I found the cord to hold the screen in using the 25 cent tool I found at Salvation Army. Raven pressed it in and cut new ply panels to cover it. Looks good.


I got the parts built for the ukulele, a new bone nut above and a saddle and bridge of mahogany and ebony piano key stock. I still need to glue them in and notch but this looks good. Note at the thumbs are new parts.


I drove Raven back up the hill with a supply of lunches and the left over veggies, a huge bag. We shall eat well these coming weeks. A fine productive weekend.