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My lessons learned from walking stick knotting

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  • DonB
    Well, I ve finished my first 4 walking stick knot projects, and here is what I have learned: 1) Do NOT ignore the advice of wearing gloves. I thought to
    Message 1 of 2 , May 2, 2011
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      Well, I've finished my first 4 walking stick knot projects, and here is what I have learned:

      1) Do NOT ignore the advice of wearing gloves.

      I thought to myself: "I just won't pull that hard". Well, you HAVE TO pull hard to get the lines straight, parallel and knots neat. Plus, when you pull over & over & over again, that tiny rubbing spot gets rubbed 500-1000 times and forms into nice little blisters and sore spots.

      2) I sealed the knots 3 times. The first time with water-based "Poly-Finish" from Ace Hardware, thinned down to a 1-1 ratio with warm water. The second coating I used the same. The 3rd coating was done with full strength Poly, so that it wouldn't soak in as much, and provide a semi-gloss sheen to the knotted area. I used the semi-gloss, but I plan on experimenting with GLOSS finish on some others. Take a look at "Dad's Stick" in my photo album to see the nice finish his has: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knottyers/photos/recent/1525510389/view

      3) I crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn't ruin a good project, and I didn't. Here was my dilemma: After putting coat #1 on, the rope area was very rough, or prickly. I wondered if sanding lightly would hurt the rope itself, so I tried it with very fine sandpaper. It worked GREAT. It took the tiny pointed pieces off of the rope, and made the 2nd coat go on even better. I very lightly sanded again and applied the 3rd coat. It looks very nice.

      4) I learned that I am not completely satisfied with the final products on ANY of these 4, and here's why: They look nice, but I'm the type of person that feels the need for tiny embellishments on things, which these do not have. YET. On my Mom & Dad's sticks I hung one of my handmade horseshoe nail crosses through the wrist strap hole. It is a nice touch, though I know that not everyone would want a cross. So I looked into walking stick badges, but nothing seemed right for me. I have finally settled on getting a small woodburning tool and burning a 1" logo from my business into each stick that I make, and also offering the buyer's name burned into it in fancy text.

      I'm waiting for the burning tool to get here, and I'll post a picture or two of the logo when it's done.

      5) Finally, I have learned that walking sticks sell for more money when they are sold at a locale that treats them like artwork, not like a craft project. Around my town here in MN, people have offered $25-30 at the craft fairs, but the sticks sell for $50-85 when displayed at outdoors stores and art places. Guess where I plan on selling them?

      Well, as always, this is so much fun. I post these notes and photos primarily for myself to remember what I've done, but I hope others enjoy the experience also.

      Have a great day everyone.

      Don Bursell
      Mora, MN
    • Frayed Knot Arts
      Allo, Don! ... pull hard to get the lines straight, parallel and knots neat. Plus, when you pull over & over & over again, that tiny rubbing spot gets rubbed
      Message 2 of 2 , May 3, 2011
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        'Allo, Don!


        > Well, I've finished my first 4 walking stick knot projects, and here
        is what I have learned:

        > 1) Do NOT ignore the advice of wearing gloves.
        >
        > I thought to myself: "I just won't pull that hard". Well, you HAVE TO
        pull hard to get the lines straight, parallel and knots neat. Plus,
        when you pull over & over & over again, that tiny rubbing spot gets
        rubbed 500-1000 times and forms into nice little blisters and sore
        spots.

        TINY rubbing spot? Even for small projects like a walking stick you
        will develop a definite divot in the little finger, the side of the
        palm, the tops of at least two fingers where the line pulls across it
        and the inner-part of the 2nd knuckle's pads of the fore- and
        middle-fingers.

        There IS an advantage, tho... the more you do the faster you will
        develop a nice, hard callus at these points. (While it may 'look' like
        Psoriasis, it's really NOT all THAT unsightly...... Not really....)
        Once you've gotten a nice pad of callus, you can dispense with the
        gloves, unless you're doing a dozen or so of these at once, in which
        case you may just discover the joy of losing a recently-acquired callus
        pad.

        Y'know what?

        Wear the (censored) gloves. You have discovered the path toward happier
        hands.
        >
        > 2) I sealed the knots 3 times. The first time with water-based
        "Poly-Finish" from Ace Hardware, thinned down to a 1-1 ratio with warm
        water. The second coating I used the same. The 3rd coating was done with
        full strength Poly, so that it wouldn't soak in as much, and provide a
        semi-gloss sheen to the knotted area. I used the semi-gloss, but I plan
        on experimenting with GLOSS finish on some others. Take a look at "Dad's
        Stick" in my photo album to see the nice finish his has:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knottyers/photos/recent/1525510389/view

        Indeed, a nice finish and you may have found the secret to not having
        the polyurethane fill in all the little "crooks and nannies" in the work
        which give it the visual interest I love.
        >
        > 3) I crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn't ruin a good project, and
        I didn't. Here was my dilemma: After putting coat #1 on, the rope area
        was very rough, or prickly. I wondered if sanding lightly would hurt
        the rope itself, so I tried it with very fine sandpaper.

        It worked GREAT. It took the tiny pointed pieces off of the rope, and
        made the 2nd coat go on even better. I very lightly sanded again and
        applied the 3rd coat. It looks very nice.

        The "tiny pointed pieces" are actually the small fiber ends of the
        "staple" that make up the cotton rope. You'll find that you can gauge
        the quality of the cotton used for a particular rope by the number of
        these little spears that develop after a light lacquering or diluted
        varnishing. One of the reasons for using heavier dilutions of
        varnish/urethane is to encapsulate these in the coat and so not need to
        do a light sanding to "get them gone". I never even knew about them
        when I first learned to do this stuff as I did it "Navy Style": two
        coats of 1# cut (insert colour - usually "Orange") shellac followed by a
        coat of UN-diluted Spar Varnish. If a staple could poke it's little end
        out thru THAT it would be the equivalent of "SuperString". (Just a
        theory, y'understand...)

        Full points on the solution!
        >

        > 5) Finally, I have learned that walking sticks sell for more money
        when they are sold at a locale that treats them like artwork, not like a
        craft project. Around my town here in MN, people have offered $25-30 at
        the craft fairs, but the sticks sell for $50-85 when displayed at
        outdoors stores and art places. Guess where I plan on selling them?

        I have the most DREADFULLY hard time explaining to people that what we
        do is N O T suitable for sale at "Flea Markets", "Jumbles", "Church
        Sales" and the like. If you sell there, you are in competition with
        crap made in Indonesia that a vendor can sell for $4.00 and make a
        profit. As you have found, high-end shows, art shows and the like are
        really the only choices we have for selling quality ropework and even
        hooping to realize a profit from our time and artistry.

        I like to tell of the tiller I take around to boat shows: A fella came
        up and asked how much for the "walking stick"?

        I informed him that it was $350 but that it was a tiller from a 1923
        Brewer Catboat.

        "Well, it'd make a dandy walking stick!"

        "Yessir, it would, but it's an antique Brewer Catboat tiller... they
        ain't makin' any more of 'em."

        "Hmmmm.... How much was it again?"

        "$350.00"

        "Seems a lot of money for a walking stick...."

        Right around there I decided to let him go play Canasta by his own set
        of rules.





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