Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plant Markers from plastic bottles



Nowadays, shampoos, hair oils, perfumes, talcs, lotions, what have you, all come in such plastic packing [as in picture above] and make way into our homes.  Once empty, a vast majority of them find no further use or reuse and have to be discarded.  But some good ones are suitable for other purposes after the original content is used up.  

I have seen many people use old Venetian Blinds for labeling their plants in the garden.  Since I cannot find the blinds here, I thought of using the spray bottles to label what I planted/sowed where. There will be so many such containers that may be handy too.  


Next time I cut up a container, I will think of more artistic patterns. There is one here that got the shape of a carrot and one like a necktie.  There will be so many options if we use our own 'recyclables'.


[Names are written with Sharpie pens.]

I hope you also noticed the 'bed dividers'.  They are granite pieces I gathered from the stone-slab cutting shop - they throw these waste pieces out in a pile for the landfills. I brought in a few and used it like this, since I cannot even think of wood on the soil due to termite menace. 


I have some spare blanks now.  

When I write the name on the top, I can still cut up that written portion later if I want to use it for other names in the next season, but the label will be slightly shorter. Squeeze the maximum out of it! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tennis racquet handles for chair


[Click to enlarge]

Out of the four tennis racquets which were used by my grandfather in his prime [pre-1950], two were in very poor shape having weak 'necks' and had become excellent scraps!  When I started playing tennis in 1984, I had thought of using one of the other two in better shape, but none was good enough at all. There was no point in keeping the two really bad ones anymore. So I had separated the handles from the heads by cutting at the necks. The two handles were good and strong. They had gone to the scrap-wood box.  

Around 1990, I had taken up clearing up scrap wood that had accumulated. Some odds and ends were chosen when I took up this little project of making a small chair from such materials. The tennis racquet handles were just right for the front legs!  See carefully in the picture above. The curved back rest was from an old broken chair.  The seat is made of two pieces of plywood from some parcel box. It measures just about 20 inches to the top of the back rest. Kid chair! 

This became one of my favourite furniture.  The children loved it. It became a study chair for them for some years - with a folded bed linen for a pillow on it.  It can take a lot of weight and is quite sturdy.  I have used only glue [Fevicol] and screws. 

It is a very handy furniture even for reaching the fan for cleaning or replacing tubes or bulbs.  It is suitable as a 'step-up' stool, in the absence of a proper ladder!  It is a circus scene when I kept 4, one above the other to do some work with the lights!  Took a sample scene for this post.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Upcycling a Roly-Poly Bell


I have posted a replica of this piece in Mysorean Musings blog also.
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In the mid 1960s, my grandfather handed over Twenty Rupees to his 'junior lawyer', Srinivasachar who was going to Madras [now Chennai] to bring some good toys or play things for my young brother.  Twenty rupees was a substantial sum in those days that could have got some really good toys but Srinivasachar returned with two Roly poly toys for a little fellow who had long outgrown the type of toy, despite knowing how old this boy was!  What a silly selection from him, the elders used to remark.  Even I thought so at that small age! The dolly toys went up into the showcase right away.  They were only taken out and given to little babies for playing when they visited our house.  The above is one of the two surviving toys, and was useful when babies of our own arrived, more than 25 years after Srinivasachar purchased.

The bell tones from the toy as it went 'weebly-wobbly' impressed me for their absolute pleasantness.  I badly wanted to see what was producing those bell tones inside.  I held it up against strong sunlight with a hope of seeing its shadow in it but could not.  The two 'hemispheres' were joined together, but it was out of my limits to attempt to open and close back. The only option was to break open, as was my wont.  

My joy knew no bounds when there was a crack near the joint, after many years, in the late 80s.  It did not matter how it developed, but it was a great delight to me.  Since there were two roly polys, I did not mind breaking one to satisfy my long standing curiosity!  Finally I gave in to the temptation.   What a joyful experience it was to break open with my own hands and lay them on the ting-tong mechanism!  In fact, I wanted to see this from the day it came!!

Picture: Beautiful!  It is something similar to those from a jukebox!
The ring is suspended in the centre to strike the steel wire-gongs when the doll changes its angle even slightly.  Different lengths will produce different frequency sounds. Absolute melody!

Now what to do with it?  It would not work outside the sealed doll!  So I wanted to do something just to bring back those bell tones.  I found that a packing cardboard cylinder made a perfect fit to this.  I closed its two ends, suspended the striker ring at its proper place and lo, ting tong was back, albeit with softer sound due to the cardboard.  
Roly poly bell was now in a different shell! 

After a few years it was baby time.  I discovered that the baby was also attracted to this sound.  So I suspended my new cylindrical creation to the cradle in such a way that when the baby beat her legs, it was serving like an alarm bell.  In this picture [click on it to magnify] it is kept on top of the cradle in idle position. This is the only photo I have.  It has to be left freely suspended outside to 'activate'.  This was another project I enjoyed thoroughly.

Someone gave her a new roly poly for her first birthday and this produces even better sound.

I am again curious to know the difference in technology from the 60s to the 90s! 

May ting tong ting tong.

The beautiful and meaningful song ಆಡಿಸಿ ನೋಡು ಬೀಳಿಸಿ ನೋಡು ಉರುಳಿ ಹೋಗದು from the movie Kasturi Nivasa features this weebly wobbly toy.  See this clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhuieInmdIU

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Baby Net Bed and Vice Horse Table

In the early 60s, my uncle was running a book circulating library in our locality.  It was just a shed-like single room.  It had a wooden board hung outside.  The library was situated on Jayalakshmi Vilas Road.  The library had to be closed down in the mid 1960s mainly due to his own poor health. He eventually died in 1967.

This board lay around here and there, on top of book almirahs, etc. and of no use.  It was in the store room when I picked it up for my small wood projects which I had started to make in the late 80s. 


The  board is beautifully painted and is made of a single-plank of wood.

It had border beading which I removed.  From waste pieces of wood I gave this board 4 legs.  A short table was now ready.  It is just about 15 inches high and is very convenient to sit and do certain small carpentry works. It was a perfect extension for a low cot which I was using for some years.  The cot was a foot short in length which this new table made up.  Whenever I needed it for work I was taking it out from there.  

It serves as a very good 'Horse Table' as it is called.  It became a "Vice Horse Table" after I fixed a vice to it and has become a very important thing in my 'workshop'. 


Now the second part of this post.

The long and nice border beading pieces of that board came in useful for making a Baby Net Bed which I made in 1994.  

Hanging Net Beds for babies were new at that time.  I wanted one for our little one, but its price tag was a wee too much.  Why not I make one at home?  I knew the materials like tape, zipper and net were available in shops and I had the necessary cloth at home.  I had mentally copied the design and bought the materials. The border beading was just perfect for this - see them protruding a little bit in the picture below - I did not want to cut it down. There was not much trouble in finding the two other shorter pieces to make the rectangle frame.  What was in the market was of metal.   


Left: Baby in the net; Right: Taken out now, for sharing it in this blog.

It was fun making it and it certainly costed me less while I used some available materials at home. 
The little one enjoyed its time in it with no hassles of insects while it also served as a cradle. 

There are several attractive varieties available in the market now.

Vintage Dog Chain repurposed

My grandmother used to tell about Jimmy and Tippy were two pet dogs that were with the great grandfather's family in the 1920s and 30s.  It was in the house which he built in 1911 and the family stayed till 1950 before renting it out.  But in my time in that other house there has been no pet animal with us.  I moved back to that, now 102-year old house in 1998, where Jimmy-Tippy ran around and got chained at times.

Among vintage junk, I had found the rusty dog chain from those days.  There was an instant fondness for its snap hook.  Since there was no intention of having a dog, I wanted to find some other use for this strong chain.  

There was a need for my travel suitcase to be chained during the rail journeys - as they are done here - because of thefts happen at night esp. in normal sleeper bogies [not much in higher class compartments]. So passengers prefer to secure their important luggage with chains for which the Railways also have provided rings under the seats to lock them. 

I was using a cheap chain for my travel which was not strong.  Now this rusty dog chain was all set to be converted into my travel chain.  Neither the snap hook nor the T-handle at the other end were useful as a travel chain.  So I cut them off. I had my sturdy travel chain ready! 


It has traveled with me on several journeys since I made it ten years ago.

But what was to be done with my favourite snap hook?   It was just the perfect key-less locking arrangement on the inside latch of our main door.  Jimmy-Tippy hook is useful to this day, this way.


Picture of it with latch open. 

Close-up of snap hook:


Countering mosquitoes, 'Dinuway!'

I made a Mosquito Masher, the only one in the world [I claim!] which is very handy but this post is about another method I resorted to counter mosquito menace indoors. 
All pictures here are taken by me. Click on them to get a magnification.


We do not feel the prick of these Aedes mosquitoes [Asian Tiger Mosquito], but the poison it injects will make us scratch the area for a long time, which can drive us crazy esp. if we are doing something that demands high concentration and focus.  I'm getting pricked in the garden by what we call commonly as 'garden mosquito'.  They are active in daytime.

Swat!


But how often can we do that and what is the success rate?  And where is the patience?

They know where to prick, even through my pyjama fabric. Below is a good macro shot I got of a Culex mosquito.  See its bulged belly full of MY blood.  I allowed it to have its fill for this photo.  
Swat again!


The latest swat, an Aedes which causes a rash. 


These are some of the larger mosquitoes in my garden - not as bothersome as the two smaller varieties above. They live more on plant protein.  See this collage of  7 images:


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In my college days, the mosquitoes waited for my legs to come under the study table, to suck blood.   My exposed feet were vulnerable and the pyjamas covered only up to the ankles. The attacks used to be so disconcerting, why during study, even at other times also and even now, while at the computer desk.

Its favourite areas for attack besides feet are back of the arm, under the sleeve and at the neck which exposes on bending the head to read a book on the desk.  Of course, --clap-- one wafted across the monitor - missed - they look for exposed areas of the face/head too.  

During one of my cricket tours, I asked my senior team-mate [a sort of 'know-all'] Mr.Krishnaprasad, why mosquitoes preferred the feet or back of forearm.  "They like dark and shadow areas" he said.  Indeed, he was right.  Now I can vouch for that as well after observing for a long time since, besides the fact that these blood suckers also like other exposed areas which they feel right to prick.  Sitting at the desk did not end with college days, so the botheration persists.  Now we have computers at home where we spend quite a bit of time, putting the feet under the dark space under the table. How about laptops? 

I have tried mosquito repellent creams, vapours from a medicated mat or smoke from a medicated 'coil'. But I needed to find a cheap and effective way to keep the blood suckers at bay, at least not disturbing my feet and arms.  I used my sports socks to good effect but needed something more comfortable and easy to remove and put on, to cover at least up to the shins.  I also later discovered that my old torn pyjama legs would help.  It did.  I had put velcro at the knees to prevent them from sliding down and closed the bottom to make it like a bag. So my legs were in these 'two bags' while I sat at the desk. 

There was always scope for improvement.  I wanted my track suit upper to be sleeveless.  So I cut off the long sleeves [see me wearing on such shortened thing here].  I made two other suits like this.  Last week, when I cut off a pair of track bottom at the knees to make them shorts [see me wearing it here, cut off], I found the answer for my improvisation.  


I joined this and a pair from another track upper sleeves I had cut off.  

This is what I got now. 


The light blue will be on top and I can pull it up to the knee and even walk around too.  Now I can sit without disturbance at the feet.


What about the arms?  Another cut off pair of sleeves..... You can clip it there............ [if you are not wearing a ready full sleeve shirt!]


The following option was not feasible!  *Smile*


 I also keep these alternatives handy just in case:  Mosquito Repellent Coil or Sprays [seen in picture] or Cream [not in pic]. 


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Let me show you some mosquito larvae in my garden - they find stagnant water somewhere.  I change water in the barrels when it matters.



For mosquito net is the best option for sleeping though. This is a vintage cot, more than 120 years old in my estimate. You see net frames were designed even at that time indicating that the 'skeeters' have been bothering humans all along.

My witty friend Papacchi used to tell he used to sit on his cot and allow the skeeters to come near him.  Once they were there, he would bring down the net and kill them since they could not escape out. 

Another witty colleague used to tell when he bought mosquito repellent creams he did not know that it was to be smeared on our skins.  He thought mosquitoes had to be caught and cream applied to them, so they would repel away! 

Blood donation is an important service that helps save lives.  I sometimes stayed in my relative's house in Bangalore where huge mosquitoes were abound [1980s] in that then new locality [Padmanabhanagar].  In the mornings, my bed would look like some murder had taken place but I was alive.  All the beds in Chandu's house was like that!  What a job it was to wash those blood-stained sheets!  I was fond of saying that 'I donated blood' when I stayed there. I have not seen anything like it any time. 


The word "mosquito" is Spanish for "little fly," and its use dates back to about 1583 in North America (Europeans referred to mosquitoes as "gnats"). Mosquitoes belong to the order Diptera, true flies. Mosquitoes are like flies in that they have two wings, but unlike flies, their wings have scales, their legs are long and the females have a long mouth part (proboscis) for piercing skin. ["HowStuffWorks.com]

Monday, April 21, 2014

Clock into photo-frame

Employees were given a memento to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of formation of our HQ. It was in the form of a clock, so horribly designed that its dial was dark blue and and hands, black.  Visibility of the hands / time was very difficult. I tried painting the hands yellow which did help, but the clock itself went kaput in less than a year.  Several colleagues also had the same complaint!  What a shame for such a commemoration! 

I threw away the clock in disgust, but retained the frame - actually better than the clock!  I cut up a Master's picture and replaced the clock in the frame. Lo, I can still use that commemorative clock's 'remaining portion', which was otherwise junk.