Posted by: quilnib | January 12, 2008

Sometimes my Creativity Impresses even Me

Sometime between February and March of last year I got this crazy idea to make a miniature hammock. It was originally intended to be given to someone as a very late birthday present (it was late because I hadn’t met them until after their birthday, but it turns out that I was at their birthday party) after I finished it. I chickened out though and just left it in my room for a while. I did finally end up giving it to them as a graduation present and they loved it. Anyway, the thing took forever to make. The string I was using was ridiculously tiny, the knots were hard to make, and parts of it kept falling apart. Lets not mention the fact that the only materials I had to make this were the ones lying around my dorm at the time. The string I was using was actually thread from a giant spool that is usually used to sew mattresses. I used Q-tips with the cotton pulled off for the spacers at either end and some dice with holes drilled through them to have something to bring the strings together at either end. There was also some symbolism with the dice, but I guess that isn’t really important unless you were the one who got it and if you are that person then you already understand 🙂 . After putting something together so that it would hold the string while I was working, it took roughly 6 hours to make. I know, that sounds like it took way too long, but those strings are so tiny and painful to work with for long periods of time. That wasn’t even all the work though. I had to convince a friend that they wanted to drive to the home depot, because I realized I would need something to hold this hammock to display it. So I bought a fence post that measured roughly 4″x4″ and a hand saw so I could cut it. I had a great idea for a stand that was one piece of wood and would look really neat, but I quickly realized that I am not that good with a saw. I cut a regular flat piece, drilled a couple of angled holes (with my dremel, the best tool ever) and cut a couple small pieces of wood off of the post to use as the supports for the hammock (I also used my dremel to cut these pieces, which really annoyed my roommate because of the dust and the noise. Oops). Like I said I chickened out giving it to her (yes it was a her) for a while and finally gave it to her a the end of the year for a graduation present. She loved it and displayed it in her room all summer and for a while (until probably about October) during the semester (yeah, she graduated and was now living at home, but I used the semester as a measurement of time anyway). Now it is being “displayed” in a closet. Oh well, enjoy the couple of picture I’ve put up before I continue my story.

I was feeling creative again and thought “hey, since the last hammock might as well not exist anymore I could make another one, and because I am home for Christmas break I’ll have more materials and tools to work with.
Now Usually I don’t really make the same thing twice, it just doesn’t feel very creative anymore. Well, I did make another EXTREMELY creative thing (I’ve never heard of someone else doing it although I’m sure someone else has) that I was really happy with, but I am not talking about that for two reasons. The first is that it was/is a present ( the “was/is” depends on whether or not the person waited to open it and is still waiting like they should because it isn’t their birthday yet, or if they just opened it early) so I can’t really talk about it yet because there is always the small chance that they might read this and then ruin the surprise. The second is that I never even thought to take any pictures of it until after I mailed it. I’m really kicking myself for that one. If you just believe me that it is really cool then we will be set.
Having already made a miniature hammock before I had a few ideas on how to make it a bit nicer this time. The first was to change the spacers at the ends so the strings could no longer fall off. From there I thought of things like stronger strings and a nicer looking base. To accomplish the spacers I was going to cut small pieces of wood (with my dremel, man I love that tool) from the same fence post as before and then I realized that I had some extra chop sticks left over from my trip to Japan that I wouldn’t mind parting with. I cut the chop sticks so that you aren’t really able to notice how they taper that much and I was actually able to use the extra from them as the supports that come off of the base. That saved me a lot of work cutting and made the hammock look 100 times nicer. It looks like it has rose wood or something. I was always afraid that the strings on the first hammock weren’t very strong and that it would be too easy to accidentally break one of them. I make them stronger I braided each one of them. That means that I did still use the same tiny strings as before but I braided them to make them a lot stronger. One of these braided strings takes over 45 minutes to make, not multiply that by eight to figure out the least amount of time I could have spent just braiding for this project. I couldn’t make more than two strings a day because I was still using that tiny string and it was so painful on my hands that even two a day was pushing it. Then I went about threading the strings through some tiny holes I drilled in the chop sticks and tying together the actual knots of the hammock. This took a while, but I knew what I was doing this time and the strings were three times thicker than last time so the process went a little bit smoother. Ok, so the strings are taken care of, the spacers are done, and I even know how I’m going to support the hammock on the stand; now I have to make the stand. I found the fence post that I am so fond of making projects out of (I honestly don’t really have that much to choose from in the way of materials and being a college student I am very poor) and cut a small flat piece off of it to make the base. Since I actually had sandpaper at my disposal this time I used it to round off the edges and give the stand a nice smooth look. Almost done. I drilled holes at either end of the stand at angles that seemed appropriate, inserted the chop stick ends and adjusted a little bit. Using a little epoxy I glued the chop sticks in and cut off the tips that were poking out of the bottom of the stand. Once more I used my dremel and cut notches in the supports sticking out of the stand so I could put the strings somewhere and I was done. I put a little glue on the knots on either end to make sure they didn’t come apart, but that was negligible. If the first hammock took over six hours to make just for the actual hammock and not including the stand (I honestly don’t know how long the stand took, but it was a couple of hours because of the change in ideas and some fixing I had to do) then you can imagine that this next one took a bit more time. The second one took over twelve hours of actual work, meaning I took out time from distractions and starting and stopping and spent twelve hours (more actually) of pure work making this. You might ask, whether it was worth all the work. If you knew me you would know that I would say “yes” every single time with any project I make, because the work is actually fun and stimulating for my brain, plus people usually like the things I make. I love finding new people that inspire me to make new things. They don’t come along often, but when they do it is amazing what I come up with. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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