Emerald the Hummingbird

Somewhere in my town is a webcam set up to watch a hummingbird nest built upon a string of fairy lights. Reading about this hummingbird (birds?), which is identified as an Allen’s Hummingbird , is interesting. I have linked to an eagle cam in Decorah, Iowa; by accident I came across this one.

We get hummingbirds zooming through our side yard, where the flower pots are, along with Monarch butterflies, and other critters. I always delight in these intimate views of nature and am so glad we have the technology to enjoy them.

Beached and Not

I am trying to change my slap dash approach to watercolor that occurs when I don’t paint with them for awhile. Then I need to redevelop the discipline and forethought required for the medium. It’s aggravating, but necessary, and if I don’t make it a serious endeavour, it is very rewarding. I learn something each time.

I decided to begin with boats. The shape of boats is really not logical unless you break down the shape into squares or rectangles connected with curved lines. Then it can work. Here I focused on the shapes and shadows of two rusted old girls. Not a great study, but I really tried to see light and dark, searching for warm and cool as well.

Another beached wreck. This one is obviously of wooden construction – the slats along the sides. Building wooden boats is fascinating. I’ve watched some being built as well as seen videos about the process. Where I live, boats live in nice marinas, and sometimes in dry docks, but never are they left moored with an anchor or buoy to rest on the sand when the tide goes out. Of course, the California coast is not full of inlets and bays that are protected – there are a few, such as San Francisco Bay – but that is like a giant lake!

Here, I tried to catch the algae on the hull of the boat as well as the shadows. I didn’t do a very good job with the lines of the slats which make up the shape of the boat itself. I did try to catch her character and age as she lies abandoned on the shore.

After “Fishing Boats, Key West” by Winslow Homer

Finally, I decided to see what I could learn from Winslow Homer. He paints boats with abandon! New England boats, sail boats, row boats. Having lived during the 1800s, he saw sails to power boats more than steam or coal. His paintings are filled with detail and, to me, his watercolors are so alive I feel I am in the middle of them.

I don’t think a seaman would approve of my renderings – I am pretty much a landlubber, but I have sailed a bit in my younger days. There is something about the wind and the sea and the speed of it all – but it scares the hell out of me as much as it thrills!

First, and Early

No April Fool’s. Three rainstorms this winter, and this is what we can expect – fires. Ten minutes down the road from me.

The state of California has hired 1400 more firefighters in anticipation of a long and horrible fire season. With the massive we burns we have had locally and in the mountains, there is some speculation that the fire season will not be as bad as the damage is already done, but it will occur nonetheless. And be fierce.

I keep thinking I need to move someplace else before all I see are cacti and dirt. California is not the only place suffering – drought is affecting our crops. In the midwest, the bread basket of the country, is losing top soil, is no longer the same environment it was 50 years ago. Everywhere, we need to learn to farm more strategically for dryer climes.

I hate to think what this summer will bring.

The Koala at Rest, the Koala in Use

Josh got home and helped me with a few things. First, we installed the pegs that allow the left hand tray / fabric support to rest securely on the left-hand doors. Next, we installed the longer footers on the foot rest.

Side and Notion Trays, with Chair, i

This is how we plan to store the cabinet overnight. Will we be running into in the dark? I also have my drafting table chair pushed in because that is an important element. I need to measure how high it is, seat to ground, in case we decide (I decide!) if having to move a chair room to room is a major inconvenience. If so, I will need to know how far up or down a chair can go when and if I buy another one.

If you look into the foot space of the cabinet, you can see that my machine is lowered and the plug / machine cover is in place.

Side and Notion Trays, with Chair, ii

This is a view from the other side of the table which gives a better view of the plug on the top of the machine.

The Next Day . . .

Okay, overnight I stored it like this, both shelves on, folded in, and chair in place. No one got nailed in the middle of the night!

Now, in use . . .

Sewing Cabinet in Use!

I have set up the cabinet as I want to use it today. The extension table is out to support the rotary cutting mat. The left side has had its tray removed and stowed in a storage area in the footwell of the cabinet. The left side drawers are folded back so that the cabinet can be rolled in closer to the wall. My old typing table from the last century (I think even 1970s) is supporting a portable tabletop ironing board. The iron itself rests on a silicon mat so it won’t burn the ironing board cover. Time to iron and then sew another quilt square – and there are 4 in this pattern, so off I go!

The Koala Has Landed!

Yep, the sewing cabinet arrived yesterday. No drums or Main Street parades, but locked up dogs and both front doors open. This is a floor model of a cabinet made by Koala Studios, and the quality is superb. Even better, it’s domestic, and that makes me quite happy.

Koala Studios Brochure

Warning! Lots of external links to Flickr (where you can enlarge any image) and watch a video I made of the machine support going up and down.

Tim, from Kingdom Sewing, along with his kids and a friend, delivered it. The whole process went smoothly and quickly. Tim explained this and that, as well as showed how things work. Let us begin!


The cabinet against its blank wall. I have to fill up that space! It stands between the door to the hallway and the bathroom in the master bedroom. It matches the oak trim and base board (removed and not yet replaced, sigh), but doesn’t work with the floor. My opinion.

If you enlarge the photo above by going to Flickr (click on picture), you will see the plug that covers the machine lift that lowers and hides the machine into the cabinet. The cabinet itself measures 53-54 inches wide, 26 inches deep, 33 inches high. An extension table in the back doubles the depth of the table to 52 inches.

In the US, 29.5 inches is a pretty standard height for work surfaces, so I am actually a bit higher up than at the dining table, where I currently do all my sewing.

The cabinet rolls about extraordinarily easily and smoothly with very high quality casters that can be locked into place. It moves far more easily than my smaller white sewing cabinet. Wow! is all I can say to that.

Closed with Floor Lamp

Another image of the cabinet closed, with my floor lamp I use. It will be on the left side when I sew. If you click on this image (and any) you will go to my Flickr page. Admire the paint can we use as a door stop . . . and I need to get something on that wall above the cabinet. Ikea pegboards? A painting? Shelves? Walruses and peanut butter?

Machine on Closed Cabinet

Here, the machine plug has been removed, a rubber cushioning mat (to cut down on vibration and to protect the surface from any ickiness under the machine), and a machine placed on top.

Opened with Left and Right Side Shelves

Here the cabinet is opened. My flashlight is on top. The doors are opened and folded to accommodate the shelves that can be mounted on top of them. Each shelf has pegs that you attach to the bottom of the shelf. These shelf pegs then can be inserted into holes on the tops of the folding doors and locked into place. The doors can be moved around or locked into place by locking the wheels.

Left Side with Shelf

This is the left side of the cabinet. The shelf is smooth. It can be used to support a serger, swung in to support fabric at the far left of the cabinet, or swung in closer to support long, as opposed to wide, bits of fabric, when the extension is fully to the left.

Left Side Drawers

There are three drawers on the left of the machine, and because of the taller height of the cabinet, there is also a shelf cubby for a shallow storage container. To the right of the bottom drawer you can see a shelf. This is a foot rest. It comes with different footings so I can make it higher if I want – this is great for either tall people (shorter footings) or short people (taller footings). I haven’t figured out what I need yet – I have to see if I want to buy another chair or just use the one in the studio at the drafting table.

View with Right Side Utility Shelf

The right side of the sewing cabinet is wide open, with the doors swung as far back as they can go. The notion tray is on the top. In the back left, you will see some black – these are holes into which I can place scissors to hang down. The other indentations can hold things that might roll around, such as spools of thread or a bobbin.

Again, you can see the foot rest on the bottom part of the cabinet, and the cubby at the top of the drawers. On the left side of the open space (knee space) is the left side of the motorized machine lift, which is currently up. The indentation on the top of the cabinet shows you this.

Sewing Utility Tray

This is the notion tray. The two black rings are for scissors. If you look closely at the lower left, you will see the power switch, “on” with the blue light apparent, that allows you to raise or lower the machine support as you desire.

Power Lift

Here is the power switch, turned on. As you can see, there is also a “remote control” for the machine lift! I can have it on or off.

Remote Control

Remote control! Notice the different shape of the up and down buttons? How clever is that? I did a phone video of the lift going up and down with a machine on it. I filmed it with my cell phone and triggered it with the remote control. When I try to put it into this post, there are weird gaps above and below it, so click on this link to see it if you want: https://flic.kr/p/2kNLDU8

Extension Table Legs

The extension is supported by two flanges which roll out. The one on the left is snug against the undersurface of the extension, but the one on the right needs some help. It flops around a bit. That is a problem to be solved in the not too distant future . . . As you can see, there are also holes for electrical cords, one at the top for lamps, and one at the bottom for the machine lift on the motor. I am still working that out how I want to set it up.

Extension Table

Here you can see how smoothly the extension sits next to the table itself. This prevents snagging of fabric as you sew.

Machine and Table Extension

I’ve rolled the cabinet out and lifted up the extension, holding it in place with two supporting panels which swing out. The machine is totally raised up and resting on a rubber mat which will prevent damage to the surface of the machine support.

Smudgely Supervision, II

Smudge is here to supervise. She likes a photo op whenever possible. (Or is it a photo bomb?)

Notions Tray at Far Right

Sewing machine in place, notions tray in place.

Nice Hardware, Baby!

Nice hardware, baby!

Cabinet, Chair, Extension

Ready to sew! Good light, adjustable chair, table extension, notions tray.

And there you have it! It will take a bit to work out how to do things and figure out what will work to my liking and my needs.

The extension table will be useful to support large items I am sewing. An issue with it is that one of the extensions appears to be a little short. Lopsided floor? I will have to move the cabinet around a bit to determine the situation, have Josh look at it, and / or call Tim.

I will want to put a mat under the chair to keep from wearing out the flooring when I roll around. The chair is adjustable in height, but may be a bit too wide and too deep for proper support when sewing for a long time. Lumbar support means a less deep chair if it is going to work. The foot rest inside the cabinet may need to be raised with the longer footings. I prefer to have my knees up and bent a bit, not dangling or having my toes lower than my heels. The chair itself is nice as it has a foot rest on it, but may not be the best when sewing. Again, that will need to be worked out.

The notion and side trays must be locked in on top of the folding doors. If not, they will topple off and break or otherwise get damaged. I managed to do it by myself, but that screwdriver needs to be close at hand!

Altogether, I think this is going to be a great bit of furniture to use while sewing. There is a lot it has to offer and adapts to situations and needs.