Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hodgepodge 183/365 - Problem Solving

This evening at dinner on the patio of the Volcano Union Inn—so pleasant to be able to dine outside!—we five workshoppers plus Susan's affable husband, Mark, talked about, among other things, our final day's tasks tomorrow.

Susan and Laurie are both making a leather-metal book with (metal) hinges and a staple. Susan is almost done—she just needs to glue; Laurie has been struggling with the hinges and will not finish the book here, but will be able to at home in Minnesota. Carol is making a similar binding, but with very different decoration, and I'm not sure what her closure system is. She should be able to finish up tomorrow. Joanne, whom I worked with last year, has been laboring over her book, a velvet-bound "kit" of The Secret Garden, for five years (one week at a time, mind you), mostly making "jewelry" for it. Today she bound the book (no metal involved). Tomorrow she must attach the jewelry she's made these last several years, and she's afraid she won't be able to finish. We all assured her—not that we know anything . . . —that once she gets started drilling holes in her beautiful book to attach the metal (eek!), she'll get the hang of it and it will go quickly. She seemed skeptical.

Me, I finished my book today. Here are some pictures taken under bad light at my inn (pillow as platform):

As we talked, Mark listened with interest. When we'd finished, he threw in that today while he was driving from the Sierra foothills down toward Sacramento, he'd been listening to NPR. Car Talk came on. One segment involved a discussion of just how to attach hundreds of rhinestones to a car—what sorts of glues would work, what it would do to the finish, how big the rhinestones should be.* He said that having heard that segment today, he felt he knew exactly what we were talking about  in our animated dinner conversation.

And indeed: our problem solving in this relatively arcane context is exactly like problem solving the world over, in a multitude of contexts. There are materials; there are techniques; there are steps one has to follow; there are shortcuts—which sometimes one should not take; there are desired outcomes; there are discoveries. As Christine puts it, "An amateur says, 'Oops.' A professional says, 'There.'" There have been a lot of "there" moments these last few days. And all in all, I think each of us is very pleased with all we've learned, as well as with our final products.

*The story in question can be found at, segment #1717, "The Rhinestone Sundance."

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