Thursday, September 23, 2010

In the Studio: Homemade Dust Filter

My super fantastic dust collector.

If you've ever used a serger, you know that it can generate some serious lint. With what I do, the lint can get overwhelming both physically and emotionally. I worry what all those little fibers are doing to my body and our home. My first step to battle the lint was to purchase a canister vac with a hose so I can periodically suck up the lint. This did help, however I knew I could do better.

I often wear a dust mask when I lay out skirts (just moving cut sweaters is linty) and when I sew. I found that traditional dust mask work well, but they tend to irritate my face, so I fashioned a cowboy style dust mask from several layers of fleece. Between this and the constant vacuuming, the air in my studio has improved, but constantly wearing a dust mask makes my work feel like hard work, so I began to look for an alternative.

Here I am sewing with my dust mask and headphones.

I considered buying an expensive air filter but worried that the amount of lint I generate would instantly destroy it. Instead I rigged up my own air filter using a recycled mail box, a small fan, and several layers of high lift quilt batting.

small circular fan (mine is about 10" in diameter)
box (I recycled a 12 X 12 X 8 priority mail box, just make sure your fan barely fits inside)
2 scrap pieces of high loft polyester quilt batting the same size as your box
packing tape
box cutter or serrated bread knife

1. tape the box on one side be sure to tape on the edges for all four flaps.

2. Cut a circle the approximate size of your fan using the knife (i prefer a serrated bread knife b/c it works like a saw) tape the flaps around the circle to secure.

3. on the side of your box cut a rectangular opening on three sides to allow access to your fan to turn on and off. Leave the flap attached to act like a door.

The access door for fan controls.

4. Put the fan inside the box and tape it to the bottom of the box. Pull the cord through one of the corners between the flaps.

4. On the untaped side of the box, cut off the top flap. For the three remaining flaps, measure in 1" and on the inside of the flap using the dull side of the knife (or a pen) score a line to allow easy folding.

5. fold the flaps in and then measure out 1" and cut off the remainder of the flap. fold in the flaps and tape. This will create the channel for your filter to sit.

This shot shows the handle attachment and the filter slot.

6. using 1" scraps of cardboard, staple the two layers of quilt batting to the cardboard on all four sides. I taped the corners of min to be sure they stayed together (the staples do not like to go through two layers of cardboard).

The filter sitting outside of the slot.

7. put your filter in and secure with a few straight pins (if not when you turn on your fan the air pressure will suck the filter inside the box).

This shows the filter being inserted into the slot. I taped the top of the filter and stuck a few straight pins through the cardboard to hold it in place when the fan is on.

8. Using a 3-4" scrap of cardboard, create the handle by folding it in thirds. About 1 " up from both ends of the handle cut through the outside folds and spread out to create feet. Tape the middle section around to make a smooth handle and securely tape the to the top of the box.

I have my filter placed directly behind my serger at tableheight and it seems to do a really great job pulling the dust away from me. I can actually see the dust collecting on the fiberfill. When it gets full, I will try vacuuming it first and if that fails, I'll make a new filter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Songs to Live By: Decemberists - California One /Youth and Beauty Brigade

While moving away from Los Angeles definitely had it's benefits (home ownership, Grandma Louise), there are definitely days I miss it. Growing up, aside from the fact that my Aunt Carol lived there, I could see no reason to even visit California, yet through a twist of fate I ended up at Cal Arts for graduate school in 2001.

We lived there for almost six years. We grew two babies, made friends, ate delicious food, hiked the mountains, sat on beaches, saw a few B list celebrities, but my favorite memory is driving down highway 1 on the fourth of July. The sun set just as the highway hit the beach. There were people camped out on the beach shooting fireworks out over the ocean. Sylvia was sleeping in the backseat and Scott and I quietly took it all in.

There are so many little unexpected things about Los Angeles that I miss. Hazy layers of city stacked against the hills, mountains hugging the edges, full of people from all over the world where a person can eventually find anything they should wish. It's a longing I never thought I'd be capable of feeling for a gigantic monster like Los Angeles.

I fought the urge to romanticize California (truly it is not in my nature to romanticize ANYTHING) yet anytime I hear someone singing about California my heart swells and my sappy side shows. Iowa is where we'll stay, but for some reason, it's these quiet drizzly days (the days I liked the most in Los Angeles) that remind me that we've left.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Around Our House: Squash Gone Wild!

ONE days harvest! I am so sick of eating summer squash!

This is the year of the squash! We planted several varieties, but ONE has managed to take over nearly our entire back yard... Zucchino Rampicante Squash.

It IS delicious. It is firmer than regular zucchini, and it is hilarious and slightly pornographic (we like to wear the big ones around our necks while we stroke the swollen bulb at the end for comedic effect).

I was happy to see OTHER neighbors with squash gone wild. I suppose it likes the super wet summer we've had.

Tonight I shall make stuffed squash blossoms. We'll see if we can't stop the reproduction for a few days!

Here is our plant. Taking over the world. Look for it in your neck of the woods any day now...