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Don’t Weld in Your Underwear (and Other Beginner Welding Tips)

beginner welding tips

Alright, you got me. I didn’t really weld in my underwear. It was technically a pair of boxer shorts I wore as pajamas. This was years ago when I bought my first low-powered welder and thought I could be a welding genius in two minutes or less. I wasn’t. So I put the welder in the shed and my burnt boxer shorts in the garbage.

Fast forward nine years later, and I no longer have the delusions of being a welding genius in two minutes or less. I also wear pants and sensible shoes. Yes, I’ve gotten serious about the art of welding, investing in a high-powered, multi-purpose welding machine as well as a plasma cutting system. Heavy metal, here I come.

Beginning welders have a lot to learn, stuff that goes far beyond welder types, shielding gas and the melting point of mild steel. Things you won’t find in a beginner welding guide or manual. Things that include a handful of do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the hard way. Ready?

DON’T wear Crocs.

The little holes in the Crocs tops let little bits of flame fall directly on your feet. Ouch. Invest in a sensible pair of shoes, preferably made of a less-meltable material than rubber.

DO adjust the timer on your automatic watering system.

It’s not a good thing when the automatic watering kicks on at 6:04 p.m. while you’re still on the back porch playing around with metal and electricity.

DON’T expect a regular household current to cut it.

Some welding machines and plasma cutting systems say they can work on both the regular 110 household outlets as well as the 220 outlets, which are usually reserved for things like air conditioning units and dryers. Don’t believe them. The 110 option will sputter out, blow the fuse, and make you think it’s all your fault the metal won’t stick together.

Call Mr. Electric, get the 220 outlet installed, and go to town. It’s amazing what double the electric power can do for sticking metal together. 

DO remember dogs are people, too.

That means their eyes will get all starry and blurry if they look at the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays of the welding arc. Since outfitting them with a welding helmet or goggles doesn’t work that well, try a welding curtain.

Instead of one of the big jamung curtains that stretch over 12 feet or more, I purchased a rather expensive tabletop curtain that I amended to sit on my welding table. Ever since I bought it, the dogs haven’t even been outside when I’m welding, never mind actually looking anywhere near the general direction of what I’m doing.

Guess it’s like the umbrella theory. It’ll never rain when you’re carrying one.

DON’T listen to piano-based classical music.

Classical piano music is ideal for certain types of creation, like painting, writing poetry or sculpting a naked statue of David. Welding needs a heavier, rougher sound. My two favorites so far have been Robin Trower (thanks, Beezel!) and live Jane’s Addiction, which comes complete with all kinds of swearing. The swearing blends in nicely with my own.

DO keep welding’s universal axiom in mind.

Most activities have a universal axiom that inevitably comes true. The one for motorcycle riding is something like: “It’s not if you’ll fall, it’s when you’ll fall.” There’s a similar one for beginning welders:

“It’s not if you’ll get burned, it’s when you’ll get burned.”

Mine happened when I unthinkingly removed my super-thick leather welding gloves to press my palm on a welded angle I just finished to make it wider. Yes, that was really dumb. No, I will never do it again.

And if you want to get the burning over with early in your welding career, you can always cut to the chase by wearing Crocs or welding in your underwear.

Be safe, and enjoy!

Feel free to check out some of my welding projects thus far, with more to come for sure (especially now that I have a really expensive welding curtain my dogs don’t even need).

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38 Things You Can Do with the Rynski Dragon Metal Divider Thing

It’s new. It’s hot. And it’s ready for action. That leaves just one question:

What the heck is it?

The working title for this new work of rynski art is the “Rynski Decorative Metal Privacy Divider Thing.” Lame name, I know. I’m in the market for a snappier name if anyone has ideas!

The item is a 16-guage, heavy duty steel plate featuring fabulous cut-outs to create the shape of a dragon skeleton. The plate stands up on its own, thanks to feet folded directly out of the metal, making it a solid, no-nonsense piece of work.

The steel is topped off with weather-resistant paint designed to withstand outdoor elements as well as indoor dust. Metal divider measures 34 inches long x 28 inches high x about 10 inches deep (with feet sticking out about 4 inches or so on either side).

One of the best things about the thing is its extreme versatility. It can be used for privacy, as an accent screen, as yard and garden décor, as a fireplace screen, as a room divider, as a door or hallway blocker, as a decorative panel, or even as a gate ornament or wall hanging.

Check out the list of 38 things you can do with the thing for a better idea of what I mean.

Block your dog from your outdoor welding area.

Block your robotic vacuum from entering unwanted territory.

Block cats from slithering into strange spaces.

Block people, pets and things from crawling in and out of windows.

Stop neighbors from peeking in your bedroom.

Stop ne’er do wells from peeking in your yard.

Freak out your neighbors at night.

Freak out your neighbors during the day.

Add ambiance to parties.

Hide unsightly corners crammed with crap.

Hide ugly trash cans in your office.

Hide beautiful trash cans on your patio.

Block the fridge when you’re on a diet. 

Block flames when used as a fireplace screen (protective perforated metal backing and fire-proofing available upon request).

Block bats from entering the belfry (again, with a metal or screen backing option).

Block small children from your outdoor gazebo (which is really a glorified dog house).

Hide those horrible utility boxes in your yard.

Hide the godawful litter box.

Keep kids away from your grill.

Replace your boring headboard.

Replace standard office cubicle dividers.

Add pizzazz to an open floor plan.

Add intrigue to your coffee table.

Add a jazzy touch to a traditional mirror (with the rynski metal divider placed in front of it).

Grace your garden entrance.

Grace your patio or porch.

Grace your coolest pal with the coolest gift.

See how far you can stick your arm through the holes.

See if you can stick your head through (kidding!).

See if you can snap an artsy selfie of your face behind the open eye area.

Stop dogs from peeing on your favorite plants.

Stop dogs from scratching up your doors or walls.

Stop kids from running down the hallway.

Create privacy for your desk area.

Create a stylish vibe in your foyer.

Create conversation no matter where you put it.

Wonder if you should have ordered it in bronze with blue patina.

Wonder how you ever lived without one.

Get yours now at the rynski etsy shop!

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Is Your Dog Fat? How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

fat dog

Elmo is a big dog, but the vet says 109 pounds is just a bit too big. He’s not yet into the obesity stage, but he has joined the 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. who are officially overweight.

A handy chart at the vet lets you spot check if your dog is fat. The thing looks something like this:

dog weight chart

The chart says if your dog is a healthy weight, you’ll be able to easily feel his ribs. If his ribs are protruding, he’s underweight. If his ribs are covered by a slight padding like Elmo’s, he’s overweight. If his ribs are covered by enough padding to stuff a couch, your dog is obese.

Tips for Helping Your Dog Lose Weight

Even though most of us think “diet” is a nasty four-letter word, your dog doesn’t have to suffer while losing weight. These tips helped Elmo shed pounds once, and they can help once again.

Don’t quit treats cold turkey.

Dogs that have come to expect treats on demand will have a hard time accepting their demands are no longer being met. This counts triple if their demand involves cornering you near the kitchen counter by the treat jar and jumping up and down while wildly barking.

Rather than foregoing a treat altogether, try cutting the treat in half. Or thirds. Or even quarters. Reducing the amount of food given per feeding time can also work better than trying to cut out a feeding time completely.

Do try broccoli.

Broccoli comes with a calorie count lower than spring temperatures in Michigan. And most dogs spit it out the minute it hits their mouth. That means your dog gets zero calories and you still get points for giving a treat.

I remember reading somewhere that dogs don’t really care what you give them, as long as you give them something. I’m not sure if that’s true, but giving them broccoli can result in a notable dog weight loss if your dog doesn’t eat it. P.S. Elmo has since learned to eat it.

Don’t let the soulful eyes get to you.

When you hand over broccoli instead of, say, beef, your dog is likely to give you “that look.” It’s a sad look with soulful eyes that pierce your heart, wrenching it in half in a deeply powerful bid to please hand over some beef. Just. Say. No.

Do have a general idea of calorie counts.

While you don’t have memorize the calorie count of every food in the kitchen, like I did during my high school dieting phase, you should have a general idea of how many calories you’re feeding your dog. Some of those treats can pack a hefty punch.

Calories in Common Dog Snacks

  • 732 – Busy Bone, large
  • 672 – Beggin’ Chew, large
  • 443 – Busy Bone Dental, large
  • 182 – Pig’s Ear (Elmo’s favorite)
  • 115 – Milk Bone, large
  • 94 – Tbsp. Peanut Butter (Elmo’s second favorite)
  • 40 – Beggin’ Strips
  • 20 – Pup-Peroni (Every dog’s favorite)
  • 3 – Good ole Charlee Bears

The calorie chart also noted a bite of a McDonald’s cheeseburger adds 330 calories to a dog’s diet. Ouch.

Do have a general idea of how many calories your dog needs.

Just like people, lazy dogs need fewer calories than dogs that are always on the move. Low-calorie Charlee Bear has a chart that shows how many calories it takes to sustain certain weights.

Dog Weight: Calories Needed per Day

  • 20 pounds: 420 to 680
  • 50 pounds: 830 to 1,350
  • 100 pounds: 1,400 to 2,270

Don’t count rolling over in bed as exercise.

Increasing your dog’s exercise is another way to help him reach his desired weight. And no, much to Elmo’s dismay, rolling over in bed does NOT count as exercise.

Jumping around for his treats counts a little bit, and Elmo’s new trick of spinning in a circle counts even more. We’ll also add extended weekend walks to the list, after which he’ll be keenly rewarded with a big, juicy hunk of broccoli.

Want more fun dog info and facts? Get the Rynski Doggie Dictionary.

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How to Turn an Old Window into New Stained Glass Yard Art

stained glass old window

Old windows are always alluring. Not only do they have an innate charm, but they can stir up fond memories of living in a farmhouse somewhere in Kansas – even if you’ve never set foot in Kansas in your life.

They also make for an incredible art project that can add a pop of color and coolness to any home or yard. Mine ended up in my yard just because I really have no more room in my home. But the stained glass project can look equally as dazzling propped in front of a kitchen window as it can hanging on the side of a backyard archway.

What You Need

  • Old window
  • Sandpaper and scraper
  • Painter’s tape (invest in the blue one already)
  • Glass cleaner and degreaser
  • Rags
  • Patience
  • Paint for window frame
  • Paint for window glass
  • Hanging hardware
old window for stained glass project

What You Do

Your first step is to somehow obtain an old window. Prying one off a farmhouse in Kansas is always an option, although you’ll probably do better scouring shops that sell used building materials. Betcha Tucson’s Gersons has a few.

I lucked out by inheriting my old window from the Tucson Citizen prop room when the newspaper folded in 2009. Think they used to put in the background to make photos look like they were taken near a farmhouse in Kansas.

Putting the old window in the garage where you can ignore it for at least nine years is an optional step. I finally dug out my old window for good during the last garage cleaning spree when I tidied up so well I had nowhere left to hide it.

Window Preparation

  • Sand and scrape the crappy old paint off the window frame.
  • Clean the glass panes with cleaner and degreaser.
  • Put painter’s tape around the front and back perimeters of every single pane.
  • Tape pieces of paper over the center areas of the glass if using spray paint for the frame.

Window Painting

  • Spray the pane wildly with paint.
  • Peel off painter’s tape before frame paint fully dries.
  • Make sure panes are free of smudges.
  • Use glass paint on the panes.
  • Add hanging hardware.
  • Hang in backyard.
  • Make your boyfriend admire it at least three times on the first day and regularly thereafter.

 Additional Stained Glass Window Project Tips

Picking the frame paint: Select a paint with a hammered finished to help hide the multiple imperfections and wood chunk chinks old windows are known for. If you want to retain that beat-up look, keep it alive by using contrasting paint in the frame’s chinks, dents and dings.

  • Rust-oleum is my spray paint of choice. I used flat black mixed with hammered bronze for the window frame.

Picking the glass paint: I’m a big fan of Pebeo Vitrail paint, particularly the transparent paints for stained glass effects. Use a combination of at least three different colors in the same color family to add interest to the project.

  • All the Vitrail colors blow my mind. Well, except maybe the brown. My old window project mingled Turquoise, Apple Green and Green Gold.

Applying the glass paint: Using a paint brush with glass paints can be tedious and leave brush marks. I prefer to use an eyedropper to blob or draw thick lines with the glass paint, and then mush with a sponge to cover all areas of the glass.

Hanging your stained glass project: Propping it against a wall or low on the ground doesn’t do justice to what you’ve just created. Hang or prop it somewhere at least eye-level where sun can shine through to reveal it’s true beauty.

Also opt for heavy-duty hardware. Those old windows are heavy!

My old window came with two eye-hooks embedded in the top corners of the frame and a quadrupled-up piece of picture wire looped through them. It’s hanging on a metal archway where the sun filters through in late morning, so my boyfriend can admire it every single day.

Hope your old window project comes out just as dandy!

old window stained glass project

Love the rynski stained glass window project? Just wait until you see what she does with sheet metal.

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Art Therapy Project: REBIRTH

floating goat illustration

The art therapy topic of REBIRTH immediately brought to mind born-again Christians, which brought to mind all sorts of religions, which brought to mind cults.

This then prompted me to think of the creepy cult episode of Netflix’s Encounters with Evil where the Heaven’s Gate guy said humans need to remove their genitals so they can be more like aliens and then everyone killed themselves.

And I just didn’t feel like going there.

So I took another path with the rebirth topic instead.

  • Topic: Rebirth
  • Result: Rebirth painting alternatively known as “The Mystery of the Floating Goat.” Acrylic, glass paint and paint markers on canvas. Note the floating goat is in an orb of light, protected from all the demonic things writhing around him.

Artist Q&A

What’s with the floating goat?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been convinced that if I were ever reborn I would come back as a goat. For some reason, reincarnation/rebirth always makes me think of goats – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The goodliness of it all was reinforced when a Gen Xer pal pointed out that the letters from GOAT stand for:

  • Greatest
  • Of
  • All
  • Time

Pretty cool, no?

What’s with the demonic things?

The demonic things represent evils of the past. These evils include less-than-boastful behaviors and the horribly negative mindset I used to succumb to on a regular basis. Self-care, therapy and lots of love have helped me escape the demonic things of my past to become reborn as, well, a floating goat.

Anything else we should know?

Changes throughout our lives cause us to be reborn constantly. Whether it’s with a new job, a new relationship or an entirely new mindset. This is a good thing.

Coming back as a goat would be a good thing, too. I had five pet goats in New Mexico and they’re tons of fun. They hop. They play. They climb trees. And it sure beats being reborn as a gnat or something.

Where can we get more Rynski goat artwork?

Oh, I love that question!

Check out a whole goat collection of goodies on Zazzle.

Enjoy!

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