The Ramblings, or Rambles, as I tend to call them, are just that: someone, usually me (Russ) droning on about this or that aspect of rodmaking. They may be short, sweet, and to the point, but they tend to be long-winded, peripatetic, amalgamations of practical insight tinged with snark, goading you, the rodmaker, to an appreciation of detail in your own work and the work of others. A given ramble might include bits of emails we’ve sent to individual rodmakers, snippets torn from old instruction sheets, quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary, strange tales, errant memories, soapbox stances, dead ends, and places from which you can begin anew. Good luck navigating it all. There is no editor.
“Hello Russ, I’ve been reading some of your ramblings on the website. I am so glad I found you – you write so well, they are very engaging and I am learning all sorts I didn’t understand before. Thanks very much” – Nick E. (United Kingdom)
Before fishing lines were braided, they were furled. Horse hair, some sort of grass and silk were the materials of the day. The difference between the silk line I made and how most furled leaders are made is the number of legs. Most furled leaders have two legs (strands). My silk line has three, this results in a more round shape.
The bits and pieces of “how to” were gathered from the web, nothing copyrighted or proprietary. I think most folks avoid silk lines due to cost of commercial lines, upkeep, and lack of DIY. I’m going to do my best to explain the process, if anything doesn’t make sense or you have any questions…let me know!
Inking Signatures…On Pre-Varnished Blanks & More
This ramble is going to start off with a simple question and a response by Russ. We’ll probably add more detailed information over time. For the moment, this is a good example of why we don’t take tech questions over the phone – because responses evaporate as they’re spoken – and a good example of how we will respond if you email us. It might take a day or two, but if someone here knows the answer, or can guide you in the right direction, you’ll get a thorough response. Eventually, it is highly likely that your question will be the stimulus for another ramble, like this one, and that way many makers can benefit from the time it takes us to respond. Really, it’s good for everyone.
I forgot ask you for some advice earlier, hope you don’t mind – I’m working on a pre-varnished blank, and wondered what the best way to go about signing the rod might be. I’m a bit nervous about trying to scuff the area and sign, would hate to possibly damage the blank. Also not sure if I could just sign directly on the finish as it is. Thanks for any suggestions – very appreciated!
Finishing For Transparent/Translucent Wraps – Let’s make one thing clear….
There is a difference between transparent and translucent. We need to define terms. Yes, I know this is rather elementary, or, worse, pedantic, but considering how often I see folks writing about “transparent red wraps,” the difference between transparent and translucent is worth exploring. In addition to being a Luddite (really, I’m not – it’s just that I appreciate the high art of old fashioned technology as much or more than I appreciate new-fangled things, like websites and my kids’ dueling nano-drones), I’m also, according to my tech-addled children, a word-nerd. The most prominent book in my library is the Oxford English Dictionary…not the eye-numbing “Compact” edition with its micrographically reproduced text and the reading glass in the slip-case, but the twenty volume second edition that takes up two shelves within my largest barrister.
Bamboo Blank Adhesive Options – A Particularly Brief Ramble
Regarding adhesives: we don’t sell any adhesives for gluing up bamboo blanks. A long while back we sold blank adhesives, but we learned the hard way that any delamination could wind up costing the company a good client, despite blank adhesives being a product we had no control over after they left the shop, i.e., storage conditions, usage past expiration, application technique, cure temps, etc. Blank adhesives were a low dollar, low margin product with very expensive ramifications. Guys can handle cutting off a few wraps that went sour, re-wrapping & re-varnishing; but when a blank delams, sane fellows blow their gourd. Not being copraphages, we don’t need that sort of mess on our plates. We offer no usage advice except this: follow the instructions of the adhesive manufacturer because they have a vested interest in your success and their usage advice is tested over both time and a myriad of applications. This said, we don’t mind sharing current sources.
Four Frames – Insight into frame styles, with particular reference to our Vintage and Classic Wide series of agate & agatine stripping guides.
A little while back a client was asking about the four frame styles currently grouped under the “Classic Wide” guides. First, it is worth noting that the Classic Wide guides are a natural extension of our wide-ring vintage series guides. Basically the Classic Wide is the same group of bezels/frames, but using fresh cut stones rather than vintage rings…this really opened up the options in terms of both color and size. Whereas most of the vintage rings are Red, Red, or Red, and nearly all are 10mm OD, the new Classic Wide stones are available in a range of stone colors and in three popular sizes: 9mm, 10mm, & 11mm.
Golden Witch Rod Tube Kits – The Ramble
After an absence of several years, the GW Rod Tube Kits are back, in both the Classic (flat top) and Antique (dome top) options. These things are fantastically expensive to produce to this level of quality, and the margins are quite slim despite the retail price tag, which is why these are not offered through our sister wholesale company, Arcane Component Works. If we sell through this batch quickly, we plan to make more and perhaps the product line can become self-sustaining. If these sell slowly, it’s the last time we’ll make them because a slow churn on this initial re-investment in tubing and cap sets means that the inventory dollars will be better off invested elsewhere in coming years. Intending no drama whatsoever because this is a simple yea/nay choice on future inventory based on its value to the company, let us be blunt. If you like these tube kits and you want them to stay in our line-up, don’t count on someone else to purchase enough to make it worth our while. We’re not talking thousands of tube kits. If a few hundred rodmakers each bought two kits before the year was out (that’s 2016), they’ll most likely stick around as a product. If we receive a host of very kind, and entirely welcome, emails saying how nice the kits look, but the sales don’t tally up with the praise, they’re gone. That alone should be an incentive to grab a kit or two while they’re here. There’s a nice circularity here…your personal incentive to snag a tube kit while they’re available, compounded by the number of good rodmakers out there who might need just one or two of these kits in a given year, becomes the modest volume we need to ensure that they are available for years to come.
Silk Thread: the love affair, the size chart, & too much on tipping….
We love silk thread the way we love agates. You should, too. It’s the sort of polyvalent affair that allows you to explore entire gamuts of color, and several dimensions, while doing no harm. Not sure what color you should use? Grab several colors. Better yet, pick up a color chart and study those colors in daylight. You don’t like the color you chose? Strip it off. One of silk’s greatest benefits is that, as top shelf components go, it’s inexpensive. Typically in the range of $6.00/spool, you can buy a few spools and decide only to use one. Save the others, or share them with other rodmakers. Because colors of silk, even entire ranges of silks, come and go over time, it’s always worth having a few choice spools in your stash. Dragons hoard gold. The Beowulf Poet had his word hoard. Rodmakers should have a hoard of silks. If you become a monogamist among threads, then it is wise to stock up. Speaking personally, I have a lifetime supply of Pearsall’s Classic Chestnut in Gossamer. Good luck prying that from my hands while I’m still sentient.
It’s a blessing because vintage guide sales comprise a small but steady bit of background income, because rummaging through these classic components informs and inspires our own guide making efforts, because we can sometimes help a restorationist find that one, utterly obscure guide that they need to perfectly restore a rod using an appropriate, vintage, new old stock (NOS) piece of componentry. It’s a curse because the collection is massive – it takes up an immense amount of valuable warehouse shelving space; it is unwieldy – the boxes are heavy – and partially disorganized – there are boxes that have been opened once, then never opened again once they were sorted into the wire-guide group as opposed to the agate & agatine group; and because it bears a weight of obligation: when a maker or restorationist needs a guide, someone in the shop, usually me, spends time looking through the bins, measuring instruments in hand, trying to find a part of the style and size requisite to the project at hand.
Golden Witch & Arcane Component Works have added fresh-cut agatines to the mix of options. We felt you needed some text to explain natural stone stripping guides, versus those that are not, you guessed it, perfectly natural stone. In fact, some rings are almost entirely unnatural, almost.
Let’s start with the real stuff, unadulterated, truly natural stone. We actually offer a ring variant called “Natural Agate” and it’s the real deal…plain, faintly figured, semi-precious rock harvested from the earth, cut into slabs, slabs carved into rings, rings polished, then bezelled, and finally soldered into frames. Nice. Another group of natural stone we offer is the plain ROY Agate, which is actually carnelian, itself a specific form of cryptocrystalline chalcedony…and chalcedonies are commonly termed “agate” even though agate is actually a sub-variety of chalcedony, not an equivalent term for the entire family of these stones. But, rodmakers and guide makers have been calling carnelian “agate” long before we arrived, so we’re sticking with the name, but giving you a head’s up to the proper term for this mineral.
Hello Rodmakers & Restorationists!
It’s March of 2015 and I’m updating, not entirely re-writing, this cover letter to the Golden Witch website. Spring is officially here, but the morning after the last of our snow melted we’re getting more and the woods are white again. Now it’s time for spring weather.