Friday, 28 April 2017

Friday 28/4/2017 - Mixing With Mix Tapes, Here's That Camera Strap, Joe! & This Week's Wristwatches.

Started the weekend wearing the Camy Club-Star;

Thirty pages left of The Whites. It's been a great read so far. Richard Price has always had a great ear for dialogue. I've read a few of his earlier works and I didn't mind them, but when he started writing crime stories, I really began to take notice. He's also known for writing screenplays, for films such as Sea of Love, The Color of Money and Mad Dog & Glory.

Finally got around to switching the NATO strap back to steel bracelet on the old Seiko SKX031;

And put a leather strap onto the Omega Speedmaster that I was wearing on Sunday;

 Speaking of straps, Joe Van Cleave commented on my last post, asking how I made the wrist strap for my camera. I thought I'd put up this quick post outlining what was involved in turning an old leather belt into a short wrist-strap for my Olympus OM2n SLR.

It was, by no means, a perfect job, but I think it should hold for quite some time, and it makes a bit of a change from your standard over-the-shoulders camera straps. Although, this type of wrist strap is usually made for smaller cameras. I've seen quite a few Fujifilm X100s sporting these short straps. 

Anyway, I had recently purchased three leather belts from a website that was running a special deal. Three  belts, in three different colours, for $99USD. Seemed like a good deal. I was looking to get myself some belts with brass hardware. This set comprised of one black, one dark brown, and one tan coloured belt, all featuring shiny brass buckles. 
I was extremely, and I mean extremely, disappointed when these belts arrived. They basically looked like something I might have made in a leather-work class back in high school. The end of the belts were uneven, there were some pen or pencil lines visible on the reverse side where they had been measured, and the leather was very stiff. Not only that, but the Chicago screws that held them together were loose, not even fully tightened.

Worst of all, they were a little too short. Sure, they buckled up, but I was fastening them on the last hole. I had followed the sizing instructions correctly, since it was very basic and I was majorly ticked-off to receive these 32 inch belts which had so little leather left in them once adjusted. This stiffness of the leather was something that I figured would soften up over time, so that wasn't a major issue. I had bought these belts with a view to looking after them to see if I could get a couple of decade's use out of them like the cheap ten-dollar belt that I got at a market stall back in the Eighties. 
If you buy yourself a decent-quality belt, it will grow old with you. If you give it a once-over with leather conditioning cream every now and them, it will outlast you. 
These three pieces of crap looked like they wouldn't last until the end of the year! 
I was tempted to write to the website to let them know how disheartened I was, but I didn't want to get the old what-did-you-expect-for-a-hundred-bucks? line from them. Factor in shipping and the exchange rate and I paid around $140 Aussie dollars for these.
Ahh well, maybe my son will get a year or two's wear out of them. Mind you, he's sixteen now and already as tall as I am. But he also has my Jaggeresque snake-hipped waistline, so these might fit him okay. 
If he ever wears those chinos that we bought him last year.

Notice the vertical measurement line on the end of the belt? And the ends are uneven. AND the leather has a nick in it! Sure, that means that this thing was hand-made, but it seems to have been done by a kid. On his first attempt.
Shoddy, shoddy work. 

Anyways, time to turn this lemon into some form of lemonade. I wasn't going to use the belt itself for this strap because it was far too wide for my linking, so I rifled through my bag of leather samples and dug out this belt that I had snagged for a few bucks some time ago. It was about one-and-a-quarter inches wide.

What I was gonna use from the new belt was one of the Chicago screws that were used to fasten the belt closed near the buckle.  I would be keeping the brass buckle too, so that someday I can take it to a leather-worker and ask to have a much better belt made.
I've been meaning to buy a bag of Chicago screws off eBay for a while, figuring that I could make a new carry handle for one of my typewriter cases using them. I'll get around to it someday.

So, back to the old, three-dollar belt that I was using for the strap. I cut a 17 inch length of the belt and then folded it over so the the two ends would meet. I then used a drill to bore a hole about 1.5 inches from the end. This is where the Chicago screw would go. Ideally, I'd have preferred a slightly longer one because it seemed that this would be a very snug fit, but this was a minor issue.

I pushed the Chicago screw through the drilled hole and tightened it as best as I could. It would probably be a good idea to use a little LocTite on the screw threading, but anyway. 
The idea with using this screw was to create a small stopper for the ring that I would be using. Also, the screw would look a little decorative, contrasting nice and brassy against the dark brown leather.

Next step was to drill two smaller holes on the opposite edges of the joined up belt. This is where I would stitch some thread through, to mimic the stitching on the minimalist watch strap like the one on the Omega Speedmaster up above. I used the second smallest drill-bit I had. 

I had some kind of cotton thread that I took off some old curtains years ago.  This is what I threaded into the largest-eyed needle that I could find in my wife's sewing kit. The actual sewing process was heavy going because I had to use quite some pressure to get the threaded end of the needle into the drilled hole. Sorry, Joe, I didn't take pictures of the process, but I hope it becomes clear as you look at shots of the finished product. 
The idea with this minimal stitch is to just loop the thread through each hole once or twice. You sew it through one hole and then snip off the end of the thread, tie a knot in it (optional, in my case. I forgot) and then sandwich it into the middle of the two ends of the belt/strap. 
I finished one side and then re-threaded the needle and did the other. The plan with this set-up was to put a ring through it, so that it sat captive in between the stitched end and the Chicago screwed end.

I made a slight hash of the second pass through the hole when the strap caught on the inside edge of the belt. No big deal.
Once done with the stitching, I spent a few moments slowly edging the ring through until  it was secure between the two ends of leather. I got a smaller ring and threaded that through the larger one. The small ring would be the one that would attach to the camera.

Lastly, I used a thinner strip of leather (from an old pair of lady's leather boots), cut an oval piece about the size of a quarter (or maybe a dime), cut a small slit through the middle of it and then pushed it through the eyelet on the camera body. I've seen variants of this on camera straps, designed to prevent the ring from scratching the camera body, I imagine.

And that's it, Joe. If I had to do it again, maybe I'd just use two Chicago screws and the large ring in between them, with maybe a stitch of thread at the end to act as a brake if the lower Chicago screw fell off.

All in all, this was not a perfect job (far from it!), but it should suffice for my purposes. Besides, I've been toying with the idea of making my own watch straps and this endeavour was good practice.

I hope this was of some use to you, Joe.

Tuesday - ANZAC Day

Public holiday here in Oz as we (and New Zealand) commemorated the sacrifices and efforts made by those who served in the armed forces. 

I decided to make another tiramisu. My daughter would join me in preparing this dessert and I figured we needed some background music as well, so I flicked on the iPod dock and we got to work. I chose a Mix Tape compilation (showing my age there. The kids these days call 'em 'playlists', but I'm old-school, as you'd know by now) and cranked up the coffee machine for the two cups of black coffee required. My daughter separated three egg whites as Shari Nelson filled the room with her incredible voice;

"The curiousness of your potential kiss
Has got my mind and body aching,
Really hurt me, baby,
Really hurt me, baby,
How can you have 
A day without a night"         
                                                        - Unfinished Sympathy (Massive Attack) 

I wore the Omega Speedmaster, seen here with the ingredients for this dessert;

We didn't have the required caster sugar, so we made do with raw sugar. The recipe called for a 1/3 of a cup, but I went with a quarter. This is a rich dessert as it is. I hand-mixed the sugar and egg yolks for a couple of minutes while the iPod shuffled over to the next song;

"You didn't know what Rock & Roll was
Until you met a drummer on a Greyhound bus,
I got there in the nick of time
Before he got his hands across your state line"
                                                                           -Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Ian Hunter)

We then mixed up 300ml of cream and 250g of Mascarpone cheese. I began to lament the fact that we didn't have an egg beater as my forearm muscles began to warm up and ache. We then added the sugar and egg yolk mix before my daughter gave the separated egg whites a light whipping, while I poured the two cups of coffee into a bowl and added a 1/3 of a cup of Marsala as the next track reached its third verse;

"It's fair thee well, my old true lover,
I ne’er expect to see you again.
For I'm bound to ride that Northern Railroad,
Perhaps I'll die upon this train"
                                                    - I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (Dan Tyminski, from the soundtrack to "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" , Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, 2000)
"Hey, Dad, did the Rolling Stones call themselves that because Rock & Roll was getting bigger and more popular?", asked my daughter. I paused the next track on the iPod and searched for my favourite exponent of the Blues, Mr McKinley Morganfield, otherwise knows as Muddy Waters. I found the song I was looking for, and it opened with a deep-voiced "Ohhhh, yeah" before we hear one of the classic blues guitar riffs of all time. I played the song until we got to the line "I'm a man! I'm a rollin' stone."

The completed mixture looked a little runny, so we decided to whip it up for a few minutes, while Rod Stewart belted out a husky-voiced classic. It starts off with a short guitar intro that would be the perfect soundtrack to barrelling down Route 66 in a rag-top '65 Mustang before we get a slower-beat chain-saw guitar riff for a few seconds before the drums kick in.
It's Stewart's best song, in my book;

"Won't need too much pursuading
I don't mean to sound degrading,
But with a face like that,
You got nothing to laugh about

Red lips, hair and fingernails,
I hear you're a mean old Jezebel
Let's go upstairs and read my tarot cards"
                                                                                                     - Stay With Me (Faces) 

The mix still wasn't thick enough. Another song, Princess!

"Well I'm not the world's most masculine man,
But I know what I am 
And I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola
Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lola, Lo-lo-Lo-Lo-Lola"
                                                                                   -Lola  (The Kinks) 

By the end of this song, the consistency of the mix was a little thicker. Good. Time to build this sucker.

My daughter then brought up The Beatles;
"I was singing 'Golden Slumbers' and J***** (one of her school friends) heard me and said 'Oh my God, do you know that song? Nobody in this school knows that album!' And then we talked about how it doesn't finish and it goes straight into 'Carry That Weight'." 

So I then searched the playlists until I found Abbey Road, all the while explaining to my girl that these two songs follow on from She Came In Through The Bathroom Window;

"And so I quit the P'lice Department,
And got myself a steady job
And though she tried her best to help me,
She could steal, but she could not rob"
                                    - She Came In Through The Bathroom Window  (The Beatles)

We positioned the ceramic rectangular baking dish on the bench-top and laid down a row of the Savoiardi sponge finger biscuits. Each biscuit had been dipped into the coffee/Marsala mix first.  Then we slathered a layer of the mix over the top of them. While doing this, I went on to tell her that I thought that McCartney had the best voice in the band.

"How come?"

"Oh, he just had a great range. He could hit these high notes, but he would almost be yelling. I could never get my voice that high."

"Did he go on to have other bands after The Beatles?"

"Oh yeah, he had Wings."

And then, to illustrate both points, I put on Sir Paul belting out Maybe I'm Amazed. And, of course, the lyrics. It was always about the lyrics;

"Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I'm amazed at the the way you pulled me out of time
And hung me on a line
Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you
Maybe I'm a man and maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand"
                                - Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney & Wings)
I flicked the iPod back to Abbey Road. We continued dipping biscuits in the coffee/Marsala mix and we continued to build another layer of the tiramisu as John, Paul, George & Ringo continued to weave their magic, almost 48 years since they first did so with this album;

"And in the end, 
The love you take
you make"                                                      

I have to say that I find it difficult to listen to The Beatles these days without getting teary. I've been this way for quite some time. I was deeply saddened when John Lennon was killed back in 1980. Back then, following the success of Double Fantasy, Lennon's first album since 1975, there was yet another rumour floating around that The Fab Four might get back together. If not to write more songs, at least to tour. That would have been extraordinary. I was further saddened when George Harrison died in 2001, and when my wife brought home the double-CD Concert for George, it was Ringo Starr's (of all people!) introduction to his song Photograph that got me a little misty-eyed.
Ringo, of all people!!!

The Tiramisu was done. Time to put it in the fridge for a few hours. But first, it needed some flourish. 
Ladies and gentlemen, The Ziggy Stardust Edition --->

Still had the Omega Speedmaster on my wrist on Wednesday;

Switched over to the Omega Seamaster AquaTerra on Thursday. My wife brought home a couple of books from work. Night Trains sounds interesting. It's about the Golden Age of Rail travel,  from the days when you would take a sleeping-car to Berlin or ride the Orient Express from Paris to Venice, rubbing shoulders with aristocracy, pick-pockets, and foreign spies.
Lines In The Sand is a posthumously published collection of articles by the late A.A.Gill. I'm still saddened by his death late last year. 

And that's another week done. I have to say that tiramisu section of this post got somewhat out of hand. Anyway, I think I'll have a little slice, with a cup of Earl Grey. 
Oh, I wore the Seamaster 300 today.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!


  1. Bravo, well done on that strap. It gives me some ideas.

  2. Fantastic post. I love how your posts aren't quite a one-shot but a journey sometimes spanning the week

  3. @ Joe V, I'm sure you'll make a better strap than my effort.

    @ micaeliany, I usually just start off with the watch pictures and, if anything of interest occurred that week, I write about it. Although, I'm thinking of scaling back a little because these posts usually take up all of my Friday night.