Diversion Diary | Making The Most Of Lockdown

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Just like all of us, Hannah is looking to survive the social distancing and lockdown. The Diversion Diary is a tale of love under lockdown, and bikes. Only, there’s an added twist: Hannah’s partner, BK, lives in the USA, and they’re locked down on different continents. This week, she’s filling her time with some inspiration of things to make in lockdown.

I noted in a previous entry that people seemed to be turning their hands to making and creating in lockdown, perhaps in placing of buying.

I am a maker of sorts, but a bad one. I will have a go at making all sorts of things, with varying degrees of success. Typically, my projects are low budget, and involve making do with substitute and improvised materials – that usually results in a significant expenditure of time, and imperfect results. Probably the most successful creating I have done has been my garden – it has been transformed from a low maintenance pensioner’s garden, complete with conifers and rockery, to something approaching a cottage garden. Into the relatively small space afforded by a 1960s semi on a slope, I’ve fitted deep beds of perennials, vegetable plots, my favourite hydrangeas, a pond, an outdoor eating area, compost heaps, raised beds, terraced beds, olive trees, a damson tree, a shed, a firepit, and numerous little corners for having a quiet sit with a cup of coffee. Most of that has been done with the aid of scrap wood, pallets, and piles of poo from local stables. I’ve rarely bought plants, and have mostly stuck to my £2 rule, never spending more than that on a plant – which has meant a fair amount of swapping with friends, snaffling of cuttings, and nurturing of reduced to clear stock. My garden is, I am happy to admit, a success, and one that I’ve achieved almost entirely alone.

My other makings have generally been a bit botched, or required assistance. I have a wonderful neighbour, Tom, who can apparently make anything out of either wood or metal. He also has tools – the right ones. He once introduced me to friends thus: ‘with this one, anything is possible’. I’m very grateful for how he entertains my wild ideas, and turns them into reality with an injection of his skill and knowledge. Without him, my headboard made from pallets would have been a disaster. I should add a vote of thanks to Celia for stepping in where Tom left off. My role in the headboard was basically design visionary, and dogsbody. The execution came from Tom and Celia.

Poor Celia has had further encounters with my efforts at making, in the form of my lockdown sewing. Celia has a very cute child who is just the right size to make clothes for. Just the right size in that the clothes required are small, meaning little fabric is wasted if it’s a disaster, and a project can be completed in an afternoon. That is, an afternoon for me. Celia has valiantly conducted (extensive) alterations to my attempts in order to create clothes that are more or less wearable.

My lack of skills does little to dampen my enthusiasm for trying, although lockdown is limiting my skip-dipping activities so materials are hard to come by. And having exhausted all the obvious options, I’m reaching a point where I need a second pair of hands to help me out with my remaining ideas. Luckily, BK is a maker – one of those ones with skills as well as ideas. Between November weather and his broken arm, last time he came to visit me the list of activities I hoped to get through was put on hold. With any luck, he’ll get here in the summer and we can make some progress. Usually, about once a year, I get to experience the pleasure of gardening with someone – my mum. I’m hoping that the future for BK and I involves a lot of gardening together. One day maybe we’ll get to sit in our garden and grow old. Also on the list: we need to get the garage organised enough that he can start storing a bike, or two, in there…

This week then, let’s look at the makers, and behold in wonder their skills. I don’t think I’m going to kid myself I’m going to learn any skills in lockdown, but at least I’ve got time to waste screwing things up.

Dragons and Vines

I came across this thanks to BK’s mum, who is a big fan of the Musical Instrument Museum near where she lives. Featuring someone who might be the guitar makers’ answer to Gary Fisher, and some incredibly detailed designs, I think this is worth a watch even if you have no interest in guitars.

Make A Machete

I don’t need a machete. I don’t have an old lawn mower blade. I don’t have any of the kit used to make these. But, maybe I would be better at making if I had more tools. Perhaps I need to learn to weld. I probably need an angle grinder. I really should get round to putting a workbench in my garage. There are loads of videos on the web on making things, and this one isn’t terribly helpful at actually telling you how to do it, but it’s pleasingly devoid of bad musical interludes. And it makes me want more tools. And machetes.

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Last Thing You Made

Click to see more of this

This is probably my favourite Forum thread. I especially like the engraved Ikea cupboards by AlexSimon – I’m a big fan of Ikea hacks. There’s a whole mix of people’s creative endeavours on the Forum, from people who do things for a living to people who just have very well equipped sheds. You should go and join in.

Making Music

I cannot write music, but I can play a number of instruments badly. BK can’t make music at all (I hear you snorting at the back), which at least gives me the edge over him in one life skill. We both like music however, and he has some history in organising music events – a history which I must get him to tell me over a beer or two. He’s also much better than I am at finding new music, so here are two new releases for you. If you want to learn how to write your own music during lockdown, may I recommend Brian Acton to you. He’s been giving my daughter (who appears to have some musical talent) lessons, and they’re really good.

Is this music? Or a story? Whatever, BK sent me it, and your kids might like it.

All Tyred Out

Once upon a time, BK made his own slickrock specific tyres by glueing and sewing FiveTen rubber onto another tyre. It would seem that no one in the modern (or possibly whole) world has ever thought making a tyre at home is an exercise worth doing because I can’t find a single instruction set or YouTube how-to. If you find one, put it in the comments! I have history with old tyres. I’m convinced there must be useful uses for them – I just haven’t managed anything yet. I generally hate bike themed household objects – picture frames made from chains, wheel clocks, that sort of thing. But I like the idea of useful stuff, like furniture, made from old bike bits. This table looks just about doable, and kind of useful. I’m convinced it should be possible to use old tyres to make some kind of non-slip floor covering, but last time I tried I got tired of wrestling with cutting the beads off before I could get to flattening them out. Maybe I’ll revisit that tyre stash.

Pallet Bike Rack

After the headboard making experience, I thought I was over pallets, other than as fire pit fuel. But I’m looking at this thinking that it looks like it might work. And it doesn’t require a whole pile of careful dismantling. So maybe I’ll give this a go. It could make the space I need to lure BK and his bikes my way.

If you’ve made anything amazing, or seen a great how to guide, please do share them below. Especially if it doesn’t require actual skill, or will go towards justifying the purchase of power tools.

Catch up with the love under lockdown Diversion Diary:

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