I'm learning the art (or is it a craft?) of stained glass. At this weblog, I record progress, note useful links, and document flesh wounds.
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Green Tiered Lamp
February 09, 2003: Not Your Fifth-Grader's Compass
Last week, correspondent Bruce pointed out a page about lampshade design that suggested that I might like to have "a T-square, 45 degree set square, protractor and compass." With visions of neatly drawn lamp plans dancing in my head, I made a visit to my local Utrecht art and drafting supply store.
Their selection of compasses was more complex and befuddling than I had expected. There was a long, thin thirty-dollar box of metal and plastic parts which announced itself as a "beam compass", whose exact method of function remains a source of mystery to me even after having consulted Google. The usual pivoting compasses of long-ago geometry classes were in evidence as well, but seemed both too much and too little for my needs: although they featured leg-mounted quick-adjust controls, interchangeable drawing points, and other gadgety improvements, none seemed capable of drawing circles any larger than six inches in diameter.
A knowledgeable Utrecht employee set me straight. A special kind of the six-inch pivot compasses could be outfitted with an extension bar to increase their maximum diameter. Which works, but now it looks like sort of a lobster-compass: this absurdly asymmetrical freakishly-long arm on just one side.
I thought I was all set and ready to go, until I got the compass home and tried playing with it. It has two dealbreaking flaws. One is that the legs are a little bit loose, adding a variability of a few millimeters to the arc it draws. The other is that the adjustable, removable sharp metal center-point has a nasty habit of slipping upwards into the leg of the compass if pressed too firmly against a drawing pad; the tiny thumbwheel that ought to tighten the pincer grip of the leg upon the point is effective only so far and then pointlessly, limply spins.
I am at this point unsure whether the proper reaction to all this is indignance or shame. On one hand, I expected that Utrecht would sell me a quality tool. On the other, it could be some sort of colossal ignorance is to blame for my troubles in producing one large pencilled circle both unwobbly and complete.
I guess if I have time later in the week I will go back downtown and hope to run across the same or another helpful Utrecht employee to either help me out or give me my money back. Meanwhile, Zima has volunteered her drafting services for the cause:
Posted by Michelle on February 09, 2003 12:41 PM
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