End-Grain Engraving Blocks

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It’s been quite a while since I have engraved in proper end-grain wood blocks. Up until now I have been very happy using resingrave but, alas, that material is not being manufactured anymore. I’ve spent the past year or so trying to find a suitable alternative. Corian countertop material allows for very fine lines but is chalky and gross to cut into. Boxwood or lemonwood would be great, but they are not available here in the good old U.S.A. and can get very expensive to have them imported from England. I even started to consider making my own maple blocks but I fear table saws and really wouldn’t know what I was doing. Then, a few months ago, I found out that there has been a block maker right here in the Midwest for years. So, here we are, with a fresh stack of large end-grain maple blocks ready to go. I have a couple of ideas and will hopefully have something to show in a month or so. Stay tuned.

Big Anonymous by El Perro Del Mar - MP3 (10/10)

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El Perro Del Mar is the alter ego of Swedish singer/songwriter Sarah Assbring. Her style has covered a wide range within the genre of “pop” music, but these last few releases have evolved into some interesting territory. The songs are dark and atmospheric, relying on a blend of electronics and orchestral instrumentation as the base for her soft, reverberating vocals. If you were a fan of Julee Cruise you will be right at home here. The songs will gently wash over you and then occasionally drift into the sort of abstract, electronic experimentation that Sarah and her collaborator Jacob Haage had explored in their release Riptide. It’s these unexpected twists combined with the somber lyrical themes, focusing on death and loss, which make this an incredible record to experience.

A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip by Sparks - CD (8/10)

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This was Sparks riding fast and furious on the hype train. The Edgar Wright documentary was out, Annette was premiering on Amazon, all the normies were suddenly lifetime Sparks fans. This has sort of colored my appreciation of this album. I mean, I liked them when they sucked! Nevertheless, this record is pretty great and it was on this tour that I finally got to see Sparks live (they played like four blocks from house, insane!). But seriously, I was totally into these guys before anyone else, and I’ll fight you if you say otherwise. Good record. Buy it, twice.

The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein (8/10)

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This is a weird, hybrid art book. Not exactly coffee table ready, and not exactly an art history paperback. The main point of the book is the reproductions of the entire series of Holbein’s Dance of Death woodcuts and his Alphabet of Death. The images are clear and are reproduced at about twice the actual size of the miniature prints. I would prefer a much more finely crafted, museum-quality book of images, but this is good nonetheless. The second half of the book is an long essay on the life of Holbein leading up to the creation of this series and the historical context of the Protestant reformation.