Thread art..almost

The first rod I ever crafted from a blank is a 7 foot, multi-taper, 5 wrap fiberglass spinning rod. I cant remember the maker

The guides were cheap standard rod guides and as it was my first build and  they were also cheap. (Fuji Hard Ring General Purpose Guide BNHG)They are out of production now according to the shop  but the guys at the tackle shop still have a good supply.

The rod worked hard for almost thirty years and finally the clear coat on the runners started to crack and discolor. The runners started to show a little corrosion and the tip had wear on the lip. I decided to use a different style and better quality tip than the guides as it is that part which cops all the wear. (Fuji Hardloy Ring General Purpose Tip BPLT ) Somebody finished it off by vandalizing it and breaking some runners while they were pinching my reels from the garage. Time for a rebuild. It is too nice a blank to waste and the handle and reel seat are in good nick.

The local tackle shop at Budgewoi is a treasure trove for people like me and the owners are fonts of knowledge on everything to do with building rods. They also supply the beez knees in reel and rod, I wanted an Abu Garcia but the one I could afford was small for the use I was putting it to. I was sorely tempted to buy another blank and make two at the same time but resisted for several reasons. I am very ill and two may be more than I could handle. I have a good spread of rods. I had to buy a reel as well (Shimano 4000FD) which sucked up a lot of money.

All the rod crafting stuff has gone up in price but I replaced the Fuji runners with the same type although I went one size larger on the first couple. Also made the decision to do a thread art wrap on the handle. All my rods have them and each is unique. I like the idea of having something in my hands that says it was made by someone prepared to spend the time to make it unique. Thread art to a fishing rod is like a tie to a suit. Suits should be well made and good materials but understated in color and cut. The thread art is like a tie. I love to wear a silk tie made by someone who cares about what they sell and make. It doesn’t shout that it is expensive. It simply ties the jacket and shirt together in a way that speaks quietly of someone who has taste. (I almost never get to wear good clothes these days..impoverished pensioner)

I have no machinery and no place to work on projects like this. The thread spool is placed on a long titanium rod(it used to be the pin that held my arm together after the accident in 1980) and held in place under my bare toes. The runner is taped on by one of its feet and one end of the rod is supported by a kitchen chair with a clamp on the back.

Things have improved in terms of health over the last few months. Some time back the thought of making a rod would weary me without actually having to do anything. Things are different than expected though. Each wrap on a runner foot exhausted me emotionally. That was unexpected. The wrap would take a few intense moments of squinting and rolling the rod and when the final bit of thread on that one was pulled into place I would sit back and struggle to think clearly. An hour or so of doing very simple tasks or merely sitting and staring into space would lead to the next one being wrapped and an even longer period of stunned inactivity.

The runners were being wrapped with a black C Speed thread on a black blank and the idea had been to twist a little silver thread at each end of the wrap on the guide foot but there was no way known I could even get my mind around the simple process of setting up the extra touches so black thread it was. I have the first fogginess of cataracts and my eyes had been damaged before that and are difficult to fit with glasses so the rotten little threads need a lot of squinting and nudging to get right in place.

It took a couple of days to get the guides tied on.

The wrap near the handle started out to be a double wrap. Small plain stars in purple and silver. Only the silver to be metallic. Again both were C grade. The purple was one of the last of out of production Gudebrod stock, everything else is Speed brand.

Holding a rod blank on your lap while you try and measure absolute top and bottom as well as centers and spacing is almost heart-breakingly difficult. I started again and again. Firstly my eyes were not good enough in the light. I found an old 1.3 meter long fluorescent light and some table lamps. Arrayed them all around the chair and used a fold able work bench to hold all the bits and pieces. As I was working through the night the lights spilling from the window competed with the giant sign on the sports club over the road. The tools at hand consisted of a 30cm stainless steel ruler and for scribing there was the pointy end of a Faber Castell compass I used when I was doing graphic arts at Hunter Institute. No matter how many times I measured and scratched a center it was wrong when I checked it against the ones on either side. I had forgotten everything I ever learned about thread art and my little book of good things to know about making rods is lost.

An entire night of frustrated cursing and measuring went by before I had it right.

The next night I started wrapping the design. Hours went by. My body tried to give up a few times and fighting bad eyesight meant I had a blistering headache but I wanted my rod to look nice. I had a lot done went I went to bed at about 10am next morning. The body cannot recover in one sleep anymore. I guess that is the diabetes slowing healing. After getting out of bed at about 8pm most of the night was spent just feeling miserable and tired. About 4am there seemed to be enough spark in the old mind and the painkillers were giving some relief so I went back to it.

After five intense hours where i squinted and muttered and fought sore back and aching joints and did I mention my left hand doesn’t work very well. It was crushed and is weak and clumsy. Anyway after five hours I realized that I had no idea where I was in the pattern and some of the centers were in the wrong place and no matter how hard I tried the wrap was too complicated for someone fighting as hard as I was just to be upright. I might have let go a sob as I hacked the threads off the rod. Just one very little sob. I have discovered that sobbing or crying or dropping to one’s knees and blubbering have absolutely no effect once you are past teenage years.

I went to bed at about midday. I wanted to sleep before that but disappointment is like a knot that needs to loosen before one can relax.

Awoke again at about 8pm. I have these cycles of insomnia and odd sleep times that change slowly over months and go right around the clock. There was another blistering headache and I was unable to do more than drag myself slowly around the house although I did manage to have a shower and another couple of hours of sleep. As I could do little more than slump in a chair I was going to watch the Thursday night American Football. I really enjoy that game. The effort over the last few days had been slowly taxing my intellect as well. I could not work out why Thursday night football was on on a Saturday night and I slept through it anyway awaking some time during the night believing it was Sunday.

About 6am there was enough light pouring through the window to let me try again. I redesigned the whole thing with a very simple and elegant design of a few metallic silver diamonds surrounded by bands of purple and locked into place by a very simple black wrap. The measurements were still on the rod from the other attempt so I wrapped a half dozen threads up and down the rod. Then I stopped and measured and pushed and squinted and measured and pushed until every thread was exactly at the right point on the correct axis. I worked until midday. I could not sit up straight and I was in so much pain it was making me cross-eyed. I had moved the whole operation into the bedroom so I could move the blank about without scratching furniture or knocking things off the wall and I woke still fully dressed with a pile of thread spools and tools all through the blankets. I didn’t remember going to sleep but as usual on waking felt like crap.

The design was looking really beautiful. It might have been the best I have made so far and I was getting a little trickle of warm satisfaction running through my veins. Once again it took many hours to get my body and mind co-operating and some strength back so again the work started at first light. About eleven am I had the whole design finished to the point of preparing the overwrap. I had a sleep. After a few days of forcing myself to get back into it there comes a sustained period of confusion and exhaustion. It gets scary and leads to depression eventually and that was where the whole process had taken me.

I wrapped the top and bottom with tape at the point I wanted the overwrap to hold the threads in place and sliced away all the confused litter from the top of the design. I had forgotten something. I had forgotten to secure the threads with thread preserver which normally keeps them in place. As I was using cheap tape it released the threads and all my work started to unravel. I spent about twenty minutes talking furiously to myself and pulling threads  to save the job but each maneuver would pull a thread loose from somewhere else.

I know I was upset. In the process of hacking the useless thread from the rod I managed to cover every surface in the house with a myriad of colored confetti. Now I am tired. It will be several days before the emotional strain is repaired. I have pushed my stupid self until I am having bouts of confusion and depression. This is not an unusual outcome as far as all of the health issues go. I can either be disabled or I can push and make stuff happen. It is just when I push so hard for nothing that my heart sinks and I want to… well, a hug would be nice at times like this.

I will try again when I am well enough, in a few days. I want to have my old rod finished and nice when I go fishing. It is not the only rod but my favorite and it needs to be done anyway. After it is done or maybe before, I will go fishing. Beach fishing seems the best bet for me right now. There are no other reasonable fishing spots in range. “In rang”e is a bit ambitious perhaps. It is a kilometer to the beach. A very painful and long kilometer for me to walk with no car. I would take my mobility scooter but every time I have left it, even for a moment, some idiot has pulled up and tried to load it into a truck to steal it. So it stays at home.

After arriving at the beach I will have to walk to a spot where there is a gutter with fish and then the really painful bit will be standing about or even squatting on the sand and keeping the hooks baited. I am tired thinking about it. Why does such simple stuff have to hurt so much? I will not leave until I am too tired to stay anymore and then there is a kilometer to drag my ass home. The damage I expect to suffer will cost me weeks.  I have tried to find other ways to get a fishing trip but it seems it is either this way or nothing. Like everything else in my life. But I know that when the morning breeze is in my face and I am trying to outwit the fish and the sun is rising I will be lost to all of this and very happy indeed. I just wish I didn’t have to come back with such a bloodcurdling thud afterward.

Later when I have them I will whack in a few picks of the guides and maybe the new thread art if I can ever get it done

7 Dec 2010

It took a week for the confusion and tiredness of that to even out and let me operate at my normal sluggish pace. Each time I walk past the rod which now sits with several others against the wall in the lounge I look at it out of the corner of my eye but cannot stomach the idea of causing myself more grief just yet.

A little online research has given the information needed to make the next attempt work. The metallic thread is tougher to use and a little thread protector will lock it in place before the threads are cut away for the final wrap!

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