15 February 2010


My wife Tina got me this for Xmas last year. In case you're wondering, Astoria, Oregon is where we we lived last and still have a house which we hope to return to some day soon...and this shirt was right off-the-shelf from the gift shop. We were having lunch there when a wait staff came out wearing one just like it. We knew immediately I had to have it.

My friend NeNe has a letterbox in the Astoria Brewing Company for which I provided a small wooden treasure chest.
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Trying something a little different

 Just for fun, I bought some quick set mortar the other day before the blizzard. Figured I needed to stay busy between trips to the driveway with the shovel. I envisioned an "In Memorium" marker that could be placed pretty much anywhere. These photos capture just the benchmarks of the effort, speaking pretty well for the how the project turned out. You probably can't see, but I put a couple of hand holds on the sides to make it easier to lift. I suspect I'll have to disrupt the ground about and inch or two, so it doesn't stand too proud above the surface. The marker is 6" x 9" x 2". Naturally, it's got a cavity underneath (not seen in the photos) that allows for hiding secrets. The cavity on the bottom is 4" x 5" x 3/4", just big enough for one of Gallant Rogue's vintage camo bags to compression fit inside.

I built a plywood form for the mortar pour that would allow reuse if the project turned out to be successful. I used an exacto knife to cut out letters and a silhouette of a man with a hat (This is suppose to be Mark) from a 1/32 inch thick rubber material commonly used by sandblasters to cut images out of stone and wood. This "Signblast Tape" allowed for easy cutting, adherence to the wood form without sticking to the mortar, and reuse if I do the project again.

The quick set mortar was ready to come out of the form in less than an hour. It came out very easily, as I sprayed PAM on the wood form as a divorcing agent prior to pouring. I strengthened the image with a little black permanent ink which permeated into the mortar (so I am hoping it stays visible in the wild for a little while anyway).

Not sure where to put this yet. It'll serve as a classic "Hide-In-Plain" sight (HIPS) letterbox. I envision it nestled away in a remote corner of a public park or behind a bench at a picturesque viewpoint somewhere here in DC. Hopefully no one will bother it.
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My Little Shop

Many folks inquire about "the shop". Conjured images of a large, heated spaces with a plethora of professional grade tools prevail. Sadly, the gypsy lifestyle of serving the public prevents me from acquiring, accumulating, and moving unlimited amounts of tools. So I remain disciplined. Some of you might be surprised how quickly one can reach your maximum allowable weight in a government-funded move. As it stands now, my tools add up to over to 1500 lbs of our 17,000 lbs of stuff. I always move them myself with a U-Haul.

I've added some photos of the toys in the shop. The staple is the tablesaw, but the benchtop drill press and ancient sliding compound miter saw see the most action when I am tinkering with letterboxing concoctions. What's missing? Lots! My wish list includes a planer and upgrade to floor models of a drill press and band saw. What you don't see is the vast numbers of hand tools that come into play nearly ever day. Those pictures simply won't fit on this blog.

In one of the photos, you can see how I heat my shop :)

Nothing fancy!

12 February 2010

New Logbook

Here's some photos of my current logbook. I cut two panels (6 1/4" x 3 3/4") out of 1/4" birch plywood and gently rounded the corners and edges. They are sized to hold 4" x 6" index cards, yet not interfere with the Bind-It-All holes. The wood makes for a very firm surface to stamp on in any environment. I used industrial quality double sided tape to adhere the leather to the wood front and back panels. The blue front and back pages are also taped to the wood, so they can be removed later. They essentially hold the cards and binding to the covers. On the outside, I embossed the front after stamping it first with a black Staz-On ink. The embossing powder has adhered very well. On the binding of the book and back cover, I stamped other images with black Staz-On as well.

11 February 2010

First Order

Here's a snap shot of a long term project that I recently had a chance to work on. With the blizzard raging outside, I finally broke out my tack hammer and leather clad a special box. The leather was courtesy of my good friend Mama Fox.

What's inside? Oh...well...I can tell you this diamond shaped box is blue inside, but the rest of what lies under the lid...that's a secret, of course.


I truly enjoy reading, viewing, and listening to the works of others on their blogs. Those who I follow inspired me to try to create a site where I can give others a glimpse into the odd world of "X" Marks the Spot creations.

Things I create are often a result of letterboxing, a unique hobby of treasure hunting. We find and collect art work in many different forms. The hunt is always a challenge and I truly enjoy capturing a great image by an outstanding artist, but what I really enjoy is trying to make my boxes unique enough to put a huge smile on the face of the finder when they discover it.

Here's my well known secret...I usually mark my boxes with...an "X". I hope you get a chance to enjoy one soon.