A Dragon and a Lighter

A zippo lighter and a knock-off case

I found this lighter among a bunch of stuff on my counter, and I knew I’d had a history with it, but I couldn’t remember anything about it. For whatever reason, I immediately wanted to repair it, and get it burning again. During this process, not only did I uncover old memories, but I learned a whole lot of new stuff about it.

First and foremost, the bottom of the beautiful dragon case has MADE IN CHINA stamped across it. So, from the get-go, I assumed that the entire lighter was a knock-off. It was still worth repairing, and so that’s what I was going to do.

A tin of Zippo lighter fluid

As far as the problems with the lighter, I know I’d fiddled with the wick, and sure enough, it was pulled apart and splayed all over the flame’s chamber. After watching a bunch of lighter restorations on Odd Tinkering, I figured I would have to replace the wick and refill the fluid, and then give it another shot. After a suggestion from Honal in my stream‘s chat, I managed to pull up the wick and trim off the mangled bit, rather than replacing the whole thing..

I took the lighter completely apart, which led me to discover that there were two flints sitting in the spring, rather than one. The second one, upon release from its prison, shot off to forever reside between my floor boards. Goodbye, secondary flint. I barely knew ye.

At this point I was able to pull the wick up pretty easily, and clip the top off with craft clippers. I was also able to buy some lighter fluid from Marcus Market nearby. I put it all together, and it worked again! It lit in the first couple of spins of the wheel, and stayed lit, even in the wind!

Dragon zippo lighter with lit cigar resting on it

Next came the real test – lighting a cigar. It singed the edge evenly, and lit the tip of the cigar evenly and quickly. It’s a good lighter, and it works!

As I was taking some photos, I discovered that there was some etching on the lighter itself. It was the manufacturer stamping from Zippo! While the case is definitely a knockoff, the lighter itself was genuine. Now I had even more questions about the lighter’s history, and how it had come to be in its present state, and how it had managed to come into my life.

About a week later, I re-learned why I’d been trying to fix this lighter in the first place, which had ended with me mangling the wick. It wouldn’t light. It acted like it was completely out of fluid. I must have thought that either the fluid was being prevented from being brought upward, or that the wick wasn’t close enough to the spark wheel to light.

So, with the patience of middle age (ha!) and access to the internet, I googled how long I should expect lighter fluid to last in a Zippo. The consensus seems to be anywhere between one week and one month, depending on regularity of use. The more often the lighter is used, the longer the fluid lasts.

The lighter hadn’t been broken. I had used it rarely, even then, so the fluid was just evaporating away. My expectations that it would last longer was the actual problem, not the wick. Well, now I have a beautiful working wind-proof lighter, part Zippo, part knock-off, AND the knowledge to take proper care of it.

Sealed Drinkware

Coffee table with craft mugs

I have drink ware that needed to be sealed. And for the love of cheese, I was going to do it right this time.

The middle mug, after it was stickered, was covered in a layer of nail polish clear coat, on Ace’s suggestion. It worked well for a little while, but the stickers eventually soaked up water while in the sink being washed. So I consulted with some of my crafty friends for advice.

Enter Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe. The kids and I picked it up from a Michaels, and when I decided to start wrapping up projects, I pulled it out of the bag. The sealant went on very easily, and the glossy finish dried shiny and smooth. I did three coats, and let each one fully dry before I started the next.

Before you follow my lead, there’s a bit of a gotcha. Because of course there is. This particular formulation of Mod Podge requires 28 DAYS, that’s right, a LUNAR MONTH, to fully cure and be top-rack dishwasher safe. So now my mugs and Ace’s water bottle sit on top of the refrigerator, awaiting their release back into rotation.

Soon, my pretties, SOON.

Wall of You Accomplished Something, Actually

Wall of certificates

So, I do this thing where I talk down about myself. I do it a lot more than my friends and family would like. Sometimes, they get irritated enough to remind me how much they dislike it.

At the same time, I have these certificates, from things I’ve accomplished in my life. Eagle Scout in the BSA. Graduated high school with high honors. Published my own first novel. Donated hair to be used in wigs for kids with cancer. I always felt that putting these up on the wall was a form of bragging, so I never did.

After a recent reminder about my self-deprecating habits, I decided that hanging these certificates on the wall would be a form of self-affirmation. I would put them on a place where I would see them every day, and thus remind myself that I can have, and have had, a positive impact on the world. Enough of an impact, in fact, that someone gave me a piece of paper to remind me.

So I did. I framed them and hung them in my bedroom, on the side of the room where I always get off my bed. They cannot be avoided, and I think that’s a good thing. My friends and family are to credit for this, and I love them for it.

Take that, brain!

Crafty learning

photoI’ve learned something from this little project. I’ve learned not to use paint left in my house by the previous owner, that has likely gone bad, with a stencil project. No matter how much you stir the paint, the oily and watery parts will seep beneath the stencil, and into the parts of the cover that have been scored by what looks to be a mechanical pencil tip, and create a mess.

It’s a neat-looking mess. Once it dried (four days!), I put the stencil back on, and went over it with a black marker. Marker doesn’t usually stay on paint, I’ve been told, but the black dry erase marker that I used (hey, it was just sitting there, on my desk, unused and unloved) seems to have gone permanent. I’m not gonna complain.

The symbol is from Tron: Uprising, though modified slightly for stenciling. The end look makes me think of graffiti, which ties in nicely with the last few episodes of the first season of the show. Silver lining!

I’m pretty happy with all of my journals now, so my next craft project will likely involve a Dresden Codak patch and my new work backpack.

Craft and Links

IMAG0387I am unreasonably proud of the journal pictured there on the right. It’s my first attempt at crafting in a long, long time. It’s also the first one that I didn’t have to tilt my head slightly to the side for it to look right.

The next time I do anything crafty, I’m going to have to remember to take a before picture. I had an old journal (because journals) and an old Decepticon patch (because Transformers). I got the urge to combine them, but I did not have the patience or the immediately available fundage to procure the proper fabric glue. I did, however, have some Super Glue lying around.

I covered the iron-on backing of the patch in a very thin, even layer of Super Glue. I didn’t want the patch to curl, so I made sure that the glue went all the way out to the edges, including the spiny bits on top. I then eyeballed the middle, from the right of the journal to the edge of the binding ridge section on the left. I wanted the symbol to be closer to the top than the bottom, for reasons.

I am sure that there is a technical explanation for the aesthetics of the placement, and where the eye is naturally drawn to, but I am woefully unversed in the science behind it. I will have to remain satisfied, for now, with “because I think it looks good there.”

I then gently turned the patch over and applied it where I wanted it to go. I pressed it firmly to the vinyl(ish?) cover for thirty seconds to a minute. It’s a padded cover, so the vinyl dimpled a bit as the glue dried, but not so much that it’s noticeable. I got lucky, and the Super Glue bonded very well to both the patch and the cover. Since I won’t have to worry about putting this through the wash, I guess the fabric glue would have been overkill.  In any case, I LOVE the result, and think it’ll make a nice counter to the Covenant of Primus. (And of course by that I mean it’s the next journal in which I will be writing my fictiony words.)

On to the links!

  • Don’t forget, Two Vampires is available for purchase! Buy it, and your brain will thank you!
  • I’ve just resurrected the Fight or Flight site at a new address. There aren’t any planned updates in the near future, but I thought having the archives available might be nice. If you haven’t read through them, wander on over there and take a peep!
  • The Penguicon info is out early! Incredibly early. So early that I’m a little worried. Worry aside, it’s happening on the weekend of my birthday, and I have decided that I am going this year, come hell or high water! I’ll be adding it to my Appearances page shortly.
  • Make your own Tron laptop bag? Awesome!