Akron: 13 May 02: Arts & Crafts

Let it be said: I'm not complaining about this.

I'm the office receptionist, so my work raison d'etre is the intake and proper direction of contacts, be it phone, email, or in person. This means that I am largely chained to my desk via a headset, so that I can always answer the phone. My breaks are substantial, so I'm quite fine with this. However, the phone doesn't ring constantly, and I have only so many regular tasks. After a while, I run out of things to do at my desk.

I am blessed with an understanding boss and a relaxed workplace. I was told at the outset that if my other work is done, I may do more or less what I like at the desk, provided the phone is properly answered. (Unspoken is the additional clause "...and it's work-appropriate.") So I browse the internet, I read classic detective fiction online, I knit... and sometimes I do other things.

Enter "Linda Does Arts and Crafts." This is the third time I've taken on a project that involves doing some creative and occasionally visually interesting handwork. The distinction I make between "Arts & Crafts" and knitting is that "Arts and Crafts" must include scissor work, and preferrably multiple pieces of paper and glue or tape.

Two weeks ago, in the run up to Earth Day, I was casually asked if I could assist in making a display for tracking the human-powered miles people put in over the course of the week. (That's walking, cycling, pogo stick-ing, what have you - as long as no engines are involved, but human effort is.) Sure, I can do that... how many miles? Do you want a tally sheet for people? Oh, so two separate tracks for commuting miles and leisure miles? What size? Title? Wording? Do you want a blurb explaining how it works? and so on.

I proceeded to plan a real-world route from our office to one of the regional offices for commuting, and from the office to New Orleans for leisure miles. Google maps, screen-shots, cut and paste, printouts, titles, and a bunch of markers and pencils - and the aforementioned scissors and tape - were brought into play against a 4x5' sheet of black foamcore. It took me three days to put everything together, and it reminded me so much of Summer Reading preparations. Most enjoyable. This was Arts and Crafts project 2. (The first was the subject of my fussbudget blog post earlier.)

So now I am in the middle of project number 3. The office is getting new cubicle signs, which hang on the dividers. My boss was concerned that we wouldn't have volunteer labour to get the signs assembled, so I pointed out that I have time, as long as the process doesn't take too much space.

Yesterday, one of the maintenance guys came up to my desk and told me to clear my schedule. Today, he showed up with two boxes, one of plexiglass holders, one of metal channels (squared U in profile, about seven inches wide and two and three quarter inches deep) and screws. Later, I was handed some sheets of self-adhesive felt to cut into strips to cushion the inside of the channel and avoid scratches. It took me a little time at first, and I spent a little while collecting all the necessary tools and creating a template, but I've worked out a relatively efficient system for using post-screws to attach the plexiglass holder to the channel, and then attach the felt. I did twenty-five the first day, and I suspect it will only take another day and a half to finish the rest. Of course, I haven't put any inserts in yet, so that will be a half-hour or hour or two's work - or maybe I'll just distribute the holders, and someone else will distribute the inserts to the appropriate departments and desks.

I'm actually rather enjoying the process, and figuring out the most efficient setup for my tools and parts, as well as the tricks for getting the screws set properly through two sets of holes that don't quite align...