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Friday, February 24, 2023

F³ Birds of A Feather

            By and large, Evelyn left me to my own devices to tie and glue my down feathers into brushes after showing me how the first couple of times. From there I just used her to inspect what I had done, gradually getting better at it as I went. Unfortunately, I needed to actually make the brushes before I could test the feathers with the powders. It was the only way to get a good application.

            But after a full morning of work, I was a sticky, feathery mess, and my fingers ached from tying the twine. But I had a set of workable feather dusters done. Done enough to test with, anyway. I didn’t intend on keeping any of these, so hadn’t even bothered to let the glue dry.

            I tested each of the brushes across different applications, wood, stone, glass, leather, and even clothing. The last was sketchy, at best, but the results of all the other tests produced a clear winner: stork. Turkey came in second, which surprised me. I had enough stork feathers for at least half a dozen brushes, though, so there was no need to use the turkey.

            I packed everything up, telling Evelyn she could keep the testing brushes, if she wanted.

            “And what would I use them for, eh? Moving such a small amount of dust is worthless.”

            I shrugged. “These were designed to apply, not move, more like makeup brushes.

            “Makeup, what’s that?”

            Right, modern terminology.

            “The, um, paints and powders that ladies in court use.”

            She looked at the brushes more closely, now. “You think ladies would buy these?”

            I shrugged again, tying my leftover feathers to Ranger’s saddle. “Maybe. You’ll need to show them they work, though. Put them on some fancy handles, and probably. I don’t really understand nobility.”

            “But how would I get them to ladies of court? I couldn’t even speak to such as they. If only—”

            “Are we bargaining, Evelyn?” I said suddenly, turning to smile at her.

            “I believe so, Shamus,” she grinned.

            The negotiation had taken some time, as it involved Marrick, Jameson the carpenter, Willis the tanner, and Ernst the apothecary, and a few others. By the end of it, there was quite a little cooperative operating, agreeing to supply one another with what they needed to create a range of specialized goods, including makeup for the ladies of court.

Friday, February 17, 2023

F³ Adjustments

            It turned out that I hadn’t blown Marrick away, rather that he had been so startled by the onrushing air that he had staggered away and let go of the pillow. We set it up again, and this time it worked perfectly, well, a few feathers got out because holding the case on was problematic, but on the whole, it worked.

            Marrick even suggested using a leather belt to cinch down on the case, preventing loss of feathers. He pulled a few workers out and set them up as a team. Loading the feathers, tying the bag, and operating the bellows. It didn’t take long for that team to outfill most of the rest of Marrick’s little factory.

            Marrick ordered the machine moved inside and set up, even setting up a pulley and weight system on the bellows so that it lifted on its own. One or two men could just use their body weight to pump it down, and it reset itself.

            Soon, the machine team was humming away, and Marrick complained that he only had one such machine.

            “What I wouldn’t give to have three more of these!”

            It was just a thing to say as he already knew the carpenter and leatherworker in town. It would just take more time to make more machines, especially since I wasn’t going to pay for it, this time.

            Marrick did pay me, though, a bag each of the different bird feathers he used, a surprising number of varieties, at that. I expected hen, goose, and duck, but also got pigeon, pheasant, turkey, swan, stork, crane, crow, and thrush.

            I returned back to Evelyn’s the next morning with all my feather bags.

            “You again? I thought I was done with you?” she chided as she used my broom mold to stitch together a flat broom.

            “Nice to see you, too.”

Friday, February 10, 2023

F³ Inventor

            I tried some small-scale tests using the fireplace bellows, shooting a few feathers into a small bag. I was satisfied enough that I decided to scale it up, so I quit my job as a pillow stuffer, and headed out. I had to visit a number of different craftspeople buying supplies and describing what I wanted, even sketching out some very crude designs on paper with my charcoal pencil—Hey, I bet I could make a real pencil after everything I went through creating fingerprint powders.

            The whole endeavor took a few days, and required Ranger to pull a cart to transport it to Marrick’s.

            “Here, now, you can bring that contraption here. I have work to do!” he protested.

            I wasn’t about to get into a protracted discussion  while he was surly, so threw him a silver coin for him to just listen to me for five minutes. He agreed to that, readily enough, after barking more orders to the workers to get back to work.

            I proceeded set the machine up on one of the outside eating tables. Despite its size, it wasn’t overly complex, consisting of three distinct areas. The bellows took up the most space, hanging off the edge of the table. Constructing bellows that could move enough air had been a challenge, and required few cows’ worth with very tight stitching to hold them together. They also had required folding into the requisite accordion shape, but they had worked perfectly in the test, too. I just had to not screw this up.

            Into the center area, I dumped a few shovelfuls of feathers. Marrick grumbled at the spillage, but I didn’t pay attention to him. Then I shut the lid down tight and latched it tight using the rope loops. I grabbed an empty pillow case, pressing it into Marrick’s hands, then instructed him to hold it tight over the hole in the end of the machine. He grumbled some more, but did so.

            I lifted up on the end of the bellows, expanding it as far as I could make it go, above my head, then heaved down on it. I heard a giant whoosh and a loud crash.

            I peaked around the machine to see Marrick had gone flying back to land on his ass, feathers drifting everywhere.

            “Oops,” I said.

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