General Question

cyndyh's avatar

Do you have an unusual hobby?

Asked by cyndyh (7588points) August 22nd, 2008

What is it? How did you discover it and get into doing it? What’s the attraction for you?

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20 Answers

Harp's avatar

I build harps. I started out of economic necessity, when my daughter took up the harp some years back. The monthly rentals were bleeding us dry, but new instruments are quite expensive, and used ones are few and far between.

I had a basic understanding of woodworking, and I’m pretty good at figuring things out and getting the hang of fussy manual stuff. I looked carefully at several harps and studied their structure, then did as much research as I could (there really isn’t much helpful information out there). I knew it would be a big challenge, but I took a deep breath and dived in. There were a few disasters along the way, but an actual harp emerged 4 months later. It turned out better than I had hoped, and is still out there getting compliments.

That was the first in a string of harps. They’re expensive even to build, and each one represents an enormous time commitment, so I haven’t been able to indulge in it as much as I’d like.

It appeals to me on two different levels- technical and aesthetic. Harps are under huge stress; there is over half a ton of string tension in a little 34-string harp, all tied into a glued wooden structure that has to be as light as possible for good sound production. There are any number of ways a harp can fail, and bringing a new harp up to full tension for the first time is a gut-wrenching experience. Months of effort and hundreds of dollars can vanish in a second because of one ill-conceived joint. As crazy as it sounds, I kind of like that element of it my wife, not so much

The aesthetic component is the most important to me. Harps, unlike violins, don’t have a fixed design. There’s still plenty of room for inventiveness and creativity in the making of a harp. And instrument making in general is one of the last refuges for meticulous craftsmanship in our age. As all the other objects in our lives get further and further removed from the hands of actual artisans, Musical instruments still represent the best of what the human hand can do with fine tools and materials.

jrpowell's avatar

@harp :: That is so many levels of awesome.

I make BEAM robots in my spare time. That is my weird hobby. And the reason I don’t have carpet in the RV.

Solder + Carpet = Homeless

shockvalue's avatar

I plan my zombie survival kit and evacuation procedure.

It’s basically just like an earthquake survival plan but 100 times more awsome.

whatthefluther's avatar

One of the Native American jewelry traders I deal with also sold pipes carved by Native American artisans from pipestone. Always in search of a better pipe, I bought one. I was very impressed with its smoking characteristics, how the stone absorbed the heat, had a cooling and mellowing effect on the smoke, yet never got too hot to touch. Physically, the stone was beautiful with a rich brown color that buffed out nicely, some grain variation and speckles of pink throughout. It was a solid stone but soft enough that it could be carved relatively easily.

On eBay, I discovered sellers who offered pipestone blocks, pieces and pipe blanks, which are pieces that have been cut into a rough pipe shape with bowl and stem already drilled, leaving final shaping and finishing, including any engraving, to the buyer. Considering the disease I have, ALS, was slowly but progressively degenerating the muscles in my fingers and hands (as well as the rest of my body), I decided to take the small leap and bought a pipe blank. I found the stone very carvable with rough rasps and files which I could plant between fingers and manipulate quite successfully, although, admittedly, I looked quite awkward. Sanding was slow since my fingers cramped quickly, but I discovered wet sanding easier and found hot water had the bonus of relaxing the muscles. The finished pipe was a beauty, admired by all who saw it. And, as long as I didn’t overdo it, it was therapy, working my fingers, hands and arms and keeping the muscles active and myself challenged rather than just giving in to atrophy. I had given my legs (which went first) a similar challenge by not allowing a wheelchair in three rooms of my house, forcing me to take slow, often painful cane assisted steps, between the rooms. I felt both these activities were critical to keeping some use of my arms and legs although I was realistically resigned to the fact that it was, and is, a losing battle, my fate being paralysis and ultimately death.

Not being one to cave in, I started buying pieces, then blocks of first Minnesota then Arizona pipestone then steatite, a black pipestone that buffs out to a shiny ebony finish, then branched out even more into the softer alabaster and soapstone. To date, I have finished about 40 pipes of varying shapes, sizes and detail, each of which could easily sell for $35 with some approaching a hundred dollars and perhaps a bit more. But friends were so impressed that I decided I would not sell a single one giving all as gifts, with the hope that after I’m gone, use of the pipe might cause a friend to remember me and some happy memory we shared. My carving ability has reduced considerably, but you’ll usually find a pipe in progress either in my hand or close at hand, with me engraving, as I am able, bits of detail in what will ultimately become my legacy to a dear friend.

poofandmook's avatar

I don’t really have an odd hobby, but it’s odd for someone my age… I crochet. I often sit while watching TV or lately at my desk at work in between calls, working on an afghan. I’ve done two oversized baby afghans for friends and an oversized queen afghan for my sister a few years ago for Christmas. I have two in the works at the moment, one of which has been ripped out several times and, I suspect, I will be ripping out again soon and starting over.

jca's avatar

i do decoupage. it’s a victorian craft, consists of cutting pictures and layering them onto an object (wood, box, frame, etc) with a glue mixture. then polyurethaning it with about 8 layers, so it looks smooth. i started it when i took a faux finishing course about 7 years ago.

sometimes i use faux finishing techniques, sometimes just paint one color, sometimes no paint at all. i take images from wrapping paper, greeting cards, photos (cards i color-copy because the stock is too thick, photos i color copy because photos don’t do well when wet). i take elmer’s glue and water it down about 50/50 so it’s like milk. then i brush it on, layer the pix, let it dry. then i poly, let it dry, poly, let it dry, etc. i give the things as frames, keep them, could sell but have not (yet, but maybe one day). it’s time consuming because of the drying in between, but i do other things while it’s drying, or do a layer, go out, do another layer, go to bed, do another layer next day. so the drying is time consuming but it doesn’t have to be attended to. it’s not a totally uncommon hobby.

flameboi's avatar

I quit every hobby, odd or not…
I loved my bmx, but had an accident and I quit
I used to play polo when I was younger, but fell down from the horse and of course, I quit
I played tennis for a while, but I quit
I used to model, it was more like a hooby to me, but got paralysis and I had to quit
Now I collect books, cds, watches and sunglasses :s
I fix my own clothes to make them “more inetersting”
And I love to take black and withe pictures of everything that crosses my path :)
If the hobby=happiness, then
red hot chilli peppers+italian engine roaring=happiness

poofandmook's avatar

@jca: I should find the picture of the decoupaged picture frame I made… it’s on my desk here at work. I love decoupaging.

MacBean's avatar

Gravestone rubbings. Seriously, I don’t think it’s all that weird, but people give me strange looks for it all the time. They don’t get why I would want to spend so much time in cemeteries. But they’re so pretty and peaceful. Nowhere else makes me feel so safe.

I got started when I was a kid, researching genealogy with my dad and gramma. They’d spend a lot of Sundays going to cemeteries and taking pictures of the stones with information that they wanted. I went with them and took pictures of stuff I thought was pretty or interesting or especially sad. Sometimes the ones I was interested in were too old and worn down to read later on in the photos, so I started bringing paper and doing rubbings of those. I came to like that more than using a camera and now it’s a hobby.

syz's avatar

I don’t know that my hobbies are unusual:

Rock climbing
Jewelry making
Home improvement projects

Stuff I haven’t done for ages but would like to get back into:

Painting (watercolors)
Horseback riding

cyndyh's avatar

Folks, this is wonderful to read about!

@Harp: Is the Harp in your avatar one you made? I’ve often wondered how difficult they are to keep tuned. What a great hobby. I’ve seen some really beautiful wooden harps at folks instrument shops. They always cost a pretty penny. Have you gone pro with it?

@whatthefluther: It’s great that you found something that’s therapeutic, too. Have you seen the price of pipes these days? I bet you’re selling yourself short with the price you say you could get for them. That’s great that you give them to friends.

flameboi's avatar

You are in a different level of coolness…

Harp's avatar

@ cyndyh
Yep, that’s one of mine. Tuning is painstaking, but it’s also quite an education in acoustics in it’s own rite. In a tuned harp, all of the strings respond sympathetically when one is plucked, but when the harp is even a bit out of tune, that effect is diminished and the plucked string sounds dead because the others aren’t in synch with that vibration. As the harp comes into tune, it’s as if it comes alive again; each string plucked rouses a chorus of support from all the others and the harp regains its full voice. I never tire of that little miracle.

As for going pro, I’m not out there looking for buyers, but when one comes my way, I’m happy to talk. Selling a harp is a tiny bit like putting a kid up for adoption; after that laborious birthing process, I want to make sure that it’s going to a decent and caring home I once made the mistake of selling one into a house that had no humidifiers; come winter, I had to spend weeks repairing all the cracks that formed as the wood dehydrated. Never again.


JackAdams's avatar

I collect photos of naked black women.

I have over 4,000 in my collection.

August 23, 2008, 4:07 AM EDT

Nimis's avatar

Wanders into an old thread.
I guess blacksmithing is a little archaic?

JackAdams's avatar

I don’t think it is.


Under the spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can.
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellow blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from the threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, – rejoicing – sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks! thanks, to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou has taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) American Poet & Educator

whatthefluther's avatar

@JA…An old favorite of my…thanks for the revisit.

Zen's avatar

@Harp Tres, tres cool. So are the other hobbies, and ways you’ve expressed them.

Me, I play guitar and write songs. It relaxes me.

Loried2008's avatar

I play guitar, write songs, sing, AND I record myself. I’m only 18 (and a chick) I don’t know anybody around here that know how to use a BR1600. (small town in bama)

doesnotmakesenseatall's avatar

There are a few hobbies of mine which can be categorized as ‘strange’ but the one which is the most is, collecting different types of lingerie. From brands to the ones from booths. Strangely, there have been many instances where the ones from the booths are more comfortable and way more exotic than.

I know, it is a strange hobby but keeps me and my happy. **winks**

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