Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Harry Pickup method of craft design

Who? I hear you ask, maybe followed by ‘what?’ and then maybe ‘have you really lost your marbles?’ (The answer to the last is yes, there are probably some rolling around under my bench somewhere.)

Do you ever have one of those craft problems where you are missing something to make the ‘thing’ you make? Or it’s gone wrong? Or there is an eyesore on it? Well then it’s time for the Harry Pickup method!

There is a lot of hype around this chap, and maybe it’s more myth than reality, but just after WWII Harry was (supposedly) trying to find a way of getting rid of some nasty caustic waste ash. In desperation he even tried flushing some down the loo, when he noticed it caused an interesting reaction. All the limescale was removed!!! He then took this waste product and turned into something every housewife wanted! Unsure what to call this new product he just took the first three letters from his first and last name…….. Ah! See, you probably have heard of him!!!

So basically I’m talking about taking what you think are negatives and turning them into practical positives, and when things aren’t going to plan I think to myself ‘What would Harry do?’

I’ve been looking into holders to mount marbles in to make walking sticks, and I’ve had a lot of ‘Harry’ moments doing it. I’m still miles away from getting them made, but each stumbling block has helped improve the design. For example I was looking at some nice brass lampholders, and converting them to use as a cup for the marble. However they had an earth terminal fixed to the side; removing it would have left a hole. So instead of thinking how I could remove it, I wondered how I could use it? I could use it to secure a hand-strap! Ideal so it could be put around the wrist to save dropping it, (useful when the top is solid glass!) or even just to hang it up. In the end the holder was too small, but I’ve kept the idea for the hand-strap which I wouldn’t have had if I’d just cursed the useless holder and moved straight on.

On a Steampunk forum a while ago I came across a thread where someone was trying to get rid of some writing enamelled into some old lab glassware (which of course caught my eye!) There were lots of complicated answers, attempts to burn it off then re-annealing it, super-dangerous chemical treatments. My solution was to turn it into a feature of the sculpture he was thinking of making by putting a decorative brass collar around it. Simples!

I see so many links to motivational websites telling us to be positive, all are very good at talking up how to think positive, but I really don’t find many telling you how to turn that into reality. I hope this will give you some ideas to get around that stumbling block by using the stumbling block itself as your leverage. So next time you are stuck, try thinking of Harry, and turn the unwanted into an advantage.

1 comment:

  1. Good post! I shall definitely be thinking of Harry in future now. Thanks :)

    BTW the walking stick idea sounds great.