Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Xmas and a Steamy New Year!

Over the next few weeks I am hoping to work on a few neglected projects, that's as long as I don't eat too much! Apart from working on some more shaving brushes, I want to finally get around to a little Steampunk sculpture/gadget I've had in mind for over 6 months now. I've got some of the glass for it made, but it was only a few weeks ago I managed to put together the main wooden carcass. I am sitting around indoors awaiting the Post Office to (hopefully) deliver several overdue parcels, so have brought a few bits in from the shed to work on them (all the glass melting equipment being too noisy for me to hear any knocks at the door!)

It's really not looking very impressive yet, the next job is to put a decorative finish on the brass plate using a technique I came across by accident a few years ago. Its an oil based finish, so might take a couple of weeks to dry, plus I am not sure I can remember exactly how I did it originally, so it might be a few weeks before I have more of this project to show. If it comes out well, then I might build a bigger and more complex one. In the back of my mind I sort of know what it is, but explaining might take some doing, so you'll have to wait to see how it progresses.

Although I'll be around over the Xmas and New Year break I might not be on line as much, so let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me over the past year with helpful comments, ideas, inspiration, and by buying from me! Do have a happy Xmas and great New Year!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Casting Pewter, and 'Carry on Screaming'

If you can't buy it, make it! Well, that's my motto, with the added proviso that if you can't buy quite what you need or what you buy is rubbish quality then see if you do better!

With a bit more time after the chaos that the lead up to xmas brings, I decided to try my hand again at pewter casting. I'd not done it for a while, put off by the cost of the special rubber resin that's needed to make the moulds. I wanted to make my own custom shaving brush parts, so at the same time thought it would be nice to add some extra flourish to them too, as well as making them more suitable for fitting glass parts to.

Here are my first efforts which, sadly, are disappointing but I knew the first ones wouldn't go to plan. I'd forgotten how hard the rubber was to work with, it's very thick and sticky, and my original sunk to the bottom making the mould too deep! Mind you, an old 'Moo card' box made a very handy mould former!

The first one (bottom left corner) has half the top missing where the metal didn't flow down properly. I tweaked the mould and it worked a little better, but the bottom was only half filled producing a half ring. I guess this was from the air not escaping quickly enough, or the sections being too thin for the metal to happily flow into it. I'd like to re-tweak the mould (thus saving some expensive rubber) but I think I might thicken up the sections of the prototype and start a fresh. The easiest way would be to split the mould to make two 'D' shaped sections, but I don't want too many mould lines so am trying to work with the natural dips in the prototype.

I found a little time for some glass, I've never managed to make eye's before (except very tiny, tiny ones) so when I saw in the latest 'Glassline' magazine a different way of making them I had to have a go! I think catching a bit of 'Carry on Screaming' before I made the first one might have influenced me a bit, with it's blood shot eye and trailing bloody optic nerve! The second was a bit more 'fish eye,' and when I got to the third I wondered what on earth I was going to do with all these wonky eyes!? I guess I'll end up popping them in a nice old laboratory jar and leave it in the kitchen spice rack! Yes, around here everyday is Halloween!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas is Over & Synchronicity

It's been a crazy few weeks, what with two craft fairs and a welcome influx of orders, plus various 'dayjob' things that need my attention at the same time! Last Thursday I was at the Museum of London's Docklands branch for their Xmas evening fair. It was nice to be in the warm, but after a frantic hour of getting the stall up, three hours of chatting to customers and stall holders, then a frantic half hour packing up the dry air started taking it's toll as I begun loosing my voice! Luckily a couple of old friends turned up (including Miss Alice who seems to know every interesting corner of London!) who insisted I stop for a quick drink before trundling back on the DLR to get home, like Cinders, by midnight.

With nothing else planned now, it suddenly feels like xmas is over for me! I'm still adding to the Folksy and Etsy shops, and a good job too as one of my razors has been featured in the Folksy Festive Sampler, which is both an online newspaper, and a real paper that's being given away around the UK! I need to make more shaving brushes and razors (they are quite time consuming) and I am in two minds whether to continue to sell them on Folksy or sell them on my website to save people the hassle of opening accounts on Folksy, although I suspect I'll carry on just selling them on there for the time being.

At least now it feels like I might get time to sort out one or two projects I've been mulling over for a while, including some custom metalwork for the shaving brushes. The night before I was about to order in supplies I was chatting to my other half about silver cored beads, as I know boro versions of these would look fantastic. Spookily the next morning I logged into Frit Happens (a forum for lampworkers) and found someone offering a special press to help core them! Such strange synchronicity, I had to buy it, and now added to my 'to-do' list is practice big-hole-beads too. I suspect my Xmas break is going to be quite busy after all!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

When is Purple, or Blue, Pink?

It seems that pink is a colour I continue to have problems with! Not just with pink glass, but boxes too!

I spent a lot of time trying to find just the right boxes to fit the marble bottle stoppers I make. Most I came across just didn't suit the long profile, and those that were long enough were too shallow. I was about to take a deep breath and have some made to measure (which could have been expensive) when I found the ones I now use. At the same time I also got new boxes for my pendants as well. Although more expensive, they were much better quality, had nice pristine white cushioning, and much more sturdy - very important when posting stuff out!

Of course things don't always go to plan! I had originally chosen purple for the samples, but they had no stock, so went for classic black. When I went to order lots more in time for the Dark Mills Festival I found they were out of stock until after the festival was over! Ekk! However they now had purple back in stock, so went for that, even though it meant I'd have a few non-matching boxes.

The first box I opened was great, a light but nice shade of purple, but all the rest were so light they were (in my opinion) pink, or lilac at the very least! I couldn't really wait another four weeks for replacement black, so have stuck with them. I've nearly used them all, so now I've gone back to black, at least that way there is more chance of them being the right colour in future!

Pink is a colour I have real problems with when working it, all the brands bar one seem to bubble and cause problems. I have come across one make which is lovely - and really expensive and hard to get! However I was delighted last night when I coated the back of a pendant in wisteria blue, only for if to come out a really nice shade of pink! Boro - it's weird stuff sometimes!

Pictured here is a new pendant I made last week for a commission, I really must work with more Gilson opals!