Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The trolley saga updated

Last week I was describing the nightmare of getting through trolleys every few weeks as I move my stuff from Essex to Greenwich market, all via public transport. I ordered parts to make a new, longer lasting trolley, but the results were both mixed, and now unnecessary!

The first problem I had was finding a board wide enough to fit the bearings I bought, so had to make a platform out of two bits bolted and glued together; a very inelegant solution. By Friday though the metal for axle had still failed to arrive, so I had to improvise, using a length of clear 20mm acrylic tubing I'd bought to make marble display stands, with a rod of steel tube though the middle. I knew it wouldn't last, and hoped it would survive long enough to see me through the weekend.

Pictured here is the basic set up, as I headed into London on the 6.46 train. By now I had found that it was just all too heavy, and the handle on the original bag (which locks in place) was now too long. Getting to the station had turned into hard work again, as I either had to balance it as I pushed it forward to keep the centre of gravity just so, or drag it like a dead weight. Pushing it forward was more comfortable, but now it made the rucksack feel more uncomfortable and heavier! By the time I got to the end of Saturday the acrylic was cracking and the axle was sliding back and forth, and I was running out of ideas how to transport my equipment.

Then on Sunday I finally got the news I was waiting for! I have storage! There are engineering works yet again this weekend, so to avoid the replacement coach bit I will be doing an extra day on Friday at Greenwich. I'll be quite loaded on the way there, using yet another trolley I have which I doubt would survive a normal weekend, but which will get me and my two storage crates to Greenwich where they can now live!

This doesn't seem like grand news, but in fact it'll do three things for me. Firstly it'll give me back Mondays, as I am usually wiped out from all the heavy moving. It will also allow me to take more and a wider range of stock, and lastly it means I can now concentrate again on a new display. I've wanted to revamp and change some of the equipment, some of which is getting pretty tired and battered now from the constant travelling, so if you see me sketching behind the stall on Friday that's what I'll be working out!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Trouble with Trolleys

All my equipment, on the 'robust' trolley, ready to go.

And this is what it looks like when it's all unpacked!
Each week I need to lug a lot of stuff back and forth from SteamPunk Glass HQ to Greenwich. It really is a lot. I can get it into one giant wheeled holdall, which is about 3ft tall, and 16inch square, but experience showed it to be just too heavy to lift on and off busses and trains, and I don't want to overload it. (I don't drive, I never got around to learning, so it's public transport for me.) I now have it down to the trolley, and a large rucksack. The rucksack has stock (and a couple of overnight things) and the large trolley mostly has my display equipment and any heavy things like marbles.

Eventually, I might get some storage at the market, but it's very limited and there is a very long waiting list. I normally travel to London early Saturday morning with all this, which involves a bit of a walk to the station, then a train and DLR. After a day at Greenwich I pack up, and another DLR trip and bus ride later to where I will crash for the night, ready to bus and DLR back early Sunday morning.

Now why am I telling you this? For sympathy? No, to explain the amount of changes and moving around I do, and how I am currently getting through trolleys at an alarming rate! The original holdall I use are idea size, but it didn't take long to break the little wheels on them. Buying a new one seemed like a good idea, but that lasted two weeks before ball bearings trickled out of the bearings at Liverpool street station! I invested in a very robust metal trolley, with chunky wheels, and strapped the holdall onto that. A wheel broke after a week, so I assumed it was shoddy workmanship and got a replacement. All good for many weeks, until once again a wheel broke off.

So, enough is enough! Monday morning I ordered these 260mm/10inch Pneumatic tyres, a length of 20mm (one inch) stainless steel rod for the axle, and a pair of industrial bearings. The result won't be pretty, but I hope it will be tough. I am going to use the holdall as the carcass, and do away with the heavy metal trolley which will also reduce weight too. I've got a sturdy hardwood base already built which will bolt through the canvas and plastic; the only weak link might be the holdall, fingers crossed by the time they go (as I have a second as backup!) I might finally have local storage. In the meantime I'll post photos when the new trolley is ready to roll!
Bottom upwards; orginal holdall wheel, robust but broken metal and rubber wheel from latest trolley, and top the new monster 10inch wheels!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Craftpimp & the Wonderfull metalwork of Anna McDade

I've recently joined craftpimp http://www.craftpimp.co.uk , which is a new forum devoted to craftspeople, and is a very freindly place too! As part of that a new Etsy team has sprung up, however it's a select affair! Only three of any discipline are allowed in at any time, and numbers will be limited to around 50 people in total. I've been very fortunate in being one of the few hardglass lampworkers who've been accepted onto the team!

One thing I really like about it is the diversity of top quality skills, and I hope to go around the whole team to share some of the delights with you (if you can't wait, put in the 'cpteam' tag in Etsy's search to see what's on offer!) However one that I couldn't wait to share is the amazing metalwork of Anna McDade.

Along with illustrations Anna produces some really drool worthy metal jewellery using silver, bronze, brass, gold and copper in ways that knocks socks off anything I've seen for a very long time. Some pieces just scream 'add me to a Steampunk/Victorian/Cyberpunk outfit NOW' like her copper and silver collar.http://www.etsy.com/listing/33321897/copper-and-silver-collar If it was plain it would be wonderful, but she also etches the copper with her own designs too. If that wasn't enough she even gives a choice of images that she puts on the designs.

If plain colour isn't your thing then check out the copper bracelets and cuffs (I certianly have!) which by giving heat treatments she has added some wonderful patina. I know alot of people wear copper bracelets to help with reumatism, but these are so much more stylish than the bangles my local chemists and new age shop sells.http://www.etsy.com/listing/52619630/large-copper-bird-on-the-wing-banglecuff (Picture at top of the blog! The one bellow is floating cityscape http://www.etsy.com/listing/70575988/medium-copper-floating-city-cuff )

Now I could rave on for ages, but I think it's best you go and have a look for yourself, especially as if you buy some of her bracelets and rings it'll remove temptation from me hitting the 'buy' buttons! It's certainly a treat for the eyes to see such quality and unquiqueness.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Craft and Design Month - come play marbles!

As part of Craft & Design month, http://www.craftanddesignmonth.net I will be at Greenwich market this Friday to help promote the amazing range on offer there. This Friday 13th the focus is on stationary, toys and gifts, and as part of that I've dug out a large bag of my handmade marbles to play with!

Yes, come along that day and you can play with my marbles! Of course they might not be my best marbles, they will stay on the stand too oogle at, but I have a nice lot of seconds and test marbles that I don't mind being thrown around! I've even been featured in press releases for the market, which is amazing as I still feel like 'new boy' there! Hopefully there will be lots of interest, and I'll try to get some pictures too if I can! More info at http://www.craftanddesignmonth.net/events/?pc=SE10+9LS&r=4

The two Fridays after that there will also be events, on the 20th the focus will be jewellery and fashion, and on 27th May it will be interiors and home. I probably won't be there on those dates, but will be around on Saturdays and Sundays unless something major crops up, you can always check my Facebook page for any last minute news.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

On the trials of new designs

Making new designs takes time, and time isn't something I always have. However it's interesting to see how some designs seem to organically grow from old techniques and new ideas, whilst the really hard ones to work are the ones I design backwards from knowing how I want something to look, to then figuring out how to make it!
Today I've once again been battling with shaving brushes. For those who don't know, the 'old' style had a metal finial which the brush (or 'knot' which is the correct term apparently) fitted into, then the glass handle fitted onto that. The problem is I cannot get anymore of these, as they are no longer made. I spent a few weeks, and a can of expensive silicone mould resin, trying out casting them in pewter, but I really wasn't happy with either the results or the look. The ideal thing would be making an entirely glass handle and fitting the knot directly into that, making a more seamless look, and removing the potentially troublesome metal to glass bond.

Easier said than done! Today I've made only 4 handles, and one failed lump. The best one being the first, which then cracked. Thinking I was on to the right idea I carried on, and I think the last one is nearly right. Realising it would be a bit of a slog I stopped using colour, and have been working with just clear as I work out the shapes and process, and thats been quite a happy idea as they look really good with just a touch of colour.

At the opposite end of designing are the happy organic pieces that grow out of existing techniques used in new ways, rather than the hard designing of having the finishing product in mind and working backwards. One of these was from a chat on the stall with a chap buying a calligraphy pen, who suggested chop stick holders to match would be great, as he used them to rest pens on. I made a few rectangular style ones, but coaxing glass into in-organic squares isn't ideal, so I tried a leaf design. I like making leaves, they are very free form, and each one is always different.

As I made more I found that some rocked, and I liked the way they seemed to 'tremble' like leaves on a tree, so I've been making them all like that. As they are all boro, I think they'd be ideal for tableware too! I'll try and list some on etsy soon!