Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Decorative brass effects & Steampunk Radio sculpture revisited

A few months ago I posted a picture of a brass plate I was working on, which then got put back on the back-burner once again. Pulling it out a few weeks ago when I had five minutes spare I realised I'd made a daft mistake. I'd forgotten to put a sealing layer over the initial brass before putting on the decorative paint coat. The masking I'd used to make the pattern had left some glue and grot, when I tried removing it it had only made things worse. Doubtless some people would say it adds character, but I know it's there and shouldn't be!

It's taken me a while to decide to start a fresh, hopefully learning from my mistakes along the way - but then isn't that what arts and crafts is about? Here is a picture of the new bright and shiny brass plate.
To make this brushed brass finish is actually quite easy and takes no time at all. If you pop down to Maplin's or an electronics stockist you can buy a rubberised polishing block which is normally used for degreasing and cleaning the copper on PCB's (printed circuit boards for the non-technical) prior to etching them or soldering components onto them. Their part number is HX04E http://www.maplin.co.uk/polishing-block-2109 if you want one too! It works really well on many soft metals such as copper and brass, and lasts for years if looked after, although mine looks a little grubby from the dirt I took off this apparently clean brass sheet!

To get a good finish it's just a matter of polishing in one direction, then the other, and back again a few times until you get the finish you like. Just make sure you keep it flat against the brass as you do, and go in nice long and even strokes.
It's no good for really deep scratches, but will certainly buff up most boring bit of brass and copper. To help hold it use some double sided sticky take to fix to a bit of scrap card; saves those finger marks on the edge! (Neat trick I got from an instrument maker!) Brush off the remaining dust with a soft cloth, and lacquer or spray varnish to protect that finish.

If you are feeling really fancy, after you've got a nice finish with the brushing marks going one way, using just the corner of the block make some figure of eights over the surface to produce a unique decorative look. If you don't like how it looks, just polish again to remove it!

I'll try and post some more pictures as this comes along, and also explain what I'm going to do with the bag of cogs and this odd little (and surprisingly expensive) little metal gadget too.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

In the Press & Big Marbles

I am seriously letting my on line life down lately, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day, and I still never seem to get enough done! Although I do seem to empty the tea caddy quicket than I used to, so I suspect that I need to decrease my tea breaks and increase the time between them!

A few weeks ago I got a small mention in the Evening Standard. I had originally hoped they would be using a picture of one of my stoppers, as they had asked for high-res images, but sadly not and the mention was quite small - I even hot footed it to London to pick up a copy, so at £23 a ticket so rather an expensive clipping for five words! (One of those was 'and'!) I've highlighted the area in the picture.

Thanks to the weather and most of the DLR being closed things have been rather quiet at the market, so instead of making new pendants to refill stocks it has given me time to go back to some serious marble making. I've been trying to get the sizes up, at the moment I seem to be hitting a 'wall' at 40mm; although I am still playing with ideas to get up to the magic 50mm/2inch mark without having to invest in new equiment. Despite that I am really pleased with some of the new ones, especially a big 40mm galaxy spiral, which has a multicoloured galaxy floating in the centre. Even the back came out well, with lots of metallic blues!

Here are a few pictures of some of the new marbles, including some Lattachino vortex marbles. I have been approached about the possiablity of using one of my larger marbles as part of a public art statue, which is giving me even more reason to get some large marbles made!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Busy Days, and get ready for news!

Excuse the late posting, its been some busy weeks, made more so by so much happening last weekend. Firstly, I finally got the long awaited storage! Yay!

Also on Friday Greenwich market had live demonstrations of blacksmithing, and woodturning, as well as mock-ups of rooms filled with items available from the market as part of their of push. It was then I found out that I've been in the press! One of my galaxy stoppers was featured in a two page spread about the market in 'The Wharf.' It's a free paper that's distributed around canary wharf. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get my own copy, but have been promised a photocopy at least.

Here are a quick couple of photos from the friday before last, with Tom Biddulph www.tombiddulph.co.uk demonstrating wood turning, give one of the stall holder Menzie a quick lesson in woodturning!
I will have some exciting news coming up this week, keep tuned to my facebook page and twitter on Wednesday; I won't say anymore in case it doesn't happen but I am bracing myself for some more exciting news too!
I am also planning to have a 'Virtual open-day' very soon, although I've been having problems getting webcams and old laptops to work! I've nearly got the tech to work, so hopefully I'll be broadcasting live webcam from the workshop, I'll have to remember not to swear if I burn myself picking up a rod thats still hot!