Sunday, May 18, 2008

Breakin' the law, breakin' the law...

Well, I wasn't, but I was stopped and searched by the police on the grounds that someone had phoned up to report my salvaging operations as "suspicious behaviour". I was caught in posession of 25 kilos of rusty steel! Not to worry. I suppose I could have been charged with being in possession of an offensive weapon as I has a garden trowel with me and a length of very heavy chain.

This is all because I got up really early today and couldn't be bothered with the car boot sale, but went instead to the gap site I visited last week to give it a proper search. I found loads more stuff, including the chain mentioned above - large pictures are posted on Flickr, see link on left.

I was super-methodical this time and traversed the site in overlapping strips, which took about three hours and gave me a sore neck! Treasures galore:

Another enamel sign. I have no idea how I managed to miss this one last weekend.
Unfortunately, I found something I never imagined I would find on a gap site in glasgow, this revolting object:

It's a "pocket pussy" type thing. Bizarrely, on one side, as you can see, there is a vaguely woman-shaped thing clinging on; the lump directly opposite on the other side is a small kitten with a bow-tie. I didn't want to touch this to get a better picture and I couldn't make it roll over with the tip of my trowel, not that I even wanted to touch it with that!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Out with Microsoft products and in with open source!
Having bought the Linux eeePC a month or so back and having been using Firefox and OpenOffice for several years, I finally decided to go the whole hog and get rid of Microsoft Office, including Outlook. So I'm now running Thunderbird, Lightning and the OpenOffice suite. So far, the main difference I've noticed is that the computer starts up faster!
The main real difference, however, is that I can now keep everything synchronised between my computers.
The childhood excitement of finding a new record by a favourite artist returned to me this morning when I found out that there is a new CD of music by Gloria Coates, one of my firm favourites amongst modern composers. I'm listening to her 15th Symphony right now and it doesn't disappoint, a "Homage to Mozart" which blends a cloying Mozart melody (played backwards) with thumping percussion and bleak, stomach-turning glissandi. Marvellous! It was commissioned for the festival of Mozart's 250th anniversary year and was performed in Vienna. It is hard to imagine what the average Mozart fan would make of it. I like the idea of it being a bit of a scandal.

Other than that, it was a bit of an unremarkable day. I saw these awful things in a shop window:

and wondered who buys this shite.

Also on view in town today were these very well-fed, middle-class students, playing at politics and not quite getting it:

"Don't agonise: Organise"... they seem to have missed the whole point of anarchy. But look! One of them is wearing a ripped sweatshirt.
Whatever next?

We all know that estate agents and property developers are the lowest of scum with their stupid spiky hair, black shirts and ties, cheap suits, (blonde highlights, D&G sunglasses, fake tan, white nails for females) and their low-end Porches on credit.
We all despise the way that they are collectively responsible for the recent collapse of the developed western economy.
Most of all, we hate them for their pretentious, overblown lies...

Think about that for a moment. This is the most pompous, bloated piece of pretentious puff I have ever heard.

They are selling poky one and two bedroom flats in a converted warehouse for fuck's sake.


Though now that I've written it three times, it sounds more like a shop which sells fake leather sofas. Of the sort which will probably end up in their shit little flats.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Well, I failed completely in my last post but the next day succeeded, having now completed 10 new pieces for Etsy and having started two more pieces. Here's my favourite piece so far:

I've put this up for sale but might well keep it.

It's a long time since I've been so fired up with ideas and haven't even been sleeping properly, which isn't good. I also need to get back to some of the other pieces that are lying about on the bench, such as the "Planet Claire" brooch and pendant set, and the "St Hubertus" pendant.

After that ludicrous midweek footballing fiasco in Manchester, yet again, glaswegians prove themselves unfit to be allowed out of the confines of this foul ghetto. (Remember: the highest murder rate in Europe and the highest crime rate in the developed world.) I have GOT to get out of here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Busy, busy day.
I set myself the challenge of going into the workshop this morning and using some of the scrap iron I gathered over the weekend to make a couple of pieces to be sold on Etsy by 5pm. I failed! I got loads of things partially underway and some things nearly all finished, which is not too disappointing.

All the pieces are based on ideas I got from re-reading "Stig of the Dump" and focus more on the metal than the techniques used to work the metal, leaving the shapes and textures to speak for themselves:

There are more detailed pictures on my Flickr pages. The link is on the left.

Off to a gig. More tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Marbles... departing...

On the strength of my excitement at finding the Wilf Lunn books, I just re-read another seminal influence on my life and work, Clive King's "Stig of the Dump":

It almost burst with excitement when I found this quote:

"Stig was very proud of his necklace of steel nuts strung on wire cable, and his bangles of piston rings."

I was thinking about making a "Stig of the Dump" tribute range, but really, ALL my recent work is that!
At the car boot sale this morning, for a mere £1, I bought TWO books by my childhood hero, Wilf Lunn:

(Full size scans are on my Flickr pages, see link on left.)

There was nothing else there and I came home early, really because I couldn't wait to read them. They are brilliant, full of Wilf's unhinged inventions and wonderfully 70's illustrations, many of them so dangerous (bending glass, soldering with a gas torch) or politically incorrect ("granny scarers") that they would never be allowed today.

Wilf popped to prominence on "Vision On", the completely bats 1960's and 70's BBC television programme for deaf children, which was - obviously - all about non-verbal communications and which launched the careers of Wilf Lunn, Tony Hart, Ardman Animations, Sylvester McCoy and Pat Keysell. I normally would never post a link to YouTube, but there is a section of one of these shows here and a title sequence with Wilf here. Unfortunately, I can't find any clips of Wilf's inventions in action.
(Watch out for the potted art-history lesson in the first few minutes of the first clip: an essay in minimalism and humour and the subtlest of education.)

Vision On, specifically Wilf Lunn, was an incredible influence on my work today: Wilf's work is all about taking things which have one function and making them have another, his creations were all from bits of coat-hanger, washing-up liquid bottles, magnifying lenses, coffee tins and the like, but he completely managed to avoid the safe "prettiness" of Blue Peter, making things which were probably going to fail, but in a way in which you learned something and made modifications to get it to work, or were tricked into thinking for yourself about how to make something else entirely.

Childrens' television today is so bland and passive.
Excellent day!
Good weather followed by an excellent thunderstorm.
Went out with Clive in the morning and met up with David Webster to deliver some 18ct to him. Me and Clive wandered about as usual and ended up at the Barras, where I found a doll in a bucket modelling the Amy Winehouse junkie look:

(This was not to be the only horrible doll find of the day!)

We also saw this bit of dreadfully mawkish street "art":

Now, I could be very wrong, but I have a horrible idea that the two children portrayed in this could well be dead. Something tells me that this is one of these sickeningly banal "tributes" which seem to happen whenever anyone from a very certain type of background dies. Of course, they could be very much alive and just be dying of shame and embarrassment at being thus portrayed.
The most annoying thing about this is not that it exists but that it is technically excellent; the creator has great skill in the handling of pastels. One can only hope that he has a studio somewhere else where he exercises his imagination.

On the way home, I diverted to avoid people and take a quieter route through some old bits of town where industry used to happen but property developers haven't, yet. There is an old gap-site I've been meaning to explore for years and I finally did:

And it was a treasure trove of rusty metal:

Loads of things to set me thinking about new stuff to make. As you can see, I found loads of washers, which is excellent as I use those in chains and things and used the last of the ones I had in the "Omaggio a Staglieno Genovese" earrings last week. The wire also made me think about making a cheaper range of jewellery for sale on Etsy.
In amongst the rust was this gem of an enamelled sign:

And this is where I also saw the second horrible doll:

Why is it that discarded dolls are SO creepy?

Most annoyed: the hard drive in my media player has broken and I need to replace it. Well, that is tomorrow's job.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Further to my previous rant about the post office, I had the pleasure tonight of being served by the most unbelievably helpful woman in the post office in the town centre. She was the most perfect model of customer service and helpful to the point of suggesting that the best way for me to send my package was to repack it as two smaller packages THEN giving me scissors, parcel tape and brown paper to do just that! Incredible. If only the whole of the post office worked to her high standards.

I have been SO busy over the last few weeks. My Etsy shop (see left) has been more-or-less cleaned out and I've been working on a raft of new pieces. Even the Eyepod sold, about which I am really pleased as I was getting increasingly dissatisfied by it and have been thinking a lot recently about remaking it. No need now.

I've been listening to a lot of mediaeval music over the last few weeks. Currently listening to a complete accidental find, Grupo Universitario De Compostela about whom I can find absolutely no information.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

SO busy. I have been getting inundated with orders and even finally sold the EyePod.

Just got back from the bank-holiday weekend in Brighton, which was great fun with Dingo. We went to Bexhill. It would have been Rye, but a revolting "rail replacement bus" which smelled of damp and insecticide put paid to that! Instead, our favourite haunt of Bexhill was just what was needed. I found a new best friend:

Dingo thinks it looks like Shane McGowan.
There was also this really alarming sign:

The bonfire, however, had been burnt, so there was no rat to be seen. I was singing Diamond Dogs in my head all day after that ("Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats...")!

We also went to Brighton boot fair, which was really good for various bits of rubbish that I might make things with, such as these chocolate moulds and a doll's body:

I also found this cuff, but have no idea what it is for. The hook things might be useful to make something from, but as they are cast iron, it is fiendishly difficult to work with. The leather cleaned up nicely with saddle soap:

There was also some very nasty drying-out meat for sale from a stall from which I would not buy anything on account of this:

On Monday, in the absence of anything better to do, we wandered down to the horrible marina in Brighton, probably to remind ourselves of why we don't go there much. After laughing at a ridiculous weekend biker of the worst sort, we went into a chandelry: what a wonderful treasure trove of useful bits of metal. Sadly, the useful metal, maps, ropes and compasses were overshadowed by hideous "lifestyle" clothes and "accessories", such as this:

I always knew that people who "like sailing" were particularly idiotic, but this takes the sea-biscuit. Not only is it badly designed, it is SO badly executed that it could NEVER tell the time ANYWHERE ON EARTH!

Back to work, bursting with more ideas of things to make and a box for the EyePod to make.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why is Royal Mail so completely SHITE?

They have now managed to lose TWO Registered Post items in the space of two months. One of these items was a parcel containing handmade jewellery, irreplaceable items made from found objects which were going to a gallery in Spain.
NOW after making me wait 20 minutes in a telephone queue, they tell me that "oh there is no information, they are probably lost" and that I need to "fill in a form" which I can download from the website.

Except I can't because the website isn't working.

Then the moronic drone told me that it would take 12 weeks to process the claim.

The sooner the Royal Mail is broken up and sold off, the better.