Monday, February 27, 2012

bombs away!

After the pleasing and welcome enthusiasm for the unfinished bombs, here are the finished ones!

Bomb Pendants 1

H-Bomb Girls, Worn

H-Bomb Girls

F1-11 Love Missile, Worn

F1-11 Love Missile

V-2 Schneider, Worn

V-2 Schneider

Bomb Pendants 2

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I had to go to Ormskirk yesterday, a lovely little town in rural Lancashire, from where I was buying a new CAD/CAM mill second-hand. The workshop which housed the mill was tiny and appeared to only seat two setters. I particularly enjoyed one of the setter's benches:

Setter's Bench

Sunday, February 19, 2012

book feature

I have no idea what happens to my time. Another two-week hiatus since my last blog post, during which time I've been invited to help with writing the "definitive book on soldering for jewellers", found out that one of my pieces is featured on the cover of a new book on stone-setting, bought a new CAD/CAM mill, sold several of my show-pieces and continued to put together the collection for the show in Wales.

Can you spot it?!

Part of the reason for the hiatus was a break for a long weekend in Brighton, which was both relaxing and productive as I managed to find an out-of-print engraving book I've been after for some time, along with some other books, all for £2 in the Amnesty International bookshop:

Charity Book Haul

The "Rings & Other Things" book is hilariously 60s!

I also finished the order for the skull pendants. I was very pleased with the way these came out as they are actually very commercial and saleable and it is always interesting working with other people. This is absolutely not the sort of work I would normally do, and I don't much like the cleaning up and polishing of multiple castings, but these cast from impeccable masters and they only really needed barrel-polishing and patinating after the sprues were removed:

Zook Skulls - Main Order

I've also been working on the semi-production "bomb" pendants, made from the discarded CO2 cylinders used by caf├ęs to make whipped cream. The original, "Dr. Strangelove":

Dr Strangelove - 1

This was entirely made by hand and after it was finished, I thought that it would be a popular piece to reproduce in a more commercial way, so I designed some vanes in Rhino, milled them out and cast them. This is the first of the new bombs, "V-2 Schneider":

V-2 Schneider (WIP) - 1

And these then multiplied to give "F1-11: Love Missile" and "H-Bomb Girl":

V-2 Schneider and Friends (WIP) - 2

With any luck, I'll get these enamelled and set over the coming week.

I'm off to pick up the mill tomorrow, to Ormskirk, near Manchester. It is a water-cooled 4-axis machine which is designed specifically for milling waxes for the jewellery industry.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

so much!

What a fiendishly busy few days! I've been working hard to make my work for the exhibition in Wales recently but between that, I've been getting quite a lot of odd commissions, largely for repeats of my older work - things like three-skull rings and wolf and bear rings. I've also been working with "humble doodler", Zook again (we worked previously on "Beneath the Skin". He asked me to make some 3d silver versions of his drawing:

Old School Zook Skull & crossed bones (with sword) Pendant concept...

Which I did by making the model in plasticine, scanning it in 3D and milling it out in the required sizes:

Revised Skull Pendant - Model 2

Zook Skulls In Three Sizes

This last shot shows the millled waxes, cast before properly cleaning them up. I took rubbers of these:

Zook Skull Copies

And cleaned up the masters completely, setting a stone in the eye of the big one:

Zook Skulls Masters - Now Set

I have to make a small production run of these now.
Other than that, a customer asked me for a nut ring, supplying her own nut. I was a bit concerned about it because it is stainless steel and I wasn't sure how it would take to setting, but it was fine:

For Angela - 1

One of the students at North Glasgow College - an engineering student, not one of my own - a lovely fellow called Paul who didn't want to be photographed, turned up yesterday on this crazy bike made from found wood:

Cycle-Recycle - Paul's Wooden Bike - 1

All the wood in this bike is from pallets and found in skips, as are many of the bike parts. Click on the pictures to see more.

Cycle-Recycle - Paul's Wooden Bike - 1

Cycle-Recycle - Paul's Wooden Bike - 1

I received a lovely email this morning from an ex-patriot Scot who lives in California and who has started a project aiming at getting women into the workshop and working with metal. It has been running for some time now but I've hitherto never heard of it, and I think it deserves some attention!
Very exciting stuff.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

vanilla ink

Another week and this time punctuated by a visit to my favourite Scottish city, Dundee. It is hard to put a finger on exactly what I love about Dundee but one of the essential elements is a truly dynamic and exciting arts (and crafts) scene: there is always something new going on, often encouraged by the Duncan of Jordanstone Art School. I took the train through an icy night on Friday to visit one of the gallery spaces in the art school where the newest project for jewellery makers was being unveiled, Vanilla Ink.

Vanilla Ink Cupcakes!

Bait for the "Sex In The City" set!

The concept of Kate Pickering, Vanilla Ink is, at the moment, an online jewellery shop and community. It came about after Kate gathered together some of her favourite artists from "New Designers" and decided to promote them in an online shop: the project grew from there and is now a functional shop and community (discussion forums, associates, designer profiles, etc.) but is aimed at recent graduates in Jewellery from any institution. It is envisaged that this will eventually grow into workshops - a little like the Birmingham Designspace project I blogged about last spring - offering business advice and support for graduates as well as technical support and inexpensive workshop spaces.

Kate Pickering

Kate Pickering introducing the project.

The online shop and forum are worth having a look at just now.
This bridging of the worlds of industry or "the real world" of commerce and the somewhat isolating and isolated world of the art school is something to be encouraged and Kate is to be commended on her vision and for the sheer hard work she has obviously put into making her vision reality.


The exhibition comprised two elements; the launch of the website and a very open look at the work of the makers represented on the site.

Web Trial

"I could do this at home!"

The exhibition was small but excellent; everything was laid out and viewers were able to pick the pieces up and look at them closely. One of the most interesting features was the way in which Kate has put together a collection of work which has a very certain "look" - she said that this was not a deliberate policy, but more something she realised after the fact - and how the collection is quite universally very reasonably priced, an important consideration when launching a project like this in a recession.

Katie Lees

Work by Katie Lees.

It was nice to see interesting contemporary jewellery which was both accessible and affordable, well-made and eminently wearable. Features of the collection include a lot of micro-granulation of silver, blackened silver, gold-plate and focal coloured gemstones. Everything has a lightness and delicacy and an attention to detail that is commendable and a few of the makers were not without humour. My own favourite piece in the show was Zoe Duthie's "Spectacles":

Zoe Duthie

"Spectacles" by Zoe Duthie.

The reception/opening was well attended and throughout the show there was a Twitter feed being projected showing online support for the project, a very nice touch! Overall, Kate and Vanilla Ink are to be wished every success with their endeavours.

The Crowd

In terms of my own work, I've been making pieces for the show at Llantarnam, including this bomb pendant, "Dr Strangelove":

Dr Strangelove (WIP) - 4

Made from a discarded steel CO2 cylinder, silver and a blue topaz, it made me think that I would like to do a number of these, almost a little "diffusion" line, as the are fairly commercial, use found objects - normally a barrier to production -and are open to all sorts of variations. I've modelled up a few variants on the vanes - using Rhino - and will be looking into this next week. I would quite like to use enamel on the vanes.
Also on the workbench, production Skull pendants for Zook:

Zook Skulls In Three Sizes

I finished a set of iron, polymer clay and silver cufflinks:

Bird Skull Cufflink Trio - 3

And started on a brutal iron chain:

From The Thunderdome (WIP) - 3

More soon!