Thursday, 19 November 2009

Kokeshi Doll

Hey folks,it's been a wee while,again.Hope you've all been well,having fun doing the things that you love with the people you love...
Sorry about the quality of pics,I can only think it's the swimming pools of coffee I consume on a daily basis that are making things so blurry!
Anyway,this is one of my turned,carved,burned & painted Kokeshi Dolls.She is a solid billet of Scottish Sycamore that was first roughly hewn from a 9 inch diameter log using my Gransfor Bruks Forest axe,the ends squared on the bandsaw then mounted on my engineers lathe to be turned to a cylinder.This allows a perfect cylinder to be achieved very quickly & accurately.The dome of her head was finished with skew chisel,gouge & sanded to 600grit,the base finished with only skew.
Once I had the basic shape I started work on the features with my 0.5mm 2H pencil.There is minimal carving,basically just enough to define the jawline & the sleeves of the Kimono,just under 2mm deep.I did this using all 5 of my Pfeil palm carving tools & my trusty Swann-Morton No.3 scalpel with a No.11 blade.
Once I had the carving complete it was onto the Pyrography.This is a technique that involves burning a design into a light coloured wood with what is essentially a soldering iron.Some of them can be a little more sophisticated with adjustable temperature but mine is essentially a tiny wee poker with changeable brass tips.Although I only created thin,uniform lines in this doll,in the right hands Pyrography can be used to great effect in creating shade,depth & form.I burned in the hair,eyes & pattern in the Kimono,if there's a line it's burned.
I used model makers enamel paint,matt for the hair & trim on the Kimono,gloss for the face & checks.There are still a few wee patches that need touching up but I've been wanting to post this for some time (I took the axe to the log over a year ago & although she only took about 25 accumulated hours to get to this point it seems a whole lot longer....).
She is 402mm tall & 77mm in diameter.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Recycled/Reclaimed Boxes

Here are a few boxes I have made using wood that I found on the streets of Edinburgh.The Mahogany I used was found just outside my flat in the form of a discarded mantel 6 foot long,8 inches wide by 1 1/4 inch thick.The 22mm Baltic Birch Plywood I found in a skip outside a flat that I presume was getting underfloor heating considering the shape of the offcuts.Not sure how much I scored but it was enough to fill the boot of our Peugot 206.I’ve made loads of stuff with this from these boxes to jigs,sanding discs,new top for my beatup workbench & faceplates for my lathe/sander/grinder.The Oak came from some old kitchen doors & drawer fronts I found a couple of streets up from mine.Once the doors had been dismantled the stiles bore about 60 feet of 15mm by 50mm strips & the drawer fronts yielded 30some feet of 100mm by 20mm boards,perfect for boxmaking. They were glued together using p.v.a.,sanded to 600 grit then finished with Liberon finishing oil. There are a number of great things about using reclaimed wood. Firstly,its free meaning all the more money for tools. Secondly,you know the wood is well seasoned,especially if its the remnants of a home remodelling. Thirdly & lastly,as far as I’m aware,is you are slowing our ever increasing rubbish tips from becoming continents in their own rights. Oh,the suede that I take my pics on is also salvaged,this time from an old 3 seat sofa. The one at the front is 120mm long by 57mm high.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Absent Earrings

I mentioned in my last post that I have been making the usual cufflinks, pendants & earrings & I realise that I haven't posted any pics of earrings,so,here we go...

The first pic shows 2 pairs of drop earrings made from Turquoise, Blackwood, beef bone, African Padauk, Osage Orange, Malachite & Black Walnut.

The second,third & fourth pics show pairs from my Quadrant range.These are made from Turquoise, Blackwood, Tagua nut, Mahogany, Pink Ivory & Leadwood.

The final pair are traditional bezel set Carnelian, gold & silver studs.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I'm rubbish

Yet again it's been 3 months since my last post,I really do suck at keeping a journal!

It's been a busy 3 months,along with the usual earrings,cufflinks & pendants I've made a replacement electrical component for my father in laws old Rolls Royce using a piece of copper tubing (free),a sandwich board (all materials scavenged from skips & the roadside,well,apart from the glue & panel pins)for my artist friend Deborah Cameron,she paints the most amazing seascapes,,started work on a pair of Viking shoes & made a few more custom tools.

This little smoothing plane has to be my favourite tool so far.She's 130mm longs by 51mm wide with a blade width of 34mm.She is constructed primarily from African Blackwood,a stable timber as hard as bone that glues to itself with little or no seam & is capable of taking a mirror finish,my favourite wood by some margin.The wedge is curly Sycamore with a ring of Blackwood,Sycamore,Black Walnut,Turquoise resin & finally beef bone holding in a 13mm Lapis Lazuli cabochon.

Her mouth is quite wide at the moment,1.5mm with the bevel down,4mm with the bevel up (I modeled her on Karl Holteys 11-SA & although she is a little shorter the blade & bed geometry are the same).This will close up once I get round to replacing the 2mm thick stanley block plane blade with a 3.5-4mm 0-1 carbon steel blade of my own creation.I'm not too bothered at the minute as I've only had to plane some very sedate Oak & Mahogany & these particular timbers seem to cooperate without a fuss producing some very woolly shavings.I'm sure once I have to plane some African Padauk or pippy Yew I'll be looking for that smaller mouth.

I've made a couple of planes before but none of them turned out as well as this one,it seems to me that Blackwood is the wood of choice when planemaking.

You may have noticed I am refering to this plane as she?I tend to name my favourite tools/machines & I've named this little beauty Charlize...

Monday, 4 May 2009

Mallet from a Bowl

For the past couple of years I have been slowly but surely replacing my shop bought tools with a collection of tools that I have made myself.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from making things using tools you have made yourself that is difficult to put into words,it's just awesome!!
My latest tool creation is this lignum vitae mallet.
For years I have been using a 2.5 lb club hammer to drive my chisels but after seeing various beautiful examples of lignum mallets on the web I convinced myself that such a thing was essential.
Now,my first port of call whenever I'm looking to buy wood or supplies these days is,of course,eBay.
The first suitably sized piece of lignum listed (5"long cylinder by 5.5" diameter)seemed,at £27.50,a little too salty to me but 3 listings below it there was a set of 4 vintage lignum vitae lawn bowls,buy it now £10.
"Drat,pick up only,knew it was too good to be true!"
Click on it anyway -item location,City of Edinburgh
Send message to arrange pickup.
I have only ever worked small pieces of lignum in the past,small turned inlay & the sole of a tiny smoothing plane so to say I was unprepared for the edge destroying abilities of this ferocious timber is an understatement.I swear it felt like I was sharpening more than turning.
That said lignum vitae is a beautiful material to work taking a crisp,glossy finish.
I decided to use maple for the handle as it is a lovely creamy white which will contrast even better once the lignum oxidises to its eventual deep,leafy green.
The finished mallet is 275mm long & the head is 100mm at its widest.

Friday, 17 April 2009

mokume gane & blackwood cufflinks

Here is a pair of Mokume Gane & African Blackwood cufflinks.
Mokume Gane is a Japanese technique involving the lamination of 2 or more contrasting metals,in this case 8 layers of copper & sterling silver,then cutting into those layers to reveal a pattern then flattening into a sheet to create a smooth,uniform material.
As far as I'm aware Mokume was first used to decorate the hilt & scabbard of Samurai swords but now is mainly used in the manufacture of jewellery,most notably by James Binnion & Steve Midgett.If you Google either of them you will be amazed by the work of 2 modern masters of an ancient craft.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

pendant or brooch

When I started this piece over a year ago the intention was to make a pendant.I didn't complete it straight away because I'm atrociously unfocused & if I have a new idea then whatever I'm working on gets put to one side until I satisfy my creative urge.This is a common theme with my work,probably why I'm usually working on 20 plus things at once.
Much of my work has a modular nature,earrings can become cufflinks or bracelet components or 2 bracelets become a necklace,you get the idea.
Now,because I have been looking at this piece for over a year I'm not sure what to make it into,a brooch or a pendant.
Of course the most likely reason it hasn't been completed is because I really,really like it & if I complete it then I have to sell it!
Woe is me...
The main body is Bocote which is inlayed with 17 different materials including organic cow bone,turquoise,lapis & malachite resins,African Blackwood,Pink Ivory,African Padauk,Cocobolo,Black Walnut,Boxwood & Yew.
It is 76mm long,15mm wide & 5mm thick.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

First Image

I had a funny feeling my blog entries would be few & far between but I didn't think the first image I uploaded would be 3 months after my first entry!
Anyhoo,here's a wee pendant I made for a long lost friend who I have tracked down on facebook.
The main bulk of the piece is African Blackwood,the blue is turquoise resin which is marketed toward pen makers,then we have Mother of Pearl,difficult to see from this photo but it has some lovely flashes of pink & green.The brown you see is American Black walnut & then there's the tiniest hint of bone just around the silver tubing which holds a 5mm Tigers Eye cabochon.The whole thing is finished to 400 grit then given a light buff with a fibral mop(more on fibral in a later post.)before being wiped with vaseline then buffed to a soft sheen.
More much sooner,promise...

Sunday, 11 January 2009

And so it begins..

Hello to anybody who happens across this wee online diary.
Chances are if you find yourselves here it's because you know of my work as a designer/maker.
Chances are it's my work as a jeweller that brought you here as that is what I spend probably 75 % of my time making,although,as you will find out over the next few months (if i can hold your attention...),I feel inspired to make all manner of things.