A Day In The Smithy

20150612171707I was Blacksmith for a day last Friday, thanks for a generous and spot-on present from the good wife, and thanks to excellent one-on-one tuition by Jo “The Iron” Fry in the beautiful setting of Standalone Farm in Letchworth Garden City.

Jo knows exactly the right balance between explaining and letting students try out. He’s been an excellent teacher for the day, never letting me alone or feeling lost, never letting me feel supervised or put under stress. The perfect way to experience bright orange hot iron, a forge, hammer, anvil and a good old ping ping ping.

Banging a piece of hot iron into shape is a very satisfying thing, but I suppose my highlight of the day was the cutting of hot steel with hammer and chisel. All in all very satisfying.

The creations made during my first ever eight hours of being a blacksmith are of course of questionable beauty and limited usefulness, but heck! I had fun and would happily repeat the experience. Who knows. Maybe one day, I might even have space for my own little forge.

Tick-Tock Goes Live

tick-tockFirst and foremost, let me acknowledge that I took somebody else’s idea for this little craft project. I am thus crediting Florian Jenett for the creative idea. Hat tip, with thanks, Florian! Take a look at Florian’s own implementation of this – he calls it One Perfect Cube.

So, basically, you have three clocks, arranged and aligned such that the hands form a 3D projection of a cube once every 12 hours at approximately 10:10 (if you’d take the bottom clock for local time). It’s a perfect cube in Florian’s case, and a less than perfect one in my case, but it works!

I never understood how Florian’s works got into the exhibition on processing.org. Clearly it’s neither 2D or 3D software animation, and neither is mine, but what the heck. Both the processing.org exhibition and Florian’s piece are very intriguing and inspiring.

The frame in the top half of the picture shows the piece a-ticking, while the bottom frame of the picture on the left shows the works in standby. They were kicked into life by simultaneous action by three lovely ladies. The Tick Tock Chicks pulled the trigger to set the batteries running and clocks a-ticking at 22:10 on February 26th, 2013.


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Stuck In The Dark Ages

DSCF0140When they show the master stonemason of the Cathedral of here or there, they show someone chiselling away in their workshop (^example). The only modern equipment, TV and sound recording gear excepted, are protective glasses and breathing masks. Oh, and a vanadium steel chisel, and a plastic hammer, heating, ear plugs, good lighting conditions, windows and roofs, a kettle for tea and a full belly.

This is not the authentic “just like they did it 500 years ago” experience, and why should it?

But, if authenticity of the manufacture process isn’t required, I can’t help wondering why they do not 3D laser-scan a sample stone, provide the exact measurements of the replacement stone, press Load and Go on a CNC-controlled router and be done with it.

Even Julia could do it!

The resulting stone may look at little too smooth, too exact, too machine-made, but at 27 feet above ground, seriously, who cares? A smoother surface will only make it last longer.


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My Motif

motifA motif is the centrepiece of a Roman mosaic. Not the square yards over square yards of dolphins and nude girls, 3-dimensional optical illusions and fighting bulls, straight lines and wiggly lines, stars and ships and lizards, but the small piece in the very centre of a grand floor.

It’s the mosaic’s valuable part, the part you treasure, the part you take with you when you move from one villa in the south of Rome to another in the North, or whatever the Romans did.

Here is mine.

It’s made of approximately 120 pencils, coloured and standard “HB” ones, cut into 5..7mm discs (using my Dremel 3000 and it’s diamond cutter tool), laid upside down and cemented together with Copydex, a rubber-like arts and crafts glue.

We don’t have a Roman villa to surround it, and we don’t have a grand marble mosaic floor to surround it either, but we are quite happy to have it hang on the wall.


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Toys for Grown-ups

DSCF0377I am pleased to report that I am working on a little arts and crafts project right now. The missus is even more pleased, I think. It’s one of those crazy ideas that might just be a lot of work and might just take some while, but with luck, it will be worth the effort.

So, without giving too much away, I wanted to tell you that I am now a very happy and very proud owner of a Dremel 300 multitool; the Swiss army knife of rotating electric tools. One of those little hand-held motors with tens of attachments for cutting, sanding, polishing, grinding, cleaning, …. It is just a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It even includes a flexible shaft, which I find even a.m.a.z.i.n.g.e.r.

I think this will be an enormous help with this little project. I have now stopped counting the “oh, I wished I had one of those when I did this or that” thoughts, too. My life would have been easier, and the results much better (and faster, and neater) many times. I wished I had bought one much earlier. This tool seems perfect for little jobs around the house and garden, and certainly is perfect for many jobs in craft and hobby affairs.

I can’t wait to take it to stone, too, but one thing at a time.

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