Last week my handle for the raising hammer I made in Hungary was CNC milled in birch wood. It had taken quite a lot of time because previously it had been milled in oak. When I spoke to the wood technician he said that the grain of the wood was at an angle and that this would split when used. It brought up a very interesting conversation about the need for craftsmen and traditional crafts skills in the field of modern technologies. Not all items made using modern technologies will work or be better than something handcrafted but that it is the knowledge of both that are needed to apply ideas.
Over the last few weeks I have been making a lot of the textiles for the house. I spent a day a few weeks ago learning some new patterns and experimenting.
After trying about 4-5 new designs I decided I would start to make a curtain for the container windows. I went with a very neutral cream colour as I want the main features to be both the view from the windows and the interior.
I have also started making some cushion covers for the living room. I have decided to go with green and cream as a colour theme to reflect the surrounding forest area. I have run with the pleated pattern idea as it is a fairly simple yet effective design.
After crocheting half of one of the covers my crochet needle snapped. I have been using this since November so it wasn’t a bad life span for a piece of 3D printed plastic. I am currently in the process of printing off another one which will take an hour to print. This is much quicker and cheaper than getting the bus to town or ordering one online.
After about 20mins use the hook I printed in low quality broke. I was able to see viably the strands of plastic poking out of the break like frayed string. I then re-printed the hook in high quality which took 2 hours 20mins to print.
Over the last few months I have been working towards finding and securing a plot of land for my house. I have been speaking with the Falkland Estate about the possibility of building the house on a site next to a barn on an old farm. The plot is beautiful, it is on a slope surrounded by forest. There is a waterfall nearby and a stunning mountain.
I have been playing around with designs of the shipping containers for about six months. Last weekend my father came up to visit and he drew up the architectural plans for submission to planning permission.
I am really happy with the design. It is exactly as I had imagined it. My father also came up with some good ideas for the arrangement of stairs and other things that I wouldn’t have the experience to design.
The house consists of a porch area on the ground floor. The kitchen is in the centre of the building. To the right is a jewellery workshop separated from the house by a wall. To the left of the kitchen is an open plan living area.
Upstairs consists of a bedroom and small shower room. Outside will also be a roof garden.
I plan to clad the building in recycled pallet crates and I hope to reclaim or recycle most of the materials for the build. I am now waiting for approval from both the Falkland estate and then planning permission from Fife Council.
So after casting for two days on top of 36 degree heat and a few palinkas I decided it would be a good idea to try and make a glass hammer. I thought the Irony was quite funny and after sitting around the campfire with more palinka the Hungarians also thought it was a good idea.
So the next day bright and early I got up and went to see Laci bácsi’s son Peter Borkovics who is an amazing glass designer.He helped me put together two molds to cast the glass hammers in.
We made two of these molds and they were left to dry over night.
The following day Peter put the molds in the kiln for 24 hours. Unfortunately the temperature was too low and he repeated the process the next day.
The following day he took the kilns up to 2000 degrees. This was a little too high and the glass melted through the mold.
Although the process didn’t work, Peter has kept the good mold and is going to post me the hammer when he has made one that has worked. I can’t wait to see the results.
So right now I am in Mátranovák, Hungary. I have spent the last few days sand casting hammers in brass. The first one I tried was the seahorse claw hammer.
I made the sand casting mold in the usual way. First I compacted the sand into the bottom part of the mold. After scraping the sand flat I roughly carved out a space for the 3D printed hammer.
I compacted the sand flat around the centre line of the print and then coated in talc.
I added the top part of the mold and compacted the sand with a mallet. After reaching over the top line I scraped back the top so it was flat.
I then opened the mold and took out the 3D printed plastic hammer and the tube I used for the pour hole.
I placed the mold back together and clamped the edges.
I then took the mold to the local blacksmith Laci bácsi, who helped me cast the piece in Brass.
He first smashed up lots of pieces of coal into small pieces for the furnace.
He then lit the furnace with some small pieces of wood and then added the coal.
After around five minutes after the pour the metal was solid enough to open the mold.
Laci bácsi and myself were both very happy with the result.
For the last week I have been trying to get my head around design algorithms. I always thought the products from the effects are great and that the endless design opportunities are really exciting.
For the last thirteen years of using rhino I have always worked in a design led way. I nearly always begin with a sketchbook and pen. I decided I wanted to make at least one piece for my shipping container house whereby I have an initial idea and let the computer work out the details of the design. After spending a few weeks making a cushion cover for my jewellery making stool I decided to recreate the current stool design I have using CAD. I am currently using a Pakistani rushty stool which I love for size weight and use. I am planning on taking this basic shape and running algorithms on it to determine my final stool design for the shipping container house. This is all quite easy to write however I have soon came to realise that this is going to take a little more time to get to grips with than I had originally thought.
I began the week looking at software called Dreamcatcher by Autodesk. I have seen many articles on the internet of how this program has been developed to be able to let a designer run variations on their model to come up with the best design solution.
I really wanted to use this software to develop my idea however after talking to Autodesk the software is not yet available.
I then decided to check out Grasshopper which is a plug in for Rhino. This is where my mind was blown and I became stuck in the computer for the last five days. I thought I knew most things about Rhino until I downloaded Grasshopper! I have discovered that I need to learn an entirely different language. I would compare Grasshopper to designing through being a virtual electrician. The commands are very similar to Rhino, however they are wired together in an order almost like coding. The program allows you to change a design multiple times without rebuilding it every time as you would have to do n Rhino.
After day 3 of teaching myself from youtube video’s I hadn’t got very far in terms of designs, however I had seen a change in my way of thinking and the coding began making more sense.
By the end of the week I have managed to get a little further, however I definitely need more practice and my design is still not what I am looking for!
This week I have been working on making the slip cast mold for my bowl. The bowl is a 3 part mold as I wanted to keep the linear details left over from the 3D print in the mold.
I had a small disaster, when I giggled the mold to get the air bubbles out the plaster I hadn’t used enough clay to seal the mold and I had a bit of a leak ok the floor. Luckily I managed to plug it up pretty quick with clay from the outside and I had enough plaster left to fill the mold back up top level.
I used a round piece of wood to create a reservoir above the bowl. This will make the walls all be equal and will make cutting the clay out the mold easier after.
I am really happy with the finished mold and I have left it to dry for a week. I feel I am getting much neater and more confident at making molds and I really hope it works next week.
Over the weekend I got into my crochet again in a big way. I first started by making round cushion covers. After making a few and realising I was going wrong somewhere they started to turn into bowl shapes. This then gave me the idea to slip cast them to see if I could create functional bowls with them.
Yesterday I tried slip casting them in Porcelain. I made one with para chord which I think won’t work as the slip isn’t sinking in. I made a small flowery sample out of wool which seemed to work well. The other two bowls I made from felt. these are somewhere in between and I am not sure if they are going to work. I plan to dip them in slip again today and if the samples work I plan to make a bigger bowl and maybe a colander in this way.
This week I printed off six file handles for my 3D printed tool box. I had previously been using corks from old wine bottles. I drilled holes into the prints and chemically bonded the file into the handles.
I was fairly happy with the look of the final pieces however white is not the most practical colour for the workshop! I drilled through the side of one of them an realised I should have printed them with the holes in.
The biggest disappointment came when I tested the half round file and realised that the handles need to work both ways up. I am there for going to go back to the drawing board and make a newer and more comfortable version.
Today I took my first cast from the plate mold. I was quite excited to see how this turned out. Unfortunately though the 3D print was too thin to take a slip cast from. It was very difficult to get the plate from the mold afterwards because it was so fragile. The end result was it cracked on the mold and ended up in the recycling pot.
Second time round Sean helped me built a 5mm wall around the mold to thicken the piece. This cast really well despite a small bubble in the clay and one wall being too thin because of the mold not being on straight.
I removed the thin edge that fell off and cleaned up the plate. I am very happy with the result, however I am going to print a thicker plate and remake the mold for a full run as it will be very time consuming to build a wall on the mold every time and also a bit risky as to if they will turn out ok.
The plate is now drying off and will be bisque fired soon.