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.
I glued the handle together in the workshop with wood glue and clamped together for around an hour.
When the handle was taken off the milling machine it had supports on the sides, I cut these off with a saw. I then filed and sanded the handle and fixed the hammer head in using epoxy resin.
I am now using Danish oil on the handle every day for the next week. I still have to drill a hole through both the handle and the head to fix a rod through.
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.
I put together the raising hammer mold in exactly the same way as the sea horse mold.I found that at the casting stage of this I had problems.
I think I had placed the hammer too far down and as it was a little larger than the previous hammer, I needed an air hole in there.
I rebuilt the mold in the afternoon, placing the hammer closer to the top of the mold and with two air holes in to draw out the metal.
Later in the evening we went for a second pour.
This time the piece worked really well an I was ready to clean up both my claw hammer and raising hammer.
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.
The mold was left close to the furnace to heat a little and was turned after ten minutes to heat the other side.
The metal was left to heat for around 20 minutes before it was liquid enough to pour.
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.
The hammer was quenched in water and I am now left with the task of finishing off the piece.
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!
Today I got my crochet bowls back from the kiln. I am very happy with the glazes and certain elements of them. I like how they have transformed from CAD into something organic and handmade.
I have made one big mistake in the making of these and that is that I used porcelain with a much lower firing temperature glaze. The result of this is that over time the glazes will crack. Next time I will be buying in some earthen wear slip to try and this should stop them breaking.
This weekend I went in a very last minute trip to Poland for my friends Kat and Konrad’s wedding. It was a beautiful weekend, the sun was shining and plenty of vodka was consumed!
After the wedding reception we all got Taxis to a shipping container bar which was floated on an outlet of the river Vistula.
I was really interested by this as it fits really well with my plans for the house. The bar consisted of three containers welded together.
The exterior was left with the original corigated steel of the container.
One thing I have been slightly concerned about is the size of the interior of my finished house. The interior of this bar actually seemed very spacious. There was a bar, TV area, toilets and a kitchen fitted into the three units. Outside there are two ramps leading down the bank to access the bar.
Seeing the interior of this place really helped me visually imagine the amount of space I may have in my finished house.
On my return trip to Dundee I stayed in a Best Western hotel near Victoria, London. It was a great wee apartment. I really liked the tiles in the bathroom which seemed to be layered leaves and pebbles that were set in resin. I really like the effect of this and thought I might be able to do something similar combining laser etching for the walls of my container bathroom.