Raising Hammer

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.

  

Seahorse 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.

  
  
 

Algorithms

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.

https://autodeskresearch.com/projects/dreamcatcher

 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. rhinoshot2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhg5WAV0lss

 

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!stool2

Crochet Bowls

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.

  

Bowl mold

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.

Crochet and Ceramics

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.

Ceramic Side Plate

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.

Side plate mold

This week I have been working on the mold for my smaller side plates. Firstly I prepared the board and stuck the 3D printed plate down with clay.


  I built the side panels and cast the plate with a pour hole.  When I took the mold apart I realised the plate had lifted during the pour and I had to then start the process again after digging out my 3D print.


The second time round the process seemed to work well and I left the mold to dry off for a week.


Ceramic Update

I finally got my shot glasses back from their third and final firing.  Again they are a little smaller than I had hoped .  Some are more useable than others but I have enough for a collection.  I am really happy with the finish on the glaze with the final green added.  It gives the pieces individuality and makes then feel more organic. 

 
I am also really happy with the way the detailing from the rough print has came out in contrast to the smoother mold printed. 

 

Over the last few weeks I have been having problems with the goblets bending at the stem and touching other items in the kiln.  Although I gave a few of them a knock and they came apart they are imperfect and I plan to redesign the whole thing. 

   
  
The pint tumblers are working out great.  I have a perfect set of four now and a few more in the process of making.