About Me

I've been taking things to bits, and making things ever since I can remember, starting with dismantling knackered alarm clocks and watches and helping my dad fix the car. Now I have a well-equipped workshop and have aquired lots of new skills, so I can make better stuff. When they first appeared, I became involved with personal computers, and these and developments in electronics have increased the scope of the things that I can do. Just recently retired, so O yes, now I can make all sorts of stuff.....

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ahem....... award winning artist

Its been frantic here over the past couple of months, and continues to be so.  In no particular order, off we go.

First up, the Middlezoy Arts Festival.  This was the first go at a new 2 day event for the village, and I have to say that it was a great event and very well organised by all the volunteers - so much so that a) they made a small profit, and b) it will run again in June or July 2016.  Full details on their web site here:-middlezoyartsfestival.org.uk.  
I was asked to show a few of my bits and pieces (stop sniggering at the back) so I turned up with various wooden creations and my glass engraving - tried to do some live engraving, but kept being interrupted by the punters so the glass never got finished.  The weather was good, the crowds could have been bigger, but I had a lot of fun and met some nice and interesting people.  I shared a space with a local artist, Simon Watson, who shares many of my interests in machines, old cars, dusty mechanical ruins in barns and so on, and he has asked me to join up with him at the annual Somerset Arts Week 'open studio' event next year - we will apparently be showing our stuff in the village church, more details on this when we get it.

Snaliens and the Captain's log
The Arts Festival also had a garden art competition, so we set up two exhibits - the "Snaliens" one uses real snail shells that we brought back from South Africa and which have been collecting dust in a cupboard ever since, as well as a log garden made out of the hollow trunk of an ancient plum tree that blew down in our garden last winter.  The other one is a bird and flower made from bits of copper foil mounted on a copper wire framework and dangling off a straightened coat hanger, and to my absolute gobsmackedness it won first prize - hence the 'award winning artist' bit, which I will quote extensively from now on.

The original copper bird and flower
Unfortunately, the original copper bird has experienced a couple of major crash landings in the workshop over the past couple of weeks and has sustained some severe structural damage, so he may never see the sunlight again.  However, thanks to my live-in Sales Manager, his fame has spread to the extent that I have orders for another five of these chaps, one delivered already, another one finished and only three to go.  The 'production' models have been coloured with a flame which gives the copper glorious colours of gold, purple, red, blue and silver, although unfortunately the clear laquer that I spray them with to protect them from Mother Nature dulls the colours a bit.
One of the 'production' birds
Playing with the copper for the birds has prompted me to try my hand at some copper jewellery. The foil that I have been using is only 0.1 mm thick, and is too flimsy for jewellery but I have found some 0.5mm thick sheet which seems to be the pooch's plums, although its too thick to be cut with scissors and I had to glue it to a bit of 3mm plywood to make it rigid enough to work with.  So far, we've made a flower pendant which looks pretty good, and today I've been playing around with the flame painting of this thicker stuff. More to come on this front, o yes.

For various reasons, most of them made of copper :-) work on the new engine - The Beast - has taken a back seat recently.  I have finished the crankshaft, lower conrods and the rocker arms and shafts, but I need to get stuck into a bit of alloy casting and I've only this week (thanks to George at the pub) managed to locate a metal paint can to use as the base of the furnace.  I hope to test it over the next month or so, planning to use it to cast engine parts but also possibly some handles and such for future jewellery boxes.

Almost forgot, we took a couple of weeks off and slipped down to southern Spain at the end of June.  We went back to La Herradura, we've been there several times and I was pleased to see that - despite the economic problems in Spain - it doesn't seem to have changed at all since our last visit in probably 2008.  We had an apartment that was right on the beach, within walking distance of a number of restaurants and bars, and in the process discovered what was undoubtedly the best place to eat in town - La Rincon de Pena Parda, for anyone who might be headed that way.
La Herradura
Spanish pensioners working their socks off
 We spent a lot of time loafing around reading (the android tablet was excellent for that, and saved a ton of baggage weight), strolling around, drinking coffee, watching people and generally doing not a lot.  The weather was great as well, and not too hot, which probably also describes the 1.3 litre Ford Ka that we rented, as it was so environmental and economical that every hill was a flurry of gear changes and frantic pumping of the loud pedal to try to make it over the top.  Quite nicely built, but a total dog.

A couple of weeks ago we had a karting practice day at Dunkeswell.  First time I've driven since May, and the first time I've driven at this track since we had the old push-start TKM kart about 12 years ago.  The track has had major changes since then, its now longer and with a lot more corners so very different to our usual track at Clay Pigeon.  

We were promised rain, and lots of it, and the night before there were huge thunderstorms, but on the day not a drop fell although it was stifling hot and very humid.  We had a good day, Jon came up in the afternoon and had a few drives - he hasn't driven a kart for a couple of years, but he was still noticeably quicker than me, but he does weigh at least 10 kilos less so that's my excuse.  I made some adjustments to the exhaust valve and it seems that this has significantly improved the power, so all I need to do now is brake later; b) brake harder, and c) brake later and harder.

Other news this month is that I have treated myself to a new car stereo to replace the standard Honda job which was a bit gutless and had no provision for playing the iPod. Fitting it was relatively easy.  I bought an aftermarket fascia panel off ebay, and proceeded to tear the dash apart, but when I came to stuff it all back together I discovered that the new fascia was a lousy fit in the existing dash.   I ended up having to trim it with a stanley knife and various files before I was happy with the fit, and then had to spray paint it silver to cover up the hatchet marks - of course, the silver was not the same colour as the other dash panels, so they all had to be stripped and resprayed as well. Reassembled the whole shebang, and it looks fine:  more important, it works a treat with the iPod, and the iPhone works via Bluetooth, although my Android phone is running an old version of the software and won't work unless its plugged in (even though it thinks its connected via Bluetooth, it won't play).  Pleased with the end result, the only issue is that the radio only shows the time when its turned on, and the display is not bright enough in daylight so even if it is on, you still can't tell the time. Not to worry, I've arranged to get a new mainspring in my old Omega watch so I can look at that instead :-)

And last, my better half has been plying her sales and marketing skills to good effect.  Not only has she flogged a veritable aviary of copper birds, she has also had me making umpteen chinese bang sticks for her tai chi class.  To be fair, each one is just a piece of broomstick with the ends chamfered off on the disc sander, so they are not hard.

That's it for now.  Next time we should have a report on alloy casting for the Beast, as well as an update of the progress of the copper jewellery and a pair of shoji style wall lights that I am making as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment