Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cardinal Letters

The extra-large apple weathervane is now nearing completion, with the leaf and stem fixed in place, and only the arrow left to attach. We starting assembling the cardinal letters (N,E,S, & W) yesterday, finishing this morning & then headed into Hereford to collect the last bits of kit for next weeks demonstration. The city was considerably quieter today than yesterday when the Queen paid a visit!

We are also looking at woodstoves for the studio and are interested in the Relax range of workshop stoves. I guess it all started with looking at Deom Turbos mentioned on a French blog...I think the Deom is from the Netherlands. I would love to hear from anyone who has used one.

Monday, 9 July 2012


The first two layers of the apple's core are now fixed to the brass mainshaft of the weathervane. There is still quite a lot of work to be done, like filling the large gap which can be seen down the left side. Once closed however, the copper parts should assemble quite quickly...all in time for Art in Action in 10 days time? So much to do! 
The weekend was a frenzy of activity, moving the office into it's new space. Went to hear Finn Mackay at the Globe in Hay-on-Wye, and then visited painter James Ursell at his new studio/home in the Golden Valley with it's sweeping views over the Black Mountains.
We are still working hard planning our metalsmithing courses for the fall. In anticipation we are finishing insulating the studio &  rendering walls. Bits of of plaster and dust keep showering down on me today as "Gordon & son" get cracking on the upstairs. This evening we have a big packing job, as the Montagu's Harrier Hawk is back from the museum and off to it's new home. The Trotting Horse will follow on Thursday. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Working on the Core

The apple weathervane is chugging along! The "body" is now primarily smoothed, although it is never easy to know when to stop and just be happy. The two halves of the large three-dimensional leaf are brazed together with a "rough" edging, giving the leaf a ragged, chunky outline. The leaf has been designed to be smooth and rounded on one side (the side depicting the core of the apple) and deeply veined on the side with the whole apple, creating a striking contrast between the two sides.
 All our attention is now geared toward the apple's core, and trying to get the chisel detail of each layer to emanate it's own character. The first layer is being developed with a ball-pean "ding" pattern which should shimmer in the light. This seemed to be a nice reference to the inside of the apple being white. The ball-peaning stretches the copper, causing it to curl (which can be seen in the picture). This will be flattened out once the texturing is complete.

We have never made an fruit-themed weathervane before, so it was very strange today to receive an enquiry for the (possible) commission of an apple and pear! As I sat hammering I started to imagine making a giant strawberry, which led of course to thinking of one of my very favourite children's books James and the Giant Peach...Roald Dahl is brilliant!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

An Apple

The studio is currently working on two new weathervanes, with a big push last week to get both sketches enlarged & finalized as full scale drawings. Great for the current apprentice to see the whole process from concept-to-copper.

The extra-large apple weathervane should be fun, as the idea is to have one side of the vane showing a "whole" apple, and the other side showing a "half" apple. We have been looking at retro apple patterns to come up with a "punchy", layered design for the apple's core. It's amazing how much character the inside of an apple can have! Because the design is large, the focus on achieving robust volume from the "whole" apple has meant some very aggressive, prolonged blows with a ball-pean hammer (I have the blisters to prove it).The result is a rounded & deeply dimpled shape. Creating this shape required two full annealings (and two spot annealings) to soften the copper and coax it into shape. The surface will now be smoothed over the course of the next few days using synthetic mallets. Creating the layers on the opposite side will be interesting, as each layer will need to be braced to the mainshaft and reinforced for strength. Hopefully the two little seeds will appear like gems suspended within these layers. It all proves some of the simplest ideas can be the most challenging!