Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Form Tine Acorns

So it’s my first month in the real world and after a lot of head scratching and choices the plan is to make. Make as much as I can and as often as possible, hopefully it’s going to be forging but I’ll take what I can for the time being. I have decided to split the business into two; one half of the business will work on producing forged components for industry and other applications. The other half will allow me to make the Artwork that I want.

The 3 cwt Massey has arrived and I have moved it in to the work shop to try it for size. I’ve called her Kitty AKA the Blue Lump and she has been joined by Mag’s or Margaret a Sweeny no.8 super heavy deep throat fly press which is also a heavy blue lump. The workshop is being cleared out and I will soon be digging the hole for the Massey. Everything is starting to take shape and I hope to be able to take on some proper jobs by the end of September.

I will take lots of photos of the process of putting a large two piece hammer in the ground. I have lots of work to do to get Kitty in and running; everything from making the bolts that hold her down to sorting out a power supply and digging the hole. My friend Roger Lund is giving me tips as I go and said he would come and show me how it’s done when Kitty’s in the ground.
I’m also going to take loads of pictures of the work I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Power of Steam

It’s mad to think that the nicest of Gems are often right under our noses. One of these Gems is the Hereford Waterworks Museum located at the top of Broomly Hill tucked away just by the river. Over the summer a group of volunteers run the machines every other Sunday and what a sight it was but the museum its self is open all year on a Tuesday 11am-4pm. It’s an absolutely great day out and would be an ideal place for the whole family to see. They are currently working on a new water playground for the kids to learn all about water pumping machines. The only drawback was I had to make two trips to the museum as lots of the pictures that I had taken were blurrier from all the locomotion.

The pumps and engines provided me with loads of research images which were great and I spent most of the trip working out what was forged or cast??? Not all of the machines run on steam some run on hot air, there is a large natural gas engine and one or two diesel engines also; each machine having a different job and coming from somewhere in Herefordshire. There was also a large water wheel running as well.

Other news the Easter break was great and I caught up on some rest and written work. Whilst writing my business plan I managed to find a workshop and source a 2 cwt B&S Massey which is going to be amazing. So all things being well I will have a nice place to work right after college has finished. All that’s left is to make some more nice stuff.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Foundations

I use this blog to talk about my creative practise, ideas and what I’m up to in the forge. This post might cover some of the aspects that I have spoken about in other post so sorry if I repeat myself. I also like to cover some of the criteria on the course and show how it helps to develop my work. One aspect of the course asks us to describe the designing and making process and show how we arrive, develop and understand our ideas. This is one of the reasons I keep a blog. We are expected to show how we develop ideas in several ways visual and written. Visual is broken down into two categories first and second; first is images that I have taken or found that relate to real life objects i.e. sculptures by Richard Serra and secondary is images that are the ideas of others so one of Richard Serra’s drawings for example. The written aspect should cover our ideas and thoughts on both the collected imagery and also my ideas and feelings about what I’m designing and then hope to go on to make.

A lot of the imagery that I use comes from my back ground as an engineer and working with large plant equipment. Ultimately my choices and ideas are based on this and I find aspects of lots of engineering interesting and inspiring. So the next couple of posts are about what inspires me and why I like it. These images and ideas even directly affect the way in which I chose to work.

Verticals for railings Takeda

My most recent pieces from the lamps that I made at the start of the year to the sculpture that I’m planning to have finished in the next 8weeks have all been inspired buy my love of all things engineered. I have also found a book called the Blacksmith’s Manual Illustrated written by J.W.Lillico which describes industrial and engineering styles of forging. This book has also drastically affected the way in which I am choosing to design and make. I have also been looking at makers like Andy Rowe and Alan Evans for inspiration. The scale of their work and the way in which they work are also very exciting. The next couple of images show where I took inspiration for the sculpture that I will be making on my return to college “Rashomon”. A lot of the images I have collected are of piling and drilling rigs. I like these images mostly for the disproportion in size between mast and body but there seeming capability and strength. They have a deceptively heavy body with an abnormally long appendage called a mast which looks like it should make the whole rig fall over.

Drawings for Rashomon

Piling and drilling rigs are the muscle of most building sites. They are used to drive cleats deep into the ground and compact the earth around the cleat making a strong footing where conventional foundations are inadequate. This display of strength and competent ability is a direct example of engineering at its finest. It shows that well designed products that use materials correctly can turn brute strength into elegant beauty. An opposing presents through ability not size. This is the reason why I have chosen to use such imagery, I want my sculpture to look imposing and strong but question our ideas of what strength is.

More images of my railings examples of how I'm choosing to work hole and set down are all done under a power hammer.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Heavy Metal

A new semester, a new module and a new obsession with angle iron the bigger it is the better. So after the somewhat hurried last module because of my indecisive nature I have decided that this module should run smoothly and without mishap. So back to sculpture and much larger pieces of work. I hope to be able to carry on the path of understanding the difference between hand size objects and body sized objects. It is also my last semester, my last making module and the last time my work will be critiqued in an educational scenario potentially.

So I would like this to be the best module, semester and end of year show that it can possibly be. I am already finding that there is one thing that I do not lack and that his ambition. I took a trip to Dyfed steel stockholders the other day to have a look at their angle iron supplies and what a lot of angle iron they have. The stock that I had gone to see in particular was 200x200x20mm and at a grand total of about £800 for 12m I want to make sure what it will become will work before I order it. If I go ahead with this project I cannot afford to make any mistakes as material costs mean that everything must be in place before working on it. There are also a lot of questions that need answering before undertaking these projects one being how to deal with the weight of such large stock; it weighs about 90 kg per metre.

I hope to make some really structural and architectural pieces that demonstrate both my ability as a designer and maker. I hope the pieces I make appeal to a wide range of people both attracting interest from artists and architects alike. These pieces should demonstrate a wide range of ideas starting with how we use forged metal, the benefits and abilities of using steel and most of all they should highlight how we use forging in the 21st-century. The goal is to create one large sculpture that uses forged and fabricated techniques together to create an object of great strength and beauty. I also hope to make a slightly smaller piece that is both functional and has an element of sculpture whilst embodying everything I have stated a bout. This second piece will be a set of railings to hopefully replace one that is in the new Queens building at the College Road campus Hereford College of arts.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Got a Light

I making some real progress now with the lamps and I have two almost ready to be wired up and fit lights and the third is in kit form. As I make the lights I’m finding that there are quite a few options to make many different types of lamps and wall fittings. At this current rate I could have made 5 pieces if it wasn’t for the time I wasted messing around with the locks and boxes.

So lamp 1 is almost complete and has the most options for setup it will have two variations on Shades/lamp heads and also three variations on bases or mount. On first glance it resembles an angle poise lamp but the influences come from earthmoving equipment and as I placed the cable on the arm I hope this representation will become much stronger.

Lamp number two is just about done as well and needs a few minor tweaks and the light fitting. This is more like a traditional standing lamp but it folds away and the roots of the idea exist in the design. I wanted there to be a real emphasis on simplicity whilst having a clever mechanism. And once again this is based on an access platform as opposed to some sort of equivalent desk lamp.

In order to keep a consistent theme all the lights will be LEDs and run-off 12 V systems. Most plant equipment and machinery uses low voltage circuitry somewhere between 12 and 24 V therefore my lamps should as well. I have chosen LEDs for several reasons; firstly their reliability and usability are exceptionally good, most manufacturers offer somewhere between 15 to 30,000 light hours and in comparison to energy-saving or incandescent lamps this is extremely good value for money. The 12 to 24 V means that they are very safe and the earth all the live could run through the body of the lamp. They are also low-energy users and they run around 2-6 watts whilst still producing great like quality equivalent of 10-20 watts per LED watt. The quality of the LEDs and their very modern and unique look should make the pieces feel extremely contemporary.

Throughout this project I have been conscious not to take ideas and references from actual lights and lamps. The reason is extremely conscious and I feel that making such choices has worked quite effectively. I’m able to design and produce objects that do not look and feel like lights that have been seen before. Well at least I hope and I also hope that the pieces come across like the sort of plant equipment you might find on a building site; where I take strong influences.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The forge of the future

The way we forge and many of the styles we choose to forge in our quite traditional. What is tradition and what or who influences these styles? For the most part most traditional-esque blacksmiths forge in a very pre and Victorian style, they use pre-Victorian tooling and techniques. Victorians were very influenced by elaborate and flamboyant designs with the emphasis on grandger such as in the Brock and the rococo designs. As we stumble in to the future we have to ask a couple of questions about what it means to be a blacksmith. For the most part style change with time as a matter of course and are predominantly affected by styles that predate them. The way in which we work with metals for the most part doesn’t change but it’s the tooling and the science that alter slightly this in turn can and has affected how we design and what we make.

One of the most important questions that must be addressed is the way in which we heat metal. Ultimately one of the fundamental aspects of the Industrial Revolution was the way in which we used fuel. Predominantly we use fuel much the same as we did during these times; the consequences, side-effects and overall issues that surround fossil fuels needs to be addressed. As blacksmiths the ability to heat and hit hot metal is the essence of our craft and without a heat source what will we do. One solution could be the development of induction furnaces or the use of less harmful chemical fuel based hearths.

Other aspects that the future may bring up are the types and way in which we use our material. If the forging process was understood better the benefit of forging billets stock could allow industries to lower waist material. There should be a duty of care with what materials go into work we make and whether or not they serve to be of any significance.

The introduction of more efficient and effective machinery alters the way in which we work as well. Should we all deny such techniques and machinery or is it right to embrace new technologies. One such technology which many blacksmiths use is laser cutting and other types of CNC profiling. Not only are these technologies saving use time but they reduce costs which is all ways good for small businesses. And lastly the type of work that Smith’s will incur is also likely to change as it has for centuries.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Hammer Time

Well It’s actually Power Hammer Time and how I love power hammers! Since travelling to Sweden to work with Roger Lund my views and ideas about contemporary forge work and how it affects our culture has completely changed. I went from being someone whose ideas about forging were stale and misinformed, to a true fanatic about hitting hot metal. Well hitting hot metal with power hammers that is.

We live in an era of post Victorian engineering and we are the results of the Industrial Revolution. In fact we might say our culture is by product of steel manufacture; we are who we are and we do what we do because of steel. The creators of our culture could quite easily be the men that were once called blacksmiths, who then went on to become engineers, architects and inventors. Some might even say that the downfall of the local Smithy and its inhabitants were the blacksmiths that built our future.

Forging didn’t die quite like the Smithies across the country did instead the process found a new home hidden away behind the walls and roller doors of factories up and down the country. Each year Europe produces somewhere in the region of $14 billion worth of forged components, you can find these components in everything from cars to planes, tools and almost anything else that can be made from steel. The forging process can be quick and extremely effective when it comes to manufacturing it also provides quite unique attributes and can be used to improve steel quality for application.

As demand for forged components increased during the Industrial Revolution the types of machines and tooling changed to me such demands. One such type of tooling was power hammers and they came in all shapes and sizes. The idea of a mechanical tool to take away some of the burdens of forging wasn’t new, but what was new was steam power this technical little marvel would revolutionise the way in which we forged. Power hammers became exceptionally versatile and the control that they allowed the users was astonishing. As we explored their potential ultimately their size increased.

Power Hammers have changed somewhat over the centuries and we now use pneumatic power hammers and also we have started to use hydraulic presses each one providing its own unique benefits. I have always enjoyed working with and on large powered machines and it is a pleasure to produce products using such wonderfully primitive tools in essence. Also the nature of the tooling provides some interesting quirks and with practice power hammers are exceptionally versatile.