Friday, 28 December 2012

A Trip to Valhalla and Thors Workshop

I have recently returned from an amazing trip to Sweden where I not only have I realised that I'm not alone in my ideas about what forging is but what I can take from forging. Its not just about an aesthetic it can be all about the process and that process can allow me as an artist and an engineer some truly amazing things. I truly believe that forging has something to offer me and my creative process. I’m not saying I'm a blacksmith and I don't really want to but I'm really starting to value the process. when done right its fast, impressive and rewarding but really difficult.

There where two reasons for my trip to Sweden one was to visit a college called Steneby and the other was to meet a blacksmith or industrial free forger called Roger Lund. Both of witch have inspired me and I’m going to try really hard to uses forging not only to inform my work but to raise awareness for the trade; And I really think this is possible. Roger and Stenby are both very modern working environment not only in work practice but in ideas. Its nice to know that we didn't fight two world wars and pull are stubborn top hat wearing arse out of the Victorian age for nothing. In fact it just seems that the only stubborn top hat ware fools also still think they haven't become part of the EU ether. (Sorry to all my silly leaf making, Vikings, shouty friends but that will be my last bad comment, Oh and that one as well.)

Steneby runs a number of craft based cause that run from foundation to MA. They have courses in textiles to iron and steel and boast a massive range of facilities to allow a global selections of students to really push both art and design. I was really impressed by the range and quality of work. The work isn't really based on and round process but more what can be done using said process's and with a course leader like Heiner Zimmermann that’s to be expected. The college has also been the play ground for the great Albert Paley where he worked for a week with students and gave lectures and made a selection of sculptures. I am very interested in there design MA which I hope to attend one day. This course would allow me to freely explore ideas that I have about metal work and my own conceptual ideas.

I also went to meet a man who can only be described as Thor an industrial free forger called Roger Lund. I drove half way across Sweden to meet a man that does one of the rarest jobs in Europe; in a little village out side of a town called Kristinehamn. Roger produces high spec components that are used in industrial application and in the auto motive industry. Using a range of power hammers and upsetting tools Roger produces every thing from pinions for Porsche to Drive shafts for high spec plant equipment. He has amazing skills and works at an amazing speed. His control and skill allows him to be quite the smith and his understanding of process means that he can create very complex and accurate shape in amazingly rapid time. Roger forges 45Kg pieces of stock into pieces that have to be in tolerance of 2mm using a 800kg hammer and lose swage tools. I got to have a play on some of his hammers and lets just say he make it look silly easy. What Roger does for a living is very attractive to me and I think what he dose as a smith is very exciting. I mean out side of the finished piece and concept I don’t find most parts of forging very interesting. Its frankly long winded and hard work. And other than some high spec strength application and mass forging offers very little.

Before every one goes nuts and tells me about all there favourite part of blacksmithing I am aware that it has a range of unique and interesting aesthetics. This means very little if it fits nether the concept or the completed piece. The process it self is often a selfish part of enjoying what you make. Its something that is often miss understood by the viewer and the maker. Just because you can isn’t really a reason more of a selfish out look and I believe as makers and artist we owe more to are work. Roger uses his process because it works and it is the best way not cause he enjoys it. In fact what Roger does isn’t rare, but just the way he does it is. America produce about 7billion dollars of forged items every year and Europe produces a similar amount. Its just done with machines and multiple step dies.

Thank you to Otto Stevensonn and every one at Steneby all very friendly and helpful.

Super special thanks to Roger Lund amazing guy and super cool.

And a very super big thanks to Monkey, couldn't have done it with out ya. xx Love you very much xx

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Satisfactions through Work?

The idea that to satisfy the soul a person must work. They must create objects and change there surroundings. I must have an influence over the objects that I interacted with and this in turn creates emotional connection. There for products embody my emotion and provide satisfaction through work. This could be through farming the land to grow crops that I can eat or forging metal to make tools to cut my crops down. These are the ideas and thought of Karl Marx.

Karl Marx came up with the idea of socialism the idea that through self motivated and emotive work that we could work together to create communities that flourish and produce diversity individual who are happy and satisfied. This idea comes from the belief that work is not an instinctual raw animal thing but it is considered and well understood. So when people are forced to work with out there own emotional content or thought they loose this sense of satisfaction. They become disheartened and seek destruction in other whys like possession, entrainment and others.

But this sale of labour for moneys creates problems for the crafts person creator because if they are to survive they must sell there products. Does this idea of creating to survive in a capitalist community still allow use as individuals to be satisfied. And this is where I'm at I believe that as a skilled person I cannot be satisfied by just money. I need more, I need to be able to create and produce products that contain my emotions and self. Can I achieve this in my work and newly sort after practice???

The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to writer but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.

Karl Marx 1848

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It’s all in my head it’s just how to get it out.

It seems to be all about tutorials this year and my last tutorial with Del and James Has started the ball rolling again. I have produced quite a bit of work so far this year and everything seems to be going well but I’m having real trouble with coherency. I have made Maquette’s produced drawings both sketches and technical which I have made into CAD files and then laser cut and water cut. So I feel that all is well but something isn’t working. Not only do I use a lot of stored data from my apprentership and working career but I have real trouble showing people the path from idea to finished piece.

One of the main reasons for this lack of coherency is my complete disorganisation. I need to collect my work together in one media that show my work in order and with clarity. So I hope to do this by editing the way I use my sketch books. I have been thinking about this a lot and I need to do this constructively. So I have come to the conclusions that I’m going to do away with my sketch book and just work on sheets of A3 paper of all sorts of type. Tracing paper, Graph paper, Carbon paper and cartridge paper.

I hope to use these different types of paper to allow me to add some coherency to my work along with high quality A3 print outs that use text and primary and secondary images. And place them in order, using some type of binding. I don’t have a problem with using different sketch books but I do seem to get carried away with ideas. I also need to find away to get my technical data across. I was thinking about creating stories about the piece I make like schematics or documentation that cover concept and theory. It’s all in my head it’s just how to get it out.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

In a state of perfect balance

An instrument to find the weight of an object or objects “scales”. This device simple balances two opposing objects that have an equal weight this can vary depending on the mechanical advantage that an arm may have over its counterweight. This is my concept for my Design development module at college.

We have been asked to create work in response to a location. I have chosen to use Berrington Hall and an idea that talks about social divide. I have some strong ideas about humanity and what and who we are I’m not going into it now cause I have done so in an earlier post but basically together as one we are better. This work will allow me to talk about my ideas in quite a literal way. I originally wanted to make a bench that was going to at one end have a 3 meter diameter but I have come to the conclusion that this might be a little ambitious and hard work in a none academic and vocational way.

The bench was going to be based on the arms of a balance type scales but one arm would be disproportionally longer than the other in fact 6 to 1. This ratio represents the number of staff to house members at Berrington. People were saying how the staff members had money and jobs but I don’t believe that these people were given lives to live but forced to survive. Yes they were paid but just enough to keep them alive and satisfy the idea of having been paid. As for the type of work well it’s not like they had satisfaction. So what if this place allows them to survive that’s not living and if these people had their own community and worked as a village they could do so much. They would still be surviving but they would have a quality of life that you can’t get when you are owned.

That’s why I’m at Hereford College of Arts I want something more, something better. Give a man a job so that he can feel accomplished and he will be happier than any rich man. I don’t want to work for the man so that I can buy their homes and car so that they can keep me in a job to pay for them. It means nothing to me and I hate it, I want to create, design and make so that I can feel alive; A sense of self accomplishment from start to finish.

This piece will let me talk about the way I feel in my style aesthetically and conceptually it can use the social structure at Berrington to reinforce these ideas. The miss balance of the arms must be compensated for a massive influx of weight. This will represent the weight of money and how without it the scales don’t work. In a balance beam type scale there is an even distribution of load and the weighing of objects isn’t constrained to the usage of fixed measures. In fact two items of equal weight work just as well. Or trading for goods that have come from open communities that have quality of life not just survival.

1. Trader’s steelyard, French, 18th century
11. Candy scale by Henry Troemner, Philadelphia,1926
2. Chondrometer or grain scale by Payne of London, c1820
12. Letter steelyard by unknown maker, English, c1880
3. Bread scale by W. & T. Avery, Birmingham, patented in 1885
13. Coin steelyard, as advertised by John Joseph Merlin, London, c1780
4. Guinea scale, known as “folding gold balances” by T. Houghton, England, c1780
14. Double-beam steelyard by Fucoma, Berlin, Germany, 20th century
5. Unusual steelyard by A. Prutscher, Sonthofen, Germany, 20th century
15. Jeweler’s estimating balance by W. & T. Avery Ltd, Birmingham, 1916
6. “Shelf-edge” type of coin balance by Bradford, Derby and Hulls, England, patented in 1753
16. Coal scale by J. White & Son of Scotland, c1910
7. Sovereign balance by F. Sheldon, Birmingham, c1845
17. Westphal laboratory balance to determine specific gravity
8. Letter scale by unknown maker, British, marked S. TURNER’S PATENT, postage rates for the period 1871 to 1897, patented in 1871
18. Counter scale by E. & T. Fairbanks & Co, St Johnsbury, Vermont, 1919
9. British steelyard by T. Beach of Birmingham, c1780
19. Prescription scale by E. & T. Fairbanks & Co, St Johnsbury, Vermont, c1910
10. Letter balance marked H.B. WRIGHT No. 130 LONDON Dec. 20th 1839
20. Laboratory scale marked CENCO Triple Beam Balance by the Central Scientific Co. Chicago

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

“What can hot forging offer that nothing else can?”

I had a tutorial on Tuesday that got me thinking, I guess that’s what there meant to do. It wasn’t so much about my current brief but more about my making style. The question was “What can hot forging offer that nothing else can?” My answer, well I answered as best as possible but, I don’t really have an answer yet and neither did my tutor.

I understand that Hot forging processes are sort after in the industry to give steel certain properties. These properties can only be imbued into the steel by using heat and force/ impact. Some types of forging can give very particular aesthetic qualities. These qualities are sort after and utilized by smith to create a desired finish or form allowing them to convey ideas through a style. On a very personal scale a smith gains a unique bond to his work as it is very labour intensive.

So I have decided to look at other blacksmiths and their work. I haven’t really done this yet and I guess that this is a little naughty. But I was surprised that I found lots of smith that make work that I really like. They seem to be translating ideas that I also have about forging in their pieces showing form, forge style and qualities that I would like to express in my work.

Work by Albert Paley, Chaudio Bottero and Tim Cisneros don’t really do anything for me for the most part any way. I don’t like busy cluttered things any way so some of these guys work really does me in. For me these pieces seem to be based heavily on speed and rapid process.

On the other hand work by people like Richard Weaver, Matt Haugh, Greg Gehner and Roberto Giordani really get me going. The simple uses of form, making the most of both negative and positive spaces. They use a series of well made interlinking components that really have a feel of time, effort and contemplation. They produce piece that consist only of what is needed nothing more or less. They also seem to consider what the metal can do rather than just how it looks.

Richard Weaver

Matt Haugh

Greg Gehner

Roberto Giordani

Saturday, 13 October 2012

There is no such word as can't.

So I haven't been blogging much over the summer but the new term is here and I’m going to try and blog at least once a week. At the later part of the year and over the summer I have really narrowed down a style now and I’m quite keen to apply it to my work and the new modules. I produce several pieces for the HE sample wall in the last couple of week of term last year and they have really got me thinking. So for quite a large part of the summer in my own time I looked at how I am and what makes me tick.

I have been looking at some of HR Giger's work for the film pieces to his more sculptural work. I really enjoy both the dark sexual imagery but also their modern and influential design. As part of this I have been looking at the films that he has made concept art for and drawing ideas from these films like Alien and the newly realised Prometheus.

I have also been exploring Art deco design and using images from the period along with the ideas of Giger to produce some shapes and forms that I then apply to idea. I really enjoy The stuff that came out of the early 1900's. I think something change in the ideas of design and what design is. Aesthetics idea’s where still important but so was progression. The idea of make materials work at their limits forcing ideas to work opposed to saying the only way is this way. The stat of the century was more we can rather than we cannot.

I also decided that I was going to try and narrow down what it was I intend to do. Who I am and what I’m trying to do. So what did I realise and what am I doing?

I’m not a blacksmith I am an engineer. As an engineer I use processes and materials to overcome a problem. Some times multiple processes are required and combinations of materials. This is no different from the plant we all share. We are not singular forms we all depend on each other and everything around use. We all share a unique link to everything on this planet from the Moon in the sky to the trees on the ground.

We are nothing without everything.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The great City of London

As I travelled through London town the other day I was reminded what a beautiful contradiction it is. A heaving mass of very old, old and new; money can be seen every were but if you know where to look poverty isn’t far away. Pride is also at an abundance as is disgrace; you can find traces of every culture on earth and bodies from ever continent both animal and insect. You can see memories of the past and dreams of the future and it is in the present that I find myself.

I have always loved travelling through London and I find something new is reveals to me little by little each time I visit her, but she still has plenty of secrets left to show me. London town has grown over the centuries to become one of the heaviest populated cities in the world and some times it feels like it and as a result its history is massive. But for me it is still a system an organism that succeeds because of all its inputs.

It is like a brain or a hive centre in witch other things out side of it are allowed to happen. Very little is acutely made in the brain but it is the birth place of ideas and dreams. It is the home to the systems controls and it is where all the nice stuff is keep. But keeping this place a live is its transport networks the roads, trains lines, river and skies. One of the things that I found most interesting and always have are the underground train lines.

The London underground is one of the oldest underground train network in the world and parts were built as early as 1863. This can be seen in the design and construction of stations all over the network, many platforms have a Victorian feel and play host to some of the finest design of the time. As the network grow the platforms have a more art deco feel and there is a very real sense of modern Briton growing out of them, this could also be felt in the design and lay out of the station entrances and ticket booths. A growing City needs a competent and good transport system. As a result in 1933 London transport was created and has grown ever since this not only included The London Underground but the bus and tram services.

The underground or its more affectionate name The Tube wanted to show its modern and innovative side and as a result the complex maps of the past changed and the Tube map was born. Based on a electrical wiring diagram Harry Beck created what we have all come to know as the London Underground map. At first it was seen as a radical idea as it doesn’t show the accurate scale and location of stations, but what it does do is show how the stations link and how to get from A-B. Most transport maps all over the world have been based on this idea.

It is this current system that I uses and I find fascinating, there has been a lot of work on the current network and this modern and growing system still wants to be seen as a sophisticated and clever beast. The newest platforms and stations have an air of simplistic whilst embracing all my wants and needs. They are clever places that allow me to access London and its many sites and attritions or mealy allow me to pass through with out a trace. But as you pass along the massive darkened tunnels you are give glimpse of the labyrinth of cables and wires that make the system work and survive. This cables remind me of the veins and nerves in the body transporting information and recourses so that the ideas can move around the brain.