Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New toys!

I’m currently stocking up on a lot of tools that I have been missing for a while. The list is long and I buy them as I get the money, but this morning I had a shipment from the UK. Mmmmm.... the smell of a fresh tool shipment in the morning...

 Inside was a collection of tools that I had long needed: Long tweezers (so nice not to burn your fingertips when you work with tweers while soldering), a tiny hammer (to harden open jump rings after montage), tools for wax carving (I have the wax and the ideas now I just need the time...) a new burnisher (where did my old one go?!) and most importantly: bezel mandrels in a number of different shapes.

Granted, I’m not sure how to exactly work with some of them – especially the star shaped one eludes me. Any ideas? However, I got them a lot cheaper than if I should have bought them here in Denmark (alle nine for the price of 2 bough at my local vendor) and hence rush to recommend the eBay shop: Jewellers-Tools

Now off to the workshop where I’m working on a number of projects with flowers. Here is a teaser ;-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A room of ones own

So I got myself a new studio - a bare and hampered room to be changed into something completely else. Given the fact that I have worked in a number of different places, but never really able to make it MY space, I was yearning for a room, that would be the essence of me. -My cave where my inspiration could flow freely and undisturbed, build itself up to the crescendo of new designs and new beauty. Therefore, the aesthetics of the room that was to be my new studio/shop was very important to me.
I chose to create a calm canvas of white and green, adding wood, black and gold to the cocktail. The result is quite stunning if I may say so myself. I have been working hard for one month, dedicating literally every wake hour to this project.  My home looks like a wasteland, I have no more visible horizontal surfaces there, the laundry basked hasn’t been able to be closed for weeks and my kid hasn’t had the most nutritious and well-prepared meals etc. But I have made a year-long dream come true: I have my own studio shop!
I went from this:

To this:

Now it’s finally time to create all the long-time-due custom orders (sorry and thank you for being so patient!) and turn all those ideas that have been massing in my mind and sketch books into reality. Oh bliss!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Envy my anvil!

My grandfather was a blacksmith. I remember seeing him in his workshop, shaping red glowing iron on his anvil. Ding, ding, ding, dingdididing it said, as he hammered away. The “dingdididing” was the “cool off” blow he did on the anvil itself after 3 strokes on the item to be shaped. It had a very peculiar, forceful, yet almost meditative rhythm to it.

15 years ago my grandfather died and my parents couldn’t bear to part with this strong symbol of him, so they stored the anvil in their moist garage where it waited for better times while getting more and more rusty. Then a few months ago I realized, that I could really use and anvil and started searching for one online – until it struck me: Grandfathers anvil! Wonder if it’s still in my parents’ garage? It was. However, obviously iron and moisture aren’t the best of friends, and so it looked like this:

A closer look confirmed the ridiculous weight of it: 103,5 kilos!

I needed the anvil for my work, and so of cause needed a good surface to work on, so I had to start grinding. I’m okay with the rust – it tells a story, is the patina of this old tool, but I needed to create a workable surface. Hence I decided to grind away the rust entirely from the tip of the horn and a corner of the horizontal working area, lightly polish the rest of said working area and leave the rest of the anvil as I found it. It took two hours, a fairly sore back and humming nerve ends in my hands to just achieve that goal. I shudder to think of how much time it would have consumed to clean out the entire anvil!

And then it moved in – 103,5 kilos worth of anvil plus roughly half the weight for the old stub it rests on. It has most of its dents, caused by my Grandfathers blows, still visible and it’s shiny and new in some parts – ready to receive my own blows and dents and so mix his and my passion for shaping metal.

Thank you Grandfather. I will cherish your tool and use it to the best of my abilities!

Monday, June 7, 2010

It aint gold, but boy it glitters!

I’ve been babbling about all the frames for the glazed cabinets which I’m gilding and decided to show you what I’m talking about. I bought old picture frames with glass, which had a somewhat golden look, and also used some “raw” wooden frames, which I coated with a red base. The red brings out the warmth of the gold even more and it looks stunning, don’t you think?

And here’s a disclaimer: No, it’s not real gold – that would ruin me completely! It’s fake – actually highly shiny brass. However, it looks and acts the part, meaning that it’s massively annoying, flies everywhere, takes forever to apply etc. But it’s worth it in my opinion. Check out this fun video on an artist trying to demonstrate how to handle gold leaf – and failing miserably *chuckle*

What I do? I first brush the whole item with the gold leaf adhesive, which has to set for 30 min before you can start gilding. After that it remains sticky for days – very handy! Using a pair of tweezers I pull suitable pieces from the sheet which is 16x16 cm big –much larger than normal gold leaf, which is usually 8x8 or even smaller. Then I use a soft brush, which I turn static on my own hair to pick up and place the leaf on the surface. A quick brush and it’s set!

Once I’ll have all frames gilded, they need to be varnished. Had it been gold, they wouldn’t change at all, but since it’s brass, it will oxidize and turn dull and eventually green over time. Can’t have that, so on with the laquer!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chaos before dawn

They say it’s got to be bad before it gets good. I believe that. Currently my studio-shop is in an utter state of chaos and it’s hard to keep faith that it will get well in the end.

However I do have faith and we are nearing said end. Glazed cabinets are almost done, I’m gilding the frames for them, which takes roughly 2 hours per piece and is a pain in the tush. All the glas shelves for the windows will arrive today or tomorrow and then I'll have to tackle my grandfathers anvil, which is extremely rusty-red at the moment. So… we’re getting there and I think apart from a few small things I'll be in place  by the end of this week. But boy there are many details that must fall into place! Don’t do this at home kids – or at least: have a good buffer of time, money and understanding and helpful friends.

Luckily I do and I consider myself blessed for it. By the 18th of June I will have to be done, because then I’m having an opening reception for anyone who wants to join, so the deadline is ticking…