Leather pincushion and sheath

Experiments with wet-moulding leather, using pricking irons and stitching with proper waxed cord.

I’ve been using a jury-rigged back-of-the-hand pincushion for many years, and finally decided to make a proper one. The dome is wet-moulded – stretched over a thermoplastic form and stapled down to a piece of scrap wood. Once it was completely dry I was surprised by how strong then resulting dome was. The punched holes are backed with a piece of linen, and the dome is stuffed with synthetic stuffing fluff. Using pricking irons to make the holes made life a lot easier than last time I did any leatherwork, and doing proper saddle-stitching with waxed cord was also a revelation.

I was concerned that it would be annoying to find the holes when replacing a pin, but I haven’t had any trouble, and the pincushion is very comfortable and convenient to use.

The second piece here is a sheath for the knife I made at a Green Wood Guild workshop, which includes a wooden liner tray to stop the blade cutting straight through the sheath. Cling film to prevent rusting from the wet leather and a LOT of clamps made the exercise pretty straightforward.

Costume Antlers Pictorial

I decided I fancied wearing a pair of antlers at a recent event. Here are a few pictures of the process from a foam pool noodle to a wearable set of prongs. I regret painting them gold (mostly an accident!), and if I remake them I’ll take the opportunity to make them more realistically thin, but they’re still eminently wearable.

Ruby Wedding Papercut

Another papercut – a ‘card’ for a ruby wedding anniversary, including flowers representing locations from the couple’s life, and a Gladiolus which Wikipedia tells me is the appropriate flora to celebrate 40 years together. The red calligraphy isn’t nearly as good as my housemate’s, and I had to do a second pass to thicken the downstrokes as my dip-pen lacks that functionality, but I’m pleased overall.

Tutorial – Embossing paper with thermoplastic

I decided to sit down and figure out how to make an embossing set-up at home. I used my favourite material – a thermoplastic called ‘polymorph’ or ‘friendly plastic’ – something that’s as springy and tough as nylon, but melts at 60 degrees C, in hot water from a kettle.

Previously I’ve followed tutorials for embossing paper using a cardboard stencil and rubbing the back with a rounded tool, as per this tutorial, but it’s fiddly, time consuming and inconsistent. I’ve seen franking machines that use positive and negative aluminium dies, and thought I’d give it a go using things I had laying around. I’ve devised something that gives lovely results, simply, and is very easy to use – just slip the paper into the hinged die, and squeeze.

To test the theory first, I used a cut-out piece of copper sheet as a template and thermoplastic as my die-making material.

Here’s a step-by step breakdown of the process of making a more involved die, suitable for making business cards. I was inspired by one of the images from my book ‘Duckie and Chickie Afloat’. For later versions, I’d like to add registration to site the paper accurately, and also explore multi-level or carved positives to give more intricate embossing.

Science in Motion animation

As part of my Science Communication MSc, we were challenged to produce a ‘cultural product’ which explores some of the concepts from the first term’s lectures on the history of science and society and science and the media.

Our trio elected to use stop-motion to portray a ‘day in the life’ of a scientist who is crafting a scientific paper. Many ideas related to the creation of science are depicted; how many can you spot?

Created by Nils Hanwahr, Morag Hickman and David Robertson at Imperial College London.

Music credit: Overture by The Who.