Nikki’s Dragon

A lovely commission, to create a medallion-style pendant for a dragon lover.

Cast from a wax sculpture made using my new Wolf wax carving tools. It was an absolute delight to have 18 diverse and well-made tools on hand for whatever type of cut or scrape I needed. I’m looking forward to many more sculptures using them.

The final dragon is a little hefty at around 16g of sterling silver, even with the smooth, hollowed underside. Available from my Etsy Shop.

I will also be making bronze versions – let me know via etsy or the contact form if you’d like to be notified when they’re available.

WIP – Tree Sculpture

Further progress on my indoor tree sculpture – testing out full-sized vellum leaves (with odd-coloured sheet), incorporating a more advanced balance mechanism, with branches constructed from foraged plastic sheeting. I think the proportions are off, but I’m very happy with the look of the leaves, with the pleating of the vellum nicely echoing the texture and transparency of real beech leaves. Next: tweaking proportions, testing addition of hinging to the branches.

Swinging copper discs in progress

Prototyping a new pair of earrings – swirly hardware and a lightly dished bright copper disc with a hammered texture. I’m delighted with how elegant, shimmery and eye-catching these turned out. I also feel my soldering has improved a great deal – not to mention that it’s great to have a second torch when you’re working on something just a little to big for one to handle alone. Unfortunately my camera’s away for repairs, so here are some dodgy phone pictures.

Bench upgrades and free* standing desk

I got out the power tools yesterday! My workbench received an additional shelf, which allows me to stack various boxes and tools underneath the really useful mini Ikea drawer units. I also carved a recess to accept my bench peg, giving me a firm, accessible holding point for delicate work. The pegboard I mounted onto some bed-frame parts I scavenged, raising it to a height where the tools are visible and easily accessible. I’m contemplating the next upgrade, which I think will be creating some rails beneath the pegboard for my pliers, freeing up the magnetic rail for other small items.

The other part of my home-working setup is a standing desk, which I built from scavenged adjustable clothing rails and a picture frame. My laptop happily sits atop the picture frame, and a shelf underneath on swinging arms holds keyboard and other inputs. I can easily change the height of both using the locking mechanisms they came with. I want to make it completely self-standing, but for now it’s braced on the drawer unit underneath – a great place for my printer and packaging supplies.

One thing I’ve decided is lacking in this desk is an easy way to take paper notes, so I’m trialling using my portable easel as a supplement to the standing desk – if it works well, I will likely incorporate such a thing into the next iteration.

I stand on a contoured cushion made from layered yoga mat pieces covered with fleece. This gives a pleasingly squishy surface with enough variation that my feet and legs don’t get too fatigued from standing at the desk. Also it looks like a tropical island so I can pretend to be Godzilla.

All the materials used have been scavenged from various places, so for the cost of a few screws, glue sticks and some electricity I’m really happy to be able to make changes like this to my environment.

Gifs in a stream

I adore high-definition animated gifs of relaxing environments, and have been longing to make some of my own. My website’s limited in what I can upload, and I haven’t figured out how best to minimise file sizes yet, but here’s my first attempt. Click for higher resolution version.

small-rock-in-a-stream

Prototyping swaying branches

I’ve made some progress on a background project that’s quite dear to my heart: a kinetic sculpture representing a beech branch with fresh new leaves. I’d developed some pleasingly fluttery leaf prototypes, but was struggling with how best to articulate the branches to replicate the way that a real tree sways in the breeze.

Given that my sculpture will be situated indoors, it will feel far lighter air currents than a free-range tree, so it must be correspondingly more sensitive. It must also grow up or down from a fixed point on a wall or ceiling, moving easily in the horizontal plane without drooping vertically.

My inspiration has come from a child’s toy – wooden or plastic snakes, with vertical hinges spaced along the body which let them wriggle freely from side-to-side when held up from the tail. These are often constructed using thread or fabric sandwiched between halves of the body, with cut-aways to allow sideways movement.

Antiqued Wooden Snake Toys by wold630 on Instructables
Antiqued Wooden Snake Toys by wold630 on Instructables

Irrespective of the angle of the branch, as long as the line of the joint is vertical, a branch will be balanced and able to swing freely. Smaller branches, down to the level of twigs, can be jointed on and articulated in the same way, and mounted at whatever angle suits. The range of motion of a particular branch is determined by thickness of material removed around its hinge.

This prototype is constructed from balsa wood and double-sided tape, using a ruler, set-square, craft knife, superglue, sandpaper, and a spare pair of hands.

The next stages will include larger-scale and higher complexity prototypes, as well as more materials tests.

Brollies and vikings and dragons, Oh My…

I’ve fallen in with a bad crowd – light entertainers! I’m helping out a little with props for their party in the woods at the weekend, with a viking theme!

I’ve aided with some figureheads for ‘viking longtents’, will be cranking out some banners later, and have been working today on a dragon costume. My housemates were chucking out some old skate helmets, so I’ve taken the hard foam core, added some umbrella-ribs and wire, stuck it all together with gallons of hot glue, then bridged the frame panels of craft foam to flesh it out. I added on a lightweight plastic tablecloth for the body, and I’ve just papier mâché’d over it, using a mixture of water, pva and acrylic paints to add a bit of a tint. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s dry!

The notion is to fix a powerful torch under the lower jaw, then chase people around the woods – if you’re illuminated, you’re scorched out of the game! I might have to counterweight the back of the helm to keep it stable, but for now, enjoy some dragon building pics :D

Copper Etch film – a beautiful process

Working with members of the great Tortoise Butler (Alia Sheikh and Andy Vine), I was filmed making a sample etched copper piece, and the whole thing set to a lovely piece of music by Roger Paul Mason.

As always, I’m stunned by their arcane mastery over lens, lighting, camera and editing, and this time was proud to add my own touch in the text and credits.

If you can watch HD and full screen – it’s worth it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired! I use the technique (along with a little sterling silver magic) to create some of the jewellery in my Etsy shop.