27 May 2012

And the Swan

After the Peacock Clock video- thought I should paste this video of the Swan Automaton, by John-Joseph Merlin, who collaborated with John Cox.
I have not seen it 'in the flesh'- but as I understand it, the moving 'water' is spinning glass rods.
It gets wound up and operated once per day at the Bowe Museum.
(And as someone eruditely observed in the YouTube comments; "what? swans don t eat fish lol")

26 May 2012

James Cox Peacock Automaton Clock

Conversation in St Petersburg:

"What's the time, dear?"

"Err.......................................... hang on........................................ it's.............................."

As far as I can make out, the clock part is those, what shall I say, vestigial? numerals that appear on the toadstool down the bottom.
The crowing cockerel is very special, and the shimmery shim tail of the peacock; magnificent
-as it should be.

21 May 2012

Press Ladies.

Press Shop No. 54 - aa047023.tif

Maybe I could use a team like this?
Check out all the fly presses and dies (shelves and shelves of little shapes for pressing little-shaped things)...
From the JW Evans Silver Factory,via English Heritage. The factory no longer operates, but is like a museum, they have tours and demos. Would love to visit... fascinating... for metal geeks.

Dies on Shelves - aa045653.tif

16 May 2012


So... I got a press!
5 tons of pressure.
200 kgs of cast iron.
And 200kgs of thanks goes to my Dad, who helped me transport it, man I wished I had photographed that, it was crazy and Dad was wearing this red zizzou beanie- you know, for capers such as this one. 
(+ thanks also to kindly neighbour Adrian for extra muscle.)

Quite a biffer, I think I will paint it almost-black.
Potential names:
"Johnny" ( because its a John Heine, and I think this is my favourite so far)
"Brain Surgeon"
"The Butterfly"
okay, yeah its turning into a dad-joke...

Im starting to get used to its hulking presence already, like the proverbial elephant in the room.
Now I've got to knuckle down and get some dies made. 

13 May 2012

Rocks / Screen Gems

Makes me think if I got some coat tails I would look a lot busier. Love the rocks!

9 May 2012

Further Adventures With Wholemeal Gold

More wedding rings being made from native gold nuggets, in the Goodness style. Here, the ring is unjoined. It starts off pretty rugged.

When you have a specified width, height, profile and circumference to meet, and you are achieving this just by hammering, you have to pay attention. Gold is very malleable, but its not like clay- once you've stretched it, you can't really shrink it back. It may come across as if Im just feeling my way through the whole task, but in fact, Im constantly checking and measuring with a vernier calliper. 

You will notice the spots... these are naturally occurring inclusions of other minerals, present in the unrefined nuggets. I recently described this to a groom-to-be as "like real vanilla seeds in an awesome ice-cream". Basically, you won't find this in a shop. Folks are really responding to this material and process- thanks for giving me the privilege of making them for you. I genuinely feel moved when I make these, its not an ordinary task for me. 

3 May 2012


So it has been a year since that scary business with my lung. What a year- it took quite a while to recover, and so it was a bit of a write-off really, but now I'm doing great. I feel much more aware of my mortality now, as you might expect, and more appreciative of my blessings- not the least of which is my body.
Don't forget to look after your body! Especially when it comes to work hazards.
I am much more conscious of this now- particularly when it comes to respiratory hazards.
I have been trying to minimise or avoid fumes and particles that are typically created during metal work.
For example, take the earring above. I redesigned it slightly so that there is no need for soldering.
( thus eliminating flux fumes and pickle fumes) I used to solder on the hallmark disc and the hinge part that holds the ear wire. Now I cut all of these parts out of the flat sheet and bend it up from the one shape. Its not filed or sanded either, the texturing is done with the rolling mills at the beginning.
Its a bit trickier, but its better.
Other precautions:
Wear a respirator or, just don't do that fumey, dusty task. I've been doing a lot of hammer-finishing, so there's no sanding.
(~ Special Thanks to all those beautiful people who have been ordering Goodness Rings, this allows me to be safer and make truly special objects for you~)
Do abrasive work under water ( just in a basin- you don't have to dive into the pool)
Use a good exhaust system for soldering. I am going to upgrade mine.
( + use borax cone flux in preference to flouro-borate flux~ better still, join by fusion/ diffusion etc)
Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up dust as you make it. (Now I have one attached to the  back of my bench peg- I may show you a pic of this, it works great. But not for gold work!)
Just don't do blackening/ other crazy patination/ acid etching/ cutting or sanding of plastics.

The limitations might just set me free.

 Be safe, young smiths