Saturday, 5 November 2011

Getting on with my uni projects

This week I have worked some long, killer hours in the studio, which is horrible because we have no natural light in there and a lot of exposed pipework and plywood. Those conditions, and the fact that most of the class wear identical jumpsuits, have led to several comparisons to a prison workshop. On Thursday I left the house at 8am and didn't get back until 22:15. Today I meant to go in again, but instead I dossed about all morning, then went to Ikea with my mum in the afternoon and bought a foam mattress topper (I am sleeping on the same bed I've had since we moved into this house in 1997). It's currently unwrapped and smells extremely chemical, which is probably why I'm writing a blog post at 1am instead of going to bed so I can go into the workshop on Saturday.

I thought I'd show you some of my work, but I didn't actually get as far as I wanted to, so for starters, here's a pic of my toolbox:

For my first term, I had this horrible black plastic toolbox that was too large to fit in my locker unless placed on its end, and had no compartments, which turned digging through it into a game of "find the sharp thing with you fingertips". When I got my phone, O2 gave me a £50 Debenhams voucher, and I found this washbag on sale (for ~£12 marked down from ~£30) and snapped it up. It's wipe-clean, and I can store smaller tools in the two front pockets, plus it fits in my locker great and can be carried hands-free as the handles loop over my wrist instead. Very wise purchase!

This term I am attempting to make tea-cups from scratch- making a model in plaster using a technique called "sledging", then making a mould of the model, carving out a handle and making a mould of that, then slip-casting everything, glazing it clear or white (undecided), making lithographs and transferring them on, and then, finally, gilding the edges if I have the cash for gilt. It's a long and horrible process, one which doesn't begin to hint at the saucer.

You know that huge process list I just laid out? It doesn't even cover the beginning, when I have to cut out sledging profiles from zinc using a fret saw, and then refine them down with files and sandpaper. The whole thing has already been a pain in the ass. The above pic shows my zinc edge profile standing next to my perspex base profile, which has been glued onto a wooden board. To make the model, you run the zinc profile over plaster which is piled onto the perspex base. Eventually the zinc profile follows the shape of the base profile.

Still with me?

Here's what I was making, and was told to abandon in lieu of making the tea-cups instead:

I carved this jug's body from plaster using chisels as it spun on the lathe. The process took me about 4 hours because I'm not very confident on the lathe (it was only my second time ever using one). As you can see, there were bubbles in the plaster. I tried to fill them in, but it didn't work so well.

The snip (that's the bit you pour from, like a spout) is made separately and hand carved, although it locates on the body with a natch (a natch is like a notch. No, I don't know why we say natch instead). It's not quite symmetrical, but I still really like the form. A couple of friends told me it looks like a bird, so if I get time I would like to finish this off, produce a mould from it and make some great brightly coloured bird of paradise jugs.

I really hope I get time to finish this little beauty, and get those blasted tea-cups finished, but I won't if I don't get some sleep on my fabulous new squishy chemical mattress topper, so goodnight to all of you. x

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