The new one on etsy

I know it smacks of self advertising, but haven't i given you enough already? Anyway i put a new bowl on Etsy ( ) Another pewter one this time, but with a twist, for me at least.
Ok so its not a total divergence but a slight technical one. Yes its pushed out rather than in. The problem with bowls is that the inner bit gets hidden if you put oranges or something in them, so i thought id do a Celtic frieze round a bowl and a design inside too. This took extensive use of number two hammer (now lost!) The turn of the bowl was hard to do and the "running dog" exceedingly irritating to draw but i think it came out fine...
You can see it bashed the now traditional Hares in the base. All this bashing made the rim go well wambly, which is sort of pleasing. A friend who saw it said "hay that looks like a real bowl"...which is fairly odd, i did ask what the others looked like then, a cauliflower?

 Its quite taxing doing finished bashing both inside and out, inside its a problem of room to swing a hammer, and out is a question of trying not to totally distend the bowl shape, at least not in a way i can't bash back...And it takes a lot of plasticine!

Oh dear, oh deary me...

Today i suffered a tragedy. My poor, long suffering electric drill fell off the bench and went straight in the bucket of water i keep handy....It wasn't on but it was plugged in, its now sitting next to the wood stove gently drying out, i hope it will survive. Without it i loose my ability to make small shiny things.. speaking of which...

That's about and inch tall all polished up and bright. The camera doesn't like focussing so near but you get the idea.

These are the first dresses i made in fact the big'un is the very first.
As you can see they do go brown even with a wax covering.

These are copper too , made the same way, only i painted them and stuck them on kilt pins, which had to be re-enforced to take the weight! As you can see i made shoes, pants, bras and Y-fronts. Quite why i don't know, i just did OK!
Currently, i made about 20 kilt pin things, they are off with a friend who hopes to sell them at vintage clothes fairs etc... we live in hope ah.

I forgot i made some handbags too. And the odd corset. The Barbie hands were all this began. Lacking any ideas i though about how to do less work and thought "Action man (GI Joe) " guns on broaches would be easy and cheap to do. Failing to find any however, i did find a few Barbies in charity shops, i tried using their shoes but they were too flimsy. I then used their hands! Then set about making shoes etc... so what i though would be easy turned out to be diabolically hard and labour intensive....sigh

And i have a box in the shed that looks like the toy box of a nascent serial killer.

Hammered hammer

At last the person i sent the thing to, got it, sent first class (ha!) on Monday i confidently expected it to get to her on the next day, it arrived today (Thursday) and she likes it so i can reveal its trifleness and smallness now...

I can tell your impressed. It was requested i make a Thor's hammer, a bit of goggling i found Thor's Hammers are sort of just Hammery and usually curved. So i took a bit of square bare curved, it then used that pillar drill to drill a 3mm hole through it. I should of course have drilled the hole then curved it but i didn't. Then i heated it up red hot and hammered it to shape (so it is indeed forged just like Thor's hammer) Being used to copper i quenched it and fully expected it to be cold after a quick dip. Iron isn't like that, it transmits heat far worse than copper so though the edges are cold, the hot centre soon heats it up again and you burn your finger tips.
I heated the shaft bit up red and hammered it smaller, a few times, as it got cold and i hit it and it sort of splits and goes a bit stringy, so i had to do it again. then i shoved it through the drilled hole. Got it red hot and peened over the protruding tip like it was a rivet. Flattened the end and drilled another hole for a chain. I thought it looked a bit to plain and wrapped the handle in soft iron wire, to hold it on i used some silvery looking hard solder. Annoyingly the silver looking solder has something coppery in it and though i wanted the whole thing silvery i think i overheated it and it shows up a bit coppery.
I used wet and dry paper to get the main grunge off then polished it with the drill. As you can see iron comes up like silver, but it wont stay that way long, i put some Renaissance Wax on to keep it bright for a time and told the customer that it woudl most probably go grey after a time, which will probably add to its character. That's my story anyway!

so more about the small bit..

Remember how i told you about the dangers of high velocity bits of copper and the polishing mop in the drill...Well i have suffered a 50% reduction in the tiny shoes department. Yes one (the best one too) pinged off, straight down under the bench, a saw the dammed thing land and dove down immediately to retrieve it. Its disappeared, quite honestly i don't know why i bother to look really , a triumph of hope over experience i guess. I saw it land though so i thought it worth some time searching. Had all the junk under the bench out sifted through the sand on the floor....i suspect it's pinged into a different dimension, somewhere there's an inexplicable pile of small copper things, or my shed is infested with shed faeries who even now are clumping round in unsuitable footwear. Anyway here to one surviving shoe all shiny and my hand all grungy too.

Here all the small copper things, now polished up. 50% loss of shoe but surprisingly no attrition on the tiny tutu's..I don't usually use Renaissance Wax on the small bits but a spray of car Dash board polish. Its silicone based. Liquid silicone is incredibly tenacious, to get rid of it i'd have to apply red heat, it seems to bond to the surface. Don't ever use it near anything you might want to paint latter/ever it will ruin the paint for years.

Now for something different. I saw a silver 18th century dog collar on Antiques Road show. And i though i'd have ago at making one. This is "mark one" collar, they often had spikes it seems for fierce demeanour and maybe, it has to be said for dog fights or ratting. Its not all copper, i soldered brass rod on the edges to simulate the proper rolled edges. Copper spikes soldered on through holes in the copper set it off well i think.
This is mark two, which was for a friend who saw mark one and wanted one. A bit more finished and i glued leather inside to save any necks going green. I know its an oddity but everyone i showed it to tried to put it round their own necks....who am i to judge. I think if i made another i'd try to roll the edges properly now i'm more experienced at it, but at the time soldering was easier.

more stuff....

Today i've been off doing things which even i cant say was work, visiting a friend etc. However i've got the odd pic to bore you with anyway.  I made two shoes, only tiny ones. I described them a "pervert shoes" and if you think that naughty its nothing to what the wife called them!

This is their start point, a manky old bit of copper i found in the garden and a tiny paper shoe pattern i cut out. Shoes look weird flat don't they! Notice the tin snips, again far too big.....

One flat one folded up and soldered...

Soldering on the heel, which is hard work with only two hands. Trouble is with so much soldering the thing always gets messy. Bits of solder etc and grunge all over it so some seriouse grinding has to be done latter. As well as shaping the heel etc the blobs have to be ground off..

Again i'm taking a pic in the dark but you get the idea. Need a file running over it though and a polish.....

I have made something else but i cant talk about that until the "customer" tell me she likes it...or not!.. its a mere trifle

what i was doing today

Mainly,if i'm total honest, i've been injuring myself on hot small bits of metal and grinding my finger tips off with a stupidly large angle grinder, absolutely unsuited to working small...ok This is the full kit, bits of copper my "real tool" hammer, some quite posh round nosed pliers and two punches one specially shaped and refered to a a "breast punch" For reasons that will become clear soon. Oh and some copper wire that i flattened in the wife's dear etching press. Wire i got out of a flex meant for connecting a cooker to the electricity supply. Good way of finding solid copper wire that!.

Here me blasting the cut out bits with my trusty cheepo propane torch. I got 'em red hot to make them soft. Immediately after that pic i picked up the coil of wire, with my bare fingers, somehow thinking they would be cold as i wasn't trying to heat that bit up...ouch!

After hoping round and swearing a bit i managed to do some metal bending, the circles are now crinkled the other bits folded up and the flattened wire folded into bows....can you guess what it is yet?

Becoming clearer?. Between the last pic and this i have hard soldered the tops on the bottoms. I use Benzomatic brazing rods. Good cost they are hard, and require no flux , just a lot of heat.

 Here i've also soldered on the bows, more crispy fingers, also i cut some rings to solder on, just twisted the copper wire round a round thing and snipped them off. Of course all this soldering has effected the copper so its all 'orribel and nasty which can be solved latter. I find the benzonmatic is good at not melting much when you solder bits nearby, usually anyway, some days though... well it just all falls to bits.A stupidly big gas torch does not help really...

Rings on! After a bit of fiddling at least... I hope now you can see they are miniature dresses, maybe a bit droopy to be described as Tutu's but almost, i guess.

 Seem the cower in the face of Mr Angle grinder! See how i said it wasn't really a precision tool? Its what i have though so i use it quite a lot. I notice to from this pic i've put in a "Stone cutting" disk totally unsuited to metal at all. Silly me! That grinder cost me a tenner many many years ago, i really do wonder how it keeps going in my careless hands, i think it just likes the taste of my blood!. A bit of a lick with the grinder and on to the next stage. And yes i ground bit of my fingers off too.

Oh, more expensive equipment.I know it looks like its got zero to do with metal things but it has. I once made ten of those mini dresses all at once, last stage is to polish them, i was using a polishing pad in a drill held in the vice. I ended up with seven mini dresses, three pinged of a high velocity across the shed never to be seen again. I wanted a way of polishing them without the risk of high velocity jewellery. Research told me tumbling with stainless steel shot (actually, bits of stainless steel in varying shapes and water and soap) So i dug up this tiny tumbler (bought from a charity shop for £4) loaded some shot and a dash of Fairy Liquid, result, nothing, i'd used the wrong soap, for some reason detergents like Fairly liquid don't work, so i broke a bit off a bit of a bar of soap and it's sort of worked. Generally i have to used the drill and polishing wheel but this thing gets a lot of grunge off first.... so i've gained an extra stage for a small gain, like i said no one said i was sensible.

This is how they come out. Well if im honest that's how the best ones come out. Some of the others need abit of fileing to fettle before polish. Oh now can you see what use the "breast punch" was?

Do a windows search for jpg and what do i find!

That's my first hare bowl.... some... while ago. Before i knew about the top secret patina liquid. At the time i also thought shiny was good, maybe i had ideas of bling and glitz, oh how wrong can you be ah.

This is the very water tank it was cut out of. You can see its made to go in the bilges of a boat.

Oh look here's the bowl after i'd heated it and before i polished it. God knows what i was thinking then, but now i think it looks far better dark and with a patina than like a rap singers teeth.

I remember this one too, fairly plain  and round, i was trying to flame colour it. Seem's to be Ok here, not sure how its faired over the time since it was made though. I think i covered it in ghastly plastic varnish. In fact i'm not even sure where either bowl is. I think they were taken by a friend,and even now are in a Arts/antiques place in Exeter, but i'm not at all sure....careless i know.

Copper bowl

Well wandering round the computer yesterday looking for stuff to delete i found some pics of the hare bowl being here they are.

Here's the basic tools, bit of copper, hammers punches and snips. grungy old bit of copper it is too! Re-cycling is always a dirty business.

That's me fairly early on hitting the thing with number two hammer. Number two hammer has unfortunately gone walk about in the mess i call a shed, one day it'll come back to me i'm sure. Oh, im hammering it on an old tree stump, mainly for a variety in wrist injury.

Hay after a few goes sits starting to go almost like a proper bowl! Notice the nifty fisherman's smock in wearing, hell it saves wearing real clothes ah. That's the trusty Wok of sand in the background, not sure why though.

That's me being all technical and using my cheepo gas torch to anneal the copper. And admire the pillar drill! Funny how you get things and then hardly ever use them ah...

Ah jumped ahead a bit but there it is lined out and bashed and all i've seen that pic im wondering where that step ladder came from..
Same thing cleaned up a bit and the edges rolled.

 Couple of hours latter and the addition of top secret patina solution all over...Then i just polish the hare part and leave the green bit green, though bit of green fall off anyway. That lovely colour fades a bit but it cant be helped.


This ones copper, a harder and more coppery metal, as one might well expect. One of the earliest metals to be worked by humans,it can just about chip stone (the pyramids were made with copper chisels) and it conducts electricity and heat well. This bit of copper sheet can claim both age and modernity, it was a copper water tank and now its a new bowl. I cut it out of an old boat water tank, one my friend Hotdog paul gave me. It was out of his uncles boat and dates from the 1940's. Quite honestly copper bowls are usually made from slightly heavier gage copper. This stuff is 0.3 mm thick its more usual to use 0.5 or 0.6  but i thouigh i'd give it a go.

As you can see its not all that deep and the edge is a bit "wambly" which i quite like.
Copper work hardens, hit it a few times and you risk it splitting or cracking, but normal softness can be restored by heating to red and quenching in water, which is the opposite to most other metals.

This is the underside showing off the hare indents and the red of a few heat treatments.  A with the Pewter this was hammered over a base of plasticine both front and back.

Here another top tip. Copper goes green over time, well it goes brown or green really. Raw new copper is pink, clean it up with vinegar and salt and a scouring pad and its really pink and sort of nice. Sadly it doesn't stay that way for long, in a very few minutes its going more golden and shiny, a day and its on its way to being brown as it reacts with the air. What i did with this bowl was to polish the hares bright, and treat the background with a highly secret patina liquid. If you don't tell anyone, i will let you in on the secret. Paint raw copper with Lidls liquid plant food and it rapidly goes green, this isn't a green paint, its really sending the copper off on a chemical reaction. I think its the ammonia salts in the liquid, other liquid plant food probably work just as well , but ive only tried his one.

There is another way of colouring copper, with heat. One can use a gas torch to paint very nice colours onto copper as it reacts with the flame and oxygen. Sadly these colours are "fugitive", they just don't last well. One can cover the surface with varnish to slow them going brown but then the metal looks, just as it is, covered in plastic and nasty to touch. My experiments continue with "renaissance wax" but in the end the browning is, i think, inevitable. If you fancy having a go and "flame painting" i've found the copper colours better if its left a little after cleaning i think to have a little bit of corrosion on the surface and as on this bowl, playing the flame and drawing back seems to get  some nice reds.

I did find some American site offering the secret of "flame painting" but the sample vid seems to entail Oxy acetylene torches (which i don't have) and money (ditto)....
i suspect they encase the thing in some horrid plastic coating too...

The raven Bowl.

In days gone by people made things, we made things out of what we had. Copper when we had copper and pewter when we invented pewter, some of us however never moved on and continue to make things using copper and pewter, despite it being hard or maybe because it is.
So on with the motley and on with how I made that "Raven Bowl" all the stages, all the ways, so you can make one too, or just marvel at why anyone would want to.

I was wandering round Truro one day, when I saw a raven. Them things are huge! like a dark black buzzard with a "I could eat you" look in its eye. So I was inspired to think of a design to incorporate that bird in a bowl. But I get ahead of myself.

Here are the raw materials, Big Hammer (rubber and rounded off one end) one medium hammer and a small hammer. A few steel punches, made by shaping some plain steel rods and one proper chisel but with the end rounded off a bit so it doesn't cut right through the metal. A "sharpie" pen or rather a cheap look alike from Asda supermarket. I use a sand bag too, leather bag filled with sand, the leather was a bit out of a leather jacket bought from a charity shop, the sand, is just building sand. Not forgetting the shiny shiny disk of pewter. 300mm across and 1mm thick (or 12inches across in "english" as the chap at said).. now for the hitting it with hammers!

Ok so that is one pass of the "big 'ammer"
 I placed it on the sand bag revolved it as i hit it, thud thud thud. As you can see this crinkles the edge in a distressing way, but that is all part of the plan. What causes the edge to crinkle is the more central bit stretching and the edge complains by trying to curl up. There are in my experience two ways to make a bowl, one is hammer it and stretch it all or hammer it and stretch the centre and shrink the edge. Which seems impossible that metal shrinks when hit, but it can be done.

So here it is after a pass with the "big 'ammer" round the crinkles, on top of a big bit of wood as a backing. You can't see much movement but its just slightly dished now. The crinkles are forced to collapse, each time they collapse they tighten just a little and the rim shrinks. While the centre is pushed down.

Now you see more movement and more crinkles. This is after about ten passes and the pewter is getting soft. Odd metal it's mainly tin and as you work it it softens as its atoms suffer under the hammer. cCopper work hardens and needs heat treating to soften it, but pewter starts to move more the more you hit it, if left to rest it tightens up noticeably.

That's coming along nicely, after a few passes and too many hammer blows for my poor arm!

"Sinking" nicely now it rests on an other handy bit of workshop equipment the "rusty old bit of railway track" Ok Anvils are expensive and I don't have one, I do have this odd yard of track to hammer things on. Its big, heavy and just fine for what I need. (Actually it's an historic bit of track, I got it from a fiends wood pile, the wood was salvaged from Falmouth docks when one quay burned down some years ago. It's American track put on the quay when it was built for loading D-Day invasion ships)

My poor aching hand! Here I have hammered the bowl using the small ball ended hammer, evening out the texture all over with many hundreds of hits, with the bowl held on the railway track so the metal is pinched between hard iron. It gives a pleasing and traditional dimpled effect all over. Ever inch is covered, every dashed inch!. This also stretches the metal deeper. A quick few passes with the "big 'ammer" also even it out so its more bowl shaped again.
After seeing the Raven in Truro I thought about how to incorporate a Raven into a bowl. Three seems a good number for a design, and very traditional in Celtic designs so I worked up a design. I draw it on free hand so each bird is an individual with a little character of its own. (also drawing the design on paper and trying to transfer that to a 3-d object is diabolically hard!) So it's a one off, never to be reproduced quite the same way again...I'm just not that good a metal hammerer!

Here's a secret of arcane metal working. The metal needs "backing up" If you hit it now unsupported it will dent in a most disappointing way. So it needs something yeilding but stiff behind it. Tradition dictates a fiendish mix of pitch (of balkan and expensive origin) and plaster. I can't find that anywhere round here, so I use either wet sand, sinking the bowl into a wok of damp sand, or in this case the more crisp method of moulding warmed (in the kitchen oven, but do take proper precautions, do it when the wife or significant other is out and use a very low heat) Plasticine modelling putty. I just pushed it tight over the back of the bowl, and laying it in the wok on the sand started to hammer. The two chisels are a small one for the tighter turns in the design and the bigger one for smoothly dragging along the more flowing lines. Notice also my only "proper" tool. A Repousse or chaseing hammer, posh ah! Its small and the oddly shaped handle lets my hand rest a bit, and it cost a fiver, but it's not strictly necessary. I use with when I need a lighter touch.

Here it is tuned over and refilled with plasticine. You can see the design showing from the front chiselling. I usually wash it with a pan scourer at this stage to make the raised bits stand out brighter so I can see them. Now I set to with some more punches, this time domed ones, more or less just rounded off bits of steel rod.

 Punched down supported on a bed of plasticine and wet sand in a wok what more could a new bowl need ah. I have to be careful not to punch too hard. It doesn't take much to raise a design but too deep is hard to rescue, even with hammers.
Striped off it now looks like this. A low relief. At this stage I washed it with Brillo pads  (wire wool pan scourers) and to get the Sharpie ink off, which is incredibly persistent, I resorted to a brass bristled pan brush (a handy tool sold in Tescos). So it's all fairly bright and far too shiny.  Now I've decided it just might look good I embarked on the nerve wreaking process of rolling the edge. The bowl shape is fairly strong but with a plain edge its floppy and very bendable if dropped. So it's tap tap the edge and roll it over as neat as I can, in this case over a bit of copper wire to maintain its shape. Its a horrible process and a few out of place taps can mean disaster, so I wouldn't do it if it wasn't necessary.

Another top tip here. Modern pewter is lead free. It used to be Tin with a bit of lead and was used as a sort of 18 century plastic they made everything out of it from plates to syringes. Lucky for them the lead poisoning was just a sideshow from the average misery of life so it didn't matter. In more enlightened times we use lead free pewter, which is 90% tin, a touch of antimony and copper which has the advantage of not making you dead, or at least we don't know yet (I joke, it's certified food safe). However it has one disadvantage. When I first made a pewter bowl two people saw it and commented that it was Ok for a bit of Aluminium! This caused me pain, but I had to admit it did look a bit aluminiumy. This new pewter stays shiny, bring back the lead I cried! Until I discovered a magic liquid more usually used on leaded light "came" (those lead bits between the glass in stained glass windows) to make them go black. Painted onto Pewter it sends them dark and authentic looking. I think its dilute nitric acid with a bit of copper sulphate but don't hold me to that, just go get some from a windows shop.  In the pic I am painting the watery, slightly green/blue liquid on, notice a bit of sand has got involved too. This I've found helps the liquid wet the surface otherwise it sort of rolls off and goes a bit patchy. I left it in a warm place and it went dark all over. 
  Of course now the shed is a bit dark so I'm taking a pic in the dark of a dark thing, but you get the idea I hope

The trick is now to highlight the birdy bits without diminishing the darkness of the surrounding stuff. I did this at first using a powder called "Bar Keeps Friend" which is meant for steel and copper surfaces,  its abrasive and removes the patina well when applied with a cloth covered damp finger. I wash it off rather than polish it off so its kept in its place. Then i use Brasso wadding ( a fine metal polish on sort of cotton wool wadding) that brings it up a treat. 
Last stage now. I apply "renaissance wax" (as recommended and indeed invented by the British Museum) Brush it on with a soft shoe brush and polish it off with a rough cloth, there it is shiny where I wanted it shiny and dull where I wanted it dull... easy...

Warning the wife may want to know where the sand in the sink is coming from and why her baking tray has got bits of plasticine on it.