Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tool Organizer

This is a pot that only a mother could love. Actually, tolerate is probably the more fitting emotion to suggest. I don't like to admit it, but I made this pot years ago. I moved to Cambridge, MA after graduate school at the University of Illinois with hopes of beginning a wonderful career in landscape architecture. I immediately found a job and almost as immediately, lost it as the New England economy tanked. I was laid off along with many other landscape architects and architects, most of whom were far more qualified than I was as we all scrambled to find work.

One thing I did before losing my job was I enrolled in a pottery class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (that ended up taking me on an interesting path, but that's another story). This pot is an unfortunate product from my time in that pottery studio. It's dumpy, and the glaze which formed globs along the base is not very attractive. I think this pot captures the angst I felt as I negotiated the transition from a poverty stricken graduate student to a poverty stricken, unemployed, young adult living in a Boston Globe-classified-listing-apartment with two crazies (and oh boy, is that another story!).
I abandoned the pot at my parent's house long ago, but it made it's way back to me when my mother brought it with her during a visit last year. As only a mother would, she held on to this for the many intervening years.I put that dumpy, ugly pot to use in my studio. I have a collection of hand tools that had become a real challenge to keep organized. I quickly realized that this pot was not the ideal solution- the circular shape made it difficult to get tools back in place.
Then, I saw my solution at a favored thrift store. This is a handmade stationery organizer that was priced at $1.00. I thought this could be the answer to my hand tool organizing needs and claimed it. As soon as I had it in my hands, a woman came up to me and said "I wanted that!" I smiled at her and said "Whoops! I did, too!" I was slowly making my way over to the check out area when the same woman came up to me and asked me if I would give the organizer to her if I decided that I didn't want it. I smiled again and nodded but then decided it was time to leave. She had that look in her eyes that made me think she just might wrestle me for this $1.00 item. Being more that a foot taller than her, I was not nervous, but I suspected she would fight dirty.

Turned on its' side, this organizer is perfect for many of my tools. The hand tools are in view, are easily accessed, and I have room for some of the larger and more bulky tools.

My poor, dumpy, ugly pot- I don't know what to do with it yet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Few Days Later

To be overly dramatic, this was the cliffhanger of my last post. I had this empty bezel on the beginnings of a pendant, and I was in search of inspiration. I kept drifting towards the idea of something vintage. I think that was due to the brass tissue box and the thought that it was such a grandmothery household item.
I went to my folder of vintage photos that I have collected from various flea markets and church sales and focused on this one. There is a handwritten note on the back of the photo dating this to 1912, and it appears to have documented a summertime family gathering. I scanned the photo and then redued it to an appropriate size.

Parts of the photo were cut out and attached to a page from one of my old dictionaries. On the left is a a transparency that I made from another old photo (a fun technique-maybe for another post).

Portions of the images were cut out to the size of my bezel.

The cutout was set into the bezel and sealed with resin. This is destined to be the feature pendant in a necklace

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tissue Box Redeux

I found this at a favored thrift store recently, and was initially a bit confused about the intended use. I then realized that this is a tissue box holder.
A brass box to put your tissue box in? Not in my house. That would be way out of character- we prefer to keep the tissue boxes undressed and unadorned. Plus, that rose cluster on the front put the 'ack' in tacky. But...that's just my opinion.

Anyway, I was focused on the lovely layering of interesting patterns and thoughts of how I could put this to other uses.

The carnage commenced. It was not very easy to cut through the edge of the lid, and I had to bring out the artillery of tools.

A few cuts to my fingers later, I did have some segments ready to be filed and sanded.

One segment has been riveted onto a piece of copper that was textured with a leaf using my rolling mill. A copper bezel was soldered on and holes were drilled for attaching a chain.
The rest?
I need some pondering time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Inner Voice

Sometimes projects take unexpected turns and I end up with something different from what I initially planned. This piece of copper was first pulled out only to test a new texturing hammer. I started bashing away and really liked the patterns that appeared. I decided this was no longer just a testing piece of copper, and thought that I would use some of it as a base for a pin or pendant. Then I thought it would be a shame to cover up any of the texturing,
so plans changed.
I cut the textured areas in to strips and treated them with liver of sulphur to get a nice contrast with darkened patterning. I thought I would like the flat strips, but they were not inspiring me so I gave them a slight curve in my dapping block. The surfaces were rubbed with a fine sandpaper to get a matte finish and to. I was going to drill into one end to attach ear wires for dangling earrings, but then realized that these earrings needed to suggest more of an architectural accessory and should therefore not have movement. Again, plans changed.

I soldered earring posts onto the back,

and realized that another liver of sulphur treatment was needed to create a full, black finish on the back side.

I like the simplicity of these earrings. They are quite different from any earrings that I had previously made, and they only came about because I listened to that inner voice that kept telling me to go in a different direction.