London Inspiration

I have begun to get back into reading over the past week….When I say get back into reading, I have found lots of papers and started to organise what I had.  I’ve found old papers I had printed and tried to work out what use they would be but now after doing a chapter plan it seems to be coming together.

I am trying to remember the best way to read and write up what I found out, but that stage is proving slightly difficult.

Having come down to London for work stuff I managed to visit the Tate Britain and the Rachel Whiteread exhibition.  It was this and looking hard at a resin cast of a door that I had a moment of clarity.  I sat on the floor and wrote a list of my objects and how the finished artefacts would become a container for memory.  This will make up part of my object analysis when I get onto that.  It was one of those things that suddenly became clear and I remembered why I was doing the project.  It made me double check my decisions and in a few instances, re- design the ideas I’ve come up with.  I need to do a few sketches again too.  It has made me passionate about the making again as well, but I still find it hard as to how I am going to fit it all in…..

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Lathe and the Rolling pin 

Last week I wrote in my diary to remember to go and talk to one of the technicians about wood.  It was about what woods worked well on the lather, but also which would make the best rolling pin.  I’ve used a lathe before, being an Ex D&T teacher I had a lathe in my classroom and found turning very therapeutic.  Also at school my own D&T teacher Mr Cass, taught me how to use a lathe at 15.  I made a solitaire board  and bowl….my parents still have it.

Anyways I went off to a local timber yard and asked them for some wood.  Birch primarily, but actually looking and feeling them, beech felt a better fit.  As I didn’t need much I was taken into the workshop and shown the scraps.  I then had two 50cm 5cmx5cm lengths cut to make a ‘test’ and a ‘real’ rolling pin.  THey gave me the wood, which I was truely touched.  I thought that was really nice….Maybe people don’t go in much requesting small bits to make rolling pins from!

I took it to the technician last Friday and he planned the edges of one piece and showed me how to set up, hold the tools, how to tell if the wood was fully round by balancing the chisel on whilst it was still spinning, how to create a pencil line right round, how to use callipers to get each side even.  How to use sandpaper and then the woods own sawdust to get a fine and actually shiny surface to the wood.  I thought at first, this is the rolling pin I will use!  Then he said, now I’ve taught you, you can have a go next week….!  I actually felt like an apprentice.  It was great that he’s passed on those skills.  Very Walter Benjamin passing on and telling stories etc.  Need to read more about craft….!

Stumbling across stories

I had an amazing story told to me the other day, just on the off chance as I was passing.  The person showed me an object and started telling me about her mother and how it had belonged to her.  She also spoke, in relation to the object how her mother was very into ‘make do and mend’ and the object reflected that.  She talked about how she’d always thought about making something out of it…a new artefact….exactly what I want to do….!  It was quite strange.  I got an overwhelming desire to help realise her dream of wanting to create an artefact.  I asked if she would like to tell me her story and thankfully she agreed.

On one side I feel a bit naughty as my collection process is technically over and I am on with most objects, however the other part of me felt this was a story that needed to be added, taking the total (I think) up to 10.  There may be objects that in the end don’t end up as finished as I hope due to people moving on or wanting not to be involved in the end, but I think 10 is manageable anyway.

Looking forward to adding to the collection.

Plymouth Making Futures

Not just any old conference, but one that you have to get on a ferry to get to it!!!!  The Plymouth Making Futures was hosted at the stately home on Mount Edgecumbe Country Park.

It was a really exciting conference to go to, because conferences I have attended previously, bar the fashion design ones have never had a ‘making’ focus.  It was really exciting to hear the different ideas of making, how people are using it either, for wellness, in industry, for archeology, for historical reference.  How people come up with ideas.  What craft is and will become.  It was so interesting.  I have realised or feel like I need to up my presenting game.  I get very anxious before I present and so need to think of a way of presenting that I can ad lib but also so I know what I need to say.  That will be my next challenge.

GingerBread Men and Women again

I decided to make the ginger bread recipe again and re-film as the first time I’d used the wrong sugar and so they came out a bit grainy.  I re-filmed it and again the same feelings of reading the story, hearing the interviewee talk etc came flooding back.  I really need to start reading into the transferal of emotions as its so funny how every time I start making the ‘memories’ I’ve been told come flooding back.

I took them when I went to meet the participant and when she tasted one she exclaimed “the taste instantly takes me back”, which was a really nice reaction.  She also complimented me on how they were made and explained the reason her mother had made girls and boys was for when they sold in the shop, little girls wanted girls and little boys wanted a boy.  A nice addition to the story.

It feels like each time I re-meet participants they are continually building on this memory that has begun, almost to the point that I feel like I knew the person or lived the memory myself.

3D printing and Gingerbread

The rolling pin story object began to come into its own today.  I managed to print a sample of the rolling pin (a quarter) to test to see how the writing would look when imprinted onto dough. It was funny as the drawing of the rolling pin was sliced up and printed on the ‘makerbot’ and watching how it printed the layers was fantastic.  It actually still felt like I was making it and seeing the words appear was quite emotional.

Tonight I decided to put the pin to the test!  I aquired a girl and boy gingerbread cookie cutter as per the recipe and got all set up.  I also filmed the process to document what I was doing and how I was feeling whilst making the recipe.  It was quite an emotional experience, reading somebodies hand writing and following their instructions to see how it would work.  As well as making the gingerbread people I practiced printing into the dough with the section of rolling pin and it worked so well!  I was shocked at how good an impression I got from it to be honest!  When it baked it disappeared slightly but I think I need to roll the dough thinner.  I was wondering what I want to actually do with the gingerbread people after making or what I can do with the participant…?  Like getting the participant to use the rolling pin and see her mothers words be printed?  I will have  think.

On the plus side I took the biscuits to a friends child’s 2nd birthday party and they went down a treat!  It was quite rewarding actually, seeing people who I knew and had only just met sharing this recipe that had been hidden in a book, but was now again being enjoyed by a number of people.  I will have to tell my participant about it!