Rolling Pin Harness

Still on a making frenzy I have been making the hand stitched harness for the rolling pin.  I haven’t been able to buy any clips yet but I still have been able to get on with the hand stitching.  The hand stitched ‘circles’ fit around the rolling pin and clip a strap to it.


Stories on a train

Travelling back from working in London for a couple of days, where generally you’ll walk around looking at people but not talking due to the fast paced life, it’s always good to jump on the train home. People going “back to yorkshire” always seem quite happy or ‘can’t wait to get home and get a brew on’ (sorry very stereotypical but that’s what’s just been said to me by the couple in question).

An elderly man was drawing away on a notepad. Being nosey I asked to see his sketches and he gladly showed me them. His wife chipped in that he’s always drawing! We then had a chat about art and skills and other things which was really…well just nice!

Then, as we approached their stop, they both started looking out the window and giggling and pointing. Afterward they turned back to me and the lady said thats where I used to live and where ‘he’ (husband) would throw his kitbag over the garden fence from the train when he was coming back from working in the Royal Marines. She said she would run out into the garden at 1am to retrieve it! He said it’s so he didn’t have to carry it back from the station. Her dad said she was crazy! Not crazy, just in love. The whole journey they just finished or repeated each other’s sentences. When they got off, the stop before me, they both waved when the train pulled out.

I love Yorkshire folk!

Fabric printing

Monday ended up being a case of right time right place.  I rang the digital fabric print technician to get some advise and costings on how much it would cost to print my fabric for the lining of the bag.  The bag is based around the last story I collected and the pages of hand written work book from 1941 that I photographed and created a patchwork layout from earlier (the week before).  As I was on the phone, she said, if you have the file now we can do it now and that’s exactly what we did!  It was like I mentioned in another post, one of those jobs that I would have continually put off, but actually the result was incredibly easy and took 30 minutes tops!  The patchwork pages came out better than I had hoped and had a real vintage look about them.  I was so happy with the result and this has spurred me on to get on with the actual bag.  I managed to do the pattern for this on Tuesday.  It feels like all the making has picked up again and I am looking forward to finishing some of the object.  I showed the fabric to the lady whose story I am making for and she thought it was beautiful.  I was so pleased she liked it!  That drives you further to make more.

Tasks I put off but actually enjoyed. 

I had worried about this particular job for ages. Because it was a new technique I’d not done and also because I shy away from precise detail and intricate jobs. I’m currently reading The Craftsman by Richard Sennett and he talks about how the craftsman sees “each imperfection as a failure” p46. This is how I feel so I end up leaving things until I have to do it or else!  It was on the morning of seeing the lady whose story this belongs to that I started stitching.  I prepped and moulded the leather the week before which actually, whilst listening to a podcast I just got on with.  Time felt normal (not too fast) and I just got on with making.  It made me really calm and I just went with what seemed right.  I tried to do a pattern but then it worked out better just working with the silicone directly rather than trying to be too precise.

Then marking the corners I mitred them using a stitch that crossed over at the back.  This is something I’ve never tried before but it worked well and gave the desired result.  Although I don’t know how this will end up being finished as I have changed the initial design it seems to be working the way I want it to go.

Working with my dad

I spent Tuesday after writing an abstract with my mum and dad. My parents have always been hugely influential in my ‘making’. My mum a self taught seamstress has always made me clothes and other things, in fact when I arrived one of the first things she showed me were two repaired items I had given her and a tweed stuffed reindeer head for on the wall at Christmas! In fact she’s made two! My love of fabric and making definitely was started by her.

My dad also has always been a maker and a do-er! He worked as an apprentice and was an engineer for much of his working life. I used to help him on a weeken with restoring his old car and we used to make alsorts of bits when I was little. So I knew he would know how to help with the brass soldering. 

Firstly, it started in a coffee shop on Saturday. I was telling him about how I intended to make the frame and showed him a picture of the jig I had made to cut the brass.  Thankfully he realised I’d cut the angle wrong on the jig and so it wouldn’t work. He had his own already and knew to clamo the metal, etc, things I wouldn’t have thought of. 

We cut the frame and then I thought I’d need to find someone to solder it, however after looking on YouTube we realised we could give it a go! 

Dad got a board and pins (again something I wouldn’t have thought of) and as in the top picture arranged the brass angle ready to solder. 

Telling me stories about metal working when he was an apprentice.  How they used to do it…stories that I’ve heard snippets of before which it always nice. Mum told me later that he’d won an award for being the best apprentice but hadn’t picked it up. He’s never blown his own trumpet about things, but quietly got on with the job… Filing metal square and cutting joint “like that”, getting me to hold things etc I learned a lot from it! Even the dog got in on the action! 

It also made me change the design slightly to show off more of the object rather than box it in with brass, due to technicalities and observation.

It was more than just getting the job done with my dad, but more the experience and time spent together learning new skills and remembering the experience and storytelling. This phd project seems to have become more than just making objects. More about experiences and building memories as well as preserving them. 

Remembering the power of making…!

Today I got my act together and started evaluating what I need to get done.  I wrote down all the things I’d started and began working on bits that I could.  One of the reasons for having a few bits, if not all bits on the go at the same time is that certain techniques take time and can’t be done straight away so it means I can flit from one to another without wasting time.

The piece above is the medal in the bottle.  This has actually changed from the original design idea of creating a bottle shape, again to the container.  It always seems to come back to items being container and this is what this is.  I wanted to create a leather frame around each side so the silicone is encased inside it.  I cut a template and then used this to make it in leather.  Then soaked the leather in hot water before moulding it into place round the object and wrapping in cling film to hold it in the right place until dry.  I’m not sure I got it completely right but practicing the technique was useful.  It was calm and I felt like the time was going slow enough to enjoy the process.

I spent a bit of time working with the Airforce file for one of the participants ‘Karen’.  Her mother kept this whilst training for the WAAF in the 1940s.  She used to carry a Bayswater style bag and so I am hoping to make a leather bag wither with this print of the notebooks on the outside of the leather or on the lining …. still thinking and may ask the participant as an element of co-production.

IMG_4551Playing with some smaller bits of leather I wanted to work out how I could attach small D rings to the leather strap that makes up part of the harness for the rolling pin.  I tried a technique that I haven’t used before making a letterbox and threading the leather through and gluing the straps on the underside.  It felt satisfying to be experiementing and learning techniques I hadn’t used before.


I also started drawing up the frames for the brass shoes and watch and will work on these on Monday.  I hope to do more making over the weekend as beginning to remember how much I enjoy being a maker!



Facing the hard bits

So it’s starting to get real again.  My PhD study seems to go in waves… I have times where I get time to really get into it, then end up at some points trying to keep my head above water as i’m drowning in the rest of my working life work!

I thought I was doing OK until the other day. I had a tutorial and realised that I need to set myself some goals for making.  It’s funny, I seem to try and ‘save’ the making as I find this the best part, yet actually one of my supervisors reminded me that the reading and the making need to go hand in hand.  I will have to do both at the same time….It’s sometimes tricky to get my head round, but then actually I should just get on with it and see how it goes.  Also I forget i’ve got 3 more years so if the making happens sooner then that’s longer for the writing up at the end.

I’ve also found a few conferences and exhibition things I want to apply for….I need to get on with those asap!  I think I’ll be on it at the weekend too….

So now I need to make a plan….Plan what I will get done by Christmas.  Then I have some goals to reach.

I’m excited.