Rolling pin complete

There are a number of elements I want to discuss as part of the rolling-pin piece that I managed to complete yesterday.  This piece has required the most support from other people, although all pieces have had an input from people I know.  This piece required learning from others, developing new techniques and chosing between techniques that seemed right or wrong.  It also involved a lot of experimentation to see what I actually wanted to create in the end.  I also wasn’t really sure what the end product would be like even though I knew what I wanted to create from the initial design.

The rolling-pin journey saw me learning new skills such as 3D studio max back in the summer.  This was because I initially wanted to create a rolling pin that would print the hand written recipe into the dough of the actual recipe.  With the help of specialists in this area I managed to create a section of rolling pin that was printed on a 3D printer to use on the dough.  Although this was not my initial design idea, I always wanted an element of 3D text within the design.  For a while after I had done this I was really excited about how it could be rolled into the dough, however it did not fully feel like my work.

I had gotten people to help me and because my knowledge of the computer programme was limited I would have had to settle with what was produced for me.  I lost all creative control and therefore I didn’t feel like I was transmitting the story as the maker into the piece.  I got swept up in the novelty that the finished piece would be able to be used on the actual dough to create the ginger bread.

However going back to my initial design idea of the rolling-pin I wanted to have the handwriting of the person around the rolling pin embedded within the silicone, so the writing was not a physical, present element but a ghostly impression wrapped round the rolling pin, telling the story of what the rolling pin would have made when it was used.

Collection 6 clean

As I was in the studio, trying to use the 3D software a colleague of mine was using the UV printer.  Just as a offchance I ended up watching the process and thought nothing of it.  Walking back to the car that evening I suddenly worked out how I could produce the cylinder component of my original design.  I wouldn’t have to use the 3D software and get help, I could 3D print the words, wrap it round a centre core and then have an outer tube to pour the silicone between.  I emailed my colleague who asked me to come along the following monday with hos students so I could see how to do it myself.  Much like the creation of the actual rolling-pin using the lathe and being taught to do that, I worked alongside students, was demonstrated the technique and then produced the file myself to be printed on the UV printer.  By printing onto acetate it meant that teh surface when the silicone was poured onto it would always be shiny.  We printed to a relied of 0.6mm.

IMG_4835From this, I worked with the 3D printer and technician, to produce an inner core tube that fitted exactly over the rolling-pin.  This felt OK as it was a part of the process and not a finished component.  The text was then wrapped around this with double-sided tape and then an outer tube with an 8mm gap was sourced and put around the outside leaving a cavity for the silicone to be poured.  I felt in my element, as I was back to working with techniques that I feel my expertise lie in and so as well as working out the process, when doing familiar tasks my mind was able to wander back to processing the story and thinking of the participants.

Having poured the silicone and with a lot of force and washing up liquid, the tube of silicone was set and complete with amazing accuracy and probably better than I’d hoped.  To be able to get it out of the mould was difficult requiring destroying the inner tube, however I was able to get the silicone out using tools that had been made especially for me to my specifications by my friend and blacksmith who lives over the road.  Without these tools the job would have been so much harder!


The finsihed pieces…


It has felt very much like co production throughout this piece, from the story-teller to the number of different people who have had an input or supported the making in one way or the other.  I am so happy my gut and head told me to create the piece that I had proposed and that I didn’t settle.  It feels with this research that I couldn’t settle anyway…. It has to be right…!



Bag patterning and making

Before I started my PhD I did my MA in which I learned traditional leather working skills including bag making. Bag making is something I continued to do until the last couple of years.  Having gained a story that the product required a bag making I was quite glad to try to utilise the skills again.  The bag in the story is one that resembles a Mulberry Bayswater style bag and so having researched into this I found it was a flap top bag with handles.  On my first attempt I did not enjoy doing a mock-up because as I was sewing I knew it wasn’t right but I kept persevering with it, however I know that I won’t be able to line it and that where the leather joins in places won’t accomodate the lining so I need to have a re-think as to the construction.  This is not a bad thing though as I think I tried too hard to replicate something, rather than channeling the story and letting it grow and develop through that.  I will look more into this later.  I did however buy some beautiful leather from Roy at Metropolitan Leathers.  It is so nice and soft and clean…..!  Looking forward to working with it.

Inetesting again how the process has to fit the story or else the object and myself don’t feel right……



Trains are so good for reading and thinking. The last couple of days I’ve been working in Manchester and so I’ve been on the train by 7.30 each morning and spent an hour can chug up with research reading. Both texts… Richard Sennett, the Craftsman and Peter Korn, why we make things and why it matters have given me a real excitement regarding craft and making . I’ve been underlining and note making like a crazy lady! It actually made me wish I had a commute in the morning as that time is then designated to reading where I don’t seem to have that time anywhere else…. I seem to read better ‘in transit so maybe I need to start jumping on a few trains on a research day and visiting some galleries. The problem I find is that at home I get easily distracted and wander off when I’m starting to get to interesting bits because I get over excited! Also reading later for me is hard so actually the early morning read works really well. I may have to work out how to take advantage of this.


Hand stitching rolling pin ends is one of the next jobs.  This is for the harness that it will hang from and below shows the construction of the loops.  I worked out how to secure the D rings by cutting a letter box style hole and then skiving the leather on the back to fold and glue on the underside.  The stitch holes were all punched out and then using a linen thread, the same as the square leather frame I stitched the edges.  This as i mentioned before is very therapeutic and rhythmical and lets you get into the swing of it.  I enjoyed making these bits and so now the rolling pin just needs its printed sheath to be complete.  Nearly 2 objects done! 

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.