Monthly Archives: February 2016

Trophies IX… Embargo

I was going to put up the next bit of work on the trophy project but I have decided to place an embargo on it.

I am still registered as a physiotherapist and as such should not bring the profession into disrepute.  I think that the work, a medal of dishonour, is likely to offend someone somewhere.  If I keep it private, like my thoughts on politics and religion, I can feel confident that no one can say my actions are bringing the profession of physiotherapy into disrepute.  Once I come off the register, I shall add the piece to this blog.

Any comments on  whether you think that I’m being a bit of wimp, please let me know!


According to McGee, an independent gallery in York run by Greg & Ails McGee, has turned photographs of pictures of work of 1st year students into posters, which are now hanging in the Fossgate Social, and Greg & Ails also gained an piece the local paper, York Press – many thanks to them.

Liz O Connell’s work is the delightful yellows, greens and red, mine is the edge of bowl [the photo is in a Vimeo clip on the earlier blog on raising bowls], Tom Child’s poster is of the wooden bowl held aloft by swirls of metal, and Jan Easton’s poster shows the wonderful colours that can occur when soldering [sorry the pictures aren’t the best].

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Trophies VIII … bubbling up

It is often said that we live in our “own little bubbles”. Indeed, on the internet, search engines tailor results of searches to fit better with your previous searches [please see Eli Pariser’s TED talk “Beware of online filter bubbles”]. So if we’re all in bubbles, and you bring bubbles together, they form a foam.

I have tried ideas about making solid foams [dehydrating sucrose with concentrated sulphuric acid – dangerous but great to watch], making foams with some clay, using alternatives to bubbles and most recent relies on golf balls.  A guy called Plateau came up with rules about how bubbles fit together – regardless of size – but the rules sort of apply to close packed golf balls. Surfaces of three bubbles meet at 120 degrees and these “edges’ so to speak, form a tetrahedron. Same stuff sort of happens with packing golf balls tightly together, the spaces in between the balls follow the 120 deg and tetrahedron layouts. Each ball “kisses” 12 others and the points of kissing have a great deal of symmetry though the packing. Here are my plaster casts and I have drilled out the kiss points to open up the structure.

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Ed, our terrific course leader, suggested maybe trying ping pong balls as they might be cut out with less damage to the cast.  150 of ’em should arrive tomorrow!  Great, lots to play with but there is the problem that ping pong balls float very well.  Almost there for catching up.  More soon, Vincent

Trophies VII… Tying myself up in knots

My thoughts on social networks quickly turned to the net part of the word ‘internet’.  So, I explored how to craft nets and found stuff ranging from natives of Northern Canada using birch bark and gut or sinew to make nets to YouTube “How To…” videos of making nets by hand. First get your netting needle – so I made one out of a bit of wood that was to hand and tried making nets following the videos BUT it is very difficult!


There is a knack to getting the knot to tie in just the right place over the preceding loop – otherwise what you thought was a knot just slides up and down on the previous loop and all consistency in mesh size [technical term to size of holes] disappears. Moreover, the small bits of net I did make – and they were small – were of a large mesh size that wouldn’t translate to a trophy.

Before we move on to making more nets, I had considered getting loads of small railway modellers’ figures and making a mould of them interlinked – each body like the knot of a net – but I abandoned that idea as a bit twee. Then I though of making a big net needle – and here’s where making yourself vulnerable comes in – as the trophy…


…but as you can see it does not merit further consideration [whilst the little bodies was a bit twee, this idea of a large netting needle is crass!].

What if I make a net of smaller mesh size? It will need a thin net needle and that will need to be long so that it can carry enough twine to make net without having to stop and reload it. Here is that needle before [a new kitchen spatula], “naked”, and loaded with green twine and with my hand for scale plus some net too.
















Jill had a little better success in making net but it was still of too large a mesh and hard to construct.  Moreover, I’d have to get any into a more solid form to be part of a trophy or work out how to make it “hang” successfully as part of a trophy.

Looks like two more blogs and we’ll have caught up on the Trophy project and the course!  That hasn’t taken long has it? Vincent

Trophies VI – spirals

One of my lines of thought for trophies has been how to represent exponential growth in social media – the trophy is supposed to be for someone [or group] who/which has contributed to social development using the internet.  I thought that spirals might might be a starting point but  how to do that??

Did think of how lots of straight lines can form a curve….


… And used fine brazing rod spot-welded together: Takes a lot of care to get it hot enough to form an acceptable weld but not too hot to melt both rods and have it go floppy or fall apart.  Samples made so drew out a spiral quickly using a compass [draw increasing quadrants with each one meeting its neighbour as if smooth curve – I’ll draw it out as a blog if asked!].  BIG MISTAKE!.  In my rush to get something manageable and enough spiral I made an Archimedean spiral [constant rate of growth] rather than one with exponential [logarithmic] growth, like in snail shells.













Not the first time something like that has happened, the logarithmic spiral sometimes called the Spira mirabilis, [Latin for “miraculous spiral”], was of great interest to the mathematician  Jacob Bernoulli for how many things remain constant in such spirals as they evolve.  Because of his fascination with the spire mirabilis,  Jacob wanted such a spiral engraved on his headstone along with the phrase “Eadem mutata resurgo” (“Although changed, I shall arise the same.”), but, by error, an Archimedean spiral was placed there instead.

Hey ho, back to the drawing board as it were….  Vincent

Trophies V – More bowls!

I’ve been trying to throw bowls on the potters wheel but thought I would not publish the results until I had glazed them; then there’s the opportunity to comment on shape and glaze all in one go [and not bore you with sowing them twice],

The pictures are in the order of throwing; some pots in clay from the college’s pug mill and some in posh stuff straight from the bag.  Earlier stuff made it into the kiln for bisque firing before I got round to tidying the bases – hence the rough bottoms.

The glazing is interesting in so far as the type of clay affects how the glaze appears with the iron in the pugged clay adding more brown to the end result. So, the “blue” on the second bowl is the same glaze as on the fourth bowl and the greeny/grey on the third bowl is the same glaze as on the last bowl.   Also, the pugged clay apparently had some “terracotta” clay in it [ie a clay that prefers a cooler firing] which bubbled during the high firing for the glaze.  There is clearly a huge amount to learn and lots of testing to be done.











































Not sure what come next…… Vincent

Trophies IV – or raising a bowl

I enjoyed making the cup shapes out of flat copper and went to find out more in the library. There I found a DVD from the Goldsmiths’ Company on how to raise a silver jug from a flat sheet of silver.  Clear instruction but could I do it?  The results so far suggested that I should try. The video below isn’t really a video but a set of pictures I took to record the process after each round of beating, annealing, and cleaning – it’s a couple of mins long and the last few pictures were taken with our camera [not my phone] to try and capture the bowl edge & inside.  As I get better at both making and blogging, I’ll try to make some video clips of the processes and me making stuff.

Since I made the bowl, I’ve read Benventuto Cellini’s Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture.  Far from being a deeply technical text, he talks of how he worked for various important people and of quarrels and, of course, how to make stuff.  Funnily enough, his description of how to make a vase could have been used to guide the makers of the DVD – little if any change in practice since the 1540s!

I will soon have caught up with my day-to-day activities at college.  That said, I’ve got some longer “Pages” to write on a variety of topics.

Cheers, Vincent

Trophies III

Do you recall that I made two copper “cups”, each with 4 pointy bits to them?  Well, I explored making them into sconces [wall brackets for candles] but the more successful outcomes were trying to mount them as goblets on stems made from various welding rods.  Worked on different foot design and whether to have thinner or thicker rod [needs latter otherwise they are prone to total meltdown while trying to weld]. So, here are some sample photos; I’ve not fully mounted the cups on the stems as I still think I might explore the sconce idea some more.  Moreover, it would probably make sense to use copper wire rather than the copper coated, mild steel welding rods, which have solder cores.

I think the stem with the flattened out feet works best [at the bottom of the set. I had thought of trying to make each like a claw but didn’t think that would easy or a practical end result .  I would welcome any comments you may have on which you prefer and why…. Vincent.


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Elizabeth Frink

Hilary [one of Jill’s sisters] kindly gave me the catalogue of the Elizabeth Frink exhibition at the Djanogly Gallery in Nottingham. The exhibition finishes at the end of February and I am pleased that I saw it last week.

My knowledge of Frink’s work before the catalogue arrived was of large-jawed ruggedly finished bronze men, often with faces painted white or having polished goggles.  I was delighted to see the animals, the birds, the drawings and the robed figures.  But I was moved by seeing the range of work at the gallery.

Photography, unfortunately, only allows one perspective on a sculpture and even moving round a sculpture filming limits the angles seen to those chosen by the person moving the camera.  Moreover, with any photographic process, there are the subtle effects of depth of field, contrast and brightness, which the human eye “sorts out” to its own liking when seeing the actual object. So, from the limits of our humble camera, here’s a few shots not in the catalogue.

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Cheers, Vincent


A Mobile Proposal

This is another interjection into the timeline of the blog as there are still a few bits from earlier in 2015 to add.  However, I offer a video and the voiceover text which are about my mobile. I hope that you you can follow how the idea has changed from lots of bits spread out and swinging past each other to a more slender and elongate.

By the way, “Follow me” buttons for email, and social media accounts pop up if you click the comment button.  Also, there are thumbs up and thumbs down buttons for each blog entry.

Many thanks for keeping an eye on what I’m doing.     Vincent

In December I had thought of making a mobile based on the winged seeds of either sycamore or larch or, perhaps, both.

I made two seeds out of flip chart paper. The one based on larch hung vertically  as it would fall and the sycamore I hung horizontally as it would fall and then vertically to see how it compared with the larch seed. I felt that the vertical hanging made too much of the seed visible and less graceful.  Preferring the sycamore seed I made some more and hung them downstairs as two columns to see how they moved together and when there was a small draft.

Happy with the general shape I made some more and had thoughts of circles and mobile arms.  The mobiles by Alexander Calder recently displayed at Tate Modern did not have the horizontal hanging or suspension on nylon fishing line.  I had thought of using bamboo canes but had a lot of frustration and some breakages so, today [Friday], Jill helped me hang the five strands of seeds at college.

They swirl gracefully with little wind and fast when the outside door opens. Seen from below and now from above and remembering how they looked at eye level, I want to suspend four columns not five from the third floor into the atrium to hang from third floor floor level down to first floor ceiling.