Making things simple

The Dip Pen Wand Project


Over the last few months, I have been engaged in a new project which has been very succsessfull.
The Dip Pen Wand Project. This project has been my first experience in producing, marketing and then delivering items which have not been one of a kind.

I have learnt a lot! The first thing that I learnt was that it is doable, If you’re looking to do something different chances are some people will give advice which might be discouraging but if you have an idea and the drive chances are it might take some time but it will be doable.
The second thing I learnt was that experts like to share their knowledge. I joined groups of people who have launched products before and asked questions like when is it best to launch and end a campaign for crowdfunding. Tuesday after most people have a payday to start and Thursday half way through the month to end are the statistically best days to aim for.

The third thing I learnt was that production and good technique make things a lot easier faster. I had good technique before I started but after turning 25 dip pens in a day I have improved considerably and no longer make any mistakes :).

Most of the pens and pen wands are now travelling to their new owner’s locations and should be enjoyed for many years to come.

Meanwhile, I will use the funds gathered through crowdfunding to build a stock to sell at events like ComicCon and create an online store which will be coming soon.


Making something from nothing

Making a lamp for my little sister has been on the to do list for longer than I would like to admit.
It isn’t often that the right peace of wood is available as an idea hits and I wanted a spectacular peace of wood for my little sisters lamp. So in no rush I left the lamp on the back burner until something really nice happened to be available.

Recently I revisited some of my old sketchpads where I develop concepts and ideas before creating things as physical objects. and started to think about how I could create things now with the skills and ideas I have developed since the initial concept.

In reality this lamp was created entirely from scrap woods which were destined for the fire. Their are two different types of ply wood represented as well as scraps of walnut, but from these humble beginnings I think  something nice has been created.

Common and Classic Shapes

It seems to me that a lot of people look to teachers and designers to tell them about the perfect shapes and relationships.. Rules have been created like the rule of thirds which help to inform designers how to make things which are pleasing to the eye.
I tend to think that design is often a case of survival of the fittest.  Where if an object is functional it stands a better chance of being kept and if it has form or decoration which is pleasing it increases its likelihood of sticking around because there is no reason to get rid of it.

Today I visited the Great Northern Wood show and talked to some fascinating makers and designers. The conversation which stuck with me and resonated most strongly was an overheard conversation with Mark Baker an editor for Woodworkers Institute (he is also a really pleasant fella) and a young child who looked to be around 11 years old and was taken with the idea of making things. The young man picked up one of Marks forms and said it looked like a pumpkin to which Mark grinned and explained that it was a fantastic observation before explaining that often when bowls cannot be manufactured in developing world the outer flesh of gourds or anything available would be used as dishes and they are extremely functional in their use.

This conversation allowed me to start thinking about the proto shapes of design in a new way. I like to spend time looking at why things are made in a certain way and wondering what if… I think it helps to develop new ideas. I left the show looking at the shapes being produced and not only wondering what could be done to make them more interesting but also thinking about what the first iteration of the design might have been.

Quick sticks

Here is a project I did ages ago but haven’t documented.

Their a pair of quick sticks or bespoke super sized knitting needles.

The idea of having great big needles meas you can complete a large project with less stitches in a quicker time.

I chose to make them in the style of some old dress makers pins I can remember my grandma using when I was a wee one.

Its fun to ask non knitters what they think they are. Iv had anything from musical instruments when you bang them together to parts of a vampire protection kit.

How to win at Christmas

I was doing an interview with the fantastic videographer Maxine Tomlinson the other day and the subject of Christmas came up naturally in the conversation.
I had been talking about the reclamation of woods from listed houses and other interesting places where the narrative of the place the wood came from can become part of the story of the object being made. I think for many of the people who have asked me to make something awesome for them the story of getting something made and the decisions and considerations involved in the production of anything they commission make the object a lot more interesting than something which has merely been picked up from a shelf.  They tend to value the object and everything about it in a much deeper way.

I think working with a designer or crafts person to create something truly special for the people you care about is a far more pleasant experience than the frustrations of facing town or city crowds in the cold and wet. I find shopping for loved ones by going to traditional shops is often a fruitless task. Off the shelf products are rarely the gifts I want to give to the people I care most about.

So this year I will mainly be giving hand made one of a kind creations to the people I love most.

If you are looking for the perfect gift I would recommend doing the same.
Handmade gifts are fantastic! If you are making things for others then the people receiving them will be able to see the time and care you have put into your creations. If you like many others are not a crafter or a maker or an artist then you might want to seek out the makers who you would like to commission something truly unique from.
The great thing about commissioning the artists and makers you like is the gift works in a number of great ways:
1 you have an awesome gift which will be received gratefully making you look like a fantastic person who put time and effort into finding the right gift.
2 you have just invested in the artist or maker whose work you like so much. (There work will get more cool and that will pay off next time you need a fantastic present for someone)
3 you don’t have to suffer town on Christmas

As a maker I might be a bit bias in my opinion that a made Christmas is the best Christmas. But this year I think I will win at giving the best gifts.

The Chess Bowl

I enjoy being able to take an idea and create it.
One of the works I am most proud of is the Chess Bowl. I created this dish when I was relatively new to wood turning for a competition. Up until the creation of this dish I had only turned solid wood without any lamination or pattern design. This dish represents a turning point where a world of design possibilities became apparent.

I have joked with people saying the chess dish represents the conclusion of mutually assured destruction tactics, the result not only being no one having the ability able to win a game of chess but essentially the game not being able to be played again.

The perfect box

I was once told the best tool for the job is the one you have access to. This wisdom has served me very well. But I started to question it when I needed a box recently to put a present in for a friend of mine. I could have used any old box but ended up making one to make the gift extra perfect.
In honer of this gift box I thought my readers might like to see what goes into creating a 5 part lidded box on the lathe.

The Eddison lamp experement

I would like to start a kickstarter campaign in the near future with the aim of producing 25 exquisite lamps.
These lamps will be made using the finest components by award winning crafts men and women. My stretch goal will be to produce 50 of these lamps.

The award winning Paper Pen

I recently made a nice pen for my wife who suffers from fibromyalgia.
The pen is designed to be easier for her to grip, being a more ergonomic shape in order to reduce the risk of her hands becoming sore.

I created a how to guide for anyone else looking to make a pen like this and published it on the instructables website.

The how to guide has been voted as a winner in there paper competition and I should find out which prize it won later today.

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