Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Week of Shop-Keeping

Hurrah, I did it. And it was a laugh, sitting in the shop all week, if a bit chilly! 

The shop/gallery is in a pretty old street in a slightly shabby part of town, but let's think of it as a little bit 'Rive Gauche' `(as in Paris) rather than shabby, shall we?

It was in Nunns Yard on St Augustines Street: http://www.nunnsyard.co.uk/


Interesting to see what people liked, bought, thought about, talked about.  I had a couple of very interesting conversations with random passers-by. One was with a man who spent £3000 on a piece of art last year and hasn't told his wife, and doesn't know what to do with it (the artwork). And he thought my work was too expensive! (I had things from £1.00 up to £950).  And he kept asking 'What d'you do with it though? What's it for?' He got slightly annoyed with me because I wouldn't tell him how much my laser cutter cost. Bless him though. I can't tell you more or it might identify him and then he'd be in trouble with the missus!

Do visit my Etsy shop if you want to do some Christmas shopping. Or if you are in the ast of England come and see me and you can have a cuppa and browse the items in my front room!

How many of your 'rellies could you sort out for Christmas with a few Skellies? Or flat-pack snowflakes, candelabra and Christmas trees? Easy!

Bright Little Skellies £10 each  (3 inches)
Middle Sized white Skellies £30
Colourful Skull brooches £20 (not on Etsy yet, you'll have to private message me about these if you want one.)

Here are some photos of the inside of the shop and the goods for sale. 

 Christmas Skellie bauble £90, not on Etsy yet

Enlarged parchment roses... Well, why not? Eh?

Twelvmemo Glass Casts which are from an artist's residency I did for the Millenium!  Some one with exquisite taste bought two of these (£50 each, but she got a little discount, just a little one.)

People did seem to like these acrylic and mdf in-laid feathers and I sold several of these at £10 each

Simply haven't ever managed to get a good photo of this piece of work, so a couple of details are all I shall give you for the mo!

(It's the piece in the middle of the wall, below the beam in this picture. Trouble is there is so much mirror that you can't take the whole thing without being in the picture too, which ain't quite what I want!)

So, just thought I'd let you know how that went. Now I have done it I need to get on with a few other things. 

Like Twelvemo manufacture! 
And making a centrifugal casting machine

Went and spoke to a chap in a proper, clanky, messy, greasy engineering shop, out of town, where they actually make engines of various kinds. Anyway, I think I may have found the motor and interrupter that I need for my machine. 

I almost forgot to write this development up so if you read all the way this far I'd like to congratulate and thank you!

The motor is nice. Not too loud,  with a longish shaft ( the bit with red tape on sticking out to the left. The motor needs to be mounted to point upright.

The other thing, the interrupter, is way more expensive. That's the bit I really want. It will allow anything from 1 rev per minute, up to 3000 revs per minute, controlled by a dial that feels smooth and nice.  Have sent the info to my engineer friend who will help me adapt it. 

Will keep you posted on what happens next.

Don't forget to go shopping. You know it makes sense!


Please spread the word! 
Please pass it on! 
Please show and tell! 

I am so sticking my neck out on this self employment lark I have got to make it work! You  people can help!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

For a Limited Period Only...

I have been beavering away in my workshop and planning an event for the end of the month. I know most of you people are flung rather far and wide, but if any of you are passing through Norwich at the end of November please do drop in and say hello! This is going to be quite good fun really I think. Opening afternoon is Monday 25th November, from 3 pm ish to about 7 or so.  Join me then for a glass of wine! 

Items below are for sale on my Etsy shop

Large Skellie is the cupboard is about 29cm and cost £70
The large Skellie on its own is £40

Small Skellie is the cupboard is about 15cm and costs £50
The small Skellie on its own is £20

These tiny wee Skellies are 10cm cm tall (4 inches)  and cost £10 each 

Each one comes packed in a little bag of black, white or ivory organza. 

You ought really to buy yourselves a whole handful of them! 
(Send me a private message and I'll cut you a deal for multiple purchases of Skellie Babies)

Go on... Unique and bargainous!


You can probably tell that I have  been having a great deal of fun making these items, though I am now pretty knackered as I have been staying up till stupid-o-clock far too many nights in a row, and it hasn't been without its misadventures I can tell you. 

I kind of crashed my fabulous machine one night recently. God knows how, but one bit got jammed under another and I couldn't get the cutting bed to move down. It auto focused on a gap in the acrylic sheet and the pointer got stuck in the bed, then it tried to re-set itself. Or maybe that was me that tried to re-set it.... I have a show to put on it one week and the technical people are in Dublin. I thought that was it - no more Skellies or parchment roses or flat-pack Christmas trees... 

Anyway, I took the front off, and then the sides, to have a look, thought about taking a more scary bit off, remembered the warranty and didn't, fiddled and peered, until eventually, with patient and skilled use of a tiny allen key I succeeded in removing the ruler wedging the laser arm down on the bed, and LO! I got it up and running again two hours after it crashed. 

Most of the two hours had been spent peering and puzzling how to get to anything I could do anything to that might help.  Happy? Oh, Sweet Heaven! I felt like I had crashed a Ferrari or something, and escaped to find that I am unharmed and the car is fine. Very lucky me. Have been wary of the auto focus ever since.

If you have got this far down you are obviously fairly interested so I am going to paste the whole of the poem I wrote to promote the shop before I realised it was just the littlest bit too much for a flier... 
Roll Up! Roll Up!

To Sarah's Little Pop-Up Shop:

A Slightly Retrospective Rummage Sale

Of Creative Curiosities and Diverse Delights

To All And Sundry

The World And His Wife

You Me And The Gate-Post (Plus One Or More)

Are Invited To Turn Up (As And When)

At Nunns Yard

Between 10am and 6pm

25th-29th November

(Also 30th November 9am to 12 Noon)

To View And Perchance To Purchase

From A Weird And Wonderful Array

Of Odds And Ends (And Bits And Bobs)

Gimcracks And Gew-Gaws

Knick Knacks And What-Nots

A Bit Of This And A Bit Of That

One Thing And Another

Funny Peculiar

And Funny Ha-Ha

Ornate And Elaborate

Some Exhibits Are Guaranteed To Contain

Missing And Incomplete Parts

Including But Not Limited To

Laser Cut Novelties

Skeletons In The Cupboard

Paper Christmas Trees

Tiny Silver Dancers

Flat Pack Candelabra

Parchment Roses

Handmade Books

Etchings And Screen-Prints

And Fired Glass Panels

25th - 29th November Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm

And Saturday 30th 9am - 12 Noon

Nunns Yard, 31 St Augustines St, Norwich, NR3 3BY

Right, that's all for now folks. Sorry I don't seem able do regular blogging like a normal person. I do binge blogging. You've been very good to read all the way and can go and make yourselves a cup of tea now. Or after you have shared and commented of course. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Posting in Three Parts

Part 1: Various Disappointments

Sorry to have been away for so long. 
No news is not good news, it just means there is no news.

The first factory have stopped replying to my emails entirely now (why they kept up the replies so long is beyond me). I have written it off to to bad luck and ignorance.  Eventually I found another factory that said they could do it. That was a long story in itself, as there were two factories in the running. I was all set to go ahead with a specialist doll making factory when the contact said something about stringing the dolls together. When I pointed out that no stringing was involved with my design they suddenly said they couldn't do it, that they couldn't make these shaped parts. So I went with the other factory. Not specialist doll making one, but very highly recommended to me by someone whose credentials I trust. We went through all the hoo-hah of negotiating etc and sending off my master.  They sent me the first samples a couple of days before I went off on holiday, one painted and one unpainted. The samples looked fine and I was excited.

However… The pieces don't fit together well. In fact they hardly fit at all. In a supreme wind-up the first joint went really well, and then all the rest were awful. You can imagine how depressing this was. Parts are somehow too big to fit inside each other, and the resin is brittle and has no flex in it. I think many of the problems are to do with an additive they use, which adds bulk. It's calcium carbonate (chalk powder) and it's added at between 55 and 60%. I am waiting for another sample with a much lower percentage and we'll see what that is like. But also they had muddled up a couple of the pieces and so I have two left knee joints and no right knee. This doesn't work as the parts for left and right sides are not interchangeable. If they can sort the resin mix out then we will address this other problem. So I am trying to resolve it with this factory but it is a tiny bit tortuous...

So frustrating, but patience, people, patience… Just you wait till you hear the next development!!!

Part 2: People - they are Extraordinary!

Before I went on holiday I sent an email to a customer who purchased from me last year. She had got a very good example of Twelvemo, and I asked if I could buy it back from her, as I am concerned at how the masters get damaged or do not get returned in the casting process. I promised the customer that she would get two in return, eventually, at no charge, if she could agree with my request. I explained in some detail why I was asking for this, and how much the first factory fiasco had cost me, because although it is embarrassing (to be honest) I wanted her sympathy rather badly.

Well, after a while she answered me. In the negative. She explained her reasons, which are that the figure is simply too precious and she feels she cannot it let it go, or even lend it back to me. She had obviously thought about it very hard, and was sorry she was turning me down, but she couldn't bring herself to relinquish the figure. So in her email she me asked whether a donation of £2000 (to cover my losses with the first factory) would help me to develop the project.

!!! What the heck?!!! 

I had to take a little pause there, I can tell you. Having verified that I was not dreaming, and that I was not inventing the text in the email purely through wishful thinking, I started considering what she had offered. If I had two grand to invest in this again the three options are these; resolve the issues with the 2nd factory; make them myself, for which I would need some significant pieces of equipment; or get someone else to oversee the whole process in return for a cut of the profits.

Last time I cast Twelvemo pieces myself the results were pretty flawed, but that was about 15 years ago... I have learned so much since then that I am sure I would make a better job of it now. I didn't even know of the existence of vac chambers and spin casters back then. In addition to this the Twelvemo figures that I have now are more highly developed than they were then, so should cast more successfully.

So… I plan to buy a lovely new vacuum chamber. They are a few hundred pounds. A spin-caster is another thing entirely and they cost thousands, but what I need is not very complicated really. It needs a sturdy upright spindle with variable low speeds. (I might be over simplifying this, but over complicating things doesn't get you anywhere.) My friend's dad, who is a retired engineer has given me some useful advice about how I might go about improvising this bit of kit. He understood straight away what I am after and he can also help me with making adaptions to some regular tool if I need. And I'll need to experiment a bit with different rubbers and resins but there is a good place locally where they know their stuff and will give me good guidance.

Anyway, my benefactor has actually sent me a cheque. Her opinion is that doing it myself is the way to go and I agree.  After so many frustrations to actually take back the control of this project myself would be fantastic. And it opens up a whole world of other things I could make and do in the workshop. It's so exciting! I could not possibly have justified the expense of going down this route without support, and I have earmarked the donation for this project only.

It is so strange, to have received this gift. Nothing has been asked for in return, absolutely nothing. The only interpretation I can put on it is that this kind stranger loves her figure too much to let it go, but at the same time is so enthusiastic to see the project develop that it is worth it to her to support it. It is a pretty powerful testament as to how potent and seductive the Twelvemo figures are, don't you think?

All of this is rather exciting, but it will take a while to get it going. Strangely enough (you may be glad to know) I do have other things happening in my life that need attention, not just the Twelvemo figures! Some of these other things might actually also earn me some money, so I need to focus on them some of the time. But bit by bit I am going to do this myself, in my workshop, with my own hands and my own tools. How about that for a plan?

I thought this was too good a story to keep to myself and I wanted to share it with you all. 
I am feeling blessed, lucky, and very thankful.

Amazing or what?

Part 3: Some photos to look at...

And finally, something that you may not have seen before. 
I have this one called Snake Charmer printed up large so Twelvemo is pretty much life size. It's cool! 

I found the snake curled up, cutely and very dead, in France one summer. Popped it in a jar with some alcohol to preserve it and taped the lid of the jar. Years and years later I came across it again, completely dry and dessicated. Perfect! 

A friend saw this image and said 'Wow, how big was the snake?' 
I replied that it was 'about this big', making a little circle with my thumb and forefinger... 
My friend was surprised. He had been totally taken in by the size of the print, even though he knows Twelvemo is only 6 inches tall! That pleased me mightily.

Here's a photo of the Japanese Shelf Collection on my wall. 
I'll be taking it down in a week as I need to make room for making more artwork. 

And here are some images of some laser cut art work, one of my new ventures! 
They are for sale in my Etsy shop, if you want to take a look: 


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Oh for Goodness Sake!


I haven't got the Twelvemos yet. 
I have been given more excuses and more excuses....


I haven't given up! 

Through the powers of social media , via an online friend I have never met (who had a dream of Twelvemo and told me about it) I have now been put in touch with someone over the other side of the world who has experience of this sort of thing. They have kindly offered to contact the factory on my behalf and see if they can find out what is happening for me.


I may have to chalk this one down to experience and start again with a new factory.  

RATS! (This is an expletive understatement of massive proportions).

However next time it will be a factory that has been recommended to me.  And I have learned that there are people out there who can help with this (called 'sourcing agents' and 'quality controllers') and loads of forums where you can get advice. I didn't know any of this when I started this whole thing a year ago.

Still.... Just because I may have made an expensive mistake it doesn't mean the whole Twelvemo concept is not worth bothering with any more. 

So sorry for the delay but Twelvemo will go out into the world eventually, I am am determined, and I have a much better prototype to work from now (because the factory did do the prototyping work for me very well.

So... Be patient.... I am.

Just don't put the rest of your life on hold while you do so. (I'm not!)