Friday, 21 November 2014

The metalwork of Marseille

Marseille is a city rich in history, it is also a city rich in metal.



Ironwork is prolific around the streets from the grand balcoynied boulevards to the smallest of passageways, metal is everywhere.











On the lower floors iron is used for security on doors and windows but the designs are still very elegant and varied.



There is a consistent theme to the municipal metal with the same design being used to separate pedestrians from cars and for bicycle racks.



The decorative metal is also put to a more controversial use to stop homeless people from sleeping in door ways.



There is good use of metal in the modern buildings.





This combination is part of a school.



I spotted a fantastic metalworking shop nestled in the narrow streets near to Place de Lenche. The owner was in the back grinding some metal.



Atilier Metal makes lamps and furniture from recycled parts. I recommend visiting before dropping into one of the many bars and restaurants around the square.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Winter Flowers

It's nice to have some flowers around the house at Christmas but real flowers typically die off before the holiday season is over. So how about some flowers that never die, don't need watering and look great both inside or outside.

Designer Makers Victoria Govan and Richard Warner from Ironvein in Welshpool use a combination of traditional blacksmith techniques and state of the art laser and plasma cutting to create these unique sculptures.





The flower sculptures are available in a wide range of sizes and designs.







About their organiform garden sculptures Richard said:

“We like to create beautiful pieces that don’t need any maintenance and can instantly transform an area of garden with architectural elegance.

Plus most of the pieces can easily be moved around the garden as the season progresses and the natural flowering ebbs and flows, and they look great with foliage and as supports.”


For more details and the find out about their new spiral Christmas decorations visit the Ironvein website.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Marseille Maritime Movers

Those who follow me on twitter will know that I'm a big fan of specialist equipment such the tugs and bagage handling mobile conveyors that you find at the airport. I'm also a big fan of cranes and when I was younger I was lucky enough to have been given a Meccano Crane set.



The old port in Marseille has been converted to marina and hence for me is an ideal location as it has the best of both these aspects in the form of specialist cranes.

Here's a few of different types I spotted whilst wandering around, several of them are actually floating cranes mounted on barges.





I've not researched the cranes in any detail but I did google "SCM" so this little hydraulic crane is from South China Marine.









Wednesday, 29 October 2014

It's hard in London

Life in London is tough, especially if you are a shower. Due to some unique geology, all of London is a hard water area. This means that we have minerals dissolved in the water which it makes it taste nice but it's not good for your plumbing. Over time kettles, boilers and valves all start to get furred up with limescale. If you left a drip long enough you could have a stalactite hanging from your pipe.



And so it was with our shower, the levers started to get stiff and it was difficult to turn off. After finding the manual on the net, I read that the thermostatic cartridge is designed to be taken out and descaled. The manufacturer recommends every three years and the shower was installed four years ago.

After shutting off the water, taking the shower apart was fairly straight forward. Even so I took notes of the steps which were vague in the manual. The job involved some circlip pliers (purchased from the cornershop), a cross head screw driver, a replacement O-Ring from our local plumbers shop, and some silicon grease which we got from the garage shop after the plumbers shop did not have any. The O-Ring was to replace one that looked a bit frayed. Also I needed a 30mm spanner to unscrew the cartridge.

My wrench did not go that wide and I did not really want to buy a new one just for this job so I set about making a spanner.



I found a suitable piece of 3mm x 30mm mild steel. Using a square and ruler I marked 3 parallel lines spaced at 15mm apart. Then using a protractor I drew a line at 30 degree joining up with the middle line. Flipping the protractor I then joined them with another 30 degree line.

It was then a case of carefully sawing on the inside of the lines and filing down to form a half hexagon.



I did make sure the nut was to hand when doing this to ensure a snug fit. Then with the help of a few taps of the hammer I loosed the cartridge enough to unscrew it.



Be warned if you are doing this as there is a big spring in the back and you don't want to loose any parts as it flush open showering pieces everywhere. Luckily I had an exploded diagram of the shower so I knew what order to put the bits back in. Even if you do have one of these it might be worth photographing each step to see how things fit together.



After a soak in vinegar and a quick spray of grease the shower was put back together. The last step was to ensure the temperature stop is in the right place and to turn the supply back on.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Repairing a kitchen cupboard

A few years back we had a new kitchen installed, it's proved reliable with the exception of a high cupboard with a lift up door. The screws holding the door to the hinge started dropping out. Because the doors are made from faced chipboard I knew it wasn't just a case of putting bigger screws in place.

I quizzed my Twitter followers to see their recommendations. Thanks to Alfred Chow, Tony Durham and Andy Weeds for their ideas. Several people suggested drilling out the holes and plugging them. @jbwelduk suggested an epoxy putty and @supafixuk had a powder and fixer product they recommended. When I checked my supplies I realised I already had an epoxy putty product from when I was fixing shelves in the bathroom.



I removed the door and it was clear why the screws had dropped out, the clipboard had blown out.



I picked a drill larger than the damaged area and drilled each screw hole larger.



The waste was removed and the holes cleaned before fitting with the putty.



Once it was dry I sanded it flat and used a bradawl to make some pilot holes.



The hinges were fitted and hopefully this will be a solid long term repair.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Iron Bloke

Earlier this year the Metal Store ran a contest looking for Metal Masterpieces. I had a chance to talk to the winner Nick Wysoczanskyj. His Iron Bloke sculpture made from is made from scrap metal with a glowing LED eye. Nick is a freelance scenic artist and works on Tv and film sets as well as being a trained illustrator.

Workshopshed: Nick, congratulations on winning The Metal Store Metal Masterpiece competition and thank you for being interviewed.



Workshopshed: What inspired you to make Iron Bloke?

Nick Wysoczanskyj: I was initially inspired to build my take on The Iron Man by my partner, Kate. I enjoyed the Ted Hughes story as boy, and we both really love the 1999 animated Iron Giant movie. I had come across some bits of heavy metal rigging shackles, and they suggested to me the form of a retro robot. It came as no surprised, when I mentioned it to Kate, that she would ask me to build her an Iron Man. I named him "Iron Bloke" as kind of a joke, as a nod to the Black Sabbath track - Iron Man. We both remember an interview with Ozzy Osbourne, where he recounted the birth of that track. "I, I, I, don't even think it was called Iron Man to start with," he mumbled, "Tommy came in with idea for a riff, and I thought it sounded like some great, big, iron bloke!"

Workshopshed: What did you use to make him?

Nick: I have a small, very basic workshop at home. Iron Bloke, was built there, in the evenings after work. We have an ancient double garage at the back of the house, that doubles as a shed. I have a bench, with a good vice and a drill press, set up in there. The nature of my work, dictates that I have a good range of basic power and hand tools, for working with a range of materials. In terms of welding equipment I have a 130 amp gasless MIG welder and a small 100 amp stick welder. Most of my metalwork is done with a grinder, a simple rotary tool for more detailed work, and a range of vices, clamps, and files. A good cross slide vice, and some milling bits, give me a really primitive machining capability at a small scale, but most of what I make is simply hand ground, and welded up.



Workshopshed: Where did you learn metalwork?

Nick: I started learning basic fabrication skills, in wood, plastics, and a limited amount of metal fabrication, but not as much as I would have liked, at school. My family also work in various construction trades, so there was always a lot of practical knowhow around growing up, and I often worked with them, on site, for pocket money. It was this background in general building work that got me through university, financially speaking. After leaving school I studied product design for two years, and enjoyed the run of my college's, very well equipped workshops. I changed direction a little after that and studied for a BA in Illustration.

Workshopshed: How did you get from Illustrations to Sets?

Nick: My university had a broad definition of illustration, as well as a well equipped shop set-up; which I took full advantage of, undertaking sculpture based work along side my hand drawn projects. My work these days is a strange mishmash of my general building work background and my art and design training, drawing on the fabrication skills, large scale construction knowhow, and the more creative storytelling skills of my Illustration background. I enjoy that fact that I've managed to find a use for my eclectic skills, which is also an environment where I can continue to challenge them, expand on them, and learn new things along the way.

Workshopshed: Yes, I can see that would prepare you nicely for your work.

Nick: Professionally, as well as working as a scenic painter, I also work as a scenic carver, set dresser (installing the final fixtures and fittings to 'dress' the set), I do some props fabrication and repair work, and I also work in the 'standby' roles for those positions, with the shooting crew, from time to time. I have to work with a very wide range of materials, wood, metal, plastics, foam, plaster, fabrics, and various paints and finishes, and this has lead me to a fairly broad skill set, and an extensive tool kit.

Workshopshed: Do you use a lot of metal in set design?

Nick: Metalwork is often a big feature of props fabrication and on set as railing, grills, grates, gates, hinges, fixtures, fittings - the list goes on and on. However, on Da Vinci's Demons - the show that I currently work on most of the time - we have an excellent, dedicated metalwork team and props fabrication department. I don't get to do much metal fabrication work on that show, mainly in a set finishing role making, small alteration for artistic reasons, or for "fit" around other bits of the set that may be added long after the bulk of the metalwork was designed and fabricated, but they do, very kindly, let me dig through their scraps bins, and are a great source of materials for me.



Workshopshed: What next, has this success driven you to create more?

Nick: It had been a good ten years or so, since I had last done and metal sculpting, and I thoroughly enjoyed making my Iron Bloke. I'll certainly be doing more in the future. The break had simply been a question of access to a workshop space. I was thrilled that I finally had a chance to organise the garage into a functional space. I was lucky to come across the parts that give him his distinctive look - the massive D shackle that makes up both his body and head was a lucky "back of the shed" find for example. As were the spark plug and the cams that make up his shoulders. It was also fortunate that they had been using a lot of twisted square bar stock in work at that time too, as it contributes a lot to his look, as well as providing the structure of his arms and legs. Once I had "seen" the potential for a robot - I simply had to do it. I mean: who wouldn't? With that in mind I've started and "interesting bits" pile in the shed, and I've always got my eyes open for possibilities. I've also got plans to make a small forge to increase my ability to fabricate, or possibly cast, interesting parts. I've source a lot of the bits I need. All I'm short of is time to make space in the shed, and space in my schedule to make time!"

Workshopshed: A big thanks to Nick and his excellent Iron Man, and also to The Metal Store for putting on the Metal Masterpiece competition.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Cor-ten Steel

Most people working with steel go to great lengths to make sure that it does not rust. However "Weathering Steel" or Cor-Ten® Steel as it's most commonly known is actually designed to rust. The sheets rust following installation and generate a protective oxide layer that can protect the underlying metal. However as for most coatings this is not totally imperviable and the manufacturers recommend not installing it in salt water areas or in places that have a lot of fog.

The key feature of the metal is the wonderful autumnal colour that the metal turns when rusted and hence it's used a lot in architectural and sculptural work.

Here's some great examples, to find out more about the artist click on the images.


Ring, 2013 by Lump Sculpture Studio


Celine with Shadow, 2013 by Zadok Ben-David


Untitled-Armillary, 1999 by Patrick Plourde (Photo by Corey Templeton)


Moonscape, 2009 by Pierre Le Roux Design. Photography by Michael Nimos.


Pool Way-Marker, 2012 by Wolfgang Buttress


Waterfall Fountain, 2008 by Family Gahr

Workshop Practice Series