Wire Medal

Each year at around this time I make a medal for the annual dinner for the Alumni Association of the Student Television of Imperial College or PSTOIC for short. Each year is a different design with the inspiration taken from the theme of the dinner. This year’s theme was “Something Foreign” so I took inspiration from the Pompidou centre in Paris which is famous for it’s external pipe work. You might also recognise this kind of technique from the recent Hackaday Circuit Sculpture contest.

I used some steel wire from an old broken coat hanger and some thinner wire for the lettering. The wire was just bent by hand using pliers, using a drawn template to get the sizes.

This was brazed together. I used some flux, dabbed in the right place using a piece of copper wire. The wires were heated to a cherry red colour with a blow lamp before adding the silver solder.

I used various techniques to try to clamp the parts together. The first joint at the top was simple, the wires were just pushed together and soldered. The crossbar I used some long-nosed vice grips. For the numbers I initially tried using magnets. This was a bad idea as the were too close to the flame and they also ended up magnetising my pliers which made some of the later work problematic. For the rest of the numbers and letters I used a bent piece of wire to simply support the letters, they were pushed into place.

It was all going quite well till I got to the last letter. I overheated the metal at this point and that caused the previous letters to move. The I was so skewed I decided to redo it, Rather than fiddle with a tiny piece of wire, I decided to cut it to length after soldering. That worked much better and I think I would leave a “leg” on the components next time I do this kind of technique.

To finish the medal I polished it with a wire brush in the drill and a light coat of metal polish. A “string” was added from some old shoe laces.

For the dinner, we visited “Sticky Fingers” in Kensington. An excellent meal and many fine examples of “something foreign”. The medal was won this year by Martin who produced some Cambodian Water Chestnuts that looked like comical moustaches. There were many fine 3D printed items with some excellent puzzles from Jez as well as a Maltese Falcon and a selection of owls and sheep from Rex. Doug also returned with his singing bird animatronic which was a delight to see again.

A jolly good time was had by all.

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