Posted in Life

Studio Notes 10/05/19

What a busy week – redesigning the pewter coin has been the most important thing, but I’ve squeezed in a few jobs on the side as well, like re-stretching an aluminium screen and prepping materials for a new miniature sculpture.

Last week I had planned to restretch a couple of screens using two-part evil glue, but when I finally got an afternoon of dry weather and opened up the bottles, I realised that the hardener had – well – hardened, and it was unusable.

My ghetto screen stretching method

All of this after I’d started the process: I tacked the mesh across a wooden frame that was just bigger than the aluminium frame, laid it on top of the aluminium frame and clamped it tightly down onto it. That would stretch the mesh even tighter over the new frame and allow me to glue the mesh and screen surfaces.

Stretching an aluminium screen with a wooden screen

That way I’d get a very taut, professional-quality stretch in my back garden. Well, that was the plan until the glue problem, so having set everything up – clamps and all – I just went ahead with contact cement.

So far so good – I sliced the screen out of the wooden frame and it’s kept its tension, but I’m going to have to test its resistance to all the screen printing processes. And… I’m out of mesh for this size of screen, so I’ll have to buy some more before I can carry on.

Back to sculpting the coin

When I started the process of sculpting coins last year I came up against the problem of creating precise marks in materials that don’t lend themselves to the level of precision that I wanted.

Everything I did was made the old-fashioned way: all hand carved, with the most advanced process being photocopying. This is kinda how I roll; my natural inclination is to do everything without computers, not because I have to prove something, but because that’s just how I learned to do things and that’s what comes naturally. If I’m going to push this to where it needs to go, that has to change.

The point isn’t to create industrially manufactured pieces, but to marry the idea of a hand-made object of value with that of a mass-produced symbol of value. Basically I need to upgrade my processes.

Silhouette Cameo plotter cutter

With modern coin design and manufacture, you can’t get away from computers and machines. I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate more computer-assisted working into my practice, whether it’s getting a 3d printer or – as an alternative – a plotter cutter.

I’ve spent the last week researching these and it’s made my head spin. The thing is, they’re pitched firmly at the crafts market, and it can be hard to figure out if the machine you’ve spotted will be suitable for more robust work, or, more importantly, original work (not being restricted by locked-in software).

My plan is to use one of these to precision-cut paper layers to laminate sculptural forms. It’s not that out of the question – it’s basically how I’ve been forming my new coin this week, but by hand. Maybe before too long I’ll have a bit of help with that.

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Studio Notes 10/05/19

Colourful Cardboard Box Storage Ideas

Here’s a cardboard box storage system tutorial that’s so simple it doesn’t really need instructions: the pictures will show you everything you need to know.

I’ve whizzed up a cereal box paper tray and an asymmetrical shelf or box that looks great either sitting flat on your desk, mounted on a wall or hanging off the side of your desk.

The materials used were:

Why use cardboard boxes for storage?

Not only are cardboard box storage systems really effective recycling solutions, they’re practical for short-term uses, like kids’ furniture, or in situations where there isn’t enough money for store-bought furnishings.

If you make them well, keep them dry and treat them well, cardboard furnishings can last for a long time (and they only get stronger with every re-covering, so you can change the look pretty easily!).

1. Cardboard paper tray / file storage

cardboard box paper tray in progress.
Cardboard box paper tray in progress.

The paper tray used up three cereal boxes from Aldi. Cereal box cardboard is very lightweight, and so when it comes to any kind of furniture, you’ve got to be reasonable with what you expect it to stand up to and what it’ll be used for.

Hot glue is great for attaching the boxes without causing warping or buckling.

You can secure the boxes by folding one of the tabs over the other box (being sure to cut the matching tab off so it isn’t too bulky) and glue the outer tabs to the inside of the boxes with PVA glue.

cardboard box storage - 2 views of a cardboard paper tray

Cut two pieces of wallpaper to cover two opposite sides of your tray and paste them on with PVA. Make sure the pieces are long enough to fold over the open edge and into the box, and wrap an inch around the sides.

Place the glued boxes in the centre of your wallpaper sheet, making sure there’s enough paper to cover the two unpapered sides with some to spare for folding into the box opening.

cardboard box filing system

Glue a strip of paper over the internal dividers to neaten them up.

Asymmetrical cardboard shelf / desk tidy

I’ve been wondering what to call this pattern – it’s not quite Greek key, but I can’t think of the formal design name. Still, it’s an interesting arrangement for four rectangular boxes.

You can use any size of box for this design as long as they’re rectangular and the same size. I used boxes that originally held 6 cans of spray paint, and they were pretty beaten up before I started, so nothing was square.

I trimmed the flaps from the box tops with a sharp knife before starting, and glued the boxes together as shown above.

I started gluing the wallpaper to the box from the bottom and folded the paper up the sides, clamping it to the box with clothespegs as it dried.

With the base and most of the sides covered, I used scraps to fill in the unpapered gaps.

Because the paper was so busy, I was pretty haphazard about matching the pattern inside – personally I didn’t care about that because of not being able to see it once it’s filled. If you were going to make this as a gift, I’d suggest working out where your pattern overlaps and matching it up at least at the “front” of your shelf. It’ll never line up everywhere, so don’t worry about that.

cardboard box storage - 2 views of an asymmetrical cardboard shelf

I particularly like this weird shape for hanging off the side of desks, and it’s got potential to get very big if you can find enough boxes to keep adding to it.

Not a bad way to use materials that would normally end up in the bin, right?

Other People’s Hair

“I like other people’s hair better than mine.”

Isn’t it always the way?

What’s the weird compulsion to straighten our hair when it’s curly, or curl it when it’s straight?

A lot of the time we’re fighting against our genetic nature: striving to differentiate ourselves from our immediate peers. We put on a style to describe who we are and what we are, or at least what we want to be.

Life gets much easier when we just accept what grows out of our heads (or what doesn’t), and make the most of that.

By the way, I don’t really like other people’s hair better than mine.

Maybe I used to once… but I’ve grown out of it, and my hair’s grown out too.


How does your hair shape your identity and community? Read “Roots And Culture” for more.