Last weekend ESP and I attended a workshop together for the first time. The workshop, held at Morley College’s Pelham Hall, was billed as a one-day “Textile Metal Taster”.
Pelham Hall is an amazing converted Victorian chapel equipped for clay modelling, wood and stone carving as well as metalwork (there’s even a forge). ESP has done stone carving courses there, but this was a first-time visit for me.
I was expecting to be working with wire, mesh and textiles, but this was very much an introduction to proper basic metalwork techniques. We started with cutting, using tin snips and air tools. I had a few problems with the air tools so stuck to cutting by hand with the snips, where I felt I had more control.
Then we did a bit of beating with hammers, hole punching and soldering. I cut a circle of steel, punched a circle in the centre and pierced some holes.
As you know, I hate waste, so I then used the spot welder to attach all the tiny metal circles produced by the hole puncher.
One of the tutors said the tiny bowl on the right reminded him of a dalek!
In the afternoon we had a go at heating metal so that it changed colour – you can get some lovely rainbow effects, like oil patches on the road after rain. Naturally, I spot welded some more circles onto mine!
I didn’t do any proper soldering, but played about with the solder to produce different textures instead.
While I produced various small samples, ESP combined lots of different techniques in one piece. This included bits of metal that were left over after I had cut out more spots!
He also played around with a piece of flattened copper tubing, heating it with flux and punching it.
I really enjoyed the workshop – the tutors were enthusiastic and encouraging, and it’s surprising what beginners can produce in a day. One of the students made a bird bath; another made some angel fish.
However, I did think that the textile content was fairly token. There was a pile of fabric scraps, and we were shown how to rivet and attach textiles to metal by soldering with a copper strip. Rather than treating metal simply as a way of holding up textiles I guess I was expecting the two media to be combined in a sculptural piece. I realise this is a lot to ask in a day, but a collaboration with Morley’s excellent textiles department could produce some interesting results.
There was a box of embroidery threads and ribbons there, so I did make an effort to introduce a textile element to one of my samples! 🙂
I’m also thinking about how to incorporate some of my samples into felt, so there may be more to come on this!