Something Totally Different

Sometimes I just have to do something totally different. Not sure if it is because I’m stuck in a groove or just bored. Something though kicks in, I get an idea and I just need to try it. The thing is it absolutely drives me.

Creative Process

Normally, what I’m creating in my head is often beyond my capability. This can be frustrating, but often exciting as it means a steep learning curve. There is something about creating things and that can be anything. The creative process itself is interesting. With me this is often in my imagination. Sometimes I manage to turn these into a reality that matches, sometimes not. Either way the act of making it or trying to make it opens up other ideas.

Overall this is an iterative process:

  • An idea – the “lightbulb moment”
  • A few sketches
  • Review materials
  • Review processes involved
  • References
    • read about similar designs
    • read about the processes
  • Have a go at making it
  • Examine the results – pondering the design is a great way for me to develop this further.
  • Changing elements
    • design
    • materials
    • processes
    • finishing elements
  • Final manufacture

This whole process is likely to happen a number of times, ignore those who say you only fail once. That mentality is likely to stop you in your tracks and it is just wrong.

“Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?”

Marilyn Monroe

Enameled Buttons

The something totally different to the engine that is currently on the workbench is enameled buttons. I made pewter buttons in the past and even had them exhibited in a button museum. However, that was a long time ago and this time we wanted rich colours. Our new kiln and a dream of enameling drove us to a different approach.

enameled buttons

We cut them out of 0.7mm thick copper sheet. We drilled two holes by eye. We sanded them. We pickled them and then we enameled them in the kiln. A small Prometheus kiln, perfect though for this job.

This is only our second go at enameling, so some hit and miss finishes. I thought that was part of the charm.

However, the button lovers in the house who want to use these loved the colours, but didn’t like the unevenness. They need to be round.

Button Blank Process

So back to the process of cutting out button blanks, circular discs of copper sheet. I have a small 1/2 ton arbor press and this made me wonder if I could simply make a stamping press.

button stamping press

There are essentially three parts to this tool:

  1. Lower alignment spigot – here you can see it bolted to the lower plate on the press.
  2. Upper cutting tool die – here it is upside down so you can see the cutting edge.
  3. Lower cutting tool die – this is the tube and this sits over the lower spigot.

This set of three parts can all be aligned in the press by slightly moving the lower plate. Hence the large button washers that cover the enlarged bolt holes.

button blank die and press

I now have a button blank die and a press. It takes quite a lot of force to cut 0.7mm copper sheet when the diameter is 3/4″. But it works and we cut out 18 blanks in a very short space of time.

A very rewarding something totally different for Sunday afternoon. Hopefully this has also given you an insight into the design process.

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