Sunday, December 30, 2012

For Pencil Lovers - Better than the iPad?

I can't comment on Blackwing 602 pencils they were never available in the UK (the new ones can be obtained on Ebay), but I understand the sense of loss and longing.

Blog Stats

This is a screen shot of stats for this blog for Friday December 28th. The 638 page views account for roughly 230 individuals who drop by to have a browse. There's enough material in the blog so that views slowly rise over time, whether I add content or not, but I would imagine there comes a point where the blog reaches its peak and levels off, otherwise everyone with access to the internet will pass through here at some point in their life.

Of the 230 individuals who visit 80 are regulars, the other 150 drift by never to return but are replaced by 150 new visitors the next day. If I die or just lose interest, the blog sails on like the Marie Celeste.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Gifts

M+R pencil sharpener - Photograph by Tim Irving
Gift Number 1
I received not one, but two perfect gifts in my Christmas stocking this year. To be honest I'd be very disappointed if I hadn't received at least one, because I've been dropping hints and leaving clues around since last October. Gift number one is an M+R pencil sharpener.

I've long admired the brass M+R pencil sharpeners and always envied the owners of these beautiful objects. It's one of those items that although not extortionately expensive, would make me feel a touch of guilt if I bought one for myself, which makes it a perfect gift. My sharpener is so heavy that at first it feels alien, no pencil sharpener is as heavy as the M+R. The blades (there are two), are hardened steel, so sharp they make fine continuous shavings with ease. And it has a unique cut away design so the lead never breaks.

M+R pencil sharpeners have been made in Germany, by the same family since 1908. In that time the products have evolved and improved to the extent that now they make the perfect pencil sharpener. Rest assured my pencil sharpener has been busy over the holidays, every pencil I own is now pin sharp.

Michael Harding paint tube - Photograph by Tim Irving
Gift Number2
My other perfect gift is a tube of Michael Harding, titanium white oil paint. I use a lot of white paint, about one tube every two months (a tube of cobalt violet lasts me 10 years). My current favourite is Blockx, which is very, very opaque with a buttery smooth texture. However Michael Harding's paints are recommended by the gods of painting, so I can't wait to give it a try.

I did get a few more gifts, one of which is a Nexus 7 tablet. I've installed SketchBook Pro on it and will let you know my thoughts on it when I've done a few more drawings. One thing that does already impress me is how cheap and easy it is to purchase the apps. Sketchbook Pro cost $2.99, that's a lot less than a decent pencil sharpener. I did the sketch below in thirty minutes, sitting in a cafe opposite the college. Don't worry, the irony of pencil sharpener and tablet computer isn't lost on me.

Drawing with SketchBook Pro - By Tim Irving
Trinity College Cambridge - My first sketch using a tablet

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Christmas

I have a few last minute jobs to do before I leave for a family Christmas in London. I'm mindful of eating, drinking or watching too much TV, the only things I would live to regret. I'll be back at work on Boxing day and I'm thankful for that.

I'd like to wish you a very happy Christmas, may all your dreams come true.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grass as Art

Lives of Grass by Mathilde Roussel, courtesy of the artist. Photograph: Matthieu Raffard
I'm intrigued by this piece by french artist Mathilde Rousse. Great inventiveness and wonderful drama for a sculpture. I left the show thinking anything is possible!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sebastião Salgado's Portrait of a Siberian Sled Dog

One of the final trips of his Genesis project. This photograph is from Sebastião Salgado's visit to the Nenets of northern Siberia.  Courtesy of Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures.

The temperature here in England is 0 degrees, but I can't moan after looking at this photo. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Silver Coins into Rings

Gothic Florin - Photograph by Tim Irving
I found this coin in July. I was metal detecting with a friend on the hottest day of the year. We were in the middle of a large wheat field with no shade, I was slowly roasting and very uncomfortable. Sometimes when you go metal detecting, objects and coins pop out of the ground with enough regularity to keep your mind occupied, but not this day. I spent ten mind numbing hours walking around the field with nothing to show except three ring pulls from soft drink cans. As the light started to fade we called it a day and started walking the mile or so back to the car. Always the optimist, I kept the detector switched on as we walked back and as you might have guessed I found this coin within twelve feet of the car!

The coin isn't particularly rare or valuable, but it is special. It's an 1875 Queen Victoria florin, the first decimal coin (One florin = one tenth of a pound). Britain didn't make the complete change to decimalization until 1971. It's made of pure silver and it has two other unique features, the design is gothic as was the fashion in the mid 19th century, and it was the first coin where the word "God" was dropped from the currency. It's called a Gothic Florin or a Godless Florin by collectors.

I don't collect coins but I do admire the design of this one, so after much consideration I found a jeweller who could turn it into a ring. Here is the finished example below. The jeweller was as enthusiastic as I was, he did the work in exchange for another silver coin I'd found.  I'm thrilled with the ring, it feels comfortable and of course it reminds me of hot summer days.

florin ring - Photograph by Tim Irving


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Smoked Fishes

smoked fish, Aldeburgh - Photograph by Tim Irving
I'm back at the seaside and having a lovely time. The mornings are best, bright clear skies, although bitterly cold. If you're wondering what a Canark is, so am I! The owner of this fish smoking hut wasn't around for me to ask and no one else seemed to know. At times like this I like to think a portable device like an iPad would give me an instant answer but I had to wait until I got home and looked it up on their web site. Nothing there, so I tried Google, still nothing. Does anyone know what a Canark is?


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