More Tools – Sinking Stump

My unglamorous but very used stump.
My unglamorous but very used stump.

It’s not my most glamorous tool, but it is one of my most used ones – my sinking stump. (It is also one of the cheapest since I found it in the woods.) I use this tool when sinking a bowl. The flat sheet if pushed out with my sinking hammer just above the stump to give it a concave structure.

In school we had a variety of sinking stumps which all had depressions in them. Many people used them like dapping blocks and just hammered the sheet into the depressions. When I took my toolmaking class I started on a stump of my own. It was some sort of hardwood and I was using cheap chisels and long story short it never got a full depression in it. At some point it was also disappeared by my father after sitting in his garage or shed for too long.

The obviously staged, but in process shot of using the stump to sink a bowl.
The obviously staged in process shot of using the stump to sink a bowl.

So when I set-up my current studio I needed a stump. I found this one (or actually my husband saw a bunch laying around on his way to work and we went back and I picked one out) and decided to use it as is. It’s short so I have to either crouch on the floor (what I usually do) or place it on a table to sink with it. You probably also notice that there is no depression in it. That’s because you don’t need one. A depression can be a crutch. You really just need a cushion of air between the metal and the wood. In theory I could use a 2 x 4, but I like the rustic look of the stump.

This is one of the tools that I remembered my visits to the Folk Life Festival and how people in other countries find a way to work even without all the fancy tools that you and I can buy here. It works, it’s simple, and it’s free. Remember that next time you think you need all the tools your school had.

Let the Hammers Ring in the New Year!

Took this awesome action shot and then realized I'm wearing the same shirt as my avatar. I really do own other shirts!

As you can guess by the title, I was in the studio over the holiday weekend pounding away at some metal.  Inspired by the video I shared last week and my renewed interest in bowl making, I decided to start work on some bowls… and this time I decided to raise!

I had been thinking about ways to create more dynamism in the bowl edges, so I thought about an offset base.  You can’t get this just by sinking, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to start raising again.  It came out brilliantly and I can’t wait to start working on the other sections that I’ll be adding (probably some fold formed nickel.)  And this time I don’t have to worry about a base because it stands on its own (oooh, ahhh!)

The initial sinking of the bronze sheet.
Bottom view after first raising round. You can see the offset base.
View mid-round so you can see the way the angle changes.
Inside view after raising and bouging it the way I want it. The bottom puffs inward.
Side view so you can see the cool angling of the bowls edge.

In Process: Copperlicious

I finally started a new bowl today that I meant to start a lot earlier (it’s been a busy week!)  There is a call for entry for a copper exhibition for next year’s SNAG conference, so I decided to try and get a new bowl made in time to apply.  Yes, that means I have only a few weeks to get this done and photographed, etc.  Today I was able to get the forming and some of the planishing done on the main bowl section.  Once again, this will have many connected parts.  Hopefully, I’ll get it done in time and they will love it!  (PS David Huang, one of my metalsmithing heroes is the juror, so it’s doubly important I get this done)

Here are the photos from today’s work.

After first round of sinking
This is either the second or third round of sinking. Se how wonky the rim got?
Now it's all bouged up and nice lookng. There was at least one more round of sinking and bouging after this.
This is after the first round of planishing. You can see how it really tightened the form up. And yes, that is torch dirt being pounded into my bowl.

PPS – If you want to learn to sink a bowl, I’m teaching a two day workshop in the end of January at Millersville University just outside of Lancaster, PA.