Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Steel Magnolias

Yes, yes.  I know.  It's been an age since I've blogged.  It's simply because I haven't made anything so I've had nothing to say

So, since I am writing a new post that must means I have finally made something!  Yea!  It has nothing to do with quilts and fabric though.

A few weeks ago was my 11th wedding anniversary to the lovely and wonderful Brioni, aka Flossyblossy.  It's been a truly amazing time and the best years of my life. 


 To be honest though, I had been getting a bit slack in the husbandy department and had been blowing off recent anniversaries.  This year I decided to make an effort.  First was a dinner out at an amazing Thai restaurant.  I picked Thai since we spent out honeymoon and 1st and 3rd anniversary in Thailand.  The problem was I had no idea what to buy her.  The traditional gift for the 11th is steel.  Steel?  Seriously?  All I found online were naff stainless steel photo frames and things.  Totally NOT what I was looking for.  I did see some nice flower vases and that gave me an idea... Steel Flowers!

The idea formed quickly in my head.  The first thing I needed was old fashioned tap handles.  I couldn't find any in the UK so had to source them from the States.  After an age this is what I got:

I bought 12 of them.  The top and bottom both looked very cool but I preferred the bottom shown in the left picture.  Next I needed to source the leaves and stems. 

It turns out I had this amazing 2mm copper sheet from years back.  It is mirror polished on one side and had a cool patina on the other.  This was perfect for the leaves since over time they should turn greenish like copper always does.

I took the sheet down to my cellar workspace.  It's quite a tip as you can see.

I bought 8mm steel rods from B&Q and cut them down to size with a hack saw.  I didn't want them completely uniform so they were random lengths between 460mm and 490mm.  

I also started cutting the copper with tin snips.  These were also fairly random with some having three "leaves" and some four.

 Next I had to drill and tap the ends of the stems.  When drilling steel it is best to start with a small pilot hole and then go bigger.  I started with a 1mm bit and moved to a 3.5mm bit for a 4mm threaded hole.  A tap (which I forgot to take a picture of) is like a drill bit but it has cutting threads which carve the grooves to accept a screw inside of a hole.

While this was going on I was painting the tap heads, washers, and screws.

The final coat was done outside in the sun to give the paint a bit of a bake.

By this time the project was about 6 weeks old.  It took nearly three to source everything and three more to get to this point.  I took advantage of Brioni being away at the Fat Quarterly sewing retreat to finally finish off the assembly.

I still hadn't decided which way up I wanted the tap handle so I tried one of each.

Much to my surprise the washer fit perfectly in the center of the tap when it was right way up.  I hadn't intended to do them this way but looking at it I absolutely had to.  Let the assembly begin!

 After they were all assembled they went into this lovely wood vase I bought. 

I'm happy to report the Brioni absolutely loved them!