Monday, 28 February 2022

Lamp Mk III.I

 Abject failure in my first attempt at lampshade making with the 80gsm, woven fibreglass. 

As previously reported, two layers of resin over the one sheet of fibreglass resulted in a transparent sheet. Adding a 2nd layer of fibreglass, sticking it down to the nearly cured resin made it suitably opaque, but it didn't stick anywhere near sufficiently. The two (or even 3) layers need to be applied one after the other between resin layers. Also, the cut ends of the sheets fray like mad.

Nonetheless, I proceeded with trying to shape the fibreglass/resin sheet around the silicone former, but with no success at all. It was simply too stiff and kept folding and creasing in the wrong places, despite the liberal application of heat with the gas gun. It was like trying to put gentle folds into a sheet of cardboard.

It has to be placed on the former while still curing and pliable. Yes, I could have tried applying heat all over the sheet before placing it on the former but, no sooner have you left one area to heat another, the first area has cooled back to rigidity - it's impossible to heat the whole 55cm square sheet evenly.

Here's a comparative photo (right to left) of the MkI, MkII and Mk III.

There's definite improvement and I now have the right overall shape and height. The attention now needs to focus on precision in placing the 4 corners evenly on inside folds, which is a factor of marking the exact centre of the resined cloth sheet and correct placement over the silicone former before shaping.

The Mk IV is now under way.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Shoddy Tools

I bought this large set square from Aldi a few months ago and had an inkling there was a problem with it when using it to cut some cloth into a square - they came our somewhat rhomboid. 

I decided to calibrate it against several known right angled corners in the house and discovered it is 2 degrees out.

Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy!

Last night I had a go at the Mk IV lampshade with the 80gsm, woven, fibreglass matting. Far too thin and it's almost transparent - I need something like 300gsm. I tried placing another layer of fibreglass on top and using the heat gun to fix it in, but it was too late in the curing process and it wouldn't stick.


Saturday, 26 February 2022

Lamp Mk III

Continued with the MK III lampshade on Thursday.

First I cut down the cardboard tube to a more reasonable length before draping the silicone former perched on top of it with a 55cm x 55cm square of resined cloth.

It stuck to itself in a number of places, so I laid it out again on my large silicone mat and let it dry for a couple of hours. It was also sticking to the cardboard tube, so I wrapped that in a thin silicone mat.

Tried again, but it was still sticking to itself within the flutes. I therefore laid it out on the silicone mat again and gave both sides a coating of spray oil. This solved the problem, but the corner points of the cloth square were not perfectly aligned. While 2 corners were aligned perfectly on a concave flute, the two remaining corners were slightly, but not disastrously, misaligned.

What I forgot to do was give the cloth a 2nd coat of resin.

Measuring the cloth and locating the exact centre is crucial to correct positioning, but precisely positioning a piece of cloth covered in resin is extremely difficult. I didn't persevere, as this one too is a demo piece from which I'm learning.

Yesterday morning I was greeted with an almost perfectly formed lampshade, although it was not as stiff as I would have liked, due to the lack of a 2nd coat.

Getting the spray cooking oil off was a small nightmare but, once washed off, I painted a reinforcing coat of resin over the exterior - nearly wasting a paintbrush in the process, but managed to get it off with hand sanitizing alcohol. Not ideal - what I really need is a water soluble, non-stick spray.

Had a go at making a resin mold for another liquid silicone former, using the existing silicone former as the template.

A perfect copy, but it was a bugger to remove. Had to use a lot of oil and finger power to get the original out of the resin.

I then cut a hole in the bottom of the shade, sat it in a deep coaster mold (to increase the stability with additional weight) and filled it with resin. 

Here's the finished product with no other source of illumination other than the LED display stand under it. The thickness of the resin base diffuses the light a bit too much and perhaps I should have sacrificed some of the weight to thinness to enable the shade to better capture the light. Paint the top and sides silver, perhaps? A proper base with an electric lightbulb in it would ramp up the power, but I'm leaving that for the Mk IV or Mk V,

I haven't yet tried using the woven fibreglass matting, but I suspect it will hold a lot more resin than the thin cotton I've thus far been using, so it might not require two coats of resin.

Lessons? Cover everything the shade could feasibly come into contact with in silicone. Rather than the sheet of silicone matting around the cardboard tube, I may smear it with caulking silicone. Next time, I may allow the sheet of resined cloth to dry almost completely and then use a heat gun to form it around the silicone former when dry. Spray cooking oil is great for preventing things sticking together, but not so easy to remove after the fact. 

Friday, 25 February 2022


Boris Johnson is coming under criticism for his initial sequestering of the funds of a small handful of banks, hardly any of which have operations here, let alone assets, and the assets of the 3 oligarchs who have been on the American hit list since 2018 and have therefore had plenty of warning to get their money out of the UK. They are pretty lacklustre in terms of sanctions.

I'm going to do something here which I rarely have cause to do - defend his initial decision on sanctions, in a very limited and specific way. That said, I don't believe it was a decision he came to of his own volition, as he must have expert advice on hand and, this time, decided to heed it, as he's very obviously in over his head on this one. The clue is the manner in which in which he goes into bumbling mode when answering questions that are not on the pre-prepared, parliamentary script developed for him by the experts, if he uses experts that is. 

It's a game of psychology and brinkmanship which depends of having the upper hand in the eyes of the other party. Boris, however, has a history of losing every negotiation with the EU and has the unique distinction of being the only British PM to effect economic sanctions against his own country though Brexit. It's not a good starting point.

When you use threats they are valid only while you're making them, not when you've used them - their purpose is a deterrent. Once you've used them you lack any further bargaining power unless you have a substantial reserve of new threats that escalate in severity - threat of violence happens before actual violence. It's clear to me that the initial sanctions were an initial, but ineffective shot across Putin's bow in response to Russian incursions into areas heavily populated by Russians, whatever the manner in which those regions became so predominantly Russian. 

Threats of heavier penalties have to be held back to counter any escalation in hostilities, as has now happened, and it has to be made clear that they will now be used, given yesterday's events. Clearly the initial response wasn't enough, as many thought, and now is the time for Boris to go in hard with all the remaining sanctions, as he now has done.

That's not to say the initial threats should not have been substantial (and it's now clear they weren't), but they could not be larger than any other threats down the line that are to be used to counter what you're trying to avoid. Increasing the level of preliminary threats necessarily reduces the impact of later threats when there's only a finite total in the threat pot.

The other side of the argument is the tit-for-tat Russian sequestration of British assets in Russia, which will be substantial. UK investment in Russia stands at some £11bn and has increased by 40% over the last 5 years. Before going critical with threats, one needs to know the relative volumes at risk and whether any initial threat use is going to result in a tit-for-tat, and the best way of determining that is to use a minimal initial threat and wait for the reaction - which we now know. 

Then there's the Russian RT News Licence. Do we revoke the licence because of Russian misinformation and tell them to pack their bags? The corollary of that is the BBC in Moscow having its licence revoked and, in an information war, it's quite important that Russians have access to outside news. Not a hill I'm willing to die on, as the BBC can be received on satellite or via a VPN and the same goes for RT outside of Russia.

Should we be worried about retaliation to sanctions? Well, it's a form of warfare and heavy casualties are sometimes a consequence, but casualties have to be balanced against meeting objectives. 

Here's another argument in favour of doing little initially, which is concerned with end objectives. Putin could, albeit inadvertently, have been persuaded to overplay his hand through feigned weakness within the West, which is dangerous to him within Russia, as he doesn't, by any means, have universal support. The Russian population, which has a high affection for Ukraine, could now be persuaded that Putin is a total liability and moves could be made to remove him by fair means or foul. The problem with this analysis is that not all of the West has feigned weakness - the EU put a lot more initial sanctions in place than the UK. However, protests took place across 53 cities across Russia last night against the invasion with over 1,700 arrested and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. 

The question is, what is the objective? Is it to get Putin out of the Ukraine and leave him in place to do more damage at a later stage, or to conspire to remove him from the world stage completely? The latter would be a better objective and would be best achieved internally within Russia. Putin is not a megalomaniac, he's not mad - he merely wants to hold on to power and knows his time is limited, as is the reign of any dictator unless he intermittently presses the buttons of Blood and Soil (why is it always a he?). 

To those who think him unhinged, the question to ask themselves is whether they think he can get away with it, as he already did in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine. If the answer is a yes, then he's not mad. It could, however, be the start of the end of Putin with the protests, which could be Putin's \Vietnam moment.

If there's one thing Ukraine is doing, it's diverting attention from Russia's other borders, where Putin's forces will necessarily be weakened. That is, perhaps, where NATO, and indeed the entire West, has an advantage.

The problem Johnson has is that at some stage he will have to freeze the assets of the Conservative Party. His response to receiving Russian money is that the donations were from registered UK voters, who were citizens. The outstanding question is how they became UK citizens and who allowed it.

It's rather unfortunate that we have the worst possible leader in charge of the UK at this time. If only there were a federal Europe with a combined army and we didn't have a leader who was intent on fragmenting Europe while Putin is intent on consolidating Eastern Europe. Oh well... If only the Conservative Party had chosen someone like Rory Stewart as their leader. Oh well....

I have cause to believe that this episode heralds the start of Russia's version of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, and we know how that went.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Silicone & Clay

I played with more clay to recreate the missing half of the clay former I'd made.

I had reasonable success and covered the whole thing in resin for stability. I then smeared ordinary caulking silicone all over it, topping it off with some liquid silicone, but doubling the recommended volume of catalyst. It set perfectly, but was still not the perfect shape and a bit on the rough side because of the smeared caulking silicone, which can't be rectified once dried, I believe. Rough as the proverbial badger's bum and not worth keeping.

Went back to the liquid silicone filled clay vase I'd molded from the original lampshade and waited till Wednesday before cracking the silicone out of its clay vase, as it just wouldn't cross-link fast enough.

Perfection, although it was still a bit wobbly inside (inserting a skewer into the top determined it was still wet inside), but that will improve over the next few days.

I have enough FIMO clay left to make another impression of the original lampshade, but not enough liquid silicone to fill it, so have ordered some more. That would enable me to make 2 lampshades at a time. On 2nd thoughts, I'm probably better off sinking the silicone former into a tub of resin to create an impression and then fill the resin impression with liquid silicone to create another former.

The next objective was to make a stand for it that's at least 30cm high. I used a carboard picture roll with one stopper end resined into a coaster disk to make a platform and the other end resined into a Tupperware box to provide a stable base.

I have learned something in my resin experiments - it you're encasing an object in resin it's best if you ensure it's not something that contains miniscule crevices that trap air. While it will appear quite clear when you pour the resin over the object, the catalysing reaction increases the temperature of the resin considerably, resulting in the trapped air to bubble out of the covered object as it resin is drying, leaving a snake of trapped bubbles in the matrix. Some of these can be drilled out and refilled with a plastic pipette, but not all of them. Even if you refil the drill holes, a slightly different mix of resin and catalyst can cause refractive differences.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022


Given the sheer array of BBC TV and radio channels, it unquestioningly has the highest combined viewership and listenership in the UK. If it made the transition to advertising, while remaining in public hands, it would easily attract the greatest amount of the advertising budget, much to the chagrin of other TV channels and the press barons who want to own it.

It would not, however, stop the current government attacking it, as it wants nothing more than yet another tame mouthpiece to rebroadcast its lies and deceit. That must not be allowed to happen as, despite it's ridiculous 'balance' policy, it is one of the very few TV channel that's not owned by rich people with a political agenda.

The Observer ran an article on the BBC on Sunday, asking various luminaries their opinion on the BBC and their solutions to its predicament. Not one mentioned advertising revenue and yet staying in public hands. The speed at which this could be accomplished would be under the BBC's control. It would certainly satisfy those who complain about the licence fee and moan incessantly that they never watch it, which, I am certain, is being very economical with the truth, except perhaps in the younger generation.

The BBC could attract high quality adverts, much like its programming, which could become features in themselves, rather than some of the dire adverts you see on other commercial channels.

While I wouldn't like to see advertising on the BBC, it's not a hill I'm prepared to die on.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Restrictions & Freedom

 What restrictions have we been under with Plan B? 

  1. A bit of testing, which most don't do anymore anyway - hardly a loss of freedom. Quite the reverse - it gives you freedom; 
  2. Self-isolating when testing positive, which can only be described as a sensible precaution and considering others and; 
  3. Wearing a mask in public places, which doesn't restrict your freedom one iota, no matter the rubbish that's going around about speech development (blind children learn to speak at the same rate as sighted kids). It's not  anti-freedom, unless you have a weird view of what freedom is.

The issues around the above are;
  1. Tests must be free. That's a bone of contention. £20 for a pack of LFTs is a lot for someone on benefits.
  2. I can understand people not wanting to self-isolate if they don't get fully compensated for the time off - a valid argument, but against the interests of public health. They should be compensated in the same manner as previously, from day 1. The object of the exercise is to limit the spread, unless the government is heading for herd immunity, which it continually denies.
  3. The Japanese wear masks in public when they have nothing more than the sniffles. It's considerate to others. There is no issue around this, except from the idiots who treat masks like suicide vests and couldn't give a toss about anyone but themselves.
Now we must return to 'normal' at some stage, but there are too many vested interests if the decision is left to government and their donors who, it has to be said, are more interested in money rolling in than the health of the public (and parties). This has been proven time after time over the last 2 years. 

Can someone illuminate me as to how Plan B affects keeping the money rolling in, especially as the government keeps crowing about the UK having the fastest growing economy in the G7 (which is currently untrue). Also tell me how the alleged freedoms that are infringed are greater than the mass extinction of freedoms that this government is presiding over with planned legislation? Not one of the Freedom Warriors seem the least bit concerned with those freedoms.

The underlying infection rate is still very high, higher than the 1st and 2nd waves, although hospitalisations and deaths are reducing dramatically. That's an accepted fact. However, the fact remains that the greater the pool of infected people, the greater the chance of yet another variant materialising from the vast petri dish that has been created. Variants are NOT necessarily less dangerous, as the armchair virologists keep insisting.

If there's a Red Alert for a storm, who do we leave it to to tell us the alert has gone down to Amber - the government or the forecasters? If the bank interest rates have to go up or down, who decides that - the government or the experts in the Bank of England? The latter of these was devolved to the Bank of England precisely because of a conflict of interests. Similarly, there's a conflict of interests between the Tory Party and their donors and them telling us to go back to normal. This should not be the case. I simply cannot trust our government - although that's been the case since the day Boris Johnson was inexplicably elected as our PM.

If we do return to normal, I'd prefer it if that was on the basis of a consensus within the medical and scientific community, which is lacking at present. 

According to a poll, only 17% of the population is in favour of dropping all 'restrictions', and I can guarantee the 12% (8m) who have co-morbidities that put them at risk are not among them. I can also guarantee that the 17% who want all restrictions dropped won't take any personal responsibility for others. Boris maintains we don't need laws to be considerate - who is he trying to fool - the masses walking around our local Tesco without masks?

If we do return to normal, I'd like there to be a plan in place - a solid plan - for the steps that will be taken if another variant of Covid, or some as yet unknown pathogen, appears out of nowhere. I don't want a situation like we had with Exercise Cygnus, a 3 day simulation of an outbreak of a pathogen, where lessons were learned but the report was shelved and never saw the light of day again. Nor another repeat of the incompetent recklessness that occurred at the start and throughout this pandemic.

Given the likelihood of another variant, and that the UK could feasibly be the centre of it this time, I'd also like to know how it will be detected, given testing is going to be massively reduced. It would seem that we would have little or no warning and the first sign would be an increase in deaths, by which time, under the proposed plans from Thursday, it will be too late to do anything. 

If we do return to normal, we need the inquiry into the pandemic to start immediately, not 2 years hence, when those responsible will be out of government. The lessons learned might be needed before then. The inquiry report has to be available before the next General Election - and it must be free from  government interference.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Clay, Resin & Silicone

I've spent most of the weekend attempting to solve the problem of a former for the Georgia Jacob lamp copy - this is costing me an arm and a leg.

I started by taking a clay imprint of the the resin impression of the genuine lamp to make a positive. The main problem was that, while half of the mold was perfect, the other half was total rubbish - and it came out in two halves.

I joined the two halves with more clay and let it set, but it was still imperfect and oval, rather than circular.

I thought cutting it in half (perfect half and imperfect half) and then recreating the imperfect half by hand, again using clay, would be the best solution. 

As it happened, Hay was having a ceramics class with her sister and I hoped she'd accommodate me, but she was half way through making an ashtray (we don't smoke). 

To give the good half some stability, I thought I'd give it a thin coat of resin and, just as I'd covered it, Hay popped her head in the kitchen door and offered to try to recreate the missing half. Too late - it had to dry first, and that could take 12 hours.

Anyway, I still had a lot of clay left and, while I was waiting for the half-mold resin to harden, I tried my luck at fashioning a complete former, using a solid ball in the centre of the clay as a basis for the shape. 

Looked more like a blancmange.

As it dried, it cracked open in several places, presumably because while the clay shrank, the ball that was encased in clay didn't, leading to stresses.

Back to the half-mold. I had the thought that, even if I made the missing half, I'd need to cover it in silicone rubber to prevent the resin impregnated cloth of my copy lampshade from sticking to it. The problem here is that simply pouring the liquid silicone over the mold would probably lead to the silicone pooling due to the hydrophobic nature of the stuff. OK, it's not hydrophobic that I actually mean, but its the propensity it has to stick to itself and nothing else - it would cover parts, but run off other parts and create a lacework pattern. I'm probably very wrong about that, as the liquid tends to stick to everything like nuclear glue (mesons).

Back to square one.

I had bought some Staedler, FIMO, air-hardening clay, which is not as wet or sticky as normal modelling clay and more like plasticine, so I decided to go for broke with a revised system. 

I wrapped the base of the original lampshade in cling film, which is difficult at best, as it tends to stick to itself and refuses to mold to the concave contours of the lamp, but I finally managed it. I then took the block of FIMO clay and rolled it out like pastry to just under 1cm thick. This I laid over the upturned base of the lampshade and pushed it into the various folds and crevices, reinforcing the concave elements with additional strips of clay to hold it in place.

The little circlet of clay at the top is just to provide a base for it to stay upright when dried and turned over.

The outside dried overnight, but the lampshade was firmly lodged within the clay casing. With Hay's assistance I managed to eventually tug it free and the result was brilliant.

The inside was not yet hardened, having been protected from the air by the cling film. Next I had to translate this into a positive impression by filling it with liquid silicone. Now, the mixing ratio for liquid silicone is 100 parts silicone liquid to 3 parts catalyst, thus thorough mixing is needed to ensure the catalyst spreads evenly through the silicone liquid.

I used about 600gm of liquid silicone to fill the 'vase' I'd created to a reasonable depth, hoping the liquid wouldn't penetrate the clay and result in a claggy, mixed interface of silicone and clay.

I should have taken more time and applied a thin, sealing layer of resin on the inside before pouring the liquid silicone, and would have done it it didn't mean a further 12 hour delay to allow the resin coating to cure. I'm always rushing things, which is my downfall.

The centre is still not dry as of this morning, so it's going to be a good few hours to see whether my cunning plan has worked.

Made a mess of my attempt to rejuvenate the genuine lampshade, but I'm sure I can fix that. I did, however, mix some remaining liquid silicone with some red resin as an experiment, which produced a rather nice, necrotic, internal organ, or a tumour, from something very dead.

The silicone has given it a nice squidge, like a real tumour.

Now, here's something I learned from YouTube. Apparently, you can make very good silicone molds using common or garden silicone sealant mixed with talc. You mix it into a putty-like paste, press whatever you want to form a mold of into it and leave it to dry. I might try that with the good half of the clay former in order to create the other half out of resin. That's going to have to wait till next weekend though.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Green Idea

Human CO2 emissions are actually dropping.15 years ago no-one would have thought this possible, but they're just not falling fast enough.

Here's a Green policy I've been thinking about. It still needs some fleshing out, but basically it's international carbon trading, but on a domestic scale and goes like this:

  1. A country is allocated a carbon footprint by an independent 3rd party.
  2. Such footprint to be set each year, in accordance with the goal of stabilising global warming within a certain time, meaning the footprint will reduce year-on-year.
  3. The total footprint is equally divided between each and every adult in that country.
  4. Using Blockchain technology, proptietorial rights are established.
  5. Each person is free to either use their personal allocation, or sell all or some of it on the open market to the highest bidder within that country.
Using this methodology, those having a low carbon footprint can make money from selling their allocation - perhaps to fund further carbon footprint reductions. Those requiring more allocation simply buy it from others. 

Public services and critical industry would have their own allocation, which is taken from the country's total before the remainder is allocated, thus ensuring they continue to run and are not subject to fluctuating market prices.

It could be argued that the total allocation should be owned by the government, with the population buying shares of it; however, those with most money would gobble up the entire allocation and such a system could result in the poorest not getting any at all.

The problem starts when you use your allocation - how would that be monitored and policed? It would have to be attached to anything you buy, like a VAT levy, which is automatically recorded, logged and subtracted from your allocation through the purchase process. An App linked to the Blockchain keeps you updated on your remaining quota.

Should international trading of your allocation be allowed?

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Forecasts That Affect the Forecast

I've seen so many people on Twitter berating SAGE forecasts because they don't come true. The one thing they fail to grasp is that a forecast is valid only at the time it's made, based on the available information and if circumstances don't change.

Forecasting the effects of a virus is very complex and a small change in behaviour can affect the forecast massively. Knowledge of the forecast itself can change behaviour, rendering the forecast redundant the minute behaviour is changed.

Take, for example, a company forecast that says the company will fail if it continues with a certain course of action. If, on reading the forecast, the company changes direction and avoids collapse, does that make the original forecast useless? Of course not - it was entirely valid at the time it was made. The forecast initiated the behaviour change.

Take a Waze ETA that changes while on a journey and says there's a traffic jam ahead that's going to result in an delay of an hour. It's rather stupid to say, when you get to your destination an, hour late, that the original forecast ETA of an hour earlier was rubbish. It was accurate at the time it was made, given the available information.

The same applies to the forecast of the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths from a virus outbreak, On the basis of that forecast, people will change their behaviour and government may enforce that by mandating mitigating actions, such as distancing rules and enforcing mask wearing in public spaces. That itself will alter the trajectory of the forecast and in no way invalidates the initial forecast, especially if there are many unknowns at the time the forecast is made.

Forecasts that predict an impact that itself changes behaviour to avoid the impact are every bit valid. Climate change forecasts are similar, yet there will be people who deride such forecasts, despite them (and governments) having changed their behaviour to avoid the impending disaster.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Blood Sacrifice

Got my silver, 25th donation pin from the Blood Transfusion Service this week. I'm O Negative and therefore what's called a Universal Donor, meaning most people can take my blood with no ill effects. There is a chance they'll become more socialist and very Woke, but I'm certain that's a good thing.

I've been doing blood donations for years - about 3 times a year. If you've never given blood before and you're not afraid of needles, I urge you to sign up. It takes no more than 30 minutes in total and could save someone's life. There's no age limit that I'm aware of.

Sign up today - please!

Thursday, 17 February 2022


 I've been playing with my solar generation figures again.

The chart above (click to enlarge) shows the maxima and minima of solar panel power generation over the last 9 years since having the system installed. The X axis comprises daily kWh generated. Ignore the dates on the Y axis - they all show as 2013, but that's because the axis takes its name from the first column, which happens to be 2013, but is 365 days of the year for each year,

I was surprised at the large gap in the summer months; however, it shouldn't really be that surprising, as a dull day in winter isn't that much different from a dull day in summer, except for the number of hours of daylight and the same dull day in summer will produce far less electricity than a sunny day.

It's interesting to note that whereas the minima curve seems evenly spread around midsummer, the maxima curve is weighted toward the spring.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Novak Djokovic says that, as an elite athlete, he has to be careful what he puts into his body; however, there are a few incongruities with this:

  1. If not permitted to travel to countries that demand a vaccination, he will no longer be, technically, an elite athlete, depending on how many such countries there are. Although that's highly debatable, as he could still beat every opponent he plays, but still; not be No.1.
  2. If he contracts Covid again and also gets Long Covid, he will no longer be an elite athlete for the duration of his Long Covid, which could be years and beyond his sell-by date.
  3. If he doesn't take something that all other elite tennis players have had to take, he could be at an  unfair advantage - reverse doping. 
  4. If it turns out that the vaccine has a deleterious effect, he could again be at an unfair advantage.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Slight Disaster

On Sunday I was engaged in trying to make the perfect former for the next Georgia Jacob lamp I'm going to make on my experimental, creative journey. I came up with the brilliant idea of dismantling the one I bought for £140 and using the shade as a template to create the former.

The plan was to cover the base of the shade in clingfilm and sink it into a bowl of resin to create a negative image. Well that was the plan.

Dismantling was pretty straightforward, except that I couldn't remove the bulb holder from the flex. Not really a problem, as I'm after the basic shape and a bit of flex in the depression could be overcome on the finishing of the former. 

The top bit is the shape I wanted to capture.

I mixed a suitable volume of resin and sank the clingfilm covered base into the plastic pot Hay donated as the container for the resin. However, it insisted on floating, so I had to add some weight into the bottom of the shade to keep the base submerged. I used a couple of my contact juggling balls.

After a short while I noticed that the bowl of resin was getting rather warm to the touch. The damned stuff is like a nuclear reactor that's going critical - the more you have, the hotter it gets when curing. Well, this volume was getting so warm that the bowl was too hot to touch.

The result was that the clingfilm melted and the resin hit the shade in several places. I quickly pulled it out of the rapidly setting resin, but quite a lot of it had stuck to the shade.

The heat generated has also discoloured the delicate pink of the shade. Using some gentle heat and sandpaper, I managed to remove the resin, but with not inconsiderable damage to £140 worth of classic design.

I did, however, have the basis of a former in the bowl.

I have a plan as to how to rescue the original lampshade - use some translucent, coloured resin to paint the lower half of the shade - either blue (pictured), cyan or a rose red, with drips or splashes running up the flutes. Complex, but not impossible, although I'm almost guaranteed to screw it up. The necessary coloured powders are on order. OK, it will no longer be original, but it could feasibly enhance it.

On 2nd thoughts, liquid dye might be better of I'm after a translucent effect. I shall experiment.

As for the mold, the intention is to use modelling clay to convert the negative into a positive - and that's on order too. Any missing bits will be shaped with my delicate, creative, sausage fingers to the perfect orientation and then allowed to dry. 

Once I have the complete shape I want, I will cover it with a thin layer of pourable silicone rubber to ensure the resin impregnated cloth doesn't stick to the former. I'll also attach it on a pole of some description so as to facilitate natural folds / flutes to develop. A turntable would be good too, so as to allow maximum access all round the shade.

I have a suspicion, after a bit of research, that the original material for the lampshade is woven, fibreglass matting (not the chopped strand stuff), so I've ordered a couple of metres of that too in 80 gsm weight. Being white, I can add colour to the resin I use to cover it.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Sartorial Solutions

I think I have finally solved the issue of older people becoming less sartorially elegant.

I noticed the other day that a different pair of trousers had risen to the top of my trouser drawer and so put them on. This was unusual and could only have come about because my usual two pairs were simultaneously in the wash.

It's the same with my T shirt and shirt drawer and my jumper / hoodie drawer - for the sake of simplicity I wear whatever happens to be on top, with no regard for whether the colours or styles match or compliment each other.

When I take clothes off and put them in the wash, they're invariably washed and dried the same day, so what I took off this last night will be back on top of the pile by the end of today. 

This results in two basic sets of clothes, which may accidentally get mixed up, but the stuff further down doesn't see the light of day until there's a change in the weather and I move from trousers to shorts. At that point, two pairs of shorts gravitate to the top of the pile and the process is repeated with the summer gear - just two sets which may or may not contain colours and styles that match my other clobber.

I honestly can't remember when I last wore a suit, shirt and tie - it was probably for my wedding in 2016. Suits and DJs are now reserved for funerals and the once a year school reunion dinner, which I haven't attended for the last 3 years anyway because of Covid. I won't even be attending this year's, as it's in Edinburgh, which is a little too far for a weekend.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Still Not Quite Finished

The continuing saga of the Georgia Jacob lamp copy.

I made a clear, epoxy resin base for the lampshade using a coaster mold (couldn't be bothered looking for something larger) but, while it was drying, Hay's dad blundered into the kitchen and accidentally knocked it over while looking at it, sending everything scattering on the kitchen floor.

Anyway, I attempted to rescue the situation. The result, despite some wobbliness, was sufficient to proceed with construction. The base of the lamp material was too narrow, resulting in the lampshade taking on a V shape, rather than a U. 

I overcame this by placing a large ball into the base of the shade and warming the base of the material with a hear gun. This allowed the base to flare out into the required U shape, enabling the flutes of the material to be shaped into a more upright position.

However, the fluting at the base is hideous (first of the photos below), with sharp, irregular folds, rather than evenly spaced flutes, as in the original (2nd photo below).

What I need is a mold over which to place the resin coated material so that the base forms evenly - a ribbed hemisphere. It's the base that's crucial to the overall shape - get the folds in the base wrong and the whole thing goes squonk, as the actress said to the Bishop.

My intention is to get Hay's sister, who is a ceramicist, to fashion a former / mold from clay that replicates the base of the original and bake it in her kiln. I can then cover it in clingfilm (or something similarly repellent to resin) and use it to create the perfect base shape for multiple lamps. Once the base is suitably and evenly fluted, the rest of the shade will naturally follow.

One thing I have only just noticed is that the corners of the square that forms the lampshade are on concave folds and therefore close to the central axis, where as mine are convex and furthest away from the central axis. Ensuring the long points are on concave folds and near the axis enhances stability. 

The hole for the base definitely has to be planned and marked out beforehand so as to obtain the best graduated fall effect from back to front. Make it too offset and one side will be much heavier than the other, leading to balancing problems, especially if the base is small.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Events Since Tuesday

 This analysis of events since Tuesday showed on my Twitter feed yesterday from a chap called Russ Jones (@RussinCheshire) and I thought I'd share it, less the expletives.

Events since Tues: 

 1. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the haunting end-product of The Child Catcher having hate-sex with a pendulum, was made “Minister for Brexit Opportunities”. 

 2. It is 10,388 days since UKIP began the Leave campaign, so Brexit mastermind Rees-Mogg’s first move was to ask people who read The Sun to tell him what the hell any of it meant. 

 3. The Public Accounts Committee found the only effect of Brexit was severe damage to UK trade. 

 4. The Committee had told Tories for 4 years solid to sort out infrastructure at ports thrown into chaos by Brexit, but they'd done nothing. 

 5.Top Brexiteer Natalie Elphicke said port chaos is DEFINITELY NOT CAUSED BY BREXIT, merely caused by all the things Brexit had done. 

 6. Boris Johnson, an abandoned candyfloss who does Prime Minister impressions, appointed unquestioning apparatchik Mark Spencer to be Leader of the House. 

 7. Spencer is under fire after he allegedly sacked someone cos her “Muslimness” was upsetting fellow ministers. 

 8. In a bizarre spasm, Spencer had voluntarily outed himself as being responsible for this. 

 9. Then he'd deleted the tweet. 

 10. Then he apparently underwent some sort of temporary mental aberration, and wrote exactly the same tweet again. 

 11. Then he denied it was him. 

 12. Now Spencer says “people in the real world” (which he sometimes visits) don’t care about partygate. 

 13. 83% of people said they cared A LOT about partygate. 

 14. John Major said Johnson was a “distinctly shifty” threat to democracy and should resign. 

 15. So Guto Harri, Johnson’s effortlessly terrible new Comms chief, retweeted somebody agreeing with this notion. 

 16. And then he deleted that tweet. 

 17. And then the blathering shambles updated his Twitter bio to plead that he shouldn't be held responsible for what he says. 

 18. Britain's first surviving heart, brain and ethics donor, Lucy Allan, said Major wanting Johnson to quit was “subverting democracy”. 

 19. In 2019 Allan had demanded May quit. 

 20. And only last month Allan said Johnson’s position was “terminal”. 

 21. Off to 8-bit culture minister Nadine Dorries, who was happy for Johnson to lie, be corrupt, dissolve democracy, break international law, and be found guilty of crimes by the Met, but "if he kicked a dog I'd probably withdraw support”. 

 22. Has anyone seen Dilyn recently? 

 23. Dorries then removed restrictions on Murdoch’s interference with the editorial independence of newspapers, which bodes well for democracy. 

 24. Rishi Sunak boasted of his ongoing economic success. 

 25. A report found his plans will push 1 million households into destitution. 

 26. Sajid Javid, an Obscurial crammed inside a suit and forced to work in an office whilst plotting your destruction, pledged 15,000 new health workers. 

 27. Brexit alone cost the UK 26,000 NHS workers. 

 28. And there are 52,000 NHS staff off sick with Covid. 

 29. And 1 in 7 NHS staff plan to quit, citing pay and conditions as the main reason. 

 30. So naturally, Javid promised no improvements in pay or conditions. 

 31. Meanwhile 200,000 new people are infected every day, and Covid deaths are up 43% from last week. 

 32. So Johnson said he’d scrap Covid rules a month earlier than the most optimistic estimates allowed. 

 33. He didn’t even discuss this decision with scientists. 

 34. A SAGE member said “this is pure politics, not science”. 

 35. Chris Witty was “blindsided” by the announcement. 

 36. Gillian Keegan, health minister, knowingly held a face-to-face meeting while positive for Covid. 

 37. The Met, now under new – I’m gonna use the word “leadership” in the absence of anything better – is considering reopening enquiries into Johnson’s refurb and Tory blackmail . 

 38. Kwasi Kwarteng said fraud wasn’t an everyday experience. 

 39. Fraud is up 36%. 

 40. And Rishi Sunak wrote of £4.3 billion lost to fraud in a single year. 

 41. North Korean wannabe Nadhim Zahawi suggested students should be officially banned from criticising Boris Johnson. 

 42. Just as Johnson was telling parliament his partygate crisis was over, a new photo emerged. 

 43. It showed Johnson with tinsel, Santa hats and open bottles of champagne 2 days after he’d told the public “I can tell you once again that I certainly broke no rules”. 

 44. He told MPs the Met has already seen that photo. 

 45. The Met said they hadn't. 

 46. They both talk bollocks, so either could be true. 

 47. Anyway, that’s yet another “work meeting” being investigated by police. 

 48. More than 50 are now being investigated. 

 49. Liz Truss, a foreign secretary you'd expect to get free with a HappyMeal, told MPs the “toughest sanctions” against Moscow would be in place by 10 Feb. 

 50. On 11th she flew off to terrify Moscow with those sanctions, having unfortunately neglected to put sanctions in place. 

 51. Moscow, for some reason unterrified by the clumbidextrous doofus Truss, said speaking to her was “like talking to a deaf person”. 

 52. Her diplomatic mission was so good, reports described her as “throwing insults” and “accusing people of not listening”. 

 53. ITV reported “if anything, the situation is now worse than before she arrived, which is an achievement in itself”. 

 54. Russia then walked out of a press conference Truss had arranged to tell everybody how well her negotiations were going. 

 55. And then, to demonstrate how mighty Britain can be when not held back by the evil EU, Machiavellian genius Boris Johnson went on TV to *publicly announce* his top-secret plan for outwitting Putin. 

 56. All since Tuesday. Haven't the little scamps been busy!

Friday, 11 February 2022

Backlog & Living With It

 I read this BBC story about the government's plans to tackle the NHS backlog with incredulity.

The plan seems to comprise tough targets. Anyone can set targets, but targets can't be met without either additional staff or accommodating the current staff levels into that target. It cannot be a target that's set to fail.

Now the government does say it will recruit new staff, but you can't just magic medical staff from thin air, especially when NHS staff are already leaving the profession in their droves. Gaining the necessary qualifications takes time - for a doctor it's six years and for a surgeon it's 16.

Given Johnson's predilection for blaming others, I suspect the NHS is being set up with a reason to sell it off.

I was also rather amazed at the words of a cancer sufferer who said; "It was just so unbelievable that they were allowing me to die because of Covid." So, what she was saying was they they were leaving her to die, at some time in the future and not necessarily, because other people were, well, in immediate danger of dying. You aren't hospitalised with Covid unless your case is rather serious.

She continued to say; "I'm not saying Covid isn't serious because it is. But cancer, heart disease, they don't go away - they get worse." But you're not dead and lots of other people, some 150,000, are.

There is an estimated 160,000 cancer deaths a year in the UK so, for many, it is a death sentence, regardless of procedures. That's more than the number that have died from Covid. However, if you get cancer you can't transmit it to someone else. You're not an epidemiological risk - your lifestyle and genetics are the prime risks. There again, the same can be said of Covid, as there are conditions which increase your risk of dying.

Whatever the prognosis, the role of the NHS is to treat those at greatest risk of dying immediately - nothing will change that. If that happens to be a Covid patient today, they you have to stay in the queue. Only privatisation of the NHS and the ability to pay can change that - is that fair?

Then there's Boris' latest ploy to save his miserable skin - getting rid of Covid restrictions when you test positive. That's going to have a wonderful effect on waiting lists (I'm being ironic). There's even talk of no longer making lateral flow tests free and scrapping the ONS data survey. He's on a different planet and trying to gaslight us that it's all over. His version of living with Covid is to welcome further infection and not even measure it. 

If it comes to a choice, I'd rather believe scientists - even if subsequently proved wrong - than a PM who has already amply and provably demonstrated that he's willing to sacrifice lives for his mates' wallets. At least the science has data behind it, whereas Boris has nothing but bluster and lies.

The latest joke about Boris is that he couldn't possibly have been at the Downing Street quiz, as no-one would want him on their team when he can't answer a straight question without going off at a tangent with lies.

Q: "Prime Minister - what's the capital of Sweden?"

A: "Er - er - fastest growing economy in the G7."

It' would be like a Two Ronnies sketch.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Not Quite Finished

Spent Tuesday and some of Wednesday - we had a planned powercut from 09:00 to 16:00; something to do with the railway - taking advantage of Hay's absence to progress with the Georgia Jacob copy from the comfort of the kitchen island and being as messy as I like.

On Tuesday I used a car bodyfiller spreader to spread resin all over the cloth on the silicone mat. Once that had semi-cured, I applied a 2nd coat and, perhaps, should have given it a 3rd coat. I mixed far too much - 250ml for the first coat, but used only half of that. A little goes a long way.

Keeping the cats off the damned thing was a nightmare!

Having half the resin left over, I dropped a few shotgun cartridge ferrels into it to make a resin paperweight.

Having never mixed so much resin before, and not being bothered about bubbles, I'd been over vigorous with the mixing and there were a lot of bubbles in it. It was curing fast (the silicone resin beaker was getting warm), so it was too late to try to get them out. It was smooth on the bottom and sides, but rough on top; however, this was fixed with some 250 grit sandpaper, followed by 600 grit wet and dry and then a polish with cutting compound.

I decided not to use clingfilm at all for the lampshade. Peeled it off on Wednesday morning and the side that was on the silicone mat was like glass, while the top side was like sandpaper. It looked and felt like one of those oilskin table cloths, but much stiffer.

I then draped it over the makeshift former in the shed and applied the heat gun to make it fall in folds. 

On reflection, I should have marked out the planned position of the bottom of the lamp beforehand. As it was, I wanted it higher at the back than the front, but doing it freehand resulted in it being rather lopsided and too high at the back, which translates to too heavy at the back. That said, it was a first attempt and a learning process.

Brought it back inside after allowing it to harden again and placed an elastic band around it to keep it together while I thought what to do next.

I then cut out a hole in the base with a scalpel and placed it on the LED display light, just to see the effect of the light shining up inside the flutes.

As I think you'll probably agree, it does look really effective.

I now need to pay attention to a few things:

  1. I need to attach it to a reasonably large, clear, resin base to give it stability. A coaster simply isn't large enough, so I'm looking for a suitable mold with which to create one. It has to be deep as well, to add weight and stability.
  2. It need more folds in it, as it's the folds that give it strength. It does tend to open up a bit when I take the elastic band off (see photo below), so I may need to add some more resin on the outside of the convex folds to stiffen it more - possibly painting it on in vertical stripes and then re-shaping it, preferably hanging it from something. I don't think there's much danger of the folds sticking to each other, so a good, overall heating should achieve the objective.
  3. For the next piece, use something a tad thicker for the cloth, which will soak up more resin and hence be inherently stronger. Some kind of thin canvas, rather than cotton.

It's very difficult to shape the folds with a heat gun, as it's so large. The resin doesn't set as quickly into the new position, so you have to hold the fold while it's hardening, which is laborious and time-consuming. Doing it with a cold, running, water spray nearby would be ideal, so as to get it to cool and harden almost immediately. Also, as I said previously, I need to hang it from something while doing the shaping.

The main lesson learned is to better plan the position of the base and cut the hole before covering the cloth in resin. It should be a central on the Y axis and about a couple of inched up along the X axis - however many inches you place it off-centre, it will be doubled in the final result, as the back is raised by two inches and the front is lowered by 2 inches, making a 4 inch difference in total, if you get my meaning. On the one I made, the drop from back to front is about 8 inches, which is far too much.

The Georgia Jacob lamp I bought has no offset base and the 4 corner points are at equal height, although there are ones that are offset, which I think look better. The resin on the Georgia Jacob is also much stiffer, for I'm not sure whether 50 years since manufacture has added this attribute. Lastly, there's a lot of even grain on the fabric of the Georgia Jacob - it's somewhat redolent of the material on a roller blind that we have in the kitchen, which is a polyester fabric.

It's about £23 a metre, which is quite expensive when compared to the cotton I'm using, which is £9 a metre. I think I might buy some and try a test piece.

I have heard of craft modellers using Mod Podge to harden fabric, which sets very stiffly but, once set, you can't change its shape, except possibly by wetting it with a water spray. Being water based it is very easy to clean up and you can get it with a matt finish.