Well its been a funny old year in many ways!
Full of highs and sometimes lows but we seemed to have kept moving forward and have ended the last quarter of the year on a high with a real flurry of activity and sales successes helped in no small way by the collaboration with Jacqueline Lancaster of the Riverside Gallery in Lower Sunbury, London so a big thank you to you Jacqueline.
We had thought that December might be a quiet month for us after the last of our shows but we had so many commissions to complete for Christmas that it got a bit crazy towards the end.
What was really nice was the number of people who had seen us at shows earlier in the year and had said they would get in touch with us nearer Christmas or similar and true to their words, the calls came in. It gives you some faith in human nature when people keep their promises and what nice people they have all been to deal with.
Lesley and I would like to thank everyone who bought one of our pens or even just came to have a chat and look at some of the demos. Some will come back - some will not - but everyone has been so nice to deal with and it makes the hard work that goes into a show worthwhile for us.
We are working towards all sorts of new and exciting things in the coming year and we have been hunting down and stockpiling some beautiful new materials to work with as well as hopefully, some new designs so watch this space.
To all of you we hope you had a peaceful and Merry Christmas and have a Happy and successful 2012
We had a wonderful and highly successful weekend at the Sparkle Contemporary Craft and Gift show in the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington, South London.
There was a real buzz to the event which kicked off on Friday evening with a preview session and really got into a swing on Saturday and Sunday. We met some lovely and very talented artists and designers on the stands at the show and you could see the passion that everyone had for their respective disciplines.
We also had the real pleasure of meeting some lovely visitors to our stand - both buyers as well as browsers - and I would like to thank all those people who were highly complementary about our stand and especially our pens. We go to a great deal of effort in making and presenting the pens and it is very rewarding to have someone approach you and tell you that "she had never seen such beautiful pens and that she gave us 10 out of 10 for presentation and quality".
We decided to make a contribution to the BBC Children in Need appeal for every pen sold over the weekend and I am pleased to say that a cheque for £25.00 has been sent off on behalf of Crawford Pens.
Finally, we were also approached by a new Gallery opening in the area soon and we are delighted to be supplying them with a range of high quality pens and possibly some accessories. There will be more about this in a future blog.
When I started my well intentioned blog, I thought it would be easy to keep up with it but all sorts of things have got in the way!
We have been busy on a number of fronts and attended several shows and events since the last entry. We have also spent a lot of time and effort getting ready for events only to have them cancelled at the very last moment by the organisers which is very irritating to say the least.
I have also had ongoing health issues which has floored me for some time and although I am responding to some of the treatment, it feels like life is in slow motion at times.
We have been doing simple demos at the shows to show (mainly) children how to make a simple pen and also, to explain what a lathe is and what it does and how we transform a rectangular piece of wood into a pen. I have to say that the delight and pleasure that they show more than pays for the hard work and cost of doing the demos.
I designed a pen specifically for these demos which uses a biro insert. The kids can decide what the decoration should be and at the end, they are given the pen to take away if they have shown the interest in what I am doing. We tell them about the wood and where it came from and encourage them to go away and do more research into it for themselves. We have even had one youngster enroll in his local wood-turning club to learn how to turn (and ask Santa for a lathe instead of the X-Box he had originally wanted). To me, that success is priceless as it should open up a whole range of possibilities for him as he grows up that he certainly wouldn't get from his X-Box.
Life beyond pens...
I have been working on a case for a Nixie clock for one of my work colleagues. This is long overdue for delivery as its turned out to be a major piece of wood engineering which I wasn't expecting when I rashly took on the challenge.
If you haven't seen a Nixie clock before try Googling it.
Essentially, they are old fashioned valve tubes a bit like an old fashioned amplifier and in this case, there are 6 tubes. They all sit on a printed circuit board with a second board attached to the bottom of the first one. The top board houses the tubes while the second one has the controls and the rest of the electronics to make it work I assume. As I am not an electronics engineer, don't take my word for the accuracy of any of the preceding description.
The trouble is that the design I came up with needs to be VERY precise and I only have 1 piece of the wood I have chosen for it so if it goes wrong, there is no plan B...
Most of my time has been spent measuring and remeasuring (and re-measuring) again as well as creating very accurate drawings of the Circuit boards and the various controls that need to fit through the back of the case.
I think I am getting towards the finishing stages - but time will tell - and then I can get back to making some new pens.
I have started work on a new prototype Fountain pen made from a High quality German Mutschler front section including nib. I have been experimenting with these front sections rather than the usual full mechanisms as they allow a greater freedom of expression when it comes to turning a pen. As I do not use automated lathes, making these pens is a real challenge and one which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I have been regularly using a couple of the prototypes that I made using Schmidt front sections and they are a joy to write with. I am using them to refine the shapes in the hope that I will soon be able to offer a limited number of them.
Life and production would be so much easier with either a CNC lathe or at least a metalwork lathe but then, where would the challenges be in life???
UPDATE - Nixie case completed - back to pens...
This my first blog so forgive any stutters and stumbles...
We had a great weekend at the first Great British Craft Bazaar event which was held in Community Centre and High School in Culcheth, Warrington last weekend. The event was a big unknown and leap of faith for us - and I suspect all of the exhibitors - and I also suspect that none of us were entirely happy with the number of visitors over the two days.
We met some lovely people from both the exhibitors and also the public and had some great conversations. My thanks to those people who were so complimentary about my pens at the Culcheth show. It is very gratifying to have such feedback and makes all the work worthwhile. Thank you...
We haven't heard anything more from the organisers so its difficult to gauge how they felt about the event as their first foray into this sort of thing but it would be nice to get some feedback if you read this Caroline and Linda!!!
Things seem to be a bit crazy at the moment and I am frantically trying to get the website up and live with my pens but there always seems to be something else more desperate that gets in the way. I have promised myself to work at it to get even a limited range of pens up on it as soon as I can.
I have just bought some new batches of what promises to be stunning Arizona Desert Ironwood Burl and also Hawaiian Dogwood Burl and Redwood Lace Burl, samples of which are shown below. It may not look promising in this state but the finished pens should be gorgeous and utterly unique...
Watch this space for some feedback on it when it arrives.
I am also waiting on a large consignment of Ebonite in both plain and multi-colours.
I really love working with Ebonite despite all the negatives from a production point of view. There are no negatives from a pen point of view - it is simply stunning stuff and makes the most wonderful pens imaginable. The pen at the top of the website is made from Ebonite - need I say more...
Enough of the ramblings for now. Keep checking back and I promise I will have some lovely pens for you to look at very soon.