While the Winter weather has been too cold and wet for working on the 1925 Grocery mural I have been busy with etching press construction, working on four 1908 Ewbank Mangle conversions. I've made and sold two of these recently and have the process down pat but making four at the same time is a stretch, I've had to number each one and keep all their separate components apart from each other.
The hardest part is making the rollers, I've had no training as an Engineer and am working with a Danish Lathe dating from World War 2. It's a temperamental machine and we have been a long time getting to know each other, the lathe and I. Two sets of rollers are coming along fine and the other two sets of rollers are work ready but do not have the beautiful finish I require.
The people who eventually buy these etching presses from me are artists after all and have artist's eyes and an appreciation of beauty in whatever form it takes. And it is for them I work..
The other tricky job is the press bed runners which I make out of wood, in this case Tawa which is a New Zealand native timber. I bought a selection of 4 inch T G and V Tawa panelling, about a hundred years old, from a local demolition yard for this purpose. I've no training as a joiner either and there is zero room for error in shaping wood to exact shapes. I approach the job as a sculptor, here is a piece of stuff, wood, that I want to make into this shape, like Michaelangelo, the shape is in there, I just have to liberate it.
HA! and if you believe that you'll believe anything! I am always looking for opportunities to practice the great Kiwi art of bullshit. Australians are pretty good at bullshit too but I reckon not on a par with New Zealanders. You will actually find the odd Aussie that will deny that and affirm the opposite but that is just bullshit...
Meanwhile an array of bigger etching presses lay in wait for me, great gorgeous monsters. I shall be needing several more cold and wet Winters to get them all sorted.