sábado, 3 de maio de 2008

Barges, Pigs and Gypsy caravans

I do not know if you all remember the tinkers. Every week they would arrive and tap the door to give fortune telling or pieces of lavender for lucky charms, if you did not accept them with grace they would spit on the ground and wish the family harm. There was the tinker that rode around on a modified bicycle wich had a grinding wheel attached so he could sharpen knives and scissors, there was the rag and bone mens horse drawn cart and the tinkers wagons that could be heard two streets away as the pots and pans clattered inside. I was thinking about the time when Andrew Saunders rang me to ask if I had ideas for how to construct some giant inflatable pigs that were to be used by the pop group 'Pink Floyd'(in actual fact it was two pigs, a couple and their two and half children along with a flying TV set) when I arrived to see him he had in fact worked out a method for making the patterns. They were to be constructed from heavy duty fabric that was coated with plastic, similar to the lorry tarpaulin.
The first job was to make large polysterene(isopor for my Brazilian friends) scale models of the objects and then wrap them with cling film(food wrap) and clear selotape. A case of good judgement was then applied as you had to mark the position, with a felt tip, for the seams and the cutting lines to create the best visual impression. The lines then were cut with a scalple and the pieces coded and marked with jointing positions, transfered to squared paper and the whole of the pieces then marked out on the canvas full size.
A fair bit of work and required about 10 of us to do the different parts . After the cutting out of the full size pieces they were sown together on some industrial overlockers, heavy work and requiring about three people for each sowing machine.
The finished articles were a success and surprising to me I cannot locate any photos of them on the web, so I have just put the pig that was made by the German company for the Battersey power station photo shoot in 1977. During the time I helped with these inflatables I came in contact with a man that was restoring and painting gypsy caravans, he lived and worked somewhere in Norfolk and along with him met another chap that restored and carved wooden horses for the old fun fair rides.
The other connection to these caravans, remembering that barges were always visible on the canals in Birmingham and too in London on the converted barges, was with two friends, David Mclwain and Rose Gray, who had a French stove restoration company in Little France, London. David and Rose were a bit like gypsies in that that they had spent many of their younger years in France selling crepes that they made to the French.
I made patterns for restoration castings and also the patterns complete for a wood and coal burning stove called the 'Poppy', interestingly the Hunter company bought the rights to all David's stoves and they still produce my stove but sadly I have never received any commision from David or the Hunter company.
David and Rose had a fabulous collection of wood/coal burning stoves that they had collected all over Europe and restored to sell. There were many completly ceramic stoves, stoves with wheels to move the burning fire from room to romm(no need to relight the fire) stoves with chimneys that were like palm trees and tiny stoves that were for use on boats and caravans. I too for many years had a collection of stoves and fireplaces but my divorce from Jacky saw me lose all but a few items.

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