Monday, 25 April 2011

Iron Dog (and 'Regency' bronze urn).

This cast bronze urn (bought for peanuts by me on saturday) is put up for Cro to look at - see the comments below.

I started to write a post at what an awful night I had last night, when I lay awake worrying about the future. Then I thought, who wants to listen to this? Anyway, you would only blame it on the 5 pints of expensive beer that I drank yesterday, so you've got the iron dog instead. Much more uplifting.

I first saw this little feller in an antique shop, sold as 19th century English, with a price tag to match. I almost bought it - good job I didn't. A few weeks later, I went round to a friend's house on the Somerset Levels. This friend has two, big, traditional English droving dogs (the breed name of which I have forgotten) which look exactly like the iron one.

There on their mantle-piece were two of these little iron ones, and I asked where he had got them. They turned out to be a cheap, Indian import, and I went out a few days later and bought one myself at a fraction of the price that the dealer was trying to extort from the ignorant public.

It is made from a single sheet of malleable iron which has been deftly cut and folded by a true craftsman/artist using shears and pliers, until it has adopted the forlorn attitude seen in the photo. Actually, I think 'artist' would be a better description than 'craftsman', as I have seen much worse depictions of dogs in famous galleries.

My dark night of the soul last night, hinged (or unhinged) on insecurity about my future. Like the Indian who made this dog, I make things with my hands and I depend on people actually wanting what I make in order to survive. Right now, I am enjoying what can only be described as old-fashioned patronage from a wealthy client who seems to like everything that I do, but this cannot go on forever, and I do worry about putting all my eggs into one basket.

I often wonder what I am going to do when I get too old to be able pick up a mallet and chisel, let alone be able to pick up the material that I have chosen to work with - stone.

I'll just have to make sure that the things I make are as universally appealing as this doggie, so I can continue to pay for the rising costs of life's necessities, using the falling rates of the pennies I earn from them.

Hey Ho.


  1. Whine/Wine,.....not to worry. The world is coming to an end (or as we know it) next year on the 21st of December.

  2. The world seems to be filled with 'antiqued' cast iron objects, and very cleverly aged garden statuary. Some of it is so good that the faux-ness is almost unimportant.

  3. Hello Tom:
    So many things here!

    Yes, possibly the insomnia could have been caused by the five pints of lager. A drink neither of us has ever taken to. But, judge not....!

    The matter of earning a living is a perennial problem for the majority of artists, whatever medium they choose to work in as, for the most part, we live in something of a Philistine age where Art [using the word in the widest sense] is seldom valued.

    The dog is wonderful and we are so pleased that you were not, in today's parlance, 'ripped off'.

  4. There is an over-used phrase in the antiques world: "It is what it is". It's irritating, but it sort of sums it up. I specialise in 'aging' the repairs I make to genuine stone antiques, but despite my constantly telling the customers that this is no more than a camouflage, they expect miracles.

    I might put up a picture of a bronze urn I bought to re-sell last saturday. It is a very good quality copy of a Regency one, and made in the first half of the 19th century. It is what it is - which is quite nice, actually! A Regency one would be a few thousand quid... See the above photo.

  5. Shame I'm not meek enough to inherit it, Grouch.

    Although I see myself as a 'sculptor' in the classical sense, Jane and Lance, I certainly do not see myself as a 'fine artist', nor do I see myself as a 'writer', despite churning out all this guff every day. There's even less money in that than there is in crafstmanship.

  6. Your worries are those of us all and after a few glasses of very fine wine or a pint or two of beer, we sometimes slip into a mood of anxiety about the future. All we can do is our best and concentrate on the "now". The world is changing so fast and the pace is mind-bogling, but we have to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. That is all we have.

  7. That was a comment that lived up to your blog-title - maybe...

  8. I think this is the price you pay Tom for having a creative job - but think of the satisfaction you get from it.

  9. Personally, I think the work you've produced and your craftsmanship are superb. Tom, I wish I could get a cloth and wipe away your worries but I can't. Your client obviously appreciates your work. I don't know what else to say except that we all care about you!

  10. That's a very nice thing to say, Moll (and Weaver too). I'm alright now, but if you really do want to send a cheque for £250,000, then feel free. X

    John - When I bought that urn, someone asked what I was going to do with it, and I said it would look very good on a gay's mantle-piece. I'm glad my old instincts for placing objects are not letting me down. If I find a 18 inch reproduction of Michaelangelo's 'David', you'll be the first to know - in fact, I think Olive Out has just bought one into her house!

  11. sigh
    gay cant beat em

    thats the last time I am sycophantic!
    get back to chatting up busty barmaids

  12. More fun than beating a consumptive strumpet.

  13. Haha! Just love the comments to/from you and John, Tom.

    But seriously, SOAC-M above is right. Your worries are those of many of us, as we get older and are no longer 6 feet tall and bulletproof. We just need to enjoy the moment (easier said than done, I know. Hey ho, as John would say.)

    I like the dog.

  14. Good grief Tom, I made the comments. Me and my two dollar reproduction that is. I am thrilled of course because usually this conversation is going along at such a pace I feel as if I am interrupting all of you.

  15. The 'Key Pattern' suggests that this is a classic Greek Urn.

    What's a Greek Urn?

    About five...... Oh shut up Cro.

  16. Don't get me wrong - I'm quite prepared to 'enjoy the moment' as much as I can. Just try giving that advice to Brian, up there on the cross, that's all. "Always look on the bright side of life..."

  17. Jeeez, does it really take a German "Hausfrau" to solve your financial woes? Never mind, here we go:

    Step 1: Stop paying other people for compliments. Instead hang out with really desperate old bachelorettes. Preferably fat ones. They will pay you lots of compliments for free. (Ignore that this is completely politically incorrect.)

    Step 2: Develop a talent that get's you on to the X-Factor and win that thing.

    Step 3: Having failed the X-Factor competition, return to those said deperate bachelorettes and tell them that you were once a contestant on a famous TV show. Offer them the chance to become members of your fanclub for a membership fee of a mere 250 pounds.

    There you go. Problem solved.

  18. If there's one thing worse than waking up in the middle of the night with a hangover and anxiety, it's waking up in the morning with a fat bachelorette AND a hangover and anxiety, but thanks for the suggestion Iris.

  19. I think you should write stories Tom, when you get too old to sculpt stone. From reading your American tales and just getting your turn of phrase (it's very good)you have a good future in wordsmithing after all that rocksmithing, and a few good tales to tell too.

  20. Will you be my agent in the Southern Hemisphere, Sarah?