Kids in the Shed!!

60 kids from Hertford Infants School at the workshop.

Mr Watt’s shed gets it’s first occupants!



Wonky metalwork explained….


…to an attentive audience:


then the walk back to school, and they’re all exhausted!


See the Kingfisher class blog at:

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Hey Kids!!

Here’s me giving a talk to Hertford Infants school assembly.

A quick history of my career to date, from automata and furniture, to public art and demo’s of the Mr Watt eBooks.

What a receptive and appreciative audience!

(with thanks to: All at Hertford Infants School & Branwen Lorigan ‘Arts, Education & Creative Economy’)

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Ghost Train pic

Thanks to Clive Baldwin for this shot of the ghost train ~ and here are some others if you haven’t made it to the bottom of the Jenny Lind Locomotive post yet.
clives pic

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And now… the eBook goes live! eeee!



At last, Apple have finally given the all-clear on the Arts Council funded  “Mr Watt Grumpy Man of Metal” ebook; almost 9 months have been spent putting the film, animations, demonstrations and stories together; here’s the official link to buy it for your iPad, or to just check out some sample pages:

Here’s a link to the cover art:

And here’s a link to a promotional video

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stick-kid bridge

About 4 years I ago I was asked to produce a design based on “people” to go on the sides of a new footbridge in Andover, which Persimmon Homes had to provide as part of their new housing development scheme. At the time I had recently sold “Stickman” (to Darren Shan the teenage horror writer), and as the site for the bridge was flanked by trees, I proposed making a series of running “stick kids” running from one side to the other, and using the bridge as a sort of backdrop to a simple cartoon/illustration.

The job was duly forgotten for a few years and then suddenly the phone call comes, engineers are poring over details, deadlines appear to be tight and stressful and work has to start in order not to miss road closures and cranes etc etc. First off – get a load of tubes of varying diameters rolled to various radii:

All tubes have to be sorted and cut to various lengths depending on the limbs that they are representing. There are going to be 14 figures in total, 7 boys on one side and 7 girls on the other. The bridge fabricator will be welding in 3 horizontal rails across each side of the bridge; these will be my datum and I will make a jig based on the centre-lines of these 3 support rails.

Once cut to the correct lengths, each section is heated up and ‘knocked about’ to make it more stick-like:

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and then all ends capped to keep the rain out. Here’s all the components of one figure:

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Original sketch is used to scale up the figures, and then assembly can take place on the jig:


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I’m hoping that the shorts/skirts and hands/feet will read as camouflage-like splashes of colour. The boys will be a yellowy orange, girls light green (with opposite coloured shorts/skirts).

The figures at each end will have a dog on a lead as well (powder-coated yellow):


Picture also shows all of the fixing clamps that will be used to bolt the 14 figures to the support rails.

Now the work is all stacked up awaiting finishing/powder-coating, which will (hopefully) be timed to coincide with the one week road closure and crane etc. in July.


And finally: 2 days spent by the roadside, bolting the powder-coated figures on to the bridge structure. A great work team from CTS Bridges Huddersfield (thanks Phil, Phil and Mark!) and everything fitted. Road closure’s on Friday, and the crane will lift it all up and into position.



The final figure being lifted up and over and in to position:

last one


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art deco commission

About a year ago I won a commission to create an Art Deco sculpture to stand outside the 1930’s Grand Ocean Hotel in Saltdean – a Butlins resort from the 50’s and now converted to apartments. Contract came through in the autumn following planning applications etc etc.

My proposal was for 2 pairs of dancing, cut-out silhouetted figures and 2 musicians, all in a Deco style, with Deco textile patterns cut into the dresses, period hairstyles etc. ~something along these lines, with colours to match window frames etc:


All figures to stand about 3.5m high.

First of all, get 3 tonnes of 10mm steel plate delivered (cue trusty fork-lift):P1100608

Scale up my drawings on to sheets of hardboard and cut them out as templates:


Chalk the templates on to the steel plate, and start plasma cutting out the blanks:


forge the double bass strings to give a nice quality:


and tune the bass:


and string them up:


Obviously – need some sturdy brackets etc to make them a)stand up and b)stand up to vandals climbing all over them:


Quickly jump all over them to see what happens:


Now get on with the dancers…..

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First set almost completed… I love arranging and cutting these deco patterns…

And the second pair… there is some strange satisfaction in combining the deco pattern cut-outs with the stencil cut-outs such as the mans bald head, shirt and creases etc.


The work is all fettled and flat packed now, ready for delivery to the finishers and awaiting engineers report for concrete bases and fixings etc.

At last after a few weather-related hold-ups, the work has been installed and wrapped up in readiness for an unveiling ceremony in April. Installation pics by Jayne Babb:



20th April ~ grand unveiling by Mayor Bill Randall:


Local choir singing, jazz band playing, and a gorgeous sunny day….




Next job…. 14  3m high running figures for a new footbridge over a main road in Andover.

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Trumpet/own/my/blow ~ A new book out – and a whole chapter about me!

“Cut and Shut”, the History of Creative Salvage by Gareth Williams and Nick Wright.It was a real surprise to get such a good splash in this publication – not only did it ‘contextualise’ my work in relation to the era, it even ‘contextualised’ the old cars in my garage alongside Colin Chapman and Lotus (in a ‘men in sheds’ sort of a way!)

ISBN 978-0-9574183-0-1




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Chinese Horse for Grumpy man

Just announced!! The winner of the Hastings Museum & Art Gallery’s competition “Mr Watt’s Holiday Souvenir” is……Indika Mamujee, for his Watt~ian version of the Museum’s “Chinese Horse”. (The museum commissioned me to make 2 of the winner’s design ~ one for the winner, one for the Museum.)

Here’s the poster:

and here is Indika receiving his prize from Councillor Emily Westley:

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Mr Watt at Museum of Iron, Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Until April 2013: stop press! Exhibition now held over until September 2013

All of the objects made for the existing 12 little booklets, are on display for 6 months.

It’s in a great setting, in the Enginuity Hall… surrounded by old bits and pieces of metal… fantastic!

There are over 60 objects now that have been made to illustrate the stories, the most recent being “Mr Watt misses the point”. He’s wasted his time making a giant submarine (because he can), but there’s no sea to put it in. Here’s page 9 (with apologies to I.K.Brunel):

and here’s the cover:

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what the scribbles became

I was recently asked to be part of an A&C Black publication, about artists and their drawings.
It prompted the digging out and scanning of some of the more interesting works, especially when the scribble had led to bigger things. Here are some pics of what was on paper, and then what it became.

1986 and some sketches for a rocket seat, inspired by nothing more than having  made a tool to press those dimples into sheet steel, thinking it reminded me of a 60’s rocket seat texture. The decision to put a cable-operated multi-directional radar dish on top came during the process of making it.

Various options considered before final result:

and here is (one of) the finished chairs. I made about 9 variations on the theme in the end; one is in Hove Museum’s collection, one went to the Vitra design museum… a client in Chicago..etc;

Dan Dare chair with multi-directional radar dish

Dan Dares Pram (with cable operated rocket flame) was a natural progression, and made at the same time (1988) as a coiled cactus on wheels:

This photo by Jon Pratty was always a favourite:

I made a range of semi-functional and sculptural furniture from 1988 – 1992 ish; cupboards and sprawling couches:

scribbles for a “castle” cupboard, and what became known as “Modular Cupboard”.

…and shown here, a privately commissioned “Upholstered Couch”, complete with cupboards for books & bottles, and a reading light.

Public art started kicking in (for me, anyway) in the early ’90s. This Chandelier for Wolverhampton Art Gallery was commissioned in ’94:

there are loads of variations on a theme for this, resulting in…..


240 low voltage light bulbs ~ 6m high.

Probably the biggest commission I have ever, and will ever, work on, is this 65m bridge in Machynlleth, Wales (2000). Liaised with engineer at Powys County Council over design of main pylon and cables and then I manufactured all of the parapets.

and shown here with “Car” from 1988

Back to 1988/89-ish and a music machine for “Erik the Viking” ~ a Terry Jones/Monty Python film. I was asked to fax some sketches; the brief stated “..must be able to be rolled on to the set, have a seat for a man to sit on and moving parts that we will put some sounds over, oh.. and we need it in 10 days time to fly it to Malta for filming…”

1989 and my favourite ever piece of furniture “Dog Bollock Wardrobe”

I still have this cupboard in my living room. Can’t believe it’s 23 years old.

and another favourite, the first “Cooker Seat” (1987) ~ 240v cooker ring: this chair does not conform to current Health & Safety regulations. I think I made 4 or 5 to order in the end.

The initial sketch:

and another Jon Pratty pic of the final result:

At last – the book is out – “Making and Drawing” by Kyra Cane ISBN 978-1-4081-3451-1

Contains some nice pics of mine!


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