these double roller rings are finally refined enough for me to be happy – they now seem reliable and are not too ridiculously insane to make. in this kinetic design, the outer ring rolls freely around the inner ring on two rows of small balls, just like a ball bearing, so the whole thing spins freely on your finger with a soft swishy sound. fun!
mostly i have made these with stainless steel balls, or black ceramic balls, but this special ruby one is on the finger of a pretty girl right now, who has been giving it a thorough test-run. it is made from four parts of finely turned stainless steel, the outer ring as one piece, the inner ring in two halves, with a securing ring hidden inside, all held together with three very small grub screws.
the real pain in making these is not so much in the fine tolerances that the latheing requires, and weird holding techniques, but rather in putting the ring together, which usually needs to be done 3 or 4 times for trialling and smoothing – placing and holding all the balls in place while the rings are slipped together…. painful! in order for the ring to spin smoothly the turned channels need to be quite smooth, so they are “run in” with hardened balls and cutting compound to smooth out the surface. all this takes time and has to be judged by feel.
i like the design a lot. it seems reliable, and has a simple, clean aesthetic. i like the blend of elegance and machine aesthetic, and i hope to pare it back to reveal more of that subtle elegance as i make more. it is nice when you work on a design over a few years in the back of your mind, small solutions appear, and ways of working, such as the refined cold-connection of the grub screws, which means i can now pull it all apart for a service. nice. and it is always funny to look back and realise that only a few years ago i would not have been able to make such a thing, with such fine tolerances and weird holding manoeuvres. so i am getting better and more creative with the lathe – that is nice to know – it is such a complex tool!
i made this ring just before i went on exchange to vienna, where i am now for 5 months, and i must say i am keen to get back to my workshop and keep on with more making! but there are so many tasty pastries and cakes here, and gorgeous old cafes, that i am sure i will keep myself occupied….
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