I scrolled through Instagram a couple of months ago, just looking through my explore page, clicking on different posts, completely went down a rabbit hole and there I found him. Chris Eastwood aka @chris_coin_art on Instagram. I've never seen Coin art before and just couldn't stop looking at his artwork and instantly became a fan. After a while of me stalking Chris' work on his Instagram, we got into contact and a while down the track, he surprised me with THIS.
The picture in the right bottom corner is one of my paintings, called "heaven is a place on earth" and the big photo is of a coin that he made for me. This absolutely blew me away. THIS IS A COIN. The detail, just beautiful. He then made them into earrings and sent them off to me. His work is absolutely impressive and beautiful and so I thought that I would have to introduce this amazing craftsman to you and ask him a couple of questions.
My Name is Chris Eastwood, I’m a 48-year-old Yorkshireman living in a small village south of York in the United Kingdom
WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO COIN CUTTING?
I took a rather winding route to do this, I spent nearly 30 years as a mechanical maintenance craftsman at a large coal-fired power station, when the station shut and we were waiting to decommission it I had long days with nothing to do so I started cutting and shaping brass and copper into different things, this lead to making keyrings for people which then lead me to buy a piercing saw (or a jewellers saw) and then I had a go at cutting a coin, the first few were just whatever happened to be embossed on the coin and then I had an idea of trying a negative space silhouette on a coin, the image only reveals itself when it's backlit, the first one was Bruce Lee and I liked the look of it so I started cutting more, people liked them so I started showing them on Instagram.
WHEN DID YOU START?
The station shut in 2018 so coming up to 3 years now
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR CUT COINS TO LOOK SO CLEAN AND SHARP?
I first find a picture I think I can use, sometimes it's a google image search, sometimes its a photograph and sometimes it other artists work that I like, I then use photoshop to make a template, it has to be simple and recognisable and all the pieces have to connect as well as fit on a coin that’s only an inch across (or smaller), once I’ve printed it out and it looks okay I cut it out and stick it onto the coin, I then have to drill tiny holes by hand and then it's just a case of threading the saw blade through and cutting, I use a Knew Concept jewellers saw and a piece of wood with a V cut in it to rest the coin on, I don’t clamp the coin I only hold it down with my fingers as I think it gives me more control to turn it, once it's cut out I gently rub it on a pan scouring pad to remove any burrs, I don’t tend to polish the coins as they are too delicate and I think they look better aged.
HOW MUCH TIME GOES INTO ONE COIN?
It's normally about half an hour to an hour to make the template and anywhere between an hour and two hours plus to cut the coin depending on the complexity and which coin I’m using, pennies are tougher than halfpennies and sixpences are lovely and soft and easy to cut but really difficult to hold as they are so small.
WHAT DO YOU DO FULL-TIME?
Since the power station shut I work as a Workshop Technician overhauling industrial pumps for a large multinational company.
I really don’t know if I want to make the coin cutting into a business. I’ve had a lot of people asking to buy the coins or telling me I should sell them but I’m afraid if I turn it into a business then I might lose the enjoyment I get from cutting them, I use coin cutting as a form of stress relief, a type of meditation when I’m cutting the only thing I’m thinking of is the coin and not messing it up (if I make a mistake it usually means the coin has to be thrown away and start again) I don’t want to lose this with adding the pressure of making something that’s good enough for someone to buy or spending too long trying to make a template for a coin that then doesn’t work, plus I wouldn’t have a clue how much to charge for them.
WHAT DO YOU DO BESIDES THAT?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and children, I enjoy photography when I get the chance and recently I rediscovered my love of lego that I had as a child, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as building lego sets and now at least I can nearly afford to buy them
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
I have got a few ideas I’d like to try, perhaps a larger artwork using several coins placed together side by side or maybe something with coins stacked on top of each other so the image is seen when you look through it, id also like to try to make more pendants and earrings, I enjoy the challenge of working with smaller coins
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE COIN SO FAR?
I have a couple, I was really pleased with how the Dirty Harry coin came out
and another artist on Instagram challenged me to cut Hokusai’s Great wave off Kanagawa into a penny, that one was really difficult but I managed it and then cut it out again into a smaller halfpenny
WHAT WAS THE MOST EXCITING PROJECT SO FAR?
I've cut a few coins of other artists artwork into coins and it's always both nerve-racking and exciting to show the artist what I’ve achieved, so far I’ve really good reactions from them
PRO'S & CON'S OF YOUR WORK
Pro’s: I like hearing and seeing peoples reactions when they see my work and the “how on earth do you do that” questions
Con’s: I break a lot of tiny saw blades .