The Cat Table

I have a friend who is a cat lady.

No! not the kind you are thinking of!!!

She is not crazy, or old, or disheveled.

She is just interested in helping animals and has a great caring heart.

I was tasked with making a entry table for her home. An entry table is the one in the foyer where the keys and purse land as you walk into the house.

She let me decide on the design and, of course, I thought it needed some connection to cats!

cat table1s

My idea came out as a collection of cats with their tails up in the air holding up the tabletop. But a little experimentation showed I would be a need some sort of legs to aid in holding the tabletop.

I drew the cats on the computer and had them water jetted by Nash at Accurate Fab. in Wilmington. Those guys did a great job. The seven cats were all perfectly hunched down. I welded their tails on to finish the look.

cats 3s

But look closely and you will see something different… right in the middle of the cats is a small mouse hiding in plaine sight.

mouse 1s

It was a fun project and turned out great.

 

As always:

I would love to hear your comments or observations.

Use the form below or email me at

steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

 

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The Edging Stones are Growing

As many of you may know, a while back I started working on some edging stones for my backyard.

 

Now my backyard has a lot of flower beds and while thinking about the stones, I realized this was going to take a while. I have tried to make one a day for the past month or so…I have ended up with 12 so far.

 

But that is not so bad because they’re about 16 inches wide and they are first going to be placed around the most important flowerbeds “The most visible ones”. Then when you look out at the garden, you will see the stones and not notice the old brick edging. Then as I get more and more I’ll continue on with the areas not seen as much.

 

Well I brought home the first 12, and laid him in the backyard to let them cure even more (it really need about 30 days to make the concrete totally hard).

stone 2

I have taken some iron oxide (which is in item which you can buy at the lawn and garden stores) and started the ageing process. Iron oxide is used to raise the iron level in your soil, but it’s also will permanently stain concrete rust red.

 

But the idea of having a rust red concrete blocks in my yard is not what I’m looking for… I am just looking for some sort of accent for the details in the stones.

I’d like to eventually cover them with moss, or something of that nature, to make them look old, but the goal right now is to make the design stand out.

 

The thing about iron oxide is that whatever that dust touches, the concrete is going to turn red.

stone1

So you have to be very careful with it. What I do is I take little bit in my fingers and sprinkle it on to the spot I need the color, then take a small spray bottle and spray water on that spot to activate the iron oxide i.e. start rusting the concrete.

stone 3

I’ve done all 12 of them because the first trial version went pretty well.

I hope it works out well and we’ll see as the days go by as it rust and becomes more permanent.

 

I will fill you in later as it happens.

 

As always, I am open to your ideas, comments or suggestions.

Contact me at the email address steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or use the form below

 

A Day in the Life

 

A little while ago I bought a time lapse camera to record some of my work while it was in progress.

I have been playing with it for a while now and have made a short film I would like to share.

I call it…

“A Day in the Life of “The Wishing Tree” Maker”

How in the vain of total disclosure, this is not a total day.  It is half a day.  But that does not sound like an interesting title….

”Only HALF a Day in the Life of The Wishing Tree Maker”

 See, it doesn’t just flow off the tongue…does it?

Anyway,  check this one out.  It is a lot of fun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSiGGHDFYfk

 

As always I welcome your comments or questions.

 

My email is steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or

Just use the form below.

 

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Giant Helmets!

Over the past month I have been working on something totally unheard of before today.

A four foot wide fire helmet.

front s

No we don’t have big headed firemen in the area. (well we might, but that is a different story)  but we do have firemen with an imagination.  And as you know I love people with imagination.

The Beulaville NC fire department has been in the process of remodeling their fire house for a while now.  As the build was coming to an end they started looking at the asthetics of the building.  The new stucco was on and looked great.  The additions matched with the older building.  The office areas were nice.  But something was missing.

The discussion turned to the door awnings.  One of the officers of the department took a small foam helmet off a car antenna and cut it in half.  In doing so he was able to show his idea of how the awnings should look on the building.

Yes. the awnings over the doors were going to be big red fire helmets.

And he said “I know just the guy to do it”.   Thank you Patrick, I have had a great time building them!!

The process was an interesting challenge.metal one s

I started with a real size helmet.  It had ribs, a brim, and a shield identifying the unit.  Then I noticed the shield was held in place by an eagle.  So there was more to the idea than I first thought.

Bending the steel pieces for the ribs was something I farmed out to an ironworker who was able to bend the tubing for the ribs of the helmet on a special roller.  They were then welded into the helmet ribs.

I started hand cutting the shape of the shield from 16gage steel using a plasma torch.  It turned out to be about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.  It was braced and its’ attachments to the ribs was worked out so that it could be sent to be powder coated and hand lettered.

The design of the eagle was a challenge but came together beautifully.  He attaches to the top of the helmet, and the shield is held in his beak.

All the pieces were sent to be powder coated “fire engine red” (what other option was there?)

two s

They were installed the other day.  I think they will be the talk of the town at all the fire department meetings in the area.

As always,  I would love to hear your comments,

use the form below

or email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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More Carved Stone

(OK maybe not Carved Stone… But close).

I have a backyard with a number of flowerbeds… In my brain, if you make a flower bed, you work hard for a little while and it is done.  If you have a lawn, you work hard every week.  So I have made flower beds from the beginning.

The trick to a nice look with your beds is to have sharp, clean borders.

I achieved it with vintage bricks which I salvaged from the demolition of downtown Jacksonville.  (no surprise to anyone who knows me)

Well, the bricks get knocked  around and run over by the lawn guy

               (no I don’t cut the grass myself anymore, so some of that introduction doesn’t work anymore…)

So I decided to design and cast my own edging stones.

I have tried this on a smaller scale with edging for the herb garden around my pizza oven.  Here is a photo.

small stones

I wanted a bigger stone for the beds,  one that would be further in the ground and hold more mulch behind it. 

First, drew out a design and got it approved by my art director (aka. wife).

drawing small

 

 

 

 

I carved the design from plaster.  It is a whole lot softer to carve than wood or any other material I know.  And if you screw up just add more plaster and start again.

plaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next came the process of making the mold.  The “Smooth On” company ( yes, that is their name) has a number of “rubber” mold making materials and will gladly explain it to you on their web site. 

I bought a gallon mixture of mold making stuff, mixed it as directed, and poured it over the plaster piece…                                   waited one day…   and ta da  it worked.

I have been casting one piece a day for about a week.  I made a rolling cart, which is my version of a production line.  The mold and a new casting is on one side, the newly cast, one day old piece on the other.  After they are out of the mold for a day they are gently set aside to cure for another day.cradle 2

 

So far so good.

But remember, I have a lot of flowerbeds so this may go on for awhile….like maybe a year….i guess I should do the math and really see how long it will take.

As always I would love to hear your comments or suggestions.

You can use the form below or email me at

Steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

The Arbortech Pro

My new wood grinding wheel has arrived!

Arbortechphoto

It will replace the old “Chainsaw” version you see here:

blade 1

blade 2

 

 

 

 

 

The old one worked well but it was scary to use some times.  It always wanted to dig in and gouge more than I wanted.  It took a lot of technique to get it to work and produce the results I wanted.  After a day of carving my hands were pretty sore and tired due to the need to control the grinder with a lot of force.

The new one will still have to be controlled as safety is always the concern when you have a tool spinning at 10,000 RPMs.  But the Arbortech is made to work smoother and cleaner.

I cannot wait to get a project going with the new tool.

Here is an example of a bowl I made with the grinder:

bowl

You can see another bowl I carved by clicking here.

I get burls most of my burls from a local sawmill and tree trimmers I know.  Here is my current collection:

burl 1 (10)

The Metal turtle head at the bottom of the photo is not a burl….it is a metal turtle head!

I am currently working on this one,

bowl

It is Oak wood, and about 18” x 36” x 7”tall.

I have been drying it for over a year to keep it from cracking.  It was hollow to the point of being 2 to 4 inches thick when I got it.  I ground it down to a uniform 2 inches to start the drying process.  Later I went to about 1 inch…

Now I have the Arbortech!  Who knows what will happen!

I’ll post some photos when I have it finished.

 

If you have any ideas drop me a line at:

Steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or use the comment box below.

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The Joint?

As some of you know I am making a “Wishing Tree” for a park in the town of Richlands.

I have blogged about it before.

You can catch up if you want by looking here and here.

This past week I have started putting the branches on the trunk.

As the high schoolers say it… OMG!!!

 inside joint 1s

The joint between the trunk and the branches needed to be separatable (if that is a word) so I could remove the branches without needing a crane to pick up the parts.

Never one to want to do something the “uncomplicated” way… I devised plates to which the branches are attached.  The base and top parts are held together with 5/8 inch bolts.

both joints s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole piece will be covered with 16 gage metal.

torching base 2s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So before it was lost, I thought it would make an interesting photo before it was all hidden inside the metal sheathing.

So there you go….

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