The Big Cow Bell

drum circle logoAs some of you know, we have started a Drum Circle in Jacksonville.

We were looking for something fun and different to do and a drum circle came up in the conversation.

And now some of you will be saying “what is a Drum Circle?”  A drum circle is just a bunch of folks getting together and playing drums.  Mostly hand drums, and just having a good time.

I had seen the large on in Asheville several times and thought it would be a blast to be part of one… so we did it!

Our first time was a great success and we had as many as 25 people playing at one time.  The downtown area of Jacksonville has not heard that kind of noise since the native people lived here.

Well, not being able to leave well enough alone… I decided the 4 inch cow bell was not good, nor loud, enough.  And, as some of you, you cannot have enough cow bell.

So, being that I am a metal worker…I made a bigger one!

And those of you who know me know, I could not just make a regular one. It had to be some kind of funky design.

So here you go;



It is kind of big… like 20 inches… and makes a lot of noise.

Maybe not great for the orchestra, but for the drum circle… perfect.

So if you would like to give it a try, follow us on twitter at


(because we are going to move out location each time)

And we soon will have a Facebook page… I’m just too busy making important changes to the orchestral instrument supply to get it done right now.

As always, let me know what you think by  emailing me at;

or using the form below…

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The River Gate

What do you do when you are asked to create something for a custom designed and constructed home? You have a great time! That’s what you do!

gate 2

I was commissioned to make the gate for a deck. The deck was situated to overlook a beautiful curve in the river.

It was a little intimidating to see the setting and know my work would have to compliment that view.

We had a conversation on style and feel for the gate. We were looking for something that had the craftsman style and feel a connection to the area where it was to be located.

The design “back and forth” is always a fun time. We emailed ideas and evaluated the value of each one until a final version was settled.

Here is a sample of an "idea"

Here is a sample of an “idea”.

I was given enough leeway to be creative and enough structure to be able to satisfy the client.

Long curves with banded overlaps reminiscent of the Nuevo style dominated the design and created a style all its own.

I was off to the computer to create the drawings for the laser cutter.

There was some trouble shooting of design problems, such as curves intersecting with straights. But that is what makes the creative process so much fun.

The parts came back from the laser and seemed to go together well… the welding and banding… the on the spot adjustments and decision making… All that added up to a fun build.



rivitsband 3









The smoooth dark bronze finish looks black in darker light and has gold highlights when in the sun.


Installation when smoothly and the gate looked wonderful in its setting.


latch 2

A fun addition was the latch and handle operation. The gate was to be accessed from the lower steps when entering, and the upper deck when leaving. So we added a feature to make the latch work from above and below. I have to admit it turned out cool and every one of the guys who saw it during the installation thought that was a great addition. (remember, with guys, it is all about the gadgets)

I am pleased with the overall design and how it fits into the overall look of the home and landscape.

I think it was a wonderful project, starting with a great imaginative client and ending with a great piece of metalwork I can be proud of for a long time.

And sometimes, that is what it’s all about.


I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Just use the form below;

Or email me at

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Do you have any idea what this dark, almost black, round thing is?pulots 2s

Well let me tell you, it is a Pluot!

If you have not tried one. Go out right now and find them, and eat one!

If you don’t know where to find one, try looking at a plum farm. Or look at an apricot farm.

If you are really smart, go to where there is an apricot farm right next to a plum farm. Yes a pluot if a cross between the two.

And they are great?

Sweet fruit with tangy skin.

Hunt them down and bite one… you will enjoy it.

Trust me!

shirt front sAnd when you do, drop me a line.

You can use the form below


email me at

Riblicious in Pittsburgh!!

As some other you know, I have been doing work recently in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

I usually try to do most things “non-touristy” whenever I go somewhere new. Seeing it the way the local residents do is always more fun.

Last time in town, I had missed the opportunity to try ribs from a local rib joint in the historic district. A friend had gone down to get the ribs in the middle of our workday and the old man cooking the ribs kept looking at him and saying “not ready, come back later”.

But, “not ready” and “later” just never arrived so we were not able to have any that time.

So on this trip… ribs were on the agenda!



I am a firm believer that you should not judge a book by its cover, but the cover of this book was “very interesting”.

It was in a “not so renovated” building just outside of the historic district and the downstairs/ restaurant was occupied by a cooler where he stored the drinks, potato salad, and coleslaw; a prep table, and a huge steel box which went to the ceiling.

That steel box is where the barbecue ribs were cooked!

Now you have to remember, I am from North Carolina, and North Carolina is famous for barbecue. I had never heard of Pittsburgh barbeque. But it came with rave reviews, so I was up for the game.

My friend and I walked down to Wilson’s Barbecue and I noted, as he pointed out, the subtitle of Wilson’s was riblicious, not rib-a-licious.

I have to admit, had I been by myself I may not have gone to this place.

But when we got in to that smoke-filled room, smoke saturated with the smell of cooking barbecue ribs, I was delighted.

The husband and wife (I assume) team working there appeared to have been cutting and cooking ribs since I was born. (He picked the ribs up with his hand)  A large black metal box was on the right-hand side with several doors in different places and smoke coming out of all of them!

I wondered how it worked. I looked at my partner and asked about the doors. He didn’t know, and the Wilson’s did not appear to want to answer those questions.  So I moved on…

The menu was simple; big rib platter, small rib platter, coleslaw, potato salad, drinks, maybe something else I just can’t remember because the smell was fabulous, and the smoke was burning my eyes!

As we paid, I asked if they would mind if I took a picture. Here’s what the inside looks like.


We took our bags, paid and headed back up to eat outside. The weather in the end of August was a beautiful 70° and sunshine with no humidity. All you North Carolina barbecue fans will recognize that was totally alien to me, and was a wonderful change.

We were going to take pictures of the barbecue… mine being a small plate Ben’s being a large plate…. but it just never seem to happen. When you are picking up juicy/ fabulous ribs covered with hot sauce, grabbing a piece of equipment like a camera just doesn’t seem to be a smart thing to do.

Oh, did I mention that we had Cherokee cola to drink. It was something like a version of Cheerwine that we drink in the south. It had an Indian head on it and work perfectly with the barbecued ribs. So I am now a Cherokee cola fan! I even found some to take with me for the trip home.

So if you’re in Pittsburgh and want to have some great ribs with your Cherokee cola try Wilson’s barbecue.

I don’t think I’ll tell you where it is. If you really want it, then hunt it down yourself.

It is truly riblicious.

shirt front sIf you have tried Riblicious  ribs, or just want to say “nuh uah, ours are better” feel free to comment on the form below,

or email me at



Bent Forks?

Ever wonder where they find those interesting wedding reception name place folders?


Well, for the one hundred and twenty guest at a wedding next month… I made them!

Sounds easy doesn’t it.

Wowwww Noooo.

I was asked if I could do the job and I thought “how hard can it be. Ya just bend some forks”.

Then I started thinking about it and decided they all needed to be perfectly balanced and matching in order to look good.


So I made a small tool. The answer to all things metalworking.

It has been said that a blacksmith will spend 5 hours making a tool which will save him 5 minuets of work. Well I am not that bad,   but I did NEED the tool!

Just a small bender to make the curves identical each time.

Then a stand to hold it still…

Then a designated clamp to hold the fork flat on the bottom.

Etc etc etc.

But it was something new…. And that is what I like doing, new things.

Hopefully they are fun, and cool.


So what do you think of the fork place holders?

Leave me a comment below of just email me at

Oh, one more thing, if you need to set up place cards at your next function… I have a tool for that!

Making Rivets

I am currently creating a walk through residential gate. To add interest, I am doing some of the fastening in the “old school” riveted style.

It’s a labor intensive technique but well worth the effort when you see the finished result.

rivit 1

Here is what’s involved:

Step one: forge down the connecting piece so it can be attached.

Step two: drill a hole through the top and the base.

Step three: insert a rod thorough the two holes.







rivit 2


Step four:   heat the end of the rod until it is red hot.

Step five: use a light hammer to peen the ends over to form the rivet.

Step six:   flip the whole thing and start over with the other side!


Now, I just have do that for every other joint in the piece. But as you can see, the final effect is going to be stunning.

It’s not finished yet so I cannot show the whole gate. But trust me it is looking good.

rivit 3

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions…

Email me at or just use the form below.


How Does It Happen?

I often get asked about the process of creating a piece with a client.  How does it happen and what /  when / and how does it develop?

So I thought I would walk you through a design session.

I was asked to help create something for and anniversary gift.  The client informed me it was their 9th, and therefore the “iron” anniversary.

I was glad she knew… because I had no idea.

She had wanted to use a phrase from their wedding.  We talked about it and could not figure out the font and other mechanical aspects of the design.  So as we kicked the idea around and we landed on the concept of using her handwriting as the font for the phrase.


her’s on the left… mine on the right


I thought I could trace the handwriting so that the laser could follow the lines and cut it out. Thus making her handwriting the actual script.

Sounded like a good idea… then I started trying to do it.

The process was slow but the effect was fantastic!

At the top of the panel we added a series of stars in the shape of a heart.


raw metal with my rusted fingerprints


She wanted an aged bronze finish. So I painted the metal black, then covered that with a bronze finish. Steel wool and sand paper removed some of the bronze, exposing the black.

3It also removed some of the black to show the silver metal underneath.   I think the effect was a success.

Miche'sl plate 2

Well, that is how it is done. At least this time.

The fun part of my job is that each commission is different.

Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?


I always love hearing your comments.

You can send them via the form below or use the email

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