A New Tool!!! To make a tool is time well spent.

img_0796As you may know, anytime I spend making a tool is time well spent.

Most blacksmiths are known to spend 3 hours making a tool in order to save 10 minutes of work. And that is perfectly OK!!

That is not quite the direction I went in to make this tool, but the diversion was appreciated.

I have been making a collection of small sign language hands which spell out words and signs.

They are called Quiet Comments, and can be seen at quietcomments.com.dsc_6-3

I needed a way to hold them while they were welded to the base. So a custom designed and manufactured tool was needed!

This tool needed to do several things at one time;

Solidly hold the small metal hand

Adjust to hold the hand at the correct angle

Be weighted to hold it the piece in place while being welded.

So all other projects should stop to make a tool. I think I will.

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I started with a piece of 2”x 2” x 4” solid bar. It was heavy enough and looked cool as part of the tool. (an important consideration)

A tiny set of vice grips were welded to the end of a piece of flat rod. Then an articulating arm was added and secured with wing nuts.

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After sand blasting it was painted with a clear coat on the grip end, and bright red on the weighted end. The red would separate it from all the other pieces of metal in the shop. All of my jigs and custom tools are painted red.

I tried it out and welded about 35 hands. It worked great… I have a new tool… now on to the next one I just cannot live without…whatever it is…

If you have made a great tool, or have one you think would be great, I would love to hear about it.

Contact me at steve@stephenzmetaldeisgns.com

Or just use the form below.

A Tree by the Sea

I received a phone call the other day from a recent transplant to the area. He had built a house on the water and wanted some metal work for the outside of the house.

We talked about the design and location and came up with a simple tree which was to be mounted on the exterior of the fireplace brickwork.

I laid the design out in chalk on work table and started cutting the round stock.

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After each piece was cut and shaped, I carefully placed it on the drawing. Not thinking that they would never stay in place when I started welding.

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I got them all connected and the welds cleaned up, so it was ready to be powder coated.

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The mounting was simple because I had added L brackets to the tree which slid into eye bolts anchored in the brick. If there is ever a need to do touchup work on the finish (I did say they lived on the water didn’t I) all they need to do is lift the tree off the eye bolts and do the work.

I think it turned out great and I was proud of the new owners reaction.

Let me know what you think;

Send me your thoughts at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or just use the form below.

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Art All Around US

I photographed this as part of my “Art All Around Us” series.

Then someone said it was not art.

Well I guess I just have a different view on life.

This is something I saw when I went to visit art class of a good friend of mine. Bernie Rosage has tasked his students with an outdoor quilt project. They showed me one of the designs they were working on (more on that in another post) when I noticed this piece of design art.

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Yes, it is a folded cafeteria table.

But I think it is great design work.  Functional, colorful, serves a purpose, and is in the school colors as a bonus!

And, for me, that is art.

 

I hope you keep looking for the “Art that is All Around Us”.

Send me your thoughts and finds at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or just use the form below.

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“Return to Topsail”

I have a real fascination with the sea turtles which nest on the beaches in our area. There is something about the fact they always nest in the same beach where they were born. Somehow they find their way back after a lifetime of ocean going adventure to dig a nest and lay the eggs for another generation.

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Being an artist, I love the structure of their shell and the way it looks like plates of armor, connected by sinew. So I wanted to create a design which worked with that concept but allowed those spaces to be open.

In my first effort I had made a set of large turtles.

This time I set out to make them in a smaller format.

So it was back to the computer to design a smaller shell and still keep the original concept going.

I think the design transferred to the smaller size. These were mounted on the same stand as if they were swimming together in some wild sea.

I have titled them, “Return to Topsail”  after one of the islands where they nest.  They will be in an art council show which opens tomorrow and runs through the month.

I plan to create more in this series, so keep watching.

I hope you enjoy them, I would love to hear your comments.

You can email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com or just use the form below.

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New Nativity Pieces

 

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This is a photo of the manger I designed for this Christmas. It is about 8 inches wide and is made of stainless steel

But all I made were immediately snatched up as soon as they arrived and there was no time to make any more.

If you were one of those who asked me about having one, or you are interested in starting the collection, send me your email address and I will contact you next season and make sure you have one reserved.

I will also be making additional pieces next year, and adding to it every year afterwards.

It should be a fun process of seeing what we add each Christmas.

So if you missed it this year and are interested in celebrating the nativity with me, drop me a line via Facebook or at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Oh, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Steve

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Living Cobblestone

In Woodstock NY they have a great piece of “Art All Around Us”.

A piece of the brickwork has a lizard in it!

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Again, no real reason to do it that way…just to make it look cooler!

And as always for that I thank them.

If you find something that catches you eye, send me a picture. I would love to see it.

Email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com, or use the form below.

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The Vintage Bench Saga continues…

You might remember I featured a piece of vintage yard furniture awhile back.

It has been on the farm of my Grandmother in law for about 60 years, and was in rough shape.

But it was really something special.

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I set about working on repairing it and getting it ready for another 60 years…in my yard. (no farm here unfortunately)

I looked it over and located the problem spots, rust through damage, and lost parts. Then I started the work of bring it back to life.

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The back’s connection to the seat was in rough shape because it was a place for water to collect and cause rust. I took a wire wheel and was able to make short work of the problem. 10,000 RPMs is a powerful thing! I then welded then gaps closed and wire wheeled it again.

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The handle on the left side arm rest had been worn through in a couple of spots. I can only guess how many butter beans you would have to shuck to get to the point where the metal is worn through… but that bench certainly had seen a lot of shucking, of all kinds of vegetables, in its day.

The thought that it had seen enough use to wear through the metal just makes me want to repair it even more.

I welded all the joints and attachments to make it stronger and then added metal feet to the bottom of the legs. I will attach pieces of treated wood to these feet so that the metal does not touch the ground and start the rusting process all over again.

I took it to my powder coater to get it sandblasted to remove all the old paint and rust. Then they baked on a finish in the color my wife selected.

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I think it will hold a special place in the back yard for a long time to come.

Overall, I think the piece turned out great.

 

Now I will have to put some thought into redoing the matching chair…trust me, it will take a lot more work than this one…

But then… that is the fun of it!!

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