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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Small Castles

I have been making a series of small pieces for a military unit here at Camp Lejeune and I think they turnout great… so I wanted to share them with you.

The 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion asked me to make small engineers castles to be added to a wooden plaque they award some of their members as they transfer out of the unit.

I was glad to work with them, so I redrew their design and created the smaller castle.

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I assembled and painted them then turned them over to the unit for the addition of their wooden plaque and engraving.

 

Here is my final design.

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Then they add the wooden background,

here is the overall finished piece.

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I think they do a great job, and I am thrilled to be part of it.

I always enjoy hearing your comments and suggestions.

You can contact me by using the form below, or via email at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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Making a Tool… Oh Yeah!

This past year I was asked to create some Art Nouveau window screens. (check them out here)  There were about a dozen units to make, with about 10 curves each.

So I needed to make a special use tool!  Why, you ask? Because I am a metalworker and making tools is part of the game!  And everyone needs more tools.

Plus, remember those 10 curves per unit? While they were not identical, they had matching parts. I needed a tool that would let me create these curves with some uniformity.

Bending ½ inch solid steel square stock is not an impossible thing to do by hand, but making them match all the others would be almost impossible.

So here is where the tool comes in.

I needed to make something with a lot of leverage and a uniform bend. No problem.

But now I hade to make it more complicated. It needed to re-bend each piece in the opposite direction.

The metal is placed in the bender and held in place by pressure. I then pull the long handle and make the bend.

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The bent section is inserted back into the unit with a different radius and a pull of the handle makes the smaller curve.

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Now they still needed to be tweaked to match each other, and cut to the correct length. But that is part of the game.

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The tool now sits in the corner of the studio… waiting.

You never know when I will need to make a bunch of 7 inch radius curves in a piece of ½ inch stock.

Let me know what you think of this design…

or just what color I should paint it.

You can reach me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or use the form below.

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Can a Bike be Art?

While I was sitting in a deli on 44th street in NYC I looked out the window and saw something I thought was art.

Now, many of you may not agree, but I think a machine can be art.

And I found a cool one.

Outside that window was a bike modified to be a motorcycle!

Someone had added a small motor to the frame. It all looked great, and was fun to see someone breaking out of the mold.

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And I think that he has even added an air horn!  look at the can under the gas tank… it has a tube running up to what looks like a horn on the handlebar…fun times!

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For those of you who think this is eye candy….your welcome!

For the rest of ya,  let me hear what you think it is…

email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or use 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!

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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 steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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

Email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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