Juniper Rescue

As all of you know I am a metal artist.

Every day I deal with designing and making things from metal…mostly steel.  So what’s up with those stacks of wood drying in my studio?

I think there is just something beautiful about a solid piece of wood.

The wood I have drying in my metal studio is interesting because it was rejected by the sawmill, and therefore, destined for the chipper.

Yes, destined to be chipped up and sent to the bottom of some farmer’s chicken house.

Florida_chicken_houseWhat a horrible life! If I can turn that reject into something beautiful then that makes life better for everyone

…OK maybe not the chickens…

My latest rescue is a piece of juniper that was a problem for the sawmill.  It was not straight, and builders want straight!

That also means sawmill guys want straight.

I was looking for a tree that had a flair on the end of the trunk to use as a design element for a bench.  Mr. Earl (the sawmill guy) told me he had some juniper and it would probably meet my needs.  After a few minutes climbing on the wood pile I found the juniper logs.

The piece I wanted was almost uniform in diameter, but had a curve in it near the bottom.  The curve was a defect and Mr. Earl would not be interested in cutting it for boards.  So out it came.

wood 1

It took me a few minutes to get him to understand that I needed to prop up the thin end so the center of the log was level to the saw.  I wanted it to be cut through the center and then a slab cut on each side.  That would create two book matched pieces.  (as if they were two pages of a book, mirror images of each other)

 

 

The cutting went well and we discovered a large void inside the trunk which caused it to bend.  Not a problem for me.  It is actually an interesting feature that I hope to emphasize when the wood is used.

wood 2

What will it be?  I don’t know yet.

Green wood needs to dry for about 2 years before it can be used for furniture.  There is plenty of time to dream up the design.

So what are you finding that no one else thinks is of value?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn about your finds.

Email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or just use the form below.

 

In the mean time I’ll be on the look out for another log that needs rescuing.

 

 

 

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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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All the Photos

I just received an email from a reader of my blog.

She was pointing out I had not posted all the photos of my recent “The Art of Nature” coat treeshow.

I uploaded …

(sorry, that is a lie. I don’t know how to do that stuff… I sent them to my web manager and she did it for me)

… the photos on my web site, but she reminded me to also get them into the blog.

The collection was well received and there are only 4 pieces left from the original 9.

4 are sold and one has been adopted by my wife for our home.    (the ultimate approval indicator)

I am planning to recreate slightly altered versions of the sold pieces.  I never want to make the same thing twice.  I want each piece to be unique…and I also I don’t like making things twice. (did I say that already?)

I want to do new things and create unique pieces.  There are exceptions, but that is where I am going.

Each piece is designed around native southeastern wildflowers.  It is a blast to research the designs and then figure out how to interpret those designs in steel.

I hope you enjoy seeing them.

As always, I would love to know what you think.

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

   Oh right, I almost forgot the link for the photos …see them here.

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Personal Contact

I took several pieces of my “The Art of Nature” collection to an arboretum art show this weekend.

I was set up on the lawn, in a beautiful area, and surrounded by beautiful art pieces.

As I interacted with the patrons as they came by, I noticed something interesting.

Everyone wanted to touch the cypress top to the Seashore Table. seashore s

They would walk up… look at it…then reach out and slide their hand down the length of the piece.

The finish is nice.  It is smooth.  It had the epoxy inlay where the wood was cracked (read about it here).

I just thought it was interesting how people wanted to be in contact with that smooth piece of wood.

 

I took it as a compliment.

 

Let me know what you think by sending me an email at:

steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or use the form below…

 

 

Almost Over

There is only one more week in the run of my one man show,

“The Art of Nature”

anvil2

Yep, I’ll will be taking the photos off the wall and removing the pieces that I get to keep.

If you did not get to see the show… go NOW!

If you are too far away you can see some great photos by clicking HERE.

I also was written up by Christopher Thomas in the Jacksonville Daily News and you can see his article by clicking HERE.

But the fun part will be to deliver the pieces I sold.  I love the idea of knowing my work is in the hands of someone who loves it as much as I do.

And being able to deliver them and see that reaction again will be a lot of fun.

red anvilAs I said before, I now get to do the recreating, and redesigning of the pieces which sold.  I never want to make the same piece twice.  So each piece I make can be unique in the world…or… unless you are a Si-Fi believer in a parallel world on the other side of the sun…the only one in the UNIVERSE!!

I think it is nice to ponder (yes I used the word ponder, I am from the south) something in your possession as being the only one.  The only table, the only piece of artwork, the only handmade wallet even.  Things created by hand are almost always going to be one of a kind.  There are processes to make reproductions, and they are fine.  But having something which is one of a kind, is special.

Being able to know the creator of an object is special too.  That is why I love to go to shows where people sell their own work.  You can talk to the creator,  ask them about their ideas, their technique, their joy of creation.  If you do, you will receive some of their creative joy and excitement.  You will also  be rewarding the craftsman by allowing her, or him to share that joy with you.

I am off to a new project, making an outdoor tree about 9 feet tall…but I’ll tell you about that another day.

In the mean time, ask a craftsman his thoughts on a piece you like… you will probably make his day by giving him a chance to share that love with you.

 

 

 

The Art Of Nature

I had a great time at the opening of “The Art of Nature” show at the Jacksonville, NC Arts Council.  Last weekend’s beautiful weather created a great time to get out and interact with others.

There were a lot of old friends to see, and new faces to meet.  I worked hard to get around to all of them.  I just wish there had been more time to talk.

If I missed thanking you for attending the show, please accept my apology.

It was not on purpose.JackinPulpit1s

For those who were not able to attend, you can go to my web page and see all the photos.

The photos were made by Melissa Russell at “Melissa Russell and Co. Photography”.  And a special thanks to her.  I have been known to bring things to her studio and say “Can I have it back tomorrow?”  She always managed to say yes.  Even when I brought them to her at the last minute. It was just so nice to work with her!

While I am at it, I should also thank Cindy at “By His Design” who is my web goddess.  I called her and said I needed the photos on the web site when the show opens.  She quickly said “no problem, send them to me”.Jack in pulpit 2  Well, that was the problem.  I didn’t have the photos yet.  (see the above comment about when I took the pieces to Melissa).  Cindy managed to get it all up there and I was able to refer folks to those photos while at the show.

Nice folks doing a great job are fun to work with.

The pieces which were sold are now going to be redesigned and recreated in other ways, so that each one I make is unique and still one of a kind.  That creative process is what makes it all special.

Anyway, check out the pieces when you get a chance and let me know what you think of the work.  I would love to hear your critiques.

As always, use the form below or just email me at Steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com.

Steel Dogwood

I have been busy making the final pieces for my one man show in September so there has not been much time for blogging.  But I thought I would show the table top I have been working on this week.

It is a live edge piece from the vintage wood we collected from the bottom of the creek.  It is over 250 years old and is totally beautiful!

Here is the piece when I started.

board 1 s

 

It was checking right down the center.  (Checking is the word the woodworkers use for cracking/ splitting.  I don’t know why they don’t call it cracking…but who knows why those guys do things).

I doweled the whole thing in a couple of places for support and filled the crack with epoxy for visual emphasis.  It was not as messy as the last time and it turned out great.  The black line in the center and a number of other cracks is interesting to the eye.

I took the angle grinder and smoothed over the sides, but kept the feel of the live edge wood.  I preserved the area worn by 100 years in the creek. It will be the front of the table and an important aspect of the design.

grinding s

 It turned out nice.  Now a lot of sanding and finishing and it will be ready.

almost done s

 

The base of the table is a branch of a dogwood tree.  The thicker section was made by welding different size pipe together to make the right taper.  I then cut the pipe so that it could bend and curve in a more natural fashion.  Then all the cuts had to be welded back together…and ground sooth with the angle grinder. Not a fun thing to do for about an hour. Here is what it looked like before the welding and grinding…

branch start s

With the addition of other pieces, the base is coming along pretty well, and will look something like this…

mock up s

Let me know what you think of it so far.

 

Tomorrow, the leaf clusters and 5 flowers… but seeing that will have to wait for another day.

Or just come to the show opening and see it in its finished state.

The show runs Sept 8 through 28, at the Council for the Arts in Jacksonville, NC.

 

You can comment in the box below or you can email me directly at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com.

 

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