Locks of Love Bridge



We were in Germany this summer and found this bridge over the Rhine river. It had tons (yes tons) of locks attached to the railing. Now I understand that there are many bridges in the world where lovers attach a lock with their names on it, and then throw the key in the river, as a way of binding their love. But this was the first one I had seen… and it fascinated me.


There were a lot of locks on this bridge! It is a big river and a long bridge. One of the guides in the area commented that there was a similar bridge in France where they were worried about the amount of locks, and specifically what their weight would do to the bridge. He was quick to point out there was no such concern here in Cologne and noted the differences between French engineering and German engineering.

(He was more concerned with all the men coming bank and jumping into the river to try and retrieve their key.)


There are a lot of locks on the bridge. So many so that more recent lovers have had to be creative in where they place their locks. Any attachment will soon be covered with locks…or any lock will be covered with locks!


Being an artist and a metalworker I looked closer at the thousands of locks and found a number of great/ interesting ones to share.

So here we go;

Many were animal designs, from turtles and lizards


To fish and dogs



Then of course there were the large vintage locks.


All of them were interesting in their design and size.


I liked the ones which showed some handmade work on them


Then came the unusual locks.

Most seemed to have an Indian feel to them, I am not sure of their origion, just judging by the designs.



And every now and then the metalworkers would add their own touch and make one from scratch.


I wasn’t real sure of the idea behind these next three locks. I thought that giving away the shape of the key would kinda negate the whole purpose of having the lock. But check these out anyway.


Then there is always that one guy who has to show his love as bigger than anyone else and, sure enough I could not miss the 10 inch lock near the far side of the bridge


So if you are in Cologne, Germany, take some time to slow down and see the interesting ways people are “locking in” their love over the Rhine River.

But be ready, there are a lot of people ahead of you!


I’d love to hear your thoughts on the bridge, or your photos of one you have found.

Send them with the form below

Or email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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Turtles are Interesting…

All my life I have loved seeing the sea turtles in our area, so in looking for things as inspiration for my art they were a natural attraction.   Here is a sneak peek at some I am working on now.  I thought the sun shining through them was interesting.

I’ll show you the finished piece in a couple of weeks.

That Is An Office?

You know, I once heard a wise man say “an office is what you make of it”. (OK, I have never heard that said until I just thought it up. But it is true.)

Some people need to have an office in the corner of the building with lots of windows and fancy chairs.

You know why?

That is probably because the work they’re doing is not interesting to the eye …. And therefore the soul.

Well my goal is to make things interesting to see. And therefore I love working in the studio and having it be my “office”.

There is just one problem….it is a dirty environment. I cannot keep a piece of white paper anywhere in the studio without it getting dirty. And it just doesn’t say professional if there are burn marks on my letterhead.


So I needed an “office” I could work from, while in the studio.

And I finally figured it out.

It started with these two tool boxes I saw at a friend’s salvage lot.


They were tool boxes for the back of a work truck, and were made to sit horizontally on the bed of that truck.


But he had them standing up on the end and I thought they were perfect for an office. (That was a stretch… but I do have an active imagination)


I selected the smaller one (reason unknown) and made the purchase. When it was back at the studio I started working on the shelves and repairing the dents. The doors would open to the side and there would be hooks and attachments for all the things needed in an office.

I added adjustable shelving holders on the inside and installed a light. A power cord was fitted into the bottom so I could run my chargers and plug in the light. A rack was added to hold my radio (in the future) while coat and apron holders were welded to the back. I toped it all off with clip board holders, a paper towel rack a trach can, and mounted it on wheels.

I had the whole thing sandblasted to clean it up and then had it powder coated a modern silver color. (kinda gives it a robot look)

But what makes it work is the weather stripping I added to the door so all that dust I talked about would not be able to get inside.

And it works great!

I now have a great place to store my paperwork and keep things clean in general.

If you have ever had a problem finding just the right spot for an office, do like me. Add wheels to the bottom of a toolbox and move it to wherever you need it.


I would love to see how you have solved the situation of a dirty shop and a clean office. Send me your comments or solutions to;




Or use the form below;

Before and After; A Chair’s Journey

A photo journey from broken antique to whimsical child’s chair.

I have been making a chair to donate to the Council for the Arts here in Jacksonville. They have an event called Art Block; where they take over the whole block in front of their gallery and put on a street festival.

The “Chairity Auction” is a collection of repainted / decorated/ repurposed chairs which are auctioned at the event.

Well, here is how mine developed;

>>>in photos>>>

The chair in it’s original condition;


Each piece was broken apart, resized to child size and glued back together;

More gluing;

The back was cut from a beautiful piece of plywood… until I noticed that I forgot to leave the part to attach it to the chair. So I used an old piece of plywood I had in the studio… not a perfect, but it can be sanded to look great (just extra work).

The leaves were cut and added;

The seat shows the differences in sizes between an adult and child’s chair;

Here are all the “Leftover parts”;

The paint starts bringing it all together;

Plywood backing for the cushions were cut and sanded;
















Then the foam was added;

The upholstery was staples on;

The final pieces were added and it was ready to go;


You can see it, and bid on it, at Art Block.

Downtown Jacksonville, NC.   Sat 4-29

Another New Tool !

Well, maybe not a tool but at least a new tool cart…

For all you toolies out there, here is my latest invention I have to show you.

In my efforts to streamline the operations in the studio I have realized that I do not need ten of every tool. There is no need to have ten sets of wire cutters when two will do the job.

So I NEEDED to make a tool cart that I could move around the studio and hold all the tools that would be needed in the normal course of fanciful creation!

So off I went to make it happen… just one problem; I didn’t know what tools were needed in the normal course of fanciful creation.


I did know the size and shape of the cart and set about making it. The rest of the details, like where each tool would be held and how they were to be held had to develop as the project progressed.

Well it took about 2 weeks but I got it done… for now. It holds all the smaller metalworking tools… like vise grips (yes I have a lot of vise grips), chisels, hammers, measuring tools, screwdrivers, and what not.



Check it out and let me know if you think there is something that needs to be added.


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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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