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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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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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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A Worn Out Sign…?

I am in the process of making a company sign for the inside office at a construction firm.

I was sent the logo and given a unique challenge… make it look old.

As you can imagine, most of the painting and finishing I do involves working hard to make it smooth and clean. Nope, he wanted it aged and weathered.

And that’s where the fun comes in!

I was shown this photo of the design on one of their trucks.

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I started by drawing the design on my computer and figuring how each piece would lay out and interact with the other parts.

The design was then cut from 16 gage steel with a laser. That resulted in this pile of parts. And yes, they all meant something to me and had a place in the design.

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The threaded rods that were to hold the whole thing together were welded onto the back of selected parts so that they lined up with the precut holes. Then after cleaning and degreasing, the fun began.

I knew that there needed to be a top coat paint with the correct colors, some primer showing, and some ware through to the bare steel. That was created mostly with paint and a sanding block.

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Different layers were added to parts and then wiped off while wet and/or sanded off when dry.

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A little work on the wire wheel and I was on the way to making it right.

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I then thought that many signs I had seen still had the gloss finish as well as a more matt finished in some areas. So that was an easy fix. Just use two different finishes and blend them together.

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After all that paint dried, I spent some crazy amount of time stacking the pieces, calculating the spacers and just making sure the design still worked.

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But I think the design turned out great. It is on the way to the owner and I know he will love it as much as I did.

 

I would love to hear your comments;

Use the form below or just email me at

steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

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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.

 

The Idle Minds of Metalworkers

I seem to have an eye for the unnoticed.  I always seem to see things that others miss.   I am also always looking for the backstory.  You know, the reason something happened, or why things are the way they are.

Well I have an interesting one. I call it “The Idle Minds of Metalworkers”

Long ago everything was made by hand.  Metalworkers were out there making all kinds of things. Some of it would have been very boring, repetitive work.   But I think they were still interested in trying to create artistic pieces…

Enter the lowly boot scraper.

The metalworkers could have made it a simple steel bar…but NOOO!

I looked around and noticed something much more interesting had been made.

OBSERVE…  the lowly Boot Scraper:scraper set 2

You could be the only guy in the neighborhood

with the Sphinx on his porch?

These guys felt there was a need to save the space on the porch…so they put the boot scraper close to the wall and carved a “cave” for your toe to go into so the scraper worked.  Imagine the pre planning involved in thinking this through before the base stone was mortared in place.

This one was one is from the Cotswold area in England  (as you notice the stone is different from the rest).  The mud there must have been so bad they redesigned the scraper to have a raised section to get the rough stuff off .

Here are a collection of scrapers, mostly from Bath, and created around the early 1700.  All the scrapers I saw in Bath were cast iron, so they got a little more ornate.  The town has fine paved streets now…but if every door had one of these next to it… evidence that it may have been a little different back then.  We did see some repeats but most were unique to their specific house.

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This is one of my favorites.

It is cast iron, and we found it in Bath also. boot 3

But it’s the little things…. the extra blade at the top… the overall ornate design… the one leg, which was set in the stone with molten lead. (very old school).

It just seemed to speak to me.

How about you?

Are you out there looking for the little pieces of art all around us?

Too many people walk by without noticing them.

Not me…. I am looking for them evey day!

Life is too short and there is too many fascinating things in the world not to slow down and take notice.

As always, I  love getting your comments. Or see the pieces of art you notice.

Send them to me at:

steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or just use the form below.