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.

Art Where you Least Expect It

I have been preparing for a show at the Wayne County Arts Council and was airbrushing some butterflies…when I saw this.  The cardboard I was working on had caught all the overspray and impressions of the work in a way that I thought was amazing.

bf paint

As I looked it over I noted the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  Now I just wish I had put a beautiful piece of handmade parchment paper under there.  I would have framed it.   But you know, if I had done that, the results would have been totally different.

Keep your eyes open, art is everywhere!

Even behind what you think is art.


Your thoughts are always enjoyed.

Contact me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

or use the comment section 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!

gate 2

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.



rivitsband 3









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.


latch 2

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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Working With Nature’s Help

The typical winter day in Coastal NC happened yesterday.

35 degrees on Monday…70 degrees on Tuesday.

Yes this is January in North Carolina.  And I love it!!

I was in need of some interesting driftwood for a sculpture I was creating and this was the perfect day to see what nature had washed down the river.


Yes that is what the sky looks like on a Carolina winter day

I have the advantage of having the best kind of boat…one owned by a friend.

But he is as interested in finding cool things as I am and was more that happy to be out of the house and out on the river.  So we were off.

Trying to find just the right piece.

Trying to find just the right piece.

We were looking for pieces with character.

Nature has a way of making things interesting, by twisting and stressing them in a lot of ways.  It makes for interesting wood and beautiful results come from interesting wood.


There is so much movement in the grain of this piece of cedar that we had to try to figure out how to use it.DSCN0961s



The day’s hall was kind of unruly as we made out way back to the docks.   Now the challenge is to create something which celebrates this piece of nature’s handiwork.


I’ll let you know …and of course… show you pictures.


Let me know what you think by using the form below,

Or email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com




The Turtles Live!

Anyone who has been to my studio in the last … oh I don’t know…year, has seen the two huge Loggerhead turtles sitting behind the work table.

He finally as an attached head

He finally as an attached head

They are a design I started awhile ago and got sidetracked by other more demanding (read paying) projects.

And this is what the inside of a turtle looks like....at least mine.

And this is what the inside of a turtle looks like….at least mine.

Well the heads have been attached and they are done.  Except for the stand, and the finish, and the weatherproofing….ok they are not done…yet.

They will be.  I have a show in April  and they will both be swimming by then.


This is where they live for now.

This is where they live for now.

Love to hear your comments or suggestions.

Use the form below

Or email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Accentuating Walnut

It has been a little while since posting anything about my current projects.  Part of the reason is because I am busy on several large projects, and some smaller ones which had to be done by Christmas.

Now you may ask, how do you do several large projects at the same time?

That is a valid question…

There are times when I just exhaust the idea I had in my head and I have to wait for the correct idea to return.  I guess you would call that a creative block.

(My wife calls it procrastination.)

Sometimes it’s a time problem and I have to do some other, more pressing, matter.  (like kayaking)

It’s all frustrating at times, but seems to be part of the creative process I go through as I design and create.

With that being said I want to show you a project I have been working on this past week.


A Black Walnut Side Table.

I had a piece of black walnut stored in my studio for about 10 years (talk about a long design process…but that is another story).

It had picked it up from a friend who was cleaning out some old wood.  The piece was about 7 feet long, about 1 ¼ inches thick and 18 inches at the widest.    One end was the fork of a branch and showed a great figured crotch at the joint.

While thinking about the design, I realized the beauty of this piece would be in the walnut and the base only needed to be a complement to that top.

The wood would speak for itself.

I needed the base to be just be simple but still  interesting.

in the forges

heating in the forge

The Build

I decided the legs would be made of 5/8 round steel with upended feet.

Upended feet?         Ok, I’ll tell you.

The process of upending  a piece of steel is as follows.  Heat the metal until red hot and then slam the end onto a flat piece of metal until the ends become thicker and add a feel to weight to the bottom of the leg.   Do that over and over until the end of each leg has thickened.


a little torching is always helpful

upsetting 1

slamming it into the back of a swedge block












the ends

The ends were then reheated in the forge to heat a longer area so I could get distortion

to continue up the leg for several inches.  The effect was interesting and I thought it added the right touch to the legs.





I then added slight curves in the legs to allow the base to be more secure.  They were connected with small arches between them at the top and the bottom for stability. Simple curved cross pieces were added lengthwise to base.  The simple smooth lines were necessary but not over powering…just what it needed.stands

A metal rim was designed to connect it all together.  The rim was formed to match the curves of the live edges of the wood top.









I had been sanding and finishing the walnut as the building had been progressing.  I wanted it to show off the natural beauty of the wood. The walnut carries the piece and is just accented by the design of the base.




table finished

I think the finished piece is just what I had in mind.


Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

You can email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or use the form/link below.



Almost Over

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

“The Art of Nature”


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.