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.


Alpaca Art

A good friend of mine has an alpaca farm!

Yes, an alpaca farm.

He has been raising them for several years and has a number of award winning animals. It is a fun place to visit.

When he asked me to create something to decorate the front porch of the farm, I jumped at the chance.

He wanted to add a small herd of alpacas being watched over by the “guard llama”. Yes, the llamas guard the alpacas… like watchdogs.

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I found photos of the animals on line and drew silhouettes of the different animals. The plan was to attach the silhouettes to the railing on the front porch.

And the porch was about 30 feet long.

So we needed a good size herd.

I showed the drawings to Gary (the alpaca rancher) and he pointed out I had several llamas in the group….

I thought they were all the same….nope.

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We cut them from steel with a plasma cutter and mounted them on the porch. The effect was a lot of fun. The llama watches over the littler alpacas from one end and the barn cat is on top of the rail, watching the other.

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But a fun thing happened when we mounted one of the groups.

From the front the look like we planned them. But from the back, they seem to be peeping out from around the pickets.

It is an interesting effect that just happened on its own.


I would have liked to say I planned it that way… but it was just fate.


I’d love to hear what you think,

Email me at Steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com

Or use the form below.

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Pointing the Way

Don’t you just love this guy!


I think he is a policeman…but I am not sure.  He is in the square at Temple Bar in Dublin.

He is using his flashlight to point to something… I don’t know… maybe where beer is located.

I just fell in love with him the minute I saw him.lite 2

Thought you might too.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Email me at


Or just use the form below.


The Wishing Tree


I was excited last fall when I received a commission from Richlands, NC to build a piece of artwork in their downtown area. The idea was to start atree s revitalization effort by adding a point of interest in the park downtown.  They want to bring more people back to the downtown area, and the park was a great place to start.

When I received a call asking if I was interested… of course I said yes. The town manager came up with the idea of creating a wishing tree.  The concept involved a leafless tree with branches reachable from the ground.  The people would take small strips of cloth and write their dreams, their wishes, or their prayers on them. These cloth strips would then be tied to the tree as leaves. They would blow in the wind until they dissolved away.

I first talked about this project back in the fall.  You can read that post by clicking here.

The design process was a lot of fun.  The structure had to be strong enough to withhold the kind of abuse it would receive, yet still appear to be natural and interesting.

I started building the internal frame after drawing the picture of the tree on the floor of my studio. I laid out two x two x 3/8 inch tubing and started welding the square structure together.  As the work progressed, the structure was worked to become round and textured like a gnarled oak tree.  The trunk followed a small plaster model I had made to give me some 3-D guidance. The trunk was sheathed in 16 Gage steel, which was textured, bent over an armature, and welded in place.

Here is my blog showing the roots and the structure moving upward. joint s


The branches were another story…

They had to be strong enough to potentially be grabbed and pulled on and yet still light enough to look natural… and they had to be low enough to be reached from the ground by most people.  I started using 3 inch rigid tubing and reduced the sizes down smaller and smaller ending up with one inch tubing with steel ball bearings welded into the and give them a nice smooth rounded end.


It took a few tries, and some consultation with my art director (my wife) to get the design right. But I finally had it finished and ready to go to the sandblaster.blasting s

After bringing the two pieces back from the sandblaster, I started working on the finish.  Originally the idea was to rust the entire structure and seal the rust with a clear coat. But I decided to use a metal dye which would color the metal brown color give me some optional color with heat and sanding.  The finish it turned out fabulous and the sanded areas did bring out the texture of the trunk.

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We invited small children from the local preschool to bring leaves over and embed them in the cement foundation for extra texture… and it was a wonderful morning of laughing and being part of the art.


The tree was later mounted to the base and dedicated by the town.

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The occasion was a fun time for all. The day involved about 60 adults, and about 60 children from the local elementary school. They received the honor of being the first ones to have their wishes and prayers flying on the tree.

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Here is a 5 min time lapse video of the whole process… you will be tired after you watch it…but it is fun to see.

Overall the project was exciting to use as a test of my imagination, and my skill…AND how much weight I could pick up and move around shop!

The next time you are driving through eastern North Carolina and would like to see the tree, go to Ventors Park in Richlands, North Carolina and check it out. Open the little green box and write your wish on a piece of cloth, tie it to the tree and let it go.


It is the first phase of the park revitalization and I’m excited over watching the process in action.

You can leave comments with the form below …or, as always, email me at steve@stephenzmetaldesigns.com