Monday, June 23, 2008

Thistle gate

Thistle Gate in Situ
A few posts back , there is a gate drawing in chalk on our shop floor=Here is the gate coming together. It has taken way too long to get this gate built, partly due to other projects, and also to the challenge of engineering as you go, being challenged by every job to learn new skills and be a clever monkey..
The deceptively simply loop at the bottom of the pattern was not as simple as it seemed.
Steel or iron will bend to your will, but that's the problem too. It will bend were you "tell" it to bend. If there was a mistake on your part working out the steps to forming whatever it is you're wanting to form.
From forging a flower to bending an 8 foot loop there is a logical(well, sometimes) path of how to make something.
"If I want this then I have to do A before I can do B.."
This process of deconstruction to construct is part of creating ironwork, and a behavior that I and most blacksmiths I know engage in when we are out in the world. We can't help we, we look at ironwork and try to figure out how it was built...
"Look at those gates, they must have had to put the twist in first and then slid the picket in after, and then riveted it" Says the Hubbinator to I.
"Yeh, but look at this, " Says Me, " they obviously forge welded this to this.." Etc..
It's kind of wacky, but we can't help it, we like to figure things out.
Which leads me to the Jig of Mordor=

The Jig of Mordor
It took me several days of fussing, cussing and thinking to come up with a forming jig(a thingy to shape metal with, used when you have many of the same shape to make)
In fact is was truly a pain in my ass, and nearly ended my marriage. Yet, here it is, a big loop that accurately reproduces the same loop with curved ends. Looks so innocent sitting there doesn't it? So simple, how could this be so hard?
Well, it has to do with my fuzzy chalk drawing, the design itself being very precise, and and no room for wiggle at all in the way the peices fit together. The first jig was a tad too big, thanks to my fuzzy drawing which got tightened up.
The loops are made out ten foot lengths of steel, that must first have a curve put into them at the ends, then wrapped around the jig to make the loops. They have to be exactly the same or the eye will be drawn to any dissimilarity in the piece. The design is Art-Deco, and very clean.

-Then there was the butting of the heads between blacksmiths, the pressure of looming deadlines, a few stressful days .. get the picture.
We prevailed and now the gate is ready for it's hinges and lock plate.
Can't wait to get it out of here!


indigotiger said...

I love reading about how your work actually happens, can understand better both the frustrations and the joy. The gate is a bit different from many of the other work of yours I've seen, not my style, but I can certainly appreciate it. I too look at things in my skillset and de-construct them in my mind.

FrauKlug said...

Thanks! Well, Iam not the Art Deco type really, but they want something that will match the existing 1920's iron. So simple looking yet so fussy.
Everything is a challenge and that teaches so much about this craft.
Glad you dropped in!

Fjorleif said...

Well, now that I have internet here, I can bookmark my favorite sites, and I've got a whole file of "friends blogs" and you are at the top of the list...

FrauKlug said...

Hey Excellent!
Nice little enamels by the way...on your blog ..I mean! thanks! I need to add you to here as well!

paula said...

I remember the template drawing and now it's nearly completed - I'm in awe, totally! And as for the technical bits, again I’m just glimpsing and understanding a tiny fraction of your art. I think it has the elegance and simplicity that your customer would find hard to fault – fabulous!

FrauKlug said...

Thank you Paula! Well Since this post we took it over to the client and she loves it. Happy Me!Now it's at the painters.
We are working on a railing to match, with the thistles in it. I need to do a step by step photo bit of making the thistles, it would show you how many steps go into making things.
It all takes time.