Friday, February 27, 2009

Lambs Toungues

Hellebore, or" Lenten Rose" blooming outside the smithy..
Things are beginning to look like spring. Here in Orygon, on the West side of the Cascade range, spring arrives a little earlier than on the East side. We have more moderate winters, and so by the end of Feb. Mother Nature is starting to wake up. It's been a weird weather week, hail, snow, frost, warm sunshine, 55 degress, the bees show up, and then more hail. Bees retreat. I put on another sweater. I start the day in the shop wearing three layers of wool, by midday Iam down to a t-shirt. Oh and my work jeans. Don't want anyone to think Iam going all nudist blacksmith...Anyways, my point is that spring time weather has arrived, changeable and whacky. Soon the chocolate Easter/Ostara eggs show up in the stores(Cadbury dark chocolate with fudge center please.Mmmm...) and the red shafted Flicker's begin their rat-at-tat- tatting on the metal chimney covers...Go Spring! yeh!
Along with the weather's obvious turn to a new season, my shepardess friends(and Ewe know who you are) have all started to see the arrival of cute little lambs on their farms, and as this is lambing season I thought I would get into the spirit myself. Check out my lambs toungue:

Drawing out the "toungue"
Now a lambs toungue is that nice swooshy bit at the end of a handrail. It's pretty to look at and much better for the hand than , oh...a sharp cut off bit of metal. It looks like, well a toungue. Hence the name, given Iam sure by some smith of antiquity who made the first one. Probably a Roman..
Iam building these as We are working furiously on a straight forwardhandrail this week. No more artsy roses, herons, or fish. They languish on the work table. It's back to basic hand forging . The client needs this railing for his house inspection, and we need his money for the mortage payment. Then it's back to the artsy stuff.

Lamb Toungue, fresh from the forge. Note tounguelike shape... I draw out the steel, that is lengthen it, making sure it's thickness is constant all the way to the tip of the ..toungue. Then I put the curl into it, and bend it in the legvise. ViolA!

Finished Toungue

Note toungue-y shape...I have achieved my goal!Waiting to be welded onto the handrail, and then hauled over for installation.

Here is some of the Heron gate, in parts waiting more work=

Heron wings, body and tail all in a jumble...
The rusty colored piece is waiting to be chiseled, shaped and goes on the other side of the bird's body. She is a three dimensional piece...

More Heron, breast feathers, wing...Time consuming chiselwork...sigh...if only I was getting paid enough for this work. Iam not. The bane of all craftsfolk=underbidding our work..undervalueing our work. You try to estimate fairly, but somehow it always ends up being more time, money, effort than you thought.
Marketing, Self promotion..being a business person. It's not something that goes with being an artsy type generally, there are the exceptions to this, I am sure.
Iam proud of the work I do, it's the business end Iam wobbly on. See previous post on introspection and wanting a mentor...
Oh well, off to the shop, the morning is slipping away.
I hope spring is making some inroads where ever you may be!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Rose Insitu
One of things I love(and hate) about about blacksmithing is being challenged. How does one go about making something they have never made before? Yes, it's a pain in the ass, but it is also good for educating yourself. I always bemoan my lack of training, so many others have way more training in this than I. Years of fancy arts college, then working for some awesomely talented established smith, learning their chops at the knee of some Olde Worlde Master in Czech, Germany or England. Slaving away as an apprentice, gaining the vast and arcane knowledge of this craft that I have only just scratched the surface of...Gawd it makes me nuts!!!!And bitter apparently...ha!
When Iam not being bitter and jealous, I have to invent, research and just come up with things on my own. Sometimes out of my own wild imagination...that's where the "artistic" part of artist blacksmith comes in.
Roses for a shop sign. I did some research, and dug up all the many ways one can make roses.
There are a lot. Some mind boggle-ingly cool and time consuming..Some I need to see made in the flesh first so I could ken the tecnique...Some just too.. well...ugly. Some kind of what I was wanting..In the end I just figured it out for myself.

Wild Roses
So I got some pipe, heat it and did things to it. Cutting out petals, shaping them with the hammer, fussing about until I had what I wanted. I used the large lobes of my brain, and figured out how to make wild roses..I didn't want to spend a million years on them, but I wanted them to look nice. Now I don't know if this is how they make roses in Praugue, but it worked for me.
All the pics I took were blurry, so no step by step Iam afraid. I can't take a pic to save my life, it seems to be a genetic affliction...
That all said,
There is nothing as good , well maybe laughing with friends or smooching the Hubbinator, as successfully creating something . When the image in your head is made real , your holding it in your hands, looking at it in this dimension..It's so satisfying.
Thank the Gawds I only had to make three.