Friday, December 18, 2009


The leaves back down in the shop all curled up again up top and then unfurled or hit straight in the foreground. The aluminium hand shape was a demonstration for the visitors at a recent community event where quite a few people made hand casts with varying degrees of success.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Charcoal and water

Another go at the press work scene. It is a tiny little work area making each little indentation along the edges of the leaf and watching it curl up under the stress. Trying out a soft charcoal pencil with a water filled brush and some eraser work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Half done

The texture imprints cause the leaf shapes to curl up like those at the top here. I took them down to the shop to heat up and straighten with a wooden mallet on a wood block to hold the texture undamaged like those in the foreground. I used the little mole grips to hold the stems of the leaves while heating.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pressed leaves

Working at the press putting some texture in the edges of elongated leaf shapes.

Friday, December 11, 2009


For work at the forge I have a couple of lengths of rod welded on to the handle workpieces. I upset the ends of these rods and then rounded them into lollipop shapes. I will spread these out into flat spoon shapes to form the thumb latch levers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Working at the torch to cut out plates as escutcheons. Then at the press to add texture and finally the drill press to cut holes and countersink them for the bolts that will hold the plates to the door. The two arcs are my first thoughts on leaf shapes for window decoration.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


While I was on hiatus the three ladies I sometimes mention made a polystyrene name plate that we then cast in aluminum in a second session last month. Today they were in the shop finishing up their castings. This is one example, I Guess this could be read in English as Fur use, implying some kind of tannery for dogs, but it is actually a Japanese surname, so there is no ill intent toward the animals.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Drunken bars

OK, this looks like nothing, but it actually represents rather a lot of work and moderate shoulder fatigue. I should have measured the hexagonal bar, but lets say it is 12mm (a half inch) in section for the sake of our thesis here.
The logical among you will observe the progression of evolution from left to right. Rusty with sections drawn thinner...same bar with a series of reverse twists applied. I love the way the twists turn the lackluster edges of the drawn out bar into a much more dynamic element. I made two lengths of about a meter and a half each. I have yet to apply the twists to the one in the middle, but remembered to photograph it.
For the drawing out one can use a fairly hefty sledge and simply hold the bar over the proverbial "edge of the anvil". Proverbial because there is a very instructive book of this name if you are looking for blacksmithing hints. Hitting the work while it is over the edge and moving it back and forth spreads the metal longitudinally, drawing it out. It gets messy, but it is a waste of time to try and keep the bar hexagonal throughout the process, just get it to the section you want and try to keep it roughly round, then true up the planes of the hexagon on the flat of the anvil once it is the right size. I am still a novice, but drawing out is relatively easy, my next step is to become more proficient at upsetting. If you are looking to try your hand I recommend getting a gas saver for an oxypropane or oxyacetylene torch as a first step. This is a really useful tool and allows you to set your torch aside on its perch where it is automatically turned off, then pick it up and light it on the pilot flame to use it immediately. Heating just the area you want and then going to work with the hammer. Constructing a proper forge would be a second step.
In the twisting process this is very useful as it has to be done in small sections. You must start with the fat parts and get them a nice bright orange or slightly yellow, the thin sections can be done at any time after, but if they get any heat in them they will twist like crazy before you can get the fat parts to shift, so don't.
You can add an extra step to make a weird spikey structure by hammering the twists along imaginary flat surfaces again and then heating to untwist. I am not too keen on that, but I used it a couple of years ago for the plum blossom branches in a different door window grille. June 26 and July 22 2007 in the historical archive on the right.

Friday, December 04, 2009


A crude squiggle, but as you might be able to see I have not wasted the intervening time and have let the beard grow to stave off the winter chills.
Inevitably, despite immense care, the completed welding throws the frame a little out of squiff. I clamp the high corners of the structure down to my cast iron welding slab and heat the other corners to allow it to settle back into true again.
The "immense care" involves welding only an inch or so at a time along a seam and rotating the thing around to work on another point, this allows the welded area to cool again and one simply works round and round till the whole lot is done.
The picture below shows the empire of windows. In order to keep the tonnage of the doors within the human realm I have made a lot of the components from square or rectangular steel pipe. The treatment of the surface would crush the pipe, so I filled my working lengths with molten lead to allow them the privilege of retaining their shape, more or less.
The darker timber will eventually merge with the pale cypress when the surfaces are scorched.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Frame up

My camera is suffering a focus crisis, but this gives the general idea of the far right window frame prior to having all its seams welded up. There is a matching insert or perhaps what one might call a bezel to hold the glass in place once I make a decision on what glass will go well with the door.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Frame parts

Here we are at the bench. The segments of plywood allow me to obtain spacing of reasonable uniformity. I usually tend to make the bottom heavier than the top, so I have two for each zone.
Decorative motifs will be added to this trellis work later on. One the little scraps of textured square pipe have been tacked in place I turn them about hither and thither to assure myself they are in a true plane and then proceed to weld all about the joints.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I am afraid I fell victim to apathy for some months there.
When the printed word first emerged I believe the knowledge it embodied was hoarded by the elite few who could read it. Uneducated folk like myself would have had about as much chance of getting their hands on a book as I would on the trigger for the vast particle collider. The one thing many of us have in common is this ability to pass on knowledge through writing but we find ourselves in the opposite situation where there is so much written and other junk about the place that one has to have a very course tea strainer in order to avoid having it filled at each moment with detritus.
As I say, for a while I fell into the habit of classifying my own efforts here among the cloggage, but a recent change in the BBC podcast regime meant that I was able to listen to a podcast of Morissey speaking on Desert island disks. The man at fifty seemed to take such relish in having honed the mentality of a teenager for the past 30 odd years that I felt once more empowered to take my place among the shed leaves on the autumn pavement of civilized contemporaneity. Besides, the autumn chill means that the stove is lit morning to night and the early evenings leave me with free time sitting next to it, which I might make so bold as to utilize in sharing my own ha'peth. I do not do this out of any sense of ego, merely because I am about to die as Mr M puts it and I would like to pass the time of day before the last breath wheezes out. Hopefully a long time away, but however long it may seem to you, it will be but an instant for me, so be patient.
I am now in the middle of a project, and much of the preparation has been lost to posterity due to my distracted psyche. Thankfully my projects draw out over time in an expansive manner, so you have not missed the entirety. Currently I am engaged on a great deal of TIG welding. The doors I am making have eight windows within them and there will also be windows within the frame that surrounds the double doors.
The door timbers are almost all jointed and ready, none glued, but the voids for the windows are there for me to fill. To begin though, our immediate concern is with stink bugs. We are plagued with them this year more than any other I can recall. These chaps demand respect as they exude a disgusting odor at the least provocation. The most striking thing about having so many such indomitable insects in the home at all hours of the day is how alike they all are. I have studied them through the close focus binoculars and found them fascinating in structure and coloration, but they must have chromosomes like strands of titanium to remain so homogeneous in their multitude.