All is fair in NC. (2012 State Fair)

So I’ve been abnormally busy lately learning to do something a bit new for me. I hope to talk more about it soon.. But the NC state fair wasn’t so long ago!
Several NCABANA members and I were all there demonstrating blacksmithing for record numbers of people. It was an awful lot of fun. I made some neat things, even tried some new projects I hadn’t practiced before and let a crowd watch as I scratched my head and struggled with learning a new item or two. We answered many questions and maybe even inspired a few people young and old to take a more active interest in the craft.. But mostly I made and sold leaves and bottle openers oh, and my favorite change of pace.. leaf bottle openers..
Check out the art inspired by the experience in the Pirate Blacksmith webcomic

I’m in the background probably about to burn myself or a lucky audience

Hooks, hearts, and horseshoe heart hooks

A lot of my writing and how-to stuff has sat on the back burner. With the NC state fair coming up I’ve been busy with projects big and small here are a few of the small heart themed ones.

The horseshoe heart wall hooks are fun to make and look neat to me.
It’s great for hanging your keys on or other small items.
I’ve got a more complex heart project in the works but these are some of the different hearts I’ve been making.
Some are heart-shaped wall hooks, most are heart key chains.
And I’ve even been making lanyard or key chain heart self defense tools.
A close up of the hook perfect to hang your keys on.
This a picture of the welding a key chain. It starts as a simple forge weld.

Yates mill demo

I had a fun time this weekend attending an event at Yates Mill in Raleigh with Solvarr! There was good food, lots of corn talk and music. If you’ve never been there, the lake is beautiful and the mill is a marvel.

The highlight of my day was getting to help out around the forge. I demonstrated how I make one piece steel roses.

I wish I had a photo of me working, but sadly I forgot to ask. If Ashley was there’ she’d have taken twice as many photographs. Alas I love to swing a hammer not take pictures. She’s been busy lately and has even started he own blog!

With out further adieu Yates Mill:

I love places like this.
The first thing I wanted to do was to look at how the water wheel ran.
Water was controlled via a steel level. I’d have loved to see this part forged!

 

The water wheel.

 

Here is a better shot. You can hardly tell the hurricane nearly destroyed this area in 1996.

 

Some of the surrounding buildings were neat. I enjoy old wagon wheels.

 

I know I can’t be the only one fascinated my bits of old machinery!
Am I?.. yeah guess you’d have to be there. This stuff was neat to examine.
Solvarr had his forge set up, and that was my main reason for going. A couple of other folks helped out and it was nice talking shop and seeing how others work!

 

I didn’t bring a lot of my stuff, but I brought some stuff to sell, most of the neat stuff isn’t mine =P
These bellows are just really fun to work with.
All in all I had a ton of fun, and it was nice to sit back and enjoy some music near the end of the day.

You can see a great picture of the mill drive system here. And the inside here. It’s nice to see the past still present.
-Greg

A flower candleholder wall hook

I made this flower candle holder and wall hook not so long ago. Here’s how:
I started by forging a leaf out on the end of a piece of flatbar
I then forge welded about 21″ of the bar stock over onto itself. I tapered the end and cut a small indent close to halfway to prepare for the next weld.
I folded it over once again and forge welded it.
After welding was complete I started to form a fishtail with the crosspein.
The bar is now about 1/2″x1/2″ and I still needed to punch a hole and trim the fishtail with a chisels (not photoed)
The bar was then folded and welded for a third time. This is a bit more time-consuming than jump welding smaller stock to a 1/2″x1/2″ base would be I imagine, but the finished product would look different.
I forged the hook and I can start shaping the stem to the flower. When bending the hook I noticed it was about 20 degree off horizontally when mounted flat on the wall. Instead of straightening it out and redoing it I just twisted it to the right angle. This gave an undesirable line that I refined later.
The bulk of the work is done.
This isn’t an occult blacksmithing ritual. I cut out a small semi-circle for the flower and drew a star to mark the pedals.
I used snips and a punch to form the flower. It took a little sanding too.
Rose candle hook 11
A crosspein on a stump gave the pedals texture.
rose candle hook 12
I cut off the excess stem and bent it around to secure the flower. (You can also see a steak turner I made a while before I could finish the hook and candle holder).
These little scented candles come with a thin metal pan that I glued into the center of the flower using JB-weld.

I’ll get a better picture of it mounted sometime soon I hope.
I’ve got some more projects to post eventually and some more how-to stuff too.
(update)
1119121118a
–Greg

Hot Diggity Dawg

A cordial ‘gent and I got together not so long ago. He’s retired but still works as a hot dog vendor. When he dropped in with a real nice custom cart in tow. It was a simple enough task and a while later I’d finished. He asked for one thing done but mentioned some other things he’d like done. I told him I’d make him something simple and affordable to get the job done, and something with a little more visual appeal.












I went ahead and made something to keep the condiment cooler open to the appropriate height since the fella mentioned it.



I really like making functional stuff. It’s satisfying to make a tool to specifications and attempt to make it visually appealing. But it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on the stuff I make. It’s this odd double standard in my mind on value. I got into this kind of work because of a sort of independence. I’ve always liked making things and it never made sense to me buying something or paying someone to do something I could do myself. If someone needs something I don’t ever want to send them home empty-handed; I’m not the type to take advantage of someone who needs help. But I’m a man who wants to build a business out of a hobby so I have to think about money. With as much of myself that’s intertwined into everything I do it’s almost enough to make me feel a bit like, pardon me, a whore. How do you put a price tag on a piece of yourself? Especially if you’re the sort of person that prefers to make things instead of buy ’em. I understand a majority of the factors to consider but I’m no true business minded man. The next day I gave the ‘gent a price for any two of the three pieces, and another price for all three. The fellow kindly took all three and seemed satisfied.

–Greg

So hot steel leaves wilt

It’s been darn near a hundred in the shade lately. But I’ve been trying to stay hydrated by the forge. I’ve been practicing leaves. And well I have some more stuff for the ugly side of my next installment the good, bad and the ugly. But I liked these from the other day:

hand forged leaf hooks

 

leaf hook start
leaf hook start

 

leaf hook fire welded
leaf hook forge welded

 

leaf hook hole prep
leaf hook punch prep
leaf, ballpein, tongs, holdfast
leaf hook punch
hand forging leaf hooks
leaf hooks in the works

–Greg

Dixie Classic Fairgrounds NCABANA

This past saturday was the 2nd quarterly meeting for NCabana at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds in Winston-Salem, NC. It was a long drive be so very worth it! I love to see blacksmith shops, backyard, historic recreations, modern. They all have something to offer any person interested in any level of metal work. I took lots of photo’s and listened intently to the demonstrations. Hobbyist, professional metal workers and artist were all gathered together with a common goal of building a better and more informed community. The world of steel is better for each of these meeting and I was really happy to be a part of it!
The morning air wasn’t yet thick with humidity or heat when I first arrived and started exploring the grounds. There were many antique machines and aged building relocated to the area that caught my eye. But I took the most pictures of the shop itself.
A few of my favorite simple machines caught on camera:
A hand cranked drill simply stamped No 22, aptly made in Salem, Ohio by The Silver manufacturing company.


These bellows simply looked inspiring, I’d love to make something similar.

A treadle hammer I got a chance to try out!

The first demonstration was luckily enough on leaves and flowers. Something I’ve been working on trying to get develop a style before finishing my mothers fireplace tools. Gail Wall did a great job showing how she works sheet metal into beautiful organic forms.

Keith Roberts followed Gail demonstrating a barley twist, then he stuck around to help out Andy Phillips demonstration hardy tool creation. Giving pointers on working with a striking team. They made quick work of some rather large stock, working together like they’d done it a hundred times.
An example of a barley twist incorporated in a larger design:

Striking while the iron is hot… Very hard:

I learned a bit about annealing copper, spying an impromptu neat little folded form spiral being made over lunch, sorry no photos. My mind was beginning to wander toward the BBQ being served, but I couldn’t pry myself from where the action was!

Mr Roberts was back to wrap things up by giving a demonstration on demonstrating of all things! It was really a sight, his enthusiasm was contagious despite my heavy eyelids. He managed to inform and entertain in such a captivating way that was almost like stepping into the midway of a carnival produced by the History channel.



I stayed ’till well into the afternoon and when it was time for the long drive home. I really hope to post some more. I’ve got a lot of little projects to update and introduce. Writing, like blacksmithing, doesn’t come naturally to me. I admire good writers as much as I do craftsmen and women. Both require technique, style and attention to detail that these poor eyes don’t always have. With dedication and practice I hope to improve. Between poor eyesight, moderate dyslexia and a fumbling level of natural dexterity it sometimes feels like an uphill journey. But it’s on the long roads traveled that the destination when approached seems all the more gratifying!

–Greg

Drag in the dragons!

My little dragon isn’t finished — But it has turned out better than it could have. Next time I’m going to do things a bit differently, but I learned a lot and I think I’ll be able to do a much better ob next time. I think I’m going to draw out the horns a bit more and turn it into a candle holder. I haven’t done a lot of metal carving or animal heads so this was a great chance for me to use my post vice! Planing out how to do the different parts of the twist was a real bugger =P But it truly gives a great effect in my opinion. What do you think so far?









–Greg

Hooks n’ Hangers are happening!

I finished up my hooks project. I think the Lee’s were very happy, they bought all the hooks I made! I’m going to get a picture of the lamps mounted at some point I hope. I’m really proud of the second pair of hooks I made. I took some photo’s of the near finished products, but I wish I had time to take more! I need to adjust one still close up the bends on the flat mounting part that looks like an upside down heart.










I’ve been working on my large knife blue print a little bit at a time. It’s coming along nicely it’ll look really good when finished I think I’ve got to finish up my Damascus blade soon too.

–Greg