Friday, December 3, 2010

Decorative Arts

On Tuesday, I finished the Crucible's ornamental techniques class.

Overall, a good class.  The instructor was great and the projects were interesting.  As always, trying to get through everything was a challenge. 

The main project was creating a sample fence piece using mortise and tenon.  We made the top and bottom, and the rail pieces, created the mortises and then put different twists on them, then riveted them together.

In progress top/bottom pieces.

In progress mortise.
Final piece

After that, he showed us how to make leafs and dragon heads.  I didn't have time to finish a leaf, but will try the technique again.  My first dragon head came out pretty good, but I'd like to make the next one a little cleaner.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Last week I finished the Introduction to Welded Sculpture class at The Crucible.

This welding class was very different from the blacksmithing classes I've taken.  In those classes, each class starts out with a demo of a project or part of a project, and then the students work on duplicating that piece.  In the welding class, the first class started off with the instructor showing us how to do basic welds using the arc welding tools, and how to do torch cutting.  After that, we were on our own to come up with projects to work on, and he was available to answer questions or help us out where needed.

Below are the things I worked on, mostly projects to try different techniques or see what was possible.

My main project.  Started out just as a stick man, and then I found the gear to add as a head, and cut the wings out using the torch.

The second project I tried.  Supposed to be a turtle.

 Playing around with heavier materials, kind of an airplane shape.

Working with thinner materials, which is quite hard because they melt through if you use too much heat, too much current, etc.  I welded a bunch of plates to form a hoop and then cut and welded a bottom.

Just some misc pieces stuck together.

Working with thin pieces again, making a kind of walknot symbol.

My most delicate weld.  Originally it was supposed to be the trifoil radiation symbol, but it was impossible to do without welding it to the plate below them.  Then I found I could bend them up, making this neat shape.

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Intro to Welded Sculpture Class

Last night was the first of five evenings on welded sculpture at the Crucible.  The class looks good so far - very laid back, friendly teacher, and lots of time to experiment and try different techniques and work on a project.

It looks like the project will be more free form than the blacksmithing classes - we're going to have to come up with our own ideas - which has pluses and minuses.

The class started off with a review of the safety stuff, and a quick tour of the Crucible building.  Then it got down to a few demos of arc welding and torch cutting.  After that, we got to practice bead running (and the all important learning to scratch light the stick!) and then to connect a few pieces of random scrap with tack welds.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Project, Day Five

Two things done today.

First, I continued the back bend of the first test piece.  A little more success in seeing how it could work.  The results don't look good, but I got the feel of it and think I can do a more controlled bend on future pieces.

Second, I played around with using a scrolling jig, a tool to make the bends more repeatable.  This worked out well, with a few problems I've got to solve.  Getting a first bend seems very difficult.  I was doing the clamping by hand, with a pair of large pliers, and it was very difficult to hold the piece tight enough to turn it and make the initial bends.  Next time I try it, I will try a few different things or move to a more fixed clamp.

You can compare the hand curved piece (on the left) with the one made with the scrolling jig (on the right).  You can see that the initial curve on the right piece is a little messed up, but the curves are very smooth after that.  You can also see the results of the back bend on the hand piece.

Project, Day Four

A quick session after work.  Most of this session was spent on completing an earlier project, the candle holder from the continuing techniques class.  I had to close the bands around it using the torch, rather than the forge, to heat the metal.

I got it done, but with some issues.  One of the more difficult parts of this part of the project is getting the four scrolls at the right height versus the core, with clamps attached to hold them together while you close the bands.  I finally had it adjusted about right, then went to work with the torch, but working with the torch and the big clamp must have shifted my scrolls as two of them are badly out of place and the whole thing is quite wobbly.  As usual, my downfall is lack of patience.  I should have taken the time to checked and adjusted as I worked with the torch.

On the other project, I decided to clip off the end of my test piece, since it is coming in shorter than I expected.  After that I did a little bending of the end, but it wasn't working well.  I'm rethinking my approach to that end and will give it a try the next time I'm at the forge, probably next week.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Project, Day Three

Continuing to work on my test piece.  Today didn't go quite as well as the earlier sessions.  The early parts of the curve were easier, but today I ended up closing the curve a little too much.  Also, it is much harder to control the piece during the later parts of the bending.  Also, I'm using too many heats and causing too much scale on the piece.

I've gotten to the point where the bend changes direction and I have to figure out they best way to handle the piece for this part of the work.

Here is a picture of where I am with the test piece now - it was much nicer looking last time:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Project, Day Two

Second session working on this project.  Chris and Cliff were already working at the forges when I got there, so I didn't have to start off.  Really nice guys - they gave me a few tips on working with the longer pieces I' using, as well as a tip on a cheaper place to get metal.

For reference, here are a piece before doing any work on it.  I'm working with 40" pieces of cold rolled 1018 steel.  I meant to get hot rolled, but missed slightly.

Here is a piece in the forge:

And here is a partially done piece, next to an original.  This is the first of my test pieces, where I try to learn how to get the larger curves I'm targeting.  So far the curve on this one is excellent, but I'm using too many heats and scaling the piece badly.