Saturday, October 3, 2015

Copper and Glass Exterior Sconces

I spent the last two weekends working with master armorer Travis Conn on two exterior lights.  I wanted to share the process.  

First I bought some exterior LED flood lights.  2 lights and fixtures were 50 bucks from Stusser electrical supply.  

Travis and I met and sketched designs, then made a model out of cardboard.   The form making for metal work is the most crucial and important part of the process because it's easy to cut and play with cardboard.  I made sure my model would fit over the flood light.

Using a Beverly B-1 throatless shear we cut out all of our components. 

Next we used this simple break to bend our angles. 

With our pieces cut, I used a pull saw to make a simple bench pin.  

Rubber cement was used to glue down a template to the sheet copper that I cut out with a frame saw.  A really great trick that travis taught me is to laminate the sheet metal pieces together using rubber cement.  Then you make your cuts and pry them apart.  You get all your cuts with one pass with the jeweler's frame saw.  

Here is an image of the frame saw and bench pin... 

We used stainless machine screws and wing nuts to mock up the lights, dry fit and make final adjustments.  

A riveting activity... 

Not a lot of great photos of the forming of the cap.  I used a piece of black locust to cut and form a stake then used a rasp to form the contour of our bend.  Then using a plastic hammers and the wood stake we hammered and bent the radius into the sheet metal to form this nun's hood.  There was minimal annealing at the point of the cap to smooth out deformations.  

Mocking it up... 

I wanted to engrave swallows on the front of the lights, so i sketched designs and once again rubber cemented the template to copper and used a jeweler's saw to cut out the birdies.  

With Bill Dawson's aid I was able to use his studio and engraving tools to work on my swallows.  I started by following the lines of the template with this awl and tiny hammer.  The pin prick marks gave me the pattern for engraving.  

An engraving block... 

Mostly I just used a square graver, a threader and this leather sand bag to cut my simple design lines. 

Then I watched the lunar eclipse... 

I went downtown and with the help of Bill Hillman from Mansion Glass I got my glass panes cut to my design templates. Another amazing craftsman and person.  

Using butyl tape, I pressed against the copper I made a soft gasket for the glass to press into and folded the copper tabs around the glass. 

The first glow... 

Other side... 

Engraved swallow...

Night photos below...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review of "Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings"

“Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings” is a detailed and succinct introduction to traditional Japanese architecture from the perspective of a westerner in the late 19th century. It is a wonderful read for anyone who is interested in traditional Japanese design and culture. It was first published in 1886 after Morse had already lived in Japan for almost a decade. He was studying brachiopods in 1877 when he was invited to join the faculty in the Zoology department at the Imperial University of Tokyo. Using his analytical and observational skills which he developed as a scientist, he began collecting cultural artifacts and making detailed sketches and observations of Japanese homes. This work features over 300 sketches with elaborate descriptions. His somewhat exhaustive descriptions almost always highlight the simplicity and elegance of Japanese culture while simultaneously ripping apart the indulgence of his own culture. Aside from his constant comically snarky remarks, his work takes the reader to Japan in 1880 and guides you through various homes. 

The book was lent to me when I was working on the design phase of the tiny home. I wanted to write a review and share about it because it was a really wonderful accompaniment to the building process. I was constantly drawing sketches of Morse's sketches and referencing design elements. I learned all kinds of interesting things about Japan, including the fact that one's garden is apart of their estate and when you move you take all your plants with you, including 40 ft trees. It was not uncommon to see people dragging trees down the street in sacks! When you kick the bucket they auction off all your plants so they literally come in the yard and dig up the the plants and sell them off to your neighbors. 

The importance of the design style of the Japanese is the utilization of the available resources. The Japanese carpenter was armed with only a few sharp tools and a supreme appreciation for the asymmetrical. 

Click here for a free online preview on google books... you can see the first 17 pages...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spalted Maple and Mahogany Shelving

With the waste material from the counter top, I made this shelving.  Spalted Big Leaf Maple from Ben and Suzy's wood shed.  The Maple is ripped into 2" strips and laminated together.  I made the second shelf down out of Mahogany because I was short on the maple material. 

The shelves stair step down suspended by a 3/4" x 7/8" stick of maple, mortised into place.  The suspended shelves are lightweight and sturdy.  (This photo features the pottery of Joelle Montez.) 

And a forged bracket as support underneath.  

You can see on the right side of this image how the shelves progress up from the counter top at the same angle.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gravity Fed Water System

The assembly and first run of the gravity fed water system.  The hot water side is waiting for a on demand propane hot water heater, but...

We've got water!  The most precious and undervalued resource in Western Washington.

This collaborative project features the ceramic work of Joelle Montez.  Joelle threw the basin after experimenting to see how large it had to be to hold the pressure of the entire carboy.

Bill Dawson helped me by expanding this 3/4" to 1/2" reducer bell to fit on to the ceramic water basin.

And Bill let me buff this old Crane faucet I got at the Packwood fleamarket almost 2 and a half years ago.  I bought it for 15 bucks and with some new gaskets and cleaning I mounted it today.

 I forged the brackets and fit the cedar board to hold the basin.

The ongoing aesthetic feature of the Leafspring has been to expose the functional components of the house in a beautiful way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monkey Bar Ladder

wahoooo!  An upside-down stair case?

Last night I went out to the forge and bent this flat stock around a 1/2" black iron pipe.  I had some extra pipe from the propane line on the original trailer, so I decided to give it a try.  The pipe flexes a little bit, which adds some spring to your swing...  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Western Hemlock Shard Sculpture

While hiking in the Skokomish river valley this winter I came across this shard of what I believe is a very old Western Hemlock tree.  I've had it piled up with some other found pieces of wood and I finally got around to carving it.  I believe it formed from the impact when the tree fell or if it was struck by another falling tree.  Dimensions: 19" x  8" x 6" 

This side of the shard was facing down towards the earth.  With a gouge and a hook knife I revealed this.

 I followed the lines in the tree and I tried to interface the fresh carved texture with the rich color of the inner bark.

I did smooth out some of the natural features, but for the most part the shard was so beautiful already I thought better to present than arrange.