Saturday, July 5, 2014

Illuminated Tools: Getting Started

First I did 1:1 sketches of the tools.

 photo IMAG0955.jpg

 photo IMG_20140420_14114_edit_1398024719882.jpg

These aren't exact blueprints, just scaled examples of where the project is headed.

Since I've had a hard time finding high carbon steel in my area I used a local metal reseller for most of my steel. She had some nice new 4340 available in bars for $1.50/lb, so I cut that into coupons and tacked them together without any fill rod, and forge welded it into one block.

 photo IMAG0698.jpg

My first "forge" was a stack of fire bricks that I pointed my O/A torch into, I have since built a more respectable forge.

 photo IMAG0701.jpg

I built this small press to help with forging and forge welding, it uses a 20 ton air-over-hydraulic cylinder. It's a bit slow and I'll definitely build a better one when funds allow.

 photo IMAG0863.jpg

For the wrench I used a car coil spring, straightened and upset on one end. I used an air chisel to cut a slit in the upset, then opened it and wrapped it around a rod (sorry, no pics). Then I filed the open box by hand to fit a 3/4" bolt.

 photo IMAG0963.jpg

 photo IMAG0964.jpg

Then I forged a taper on the other end and cut 1/4"-20 threads, this is how the handle will be affixed.

 photo IMAG0988.jpg

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Illuminated Tool series

As I near the end of art school I'm expected to take more initiative and to find my "voice." Part of that is  doing an Independent Study, a semester long project of my own design. I'm currently working under Constance Dejong on a series I'm calling Illuminated Tools.
You may be familiar with illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages, hand produced books highly decorated with illustration and gold leaf.


I will be applying this methodology to hand tools, items that have come to be considered dirty, low class, and low value. Any good tradesman knows the value of a quality tool, but somehow a country built by tradesmen has allowed the production and sale of cheaply made and disposable tools to take over the market. I suspect this is directly tied to the lack of appreciation given to labor and craft based occupations and the decline of the middle class. But I digress.
My goal is to present high quality, hand made, usable tools that are obviously precious by their polish, adornment and fine materials.
I'll be making four items overall for this project, a hammer, a wrench and a drafting set (a compass and straightedge). These items represent what I believe are the three major stages of human industry that led us to where we are now: forming, such as smithing and hand working raw materials; the industrial revolution, when work became more about operating and maintaining machines than making products; and design, when concept and creation became separated.

I will be making everything but the raw materials by hand for this project, and many of my tools will be homemade as well. I'll also be learning completely new skills like smithing, forge welding, electro-chemical etching, and wood turning. I will also be practicing skills I don't normally use like polishing and drawing. Most of the materials will be forged steel and cast bronze.
This will be my primary project for the next few months.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sale on Etsy Items

Starting today and through the month of December get 25% off your order at the Burning Beard Fab etsy store using the code THEOOHRAY.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jewelry in Progress

Working on an assortment of new jewelry pieces for sale. Expect to see a big update to the store anytime now.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Castings Coming Soon: Cameo Jewelry and Sci-Fi Rayguns

I've been trying to build up some stock for two upcoming sale opportunities, a Dia de los Muertos themed pop-up store in downtown Albuquerque, and a crafty art fair at the University of New Mexico.

I've been making cameos based on molds and casting them in bronze and silver. These will become pendants, pins, rings and earrings.

I'm also making rayguns which will be cast in bronze as well.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Armored Glove

Working on a cast bronze armored glove/gauntlet. Bringing all the soft squishy bits from under the skin to outside the armor.Still in wax right now.