Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frustration, followed by success, followed by more frustration.

Climbing my stress away.

While Dan and I are excited to move our shop, we are currently embroiled in a frustrating setback. The City of Santa Barbara, flexing its bullying, bureaucratic muscles, has demanded to re-review the permitting process for the property. What does this mean? Delay. You can bet The City of SB has some mid-level hack slowly meandering through a mire of red-tape and interminable paperwork, and you can also bet that none of our questions will be answered without an absurd domnino-effect of "let me ask my superiors..." This is an outrage. The good news is the landlady loves us, and can't wait to rent the space to our business. We just have to sit on our hands till the permitting nonsense subsides. I feel like spilling hot coffee on the collective crotches of those working at City Planning.

Speaking of debacles, I recently accomplished a bouldering problem (which I'm calling "The Seven Year Debacle") at the Westmont College boulder. It starts at the lower right-hand side of the above-picture arete and consists of a stupid-hard throw to a three-finger pocket at the upper left-hand side of the rock (Keith, if you're reading this, you may remember the hold). I don't usually blame the difficulty of problems on a climber's reach, but the sequence demanded a highly idiosyncratic jumble of technique that has evaded me since my college days. To be sure, I haven't obsessed over this problem in a constanst fashion (I don't climb at Westmont very often), but whenever I happened by my alma mater over the last seven years, shoes and chalk in hand, this little line humbled me. When I finally did the moves, they felt only moderately hard, not seven-year-project hard (hence the name "The Seven Year Debacle").

I've also climbed a few other outstanding projects on the Westmont Boulder, some of them quite hard, all of them brilliant. With the help of local climber/surfer/skater/free-spirit Rusty Jaeger, and a few other enthused folk, we plan to continue this little renaissance of climbing joie de vivre--provided that Westmont Public Safety doesn't kick us off the campus.

In the meantime, work continues to occupy my time in a favorable manner. Here is a little blow-by-blow from yesterday's session in the shop:

Dan grinds the finish on an entry-way table. The look of the piece is an interesting cross between industrial and neo-classical.

SB Forge and Iron has a few signature styles, and one of my favorite is the turn-of-the-century industrial aesthetic. Here are some "boiler doors" that showcase the particularly clean lines, functional elegance, and raw strength of the machinery of yesterear. Machinery from the 1900's has a strange--even sexy--appeal to me. Yeah, I said that...

I built a metal jamb for the doors.

In order the assemble the hardware for the piece, which will be friggin' awesome (more later on the hardware), I wanted to retain the cool anachronistic look of rivets stitching together the steel belly of a monolithic sea cruiser from 1890--on a smaller scale, of course. Luckily, I had threaded some actual rivets on a different project a few years ago, and I had extras. Imgagine my joy! Threaded rivets!

Machining the hardware for the doors. I will post photos of the finished assembly.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Welcome back, me

Nothing happens after six in Santa Ynez. Shops close their doors. Families retreat to sundry domestic activities like barbecuing, bocce ball, and walking their dogs. Chickens, cows, and feral cats hold court in a constant soundtrack befitting their various calls. Cows and cats don't bother me. Chickens (and roosters), on the other hand, are death for sleeping with the window open; by 4:30 a.m. they are roused, rowdy, and cackling away. Perhaps I'm more of a city-boy than I thought.

Mary and I have about four months of marriage under our belt, and about twice that amount living in the Santa Ynez Valley. Commuting continues for each of us: I to the South, she to the North. Her job continues to be exceptionally tough, and I'm amazed at her resilience. She works harder than anyone I know, and all I can do is cook dinner for her, administer back-rubs, and pick out cheesy movies to make her laugh.

As for my job? Let me begin with this:

It is time for Dan and I to take our rightful place among the hallowed passages of the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara's bastion of corrugated metal, questionable zoning, and industrial goings-on. Basically, a working artist's utopia. After a maelstrom year of huge art installations (see older posts regarding the City Bronze project), child-rearing (not mine, Dan's), and my marriage, Dan and I decided it was time to move in to a larger, more visible shop-space. Sure, we loved the fact that we could ride dirt-bikes at our old location. The weekly bobcat sightings were also nice. I don't even need to mention the boon of avocado trees at your shop door. But bucolic setting notwithstanding, the space was exposed to the elements, small, dubiously legal, and precariously situated in a box canyon (read: forging=possible wildfire=screwed).

So say hello to 118 Gray St.

It's just around the corner from some hipster wineries and furniture stores, and distractingly juxtaposed to the ocean. I like to tell Dan that it's a stone throw from the ultimate in commercial visibility (State Street), but far enough away to do what you want and not be hassled--not that we EVER do anything reprehensible. Still I like the idea that I can build a catapult, trebuchet, or ballista and not field probing questions. Of course, the main thrust of this new shop is to up the production ability of Santa Barbara Forge and Iron. We are so, so pumped. Moving will occur all this week, and into the next. Call me if you want to help.

Farewell, old shop. Your pastoral vibe will abide in memory.

Here are some recreationally-themed photos.

Little Egypt is a spectacular alpine cragging area outside Bishop.

I love the Brickyard, our local bouldering stronghold

Crimps on a classic.

Mary balances her way up Smooth Criminal.