Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leftover Chair

Guner Tatrum, Santa Barbara's local reclaimed wood expert, milled some rather large pieces of Eucalyptus for an outdoor bench we made, and luckily there were leftovers. I had a few hours of "free-time" one afternoon, and, with the help of Joy Brenneman, whipped out this whimsical combination of pierced metal, forged tapers, and engaging joinery.

Good times in the shop.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Photo Dump

Between hosting Santa Barbara Forge and Iron's first First Thursday event, building a climbing wall in Bernd's backyard, installing a cool handrail, and eating Korean food, my last few weeks have merged in to a jumble of activity. Here's to the end of summer.

This lamp will eventually reside in my living room, but for now it sits in our show-room. It's sort of an industrially-inspired work lamp, with a few forged shenanigans thrown in. And it's fully adjustable.

To my knowledge, I've never had Korean food. Erica changed that—with a vengeance. Yes, it's all as good as it looks. You should check out to fully indulge in Erica's culinary genius.

Since last winter, Bernd and I have schemed about adding an upper-headwall to his modest backyard climbing structure. Finally, in one busy Sunday afternoon, we made it happen, with the aid of Finn, Hjordis, and ginger-snap cookies. The structure stands about as high as the legendary Shed wall, and touts just as much linear feet of climbing, but the transition from super-steep to off-vertical adds a very interesting component. Good times, indeed.

After forging, assembling, and installing a rather elaborate Oaxacan-style gate at his beautiful residence, Steve Rogers commissioned SBFI to build a series of handrails leading up his front entrance. The aesthetic was still in the classic Oaxacan style—strong, slightly imposing, yet elegantly simple—but I threw in some details of my own, particularly in the brackets that supported the handrail. Thank you, Steve, for being such an amenable and supportive client!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yeti goes down in a blazing flame of group enthusiasm.

After climbing to—and then backing off from—the mantle of Yeti for a number of sessions, Mary finally decided it was time to send. Everyone was there: Bernd, Hjordis, Finn, Thomas Townsend (new guy), Bret, Layne, and Sophia. With pads galore and a small crowd churning out psyche, we finished off today's session in style.

Yeah, that's my wife.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Ascent: Trebuchet

Sorry folks: no gratuitous action shot; no wide-angle, color-corrected flaunting of back muscles; no digitally photographed hustle or bustle. In fact, I don't even have a picture of your's truly climbing—anything. What I do have is a self-taken iphone portrait--post-send--of me about to consume a Butterscotch-Chocolate Cookie.

Kyle, thanks for letting yourself be convinced in to hiking up an obscure canyon, only to spend a perfectly good Sunday afternoon belaying me on the first ascent of Trebuchet. You are a true gentleman. Piper, thank you for the cookies. Sending may not have occurred without them.

Someone, PLEASE go do this route. You won't regret it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Silly Fantasy Novel Covers

No matter how honed the prose, deep the plot, or enticing the characters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels tend to have ridiculous cover artwork. I was an English Major. I read—or sometimes skimmed—many books of a high pedigree, and tackled novels with stolid, leather covers, or books with the monochromatic look of "classics". The more color on the front, the more kitschy the artistic flourish, the less quality the literature, right? It's too bad that some of my favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors make just that mistake, or suffer the poor judgment of their publishers. Take Orson Scott Card, who, more than likely, had nothing to do with this doozy:

What's going on here?

If you've never read a book from this series, and merely gravitated towards the auspiciously oiled bosom of said Conan look-alike, then you probably found your mind tailspinning into a bawdy cloud of images, part erotic, part magical, wholly ridiculous, and strangely entertaining. Somewhere, somehow, visual media like this was—and continues to be—produced. God help me, I get a kick out of it. That is why I went to my local bookstore the other day and bought four Fantasy novels from this six-book series by Orson Scott Card. Which reminds me: Orson Scott Card is one of the most prolific and talented Sci-Fi/Fantasy novelists of our time, and also an eloquent proponent of why literature keeps us human. To wit:

"The elitists are such boneheads they think literature exists to be admired. Wrong. Literature exists to create memories so true and important that we allow them to become part of ourselves, shaping our future actions because we remember that once someone we admired did this, and someone we hated and feared did that.

Literature matters only to the degree that it shapes and changes human behavior by making the audience wish to be better because they read it.

It becomes importantly bad only to the degree that it entices the audience to revel in actions and memories that debase the culture that embraces it.

Next to that, questions of how one literary work influences other literary works, or how the manner of writing measures up to the tastes of some elite group are so trivial that you marvel that someone who went to college could ever think they mattered more."

Orson Scott Card, July 29, 2007, "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Esoterically Wonderful: Trebuchet,

For those who didn't geek out over Medieval siege-weaponry when they were in Junior High, a Trebuchet is a cross between a giant slingshot and catapult. Without relying on the specific workings of the Trebuchet, the nature of this climb likens itself to said weapon: that is, if you botch the first move, you get forcibly flung off the arete.

Lo, the first sequence of moves.

Then I throw a heel high and left, engage those mysterious inner-thigh muscles you didn't know existed, and pinch the arete with my legs. Once established, I grunt through a series of off-balance crimps that lead around the corner.

Now, the headwall. A beautiful—but insipid—crack slashes diagonally across the face, and provides the only means of travel. A series of desperate finger-locks lead the way, culminating in a viciously hard crossover move.

If you snag the crossover, the next move makes you work even harder. Set up, roll out, and dyno for a shallow fissure. It's beckoningly close, but the poor feet, steepness of the rock, and angle of the hold conspire against you.

This is where I've been falling. Best rope-swing in town.

Images courtesy of the inimitable Jason Shepherd, Santa Barbara's ONLY current legit climbing bum.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rogers Gate, Part II

A completed side of the gate.

Drifting holes to allow for the pickets to pass through.

Detail of the the drifted holes and joinery.

Fabrication of the "ray" detail is like putting together tinker toys.

Apples, pecorino, French cheddar, luque olives, olive bread, and focaccia: a typical group lunch at the forge.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Rogers Gate

It's been a long, tiring, and productive week at the Forge. The Rogers Gate proceeds: I finished all the lozenge details for one side of the gate, and almost all the heart-scrolls.

A friend of mine came by the other day, took one look at the chalk sketch of the Rogers Gate on the floor, and boomed "speak, friend, and enter". If you can plumb the significance of that literary reference, then you probably can discern the difference between orcs and elves as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Renaissance Man, Day 5

Image courtesy of Jason Shepherd.

For posterity's sake—or mnemonic repetition—here's the litany of moves running through my head while working Renaissance Man:

Right foot on root, right hand palm-press for balance, reach left to three-finger pocket, ease in to open hand grip, reach right to undercling, left foot step-through, paste right toe, cradle right knee into knee-bar and torque out and in, release right undercling and grab crimp, lock it off, shift left toe to higher foot, stay tight, reach hellish sloper, move quick but controlled, bump left hand to sloping edge while pressing like hell with left toe and torquing right knee-bar, keep core tight, slowly release knee-bar, high-step left toe to hueco, flag right foot like crazy to the left under a bulge, release left pointer finger on left hand to make room for right hand, match hands, keep core tight, static reach for sharp crimp, then...

One or two more hand-movements will bring me to the flared crack, my first gear-placement on the route, and a 5.11d/12a joyride to the top—hopefully. Sometimes it occurs to me how little objective gain this climb will bring me in life, and for a moment I'm struck by the absurdity of it all.

But just for a moment.

New Work: Coleman Residence, Part 1

I officially toppled off the social radar over the last couple of weeks due to a massive push in the shop. Our client, who was building a sharp residence on the beach at Sandpoint, had a non-negotiable move-in date, and we, being amenable metal-smiths, agreed to a nearly impossible timeframe for installation. Months ago, In the preliminary stages, Dan had briefed me on the scope of the project, but I hadn't fully grasped the looming immensity ahead. And oh, the copious amounts of bronze needed! Wonderful, finicky, lustrous, softer-than-steel bronze. It even has a funny smell and bitter taste (don't ask). I hadn't worked with bronze in any substantial capacity since the City Art Project last year, and it was a labor of nostalgic fervor.

The Sandpoint Project (hereafter known as) evoked a slightly eclectic catalogue of aesthetics, at least from a metalwork vantage. We executed lots of uncompromising straight lines, seams, and angles, yet much of the finishes were mottled, weathered, textured with a hammer, or intentionally rusted for a neo-industrial look. I hesitate to say the interior of the house was modern because the term falters in the face of specificity, but the product of our work—and the work of the carpenters, lighting technicians, and flooring guys—was peculiarly rooted in the architectural sensibilities of our time: a push towards natural light; sustainable materials; unifying geometry; openness.

(By the way, the amount of metalwork at Sandpoint makes for prohibitive blogging, thus, I'm breaking my blog-entries into parts.)

Starting with the entry handrail, here's a little tour:

Normally I balk when a client wants to powdercoat forged metal. In this instance, I thought the matte-black brought out the textured cap-rail quite nicely.

Cool little transition

Bronze surrounds for the fireplace and flatscreen television. Each of the panels have thin-gauge bronze wrapped around sheets of perfectly sized wood. The goal was to have all the corners and seams match perfectly—a tricky task, since nothing was perfectly square.

Carefully machined hinges allow the four panels to open and fold against the wall, revealing the (pending) flatscreen.

I'm pretty psyched on this handrail. I hand-peened all 30+ feet of the cap-rail, and strategized fabrication for a continuous run up three flights of stairs. Yeah, it's functionally all one piece.

Transition around corner.

Engaging step encounter at the landing.

I designed a hand-forged bracket for connecting the handrail to the wall. It vaunts an angular, somewhat savage look.