I have recently been working on some new hammer studies. Here is a chasing hammer (or hammers...?) that I just sent down to the University of Little Rock, Arkansas for their collection. This was forged out of a single piece of stock, first forming the hammer heads on each end, then drawing the material out to about 7 feet long before it was wrapped around to its final shape. You can see more of the hammer studies here and check back for images of another couple hammers I have been working on.
I am so excited to have my new business cards that were designed and printed by the extremely talented Eleanor Annand. Ele runs a letterpress and design business out of Asheville, NC. When she not cranking out prints in front of her Vandercook press, she is making elegant one of a kind work on steel and paper.
I just returned from a trip into the heart of the midwest, traveling around Wisconsin and Minnesota for about ten days. The reason for the trip was to attend the Society of North American Goldsmithing (SNAG) conference that was being held in Minneapolis, MN. I was asked to speak as one of their "Emerging Artist" presenters, and spent the better part of a week catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and enjoying being in the presence of fellow metalsmiths. On my way back from the conference I made a stop to visit Tom Latané, a blacksmith I have been looking forward to meeting for a long time.
I first saw Tom's work when I attended the 2008 ABANA conference in Memphis, TN. When I attended the conference I was relatively new to blacksmithing and had just returned from Europe, inspired by the many iron objects I had seen. On the left there is a detail of a hacksaw that Tom made which I saw at that conference. Returning to the states and seeing that someone was making the same style of decorative work was exciting and inspirational and helped me take the next step in my own work.
After many years of admiring Tom's work, I made arrangements to visit him on my way back from Minneapolis. I stopped through Pepin, WI, a tiny town on the banks of the Mississippi where Tom and his wife Catherine have their home, studio, and store front. Catherine has a studio space in the front where she works in tin, and Tom has his forge off the back of the shop. Tom does all his forging by hand, with Catherine there to strike if he needs. Around the shop are mostly tools he has made, many of which are ornamented with a very classic sensibly. The objects Tom makes range broadly, including kitchen utensils, tools for all trades, candle holders, chests, door knockers, and locks of any size and sort.
Of all the samples and techniques that I saw while visiting with Tom, some of the most intriguing work I saw were pieces that he made through extensive use of chasing. Chasing is a technique where you use punch-like hand held tools, struck by a hammer, that vary in size and shape to move metal in a very controlled manner. If you look in the pictures you can see that much of the work would have been forged first, chased hot, then further refined once it has cooled. This technique allows for the drastic but detailed movement of metal, and Tom uses this method to create everything from acanthus leaves to expressive faces.
It was a humbling experience to see Tom's shop and have the opportunity to work with him. The complexity of objects he creates with such basic tools is a testament to a simpler way of thinking and working. So often I think we can over engineer and complicate what can be done with more basic means.
Thanks to Tom and Catherine for being such generous hosts. Be sure to go see more of their wonderful work here :
I have been slowly picking away at this lock over the past few months in my spare time, and yesterday I was happy to finally finish and photograph it. This was not for a commission, but for my own interest in continually exploring lock making. This lock's function is based off the design of an English three bolt door lock, but its overall aesthetic is heavily influenced by more ornate and open German and French locks. The English style hides all the mechanisms when it is mounted against the door, and so I wanted to design something that was more open and displayed the moving parts of the lock. This lock is accessible from both sides of the door, and when the door handle is turned, more of the parts come into view through the pierced window in the brass cover plate. You can see in one of the early sketches of the lock that I had more pierced ornamentation planned, but as the lock progressed, I decided a simpler design was more appropriate. You can see more images of this lock in the HARDWARE section, along with an example of the three bolt lock I mentioned earlier.
This was a commission for an individual who wanted a jewelers saw with inlay. I have been wanting to make a jewelers saw for a long time and so I was excited when I was presented with this opportunity. As with any tool I make for the first time, I always enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to make it function to the best of its ability. This saw has a steel frame with fine silver inlay and a mahogany handle.
I recently finished a set of knives for the The Morgan Conservatory, a non-profit organization here in Cleveland that focuses on the production and preservation of hand made paper. They have been expanding their eastern style paper making facilities and one of the tools they needed was a specific style of knife used during their Kozo harvest. Kozo, also known as Paper Mulberry, is a plant whose fibers are used for certain types of paper making. The knife is based off of a Korean style knife and is used for scraping the bark of the plant after it has been soaked and before it is turned into pulp.
Contact the The Morgan Conservatory to inquire about purchasing these knives.
Recently I finished an engraving project for the Penland School of Crafts. Each year during their big Annual Benefit Auction, Penland honors one artist with the Outstanding Educator Award. It is given to an individual in the craft field who has made exceptional contributions to their field as an educator and artist. This past year they asked furniture maker and pewter connoisseur, Jack Mauch, to make pewter cups. They will be given retroactively and in the future, to recipients of the award. Jack designed and fabricated these beautiful cups and once they were finished, he sent them to me to engrave with the award title, date, and recipient's name. Thank you to both Jack and Penland for involving me in this project.
I had the opportunity to work with New Hampshire blacksmith David Court when he came to Penland to teach a forged hardware class. Working with David was a pleasure to say the least. He is an intelligent craftsman with a heavy dose of New England humor and wit. David's class was the first time I made any sort of hardware, and it opened me up to understanding much more complex forgings and moving parts. With more stories than I could begin to remember, he had a captive audience in our class, and we loved every minute of it.
I asked David to send some pictures of his work, and he regrettably told me of how he had lost many of his pictures over the years. Of the pictures he still has you can see the caliber of work he creates. He also sent along some shots of his beautiful home and studio.
David asked me to make a set of 12" dividers for everyday use in his shop. He left the design up to me, so I chose something that I had been wanting to try out for some time. He also requested that they be engraved: "Made for David Court by Seth Gould 2013." It makes me very happy to imagine David using these to create his wonderful work. I would like to think that many years from now, after they have built a beautiful patina with use and age, someone will recognize this exchange from one craftsman to another.
Thanks for the opportunity David!
I am very excited to announce the opening of the STORE on my website. The first items featured are these forged and filed measuring tools. They are available individually or sold as a set, and upon finishing are numbered and signed.
Be sure to keep an eye out and expect to see more tools making an appearance in the STORE!
I just finished up this custom pair of steel dividers for a bookbinder who was looking for something a little different. They wanted dividers that would measure more accurately from the edge of their books, so instead of leaving two points I forged out a pad on one of the legs of the dividers to register more squarely.
6"x 1.125" x 0.5"
I just got back from an invigorating week of teaching at Penland School of Crafts. For me it was so nice to return to Penland after spending my two years as a Core Fellow there. Living in the community there is an intense and unique experience, and it is much different than coming to take a class. It was eye-opening to show up just for the week and for the first time get a taste of how so many people experience Penland.
We turned the lower metals studio into a tiny iron studio and were off and running. It was a really wonderful group of students who were all enthusiastic and willing to learn. Highlights included Cat's mid-demontration jokes, Robbies nap time, and a field trip to the iron studio to see Elizabeth Brim demo. Amidst all the fun, we accomplished a lot and I am really excited by what we had to show at the end of it all. Here are some photos of the things we got done during the week. Thanks very much to Bonnie for taking these photos.
This week I had a chance to finish and get some photos of the crab lock I made while assisting Peter Ross' class at Haystack. Locks are something that I have just started to make in the past year, but have been fascinated by for sometime now. The first time I recall being truly moved by iron work was seeing antique locks at a museum in Rouen, France. The museum is called Musée Le Secq Des Tournelles, and is dedicated to objects made from iron. They have everything from gates and grates to thimbles and corkscrews. Their collection of locks is a sight to behold though. In it are both finished and unfinished locks and keys which I believe are all European and dated before the 18th century. These are true masterpieces. Although I did not understand how the locks were made or how they operated when I visited the museum, I did recognize their refinement and exceptional workmanship. Studying them made me begin to question what I knew of iron so far and realize the material in a whole new way. Now that I have more knowledge and experience under my belt I am dying to return to the museum with new inquiries. Until then I will just keep studying the books and plugging away at the bench!
I am teaching a one week class at the Penland School of Crafts called "Beginning Toolmaking." The class starts on November 3rd, and there are a few spaces left, so if you or anyone you know would like to make some beautiful tools, jump on it!
These are a set of calipers that I made for a glassblower that I met down at Penland. I have been wanting to make a matching pair of calipers for a while, so I was very excited when he suggested that he might like a set. The larger is 12" and the smaller is 8", forged and filed out of wrought iron. The brass plaques were attached and then engraved with his monogram. This was a really fun set to make and I hope to do more multiples like this. Making a single tool is very rewarding, but there is something really special about seeing a matching set.
I just got back from a great trip out east. I spent the week at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts assisting Peter Ross in teaching a lock making class. Haystack is located on Deer Isle in Maine and is an amazing and inspiring setting to be learning and making in.
If you don't know Peter Ross, you should make yourself familiar with him. Peter was the master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg for 25 years and now lives and works in North Carolina. He has a deep knowledge and understanding of colonial ironwork, both of its history and how it would have been produced. He is an extremely generous person with his knowledge and a patient and thorough teacher. Oh yeah, and he makes amazing work.
The goal of the class was to teach the students how to make a crab lock. A crab lock is a lock that would be mounted on the inside of a chest that and would keep the lid locked shut. We spend as much time at the forge as we did at the bench filling and making all the parts work smoothly. The students were all really hard workers who were excited to learn and it made for a very productive and efficient class dynamic. This was the first time Peter had attempted to teach a lock making class and it was a wonderful surprise when almost all the students walked away with a working lock. Not an easy task to say the least!
Above are a couple shots of what I got done in class. I had not made this style of lock before, so it was a fun challenge to use the lock making knowledge I had and approach it from a different design. There is still some finish work to be done, especially removing the rust that a week on the Maine coast will create!
Just finished up another inlaid hammer and snapped a quick photo of it before I take off for the weekend. I am headed down to the Penland School of Crafts Annual Benefit Auction. It is a great event that raises money for the school to keep on going year after year. On Saturday night the pig cleaver I donated will be auctioned off during the live auction. It feels great to give back to Penland after taking away so much from my time there. I am very excited to catch up with friends and see some awesome work. I will post more details of the hammer soon, so be sure to check back!
As I was sitting in my kitchen last night I looked around and noticed what awesome things inhabit the space. During the two years I lived at Penland I managed to acquire some wonderful pieces of work. I had the chance to meet so many amazing people, and whether I was with them two weeks or two years, I feel very luck to have made a connection with them. It was an added bonus to get walk away with something they made.
So here is a kitchen sampling of what I have the pleasure of surrounding myself with every time I cook. There is too much to write about every piece, but below is list of links, and you should definitely take the time to see what else they have done.
Tom Shields - tomshieldsart.com
Eleanor Annand - eleanorannand.com
Ian Henderson - ian-henderson.com
Molly Kite Spadone - mollykitespadone.com
Leah Lynn - leahalanelynn.tumblr.com
Rachel Garceau - rachelkgarceau.com
David Eichelberger - eichelbergerclay.com
Just finished up this compass for a boat carpenter back home on Cape Cod. It is always a great feeling to get a quality tool in the hands of someone who will really put it to use.
I lit the first fire in the shop this past Saturday. I had made a self proclaimed goal of being up and running by June 1, so it was very rewarding to be standing in front of the anvil at work this weekend. Well, I say at work, but it has been three months since I last swung a hammer! For now I need to get back into the rhythm, and what better way than making some tongs. Below are three pairs that I made yesterday. I still have little projects here and there to get the shop running a little more smoothly, but for now I can actually start making some things. It feels good to be back at it!
I made a trip out into the country this week to pick up coal. We ended up out at Yoder's Blacksmith Supply, an Amish farrier supply store about an hour and a half out of the city. Seeing as though my directions to the store were very vague, and I still wasn't convinced it existed, it was a pleasant surprise to see how much they offered! There were plenty of new and used hammers, top tools, and anvils to choose from. I am excited to fire up the forge this weekend and see how the coal I bought burns. Check back for some fiery photos!