Eyes, Beak, Comb and Wattle

January 10, 2011 | Filed in:

The steel hen has received the last of the attention she is going to receive for a while, I believe. Last week, I did the following:

  • Heated up the end of a quarter-in steel rod in the forge and banged on it with a hammer until it was beak-shaped
  • Used an oxy-acetalyne cutting torch to cut out a comb and wattles, then welded them on with same tanks
  • Melted holes in the head, found matching bolts, cut them short, inserted them. One later fell out and will have to reattached with more confidence at a future date.
  • Got a brief lesson in brazing (that’s when you attach two pieces of metal with brass, or in this case, try to color on some small pieces of flat steel with brass as if it were a paint pen, which is definitely is not) and attempted to use the method to give the new chicken head-parts some additional style and color.
  • Had my picture taken with the hen

She’s bigger than my chickens, though not by much. She is quite a bit heavier, though. Any naming suggestions for Her Henness?


Chicken gets a head

December 24, 2010 | Filed in:

This hen is getting quite heavy. Quite top heavy. I spent some time trying to add a small dense weight to her breast so she’d balance, but there were two problems with this plan. One, I didn’t embark on this plan until I’d already gotten her almost completely sealed up with new lower front and lower back pieces. Two, she’s so top heavy that even if I do get her to balance, it will be very tenous. The new plan, then, is to weld on two spikes to the bottom of her feet, once she’s all done. Then I can jam her into the ground and she’ll stand up.

So now she’s got all her parts and a head (she got very hot-headed at one point, which is why I put it in a bucket of water). The head isn’t done – you can’t tell from these pictures, but she does have a suggested beak, comb, and waddle, but needs a longer beak and a second waddle. Also, I want to braze her beak so it’s got a different color from the rest of her. And she may get some treatment. Stay tuned because the hen is due for some more artistic attention in the first week of January.


Shake your tailfeathers

December 16, 2010 | Filed in:

Massive surface area added to the chicken last night. I cut and forged the second wing, the second piece of the middle far back, the last piece of neck, five pieces of tail, the top back and I don’t remember what else. Sadly, Miss Hen is no longer properly balanced and will fall over if two (not one, but two) bricks aren’t weighing down her feet. Hopefully this will change, but she’s getting SO top-heavy that I am losing confidence.

Next week, I plan to fill out her under-tail (aka her “booty butt”) area, and some other nether regions. I also realized I’m not sure how I want to build her head, so I’ll try to figure that out as well.


Forging ahead

December 9, 2010 | Filed in:

Last week, which did not get a blog post, I started creating the external surface of the chicken. Starting with a large rectangle of relatively thin plate steel, I cut out rounded shapes with an Oxyacetalyne cutting torch. Then I heated up small areas of those pieces with a rosebud torch, and banged on them with a hammer to shape them. This proved to be slow and frustrating. The area that the rosebud could heat up was just too small.

This week I tried using a small forge instead (pictured first above). This limits the size of the steel pieces I can use, but that proved to be a worthy sacrifice, because the forge heats up pieces fully and I could shape them more easily. The chicken now has a few additional pieces attached, and four more have been forged and will be attached next week. I also took some time to strengthen the welds at the heel and hip joints; the upper part of the chicken is getting heavy and I don’t want it to collapse. At this moment, the chicken can stand on its own! The balance will go off and on again over time, but hopefully it will end up stable.


Metal chicken

November 11, 2010 | Filed in:

The chicken support structure/skeleton begins. It’s kind of hard to tell, but it’s got a basic body outline, hips, legs, and initial neck.


Pedal to the metal

November 6, 2010 | Filed in:

Well, it’s not art exactly. It’s functional. After years away, I am back in a metalshop, this one provided by CAFAC (the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center).

The last few weeks have been a refresher, and today was the first day I got to turn on the fire. Actually, this hanging storage system required the use of the cutting wheel on the grinder and a measuring tape more than it needed the Oxyacetalyne, but that part was necessary, too.

Next project? Chicken.


Spider Day Four

March 22, 2007 | Filed in:

Last night I added only a gross (144) squares. That’s because I ran out! I have to buy more steel and make more squares. Also, I did a lot of detail work, becuase after I finished the abdomen I had to patch up some empty spaces on the back and near the spinarrets, and then I had to start the transition to the cephalothorax (front part), which was tedious. I put a lot of extra welds in this area because this small transition ara will have to hold the entire weight of the abdomen.

Here are the pictures.


Spider Day Three

March 16, 2007 | Filed in:

Last night I added another 212 squares to the spider abdomen. This makes for a total of 551 squares. The abdomen is almost complete. Now I will begin creating the cephalothorax…

Click here to see more pictures.


Spider Day Two

March 8, 2007 | Filed in:

Last night I added another 170 squares to the spider abdomen. This makes for a total of 339 squares.

Click here to see more pictures.


Spider begins

March 1, 2007 | Filed in:

I started a new metal sculpture that I’m building entirely out of squares (well, most are actually just rectangles and a few are triangles). You can’t tell right now, but it’s going to be a spider. The part I’ve built first is the top part of the back part … I have to learn some spider anatomy.

Click here for the full picture.


Digital Fish Grows

December 8, 2006 | Filed in:

Last night I put some more time into the fish. I added another 167 squares to the fish, and I cut another 251. The total number of squares on the fish is now 591. I’m thinking of naming this piece (and future pieces made with this same technique) based on the number of squares it’s made up of. So if this fish ends up with 728 squres alltogether, I’d called it The 728-Square Creature. Seems like a fun theme. Anyway, here’s the digital fish in progress.


Digital Fish Continues

December 1, 2006 | Filed in:

Yesterday I added another 180 squares. Okay, some of them aren’t squares. I’ve allowed myself to create a few rectangles – 1″ across and more or less than 1″ down. The body of the fish is starting to really take shape. Next, I have to start on the head and tail (details!). I got a new piece of equipment for this project: an auto-darkening welding hood! See pictures of the digital fish in progress.


Digital Fish Begun

November 30, 2006 | Filed in:

I started the digital fish last week! I’m calling it digital, because I expect to do the whole thing out of 1″ x 1″ squares. Last week, I welded together the first 174 squares. Yesterday I added 70 more squares. The bar there is just a visual guide; when finished, the fish will be composed of only squares (and weld detritus).

Here’s a gallery of what I’ve got so far.


New Project

November 16, 2006 | Filed in:

I’m not sure what I’m going to make yet, but I have already decided how. In the past I have started by making a framework/skeleton out of small bars, then continued by forging arbitrarily-shaped pieces onto the frame, conforming them as I go. What I’m going to do next is start with a whole pile of 1″x1″ squares (1/8th” thick) and just weld them together to create a surface. No forging, no framework. I’ve cut over 300 squares already.


Metal Scorpion

August 11, 2006 | Filed in:

This little creature has been sitting on my living room coffee table for two days now, and I get a little scare every time I walk by. I forged the body out of a piece of quarter-inch rod, cut and bent the legs from a piece of smaller rod (1/8th inch?) and forged the claws using a mid-size piece of rod. All heating and welding with oxyacetylene tanks. You can see a few progress shots and photos from different angles in this gallery.



August 10, 2006 | Filed in:

Still not ready to go back to the bear just yet. And I only had 2 hours in the shop today, so I started this tree. I took a 4 foot piece of thick-ish bar (1/2 inch?) and forged the whole thing, heating to white hot and then hitting with a hammer to work the surface. Then I cut, forged tips, and welded it together. Next I’ll add branches and maybe more roots.


Metal Dragonfly

August 7, 2006 | Filed in:

Most of my metalwork so far has been pieces that takes many weeks to complete. This past week, instead of spending all of my metalshop hours on the bear, I used some of them to create bugs. This metal dragonfly took about 3 hours. He’s made out of steel bar and some welding wire. I forged the body, bent the legs with heat and wings without, and welded it all together using oxyacetylene heat. Here’s the piece page, and here are some more photos.


Metal bear gets some skin

July 28, 2006 | Filed in:

After adding just a few structural pieces yesterday, I began adding “skin.” First I had to cut a number of pieces out of a large sheet of sheet metal, and then I began welding them on. It was quite a challenge; I had a #2 welding tip that worked perfectly on quarter-inch rod, but just about vaporized the thin sheet metal. Once I had a skin piece attached, I’d heat it up with the tip and bang it into place around the skeleton with a hammer. At this time, he’s looking kind of buggy, but I’ll be taking care of that at a later stage. I think this bear’s name might be Iorek Byrnison, because he’s looking an awful lot like an armoured bear.