Posted June 3, 2017

The Black Jack Gate project is afoot again.  One of the things that had been holding us up were some pretty difficult bends in the member which serves both as front stile and top rail.  They were difficult both physically and mathematically, since the  very tight bend was concentrated at the widest part of a 5/8" x 3" bar, and the bar had first to be forged to a variety of profiles so that that widest part would fall in just the right place.  Kate and I dragooned some muscular friends, and here  are some photos from the event.


b.j. 1


A little heat, a little pressure



b.j. 2


The bad bend finished


Posted July 26, 2016

In case you didn't catch it at "Contact Us,"  my phone number has changed.   It's now 785 766 9405.



Posted March 24, 2016

Ok, I've been busy.  Or lazy, or both.  At any rate, I've been ignoring this corner of the website.  The biggest news, I suppose, is that as of January 2015 I started telling people I was retired, which is to say I gave up the job of having employees.  This means I am much slower to get anything done, and since I have no staff to organize I can leave the shop and do something else as appropriate.  I am certainly not quitting entirely.  I am not giving up my shop, nor even giving up accepting commissions.  It's just that I can only work for patient people, and that I only take work that interests me.  If you have a cool project and you're willing to wait, give me a call.  And if I can't help you, I can likely help you find someone who can.

Since I last posted here I have conducted a workshop for the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association.  I showed them the techniques infolved in this little grill.




Here's Austin with some pieces he's made:





I aso  taught an introductory course at John C. Campbell Folk School at the end of February.  It was a small turnout, but a good group and we had a lot of fun and learned a little as well.





None of these guys had done anything like this before, but they were able to turn out some credible work.





In addition, the Black Jack Gate project has re-entered my life.  Kate Dinneen and I are going to try to build the frames for the two leaves of the gate.  The infill is done, so when the frame is ready it can all be put together.


One thing I may find time to do is keep this website a little better updated.


Posted July 19 2014


I really do need to come here more often.  Since I last posted I've demonstrated for the Prairie Blacksmiths and  in April for the Illinois Valley Blacksmiths Association.  A good time was had by me, and, hopefully, by the smiths in attendance.  I've completed several new projects since then, some of which will be showing up in the photos pretty soon.  And I'll be featured  at the Phoenix Underground gallery for July final Fridays and through August.  I'm moving progressively to less functional work and more sculpture and this show  has both older and very recent work. Photos will be posted as they become available.



Posted July 27, 2013  

On Friday the 26th, Ardys Ramberg and I hauled our latest collaboration and about a dozen other pieces into Kansas City and set up a sculpture show in the windows of the Power and Light Building, at 14th and Baltimore.   The good people at the architectural firm of  BNIM have graciouslly lent us their space and all kinds of help and encouragement.  They'll be hosting a reception for us from 5 to 8 PM on the 6th of September, and the show will be up from now until September 27.  Come by and have a look!

Posted May 19, 2013


Clearly, it's been a while since I posted any new News.  That doesn't mean nothing has been happening:  quite the contrary.  One of the things tha't happened is that the fall semester 2012 rolled to a close, and as usual we had some interesting class projects.  To look at them, click here. And also rolling to a close, more recently, was the spring semester of 2013, whose projects should show up if you click here.  I'm starting to think I'm getting the feel of this teaching business, and liking it more as I get comfortable with it.  Every class is the same, except not, and usually in fun and interesting ways.  Each class has its own mix of people, its own dynamic.  Some are more competitive, some more cheerful.  This bunch was especially cooperative, which makes it better for everyone.


Posted May 14, 2012


As of the 11th, class is over for Spring, 2012.  We had a particularly good group this time.  Some of them chose projects ambitious enough that they didn't quite get done.  No matter.  I would much rather see a bold near-miss than a boring success.  It's about process, not product, and learning happened and fun was had.  I very nearly didn't finish my own project, and thought it quite a ways from successful, but I did learn a lot.

Every semester I make a project, playing by the same rules as the students:  I try something I've never done before, and I have to do it all hammer-and-anvil,  no power tools, arc welding, or the like. And every semester at finals the students vote as to which of their projects was the best and the winner takes mine home.

To see all our projects, click.




Posted May 8, 2012


I just got back from the BAM conference in Sedalia.  My demo went over pretty well, I thought.  There are several things I'll do differently next time, but this is how we learn.

Here I am in action:




Forging a handrail cap from 1-3/8" round bar under the power hammer







Describing the development of a railing picket


Posted February 26, 2012

Class is back in session, and we have a particularly good group this time around.  It's going to be hard to keep ahead of them, and I'm looking forward to seeing some good projects.

But my big news is that I'll be doing some demonstrating this year.  The first weekend in May is the BAM conference in Sedalia, Missouri.  Then the last weekend in September I'll be doing the Prairie Blacksmiths in Nebraska.  And I'm supposed to teach again at John C. Campbell the week before that.  My last two classes were cancelled for lack of enrollment--the economic slowdown hit them pretty hard, but hopefully it'll be better this year.  I really miss going down there.  It's a great place.

On a more personal note, Ruth and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last month.  People say that's remarkable, so I guess it is.  


Posted December 16, 2011

Well, I said we'd been busy.  Tuesday afternoon we wrapped up this semester's class with refreshments and show and tell of the terms projects.  I took some (not very good) pictures, which you can see here. We had a good group, and I think we were able to give them some insight into how this blacksmithing thing works and why we think it's worth doing.


Also, just today I installed the last of the organic railings at the residence southeast of here.  See the top of the gates section for some fresh pix.


Posted August 28, 2011

The weather is better and school has begun.  Kate and I met our class on Wednesday, and they look like a likely crew.


Posted August 7, 2011

The news in Kansas is the news all over the midwest:  It is brutally hot, and last Tuesday we set a record high of 111.  Kate has been working in the early morning, and I work through the day, but not very fast.  Lots of water, longer breaks.


Danielle's time with us came to an end when July did, approximately.  We'll miss her.  She was good help and good company.


Older posts

Posted July 17, 2011

The news is, we've been too busy to post any news.  The bad news is, I won't be going to John C. Campbell this year.  The economy has hit them pretty hard, and they've had to cancel a number of classes, including mine, for lack of enrollment.  Next year I'll be back, in September, offering a class in making fireplace tools.  Better news is that Camden was back for a couple of weeks, and helped out some while he was here.  Of course, he didn't spend his entire vacation slaving away for Grandpa.  Fish were caught, boats were sailed.  Here he is helping me measure up a job.





Posted June 5, 2011

We have a new hand in the shop, courtesy of Van Go Mobile Arts.  Her name is Danielle, 



and she'll be helping us for the summer, and hopefully learning a little as well.


Posted May 22, 2011


Todays news is, School's out!  On Thursday the 19th we wrapped up the spring semester with a show-and-tell of everyone's projects.  Here are a few:





A table base by Damia Smith






Kyle Shirk's Globe Sculpture






Sean Christiansen's bottle opener does three at once.







Caitlyn Ponder's wall mounted wine rack looks more business-like with bottles in it.



Posted May 8, 2011

The news lately has been the Black Jack gate project. This one is Kate's baby.  She conceived and organized it and brought Terrence Clark and Peter Parkinson from England to run it as a workshop.  Twice, so far.  Once for design and once to begin building it.  The layout work was done at Walt Hull Iron Work and execution begun at the Blacksmiths' Association of Missouri's regional conference in Sedaila, MO,  April 28 through May 1. When I last checked, the website didn't have a report on the progress at the conference, but a great deal got done.  Most of the pickets were forged for the wings supporting the gates and all of the leaves were forged.  More in this space when more develops.


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