One thing I really appreciate is seeing the process of creating when it comes to developing a new design/product As a novice, seeing the first rough prototypes makes me feel better about my own work, and helps me in developing my own skills. To that end, here’s a photo sequence showing the first 3 prototypes for a bottle opener. The first attempt is at the top.
The first attempt didn’t go well, I ended up with a curve in the bit that needed to be straight, and the part that was straight needed to be curved. In the second attempt I was able to refine the curves but realized I need to make the top bar a good bit longer, which led to the third piece. The third piece turned out very well, and I finished it with a bit of copper wire:
I need to extend the top bar further in the next one, I didn’t have a bottle to test on that day. Note to self: keep a 6 pack of bottled cokes around for testing!
At this point in my learning progression getting the order of operations down is the critical step in a project. At the moment, with a project like this, I try to get a working model and then figure out the length of parent stock I need. From there I can work out the steps to create more as efficiently as possible. It may sound like mass production, but it’s really craft production of the sort that’s been done for centuries.
That’s a brief glimpse into my current design process for these small projects. I’m sure my process will evolve over time as my skills improve.
I’ve been working on creating some pendants and other jewelry. You can see some examples in my Etsy store, in person at The Art of Dixie gallery, or take a look at the photo below.
I’m enjoying working with jewelry and small pieces, but hopefully I’ll have some larger works completed as well!
After quite a bit of trial and error I’ve finally got a method down for making bottle openers I’m reasonably happy with. I make a variety of styles, all hand-forged out of steel. I’ve made a few out of re-purposed horseshoes, as I find a steady supply of horseshoes I’ll expand that offering. Here’s some of the recent bottle openers.
These little guys have become a standard stock item. They’re great little inexpensive gifts. Hand forged from mild steel, each one is unique (just like mother nature intended). I’ve been refining the tools and techniques I use to make these, they’re great practice for hammer control and tool use.
I have added utensil racks to the lineup. These are designed to mount to the wall and they have moveable hooks so you can hang spoons, spatulas, etc from them. I can also make heavier-duty models that will hold pots and pans. I can make them to any width, but I plan on having a few with 16″ on center mounting holes on hand, this is the standard width for studs in residential construction so these should work in most houses. Overall width will be around 18″. I can, of course, custom make other designs and widths.
This particular one has heart shaped finials and is 14″ on center. It’s a short one that I made as a sort of sample for craft fairs. It would make a great key holder or utensil holder. It comes with 4 hooks, but you can buy additional hooks. I wouldn’t use more than 6 on something this short.
I’ve been playing with copper lately for a variety of reasons. It’s enjoyable to work, uses similar techniques to working iron, and people like it. Additionally, I’m in the process of putting together a portable setup that will allow me to bang out bracelets and such at craft shows – sort of a mini-demo. I’m using a cheap harbor freight 15lb anvil (DO NOT BUY ONE FOR BLACKSMITHING – it’s just too soft), inexpensive clamp-on vise, and I’m thinking about building a soup-can forge powered by a propane torch to anneal the metal. The idea is to have a setup that will fit in a 6 gallon rubbermaid tote.
I’ll post more about it if/when it all comes together, in the meantime here’s a bracelet.