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Monthly Archives: March 2014

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All the bronze is now cast and in the shop, making for a whole lot of grinding to prep for welding so that there can be, you guessed it, more grinding and welding and even metal Chase at some point.

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This is last Friday’s prep work, a day of grinding and welding and grinding, in prep of welding the fish together- but before the connecting weld I have to chase all the details back in. That will now have to wait, as it will take awhile to bring all these new fish and their stream hoops to be fit to weld together.  IMG_0006

Last week I picked up a new Argon gas canister (the last one available in the area as TIG welding isn’t common), and ordered all the stainless steel poles cut to length for mounting the fish. The poles will be ready for pick-up tomorrow, making all the parts in-house and ready for action. My masseuse worked out my somewhat trashed forearms and recommended I start wearing a tennis-elbow strap with a special pad that absorbs the tool vibration before my tendons burn day and night like Plutonium irradiation. I wore them last week for the fist time and they gave me hope that I might be able to pull this off without my hands turning to trembling little pincher-claws.   IMG_0007 IMG_0009

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After driving to Great Falls and unloading the truck of 800lbs of art and basing into my showroom, I had just enough daylight left to get up to the ranch and open up the waterline before dark. The little truck was a champ snow-sled drift-buster up the valley, as the county hadn’t plowed the coulee. An owl hooted at me from the big pine behind the house as I post-holed back and forth ferrying gear to the house. The next day in Great Falls I spent the day in my showroom setting everything up to meet the 4pm opening, and when I headed back to the ranch for the night found that the county had plowed the road. The next night I headed back home near midnight just as a winter front settled in, creating whiteout conditions on the highway. The snowplows hadn’t gone beyond Belt, so the last six miles of highway were similar to heading up the coulee the night before. The storm blew itself out during the night and the morning was drifty, but the snowfall was only about 6 inches- making drifts that were nearly as high as the truck tires as I headed back into town spotting coyotes and eagles looking for game on the ridges.

Tonight I break the show down after things end at midnight, set up the inflatable bed for a few hours sleep, then load everything back into the truck in the morning and head up to the ranch for a quick cross-country ski and a last overnight before shutting the house down and driving back to SLC.

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After spending yesterday grinding down the steel for the display/transport, clear coating it, assembling it into the truck, and having a board cut to fit at the hardware store I got thinkin’ about the fish and I thunk “Howzabout I see what it takes to assemble a fish”. Now the sun is setting and it has begun to rain, and there is a fish floating above a horse.

The big Western Masters show in Montana is coming up, and I need to get my work there in the back of the truck & set it up for display- so both things have to be made from the same parts. In the back of the truck is the steel framework, welded and bolted for easy set up and take down. This gives me a split level within the shell. A 3/4″ thick MDF board will fit between the two long runs supported by the lateral runs and circles. All the weight placed on top of the board will rest on either side of the wheel wells to keep the truck stable for the long trip, that and it fitting tightly. It went in and came back out three times for hours of adjustments before it worked just right. IMG_0006

In the shop is the main structure for one of two displays. The wooden horses support the steel frames, and the circle T forms bolt to the frame. (I’ll take another shot of it later when it is further along- it is a bit hard to make sense of in this shot) This is made of half of the framework in the truck. The other half will form out a mirror form. Each will hold hundreds of pounds of sculpture. The horses are carried at Home Depot, and I picked up a few while out at the ranch last fall and left them out there knowing I would come up with something including them eventually. I picked up this pair here in SLC to build out the form. ( if you look carefully you can see 3 bronze fish heads and tails have swum into the studio and school together waiting for me to weld them; there are 3 more at the foundry going through casting )

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These are all the sculpture stands that will bolt to the lateral runs of steel, welded out and ready for placement. I need to make a template for their bolt holes, so they can all be interchangeable along the support bar. There are three different heights, and two steel widths.IMG_0008