THE NAPKIN HOLDER THAT NEVER WAS

(Another guided tour of the art studio, this time showing a bit of the challenge involved in the work.)

by William Parker

Here’s a quick story from the forge. In this case, I’m starting with about a half of a used (and severely weathered) lawn-mower blade. I was quite happy to find a piece with such character. I had already used half the blade for something my wife wanted, so I’ve got half of it left to work with. (below left, sitting on my anvil) A few cuts with a band saw, and it’s ready to put into the forge. (below, right)

As with the last piece, I start with a series of bends and stretches. I’ll show you a few steps, going from left to right, top to bottom. I used various anvils and the ground for photo backings, depending on the position of the sun in the sky as the day progressed. This was seven hours of work with a 5.5 pound hammer, along with and nice lunch break in the middle for some energy. An excellent workout!

 

At this point, the hard part, with the big hammer, is finished. The piece is so big that it barely fits into the forge (below left). The only thing left to do is to put in the bends and curves. Then, for unknown reasons, the fire vented to the side in a spot I couldn’t see, and, without warning, one of the legs of the napkin holder overheated and incinerated. The result is shown in the middle photo. (Notice the missing leg, about 10:00 in the photo.) The burned off leg is shown on the right, sitting on top of my anvil. This is the last photo I took that day, and the sun is going down at this point, so the photo is a big dark despite some digitally enhanced brightness.

I realize that some folks might want to see how I had planned to make this into a napkin holder, so I quickly knocked off the remainder of the incinerated leg and twisted up what was left to illustrate how I had planned to make a napkin holder. (below) I didn’t put any effort into getting it very straight or elegant, but the idea is there. With only three legs, this piece must be sent to the recycle center to start life over as something completely different. I could have made a new leg, welded it on, and then smoothed things out with a grinder, but that is absolutely not the idea. It’s either handmade from a single piece of scrap lawnmower blade, or it’s not.

The way I figure it, the production of this piece, which was cut up and sent to recycle, was powered by 2 large burritos (for breakfast) and quite a bit of sushi (for lunch). I enjoyed the food and hanging out with the other blacksmiths, although we all felt the loss when I incinerated that piece in the fire. I look forward to much greater success next time!