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I Forge Iron


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    Kitchener ON

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  1. Late observation but... Personal experience: I thought fire brick in a dirt box was a good idea too. Except it was storing and holding heat right next to the wood, resulting in a burnt out floor of my box. Removed the brick, added a bit more soil, no more problem.
  2. So, collaboration can work when a natural leader with enough humility to lean on others' strengths rises to the challenge. Only, though, if the team has at least a working knowledge of what they're doing, and includes specialists to deal with the nuanced parts of the project that might be overlooked otherwise. It all falls apart without someone to steer the ship though. Or if the person steering refuses to acknowledge their specialists' expertise. Or if the experts in one area cannot fathom that they're not experts in every area. Or if the boss's know-nothing kid is put on your team to learn something and wastes all your time suggesting nonsensical solutions to things that aren't problems. Or... you get the idea. Though, I think administration-heavy organizations are just as bad for business (as we see in the above tales of educational woe...). When you cripple workers under layer after layer of useless middle management, you stifle innovation and foster inter-departmental competition -- but not in a healthy, growing way. Instead you have constant efforts to stick it to the other guys by any means necessary.
  3. I think there's a misconception in Marc's last post that a craftsman is someone who fusses over a 10 minute project for 3 hours. I think that points to the inescapable truth that every word has its local and cultural connotations, and like most discussions, we're back and forth about the meaning of words, because one person perceives art as laborious soul-work, and another thinks it's a mix of snobbery and happy little accidents. Likewise, a craftsman is alternately viewed as a master workman, or a fussy sort of person with obsessively detail oriented focus at the expense of reason and practicality. A lot of it seems to be personal, in that if you're identifying yourself as an artist, it's because something about what you consider an artist to be speaks to your core set of values. The same is true if you call yourself a craftsman, tradesman, or entrepreneur. The real question is, what do your customers and competitors call you?
  4. Quite the journey we've taken. I think it ties in so well with business because at the beginning, the question was a business one A fantastic question buried at the beginning was whether it was better to sell many pieces at $10, or a few at $100. The thing I find daunting about $10 items is the level of production you'd have to maintain to make them profitable. Let's say you pay yourself well under what a tradesman would make in most parts of the USA, at $10/hr. How many bottle openers do you have to make, in a single hour, to cover your material costs, consumables, and other expenses, and still make $10? And at that turnout rate, are you able to make each one in a way that speaks to your craftsmanship, or are they pretty bare-bones at that point? Then, having done all of this, do you consider you've done right by yourself and the craft with its other craftspeople, by valuing your time at that wage? Are you being realistic? Are you undercutting the competition? It's an honest question I've thought a lot about myself. If you love doing what you do, and manage to make a few dollars that go back into feeding your hobby, I don't think you're hurting anyone, and you're probably putting a smile on a lot of faces. That isn't something to be looked down on. But I don't think calling it trading money for your time and skill is entirely accurate at those rates. If you're charging around the price of a double cheeseburger combo with all the fixings, you're saying your time and skill is on par with a french fry cook's If the market agrees with your assessment of worth, revealed by the fact that you can't find any customers at increased prices, there's something wrong with what you're selling, how you're selling it, or where you're selling it. Or a combination of these.
  5. Note that this is potentially illegal in some areas, if the door is left attached. Also ill advised. Due to the airtight nature of freezers and refrigerators, and the attractive opportunity it presents for children to play in them, it is possible for a child to become trapped inside one and run out of air.
  6. So we have three entities proposed, really, four if you look at it: 1. The Craftsman 2. The Artist 3. The Tradesman 4. The Businessman I'd argue to be successful you need elements of each. The craftsman brings an emotive element that sells well to particular markets. The artist, well, if you lack a style, a "brand", if you will, then nothing sets you apart from the competition. The tradesman knows what his time is worth. And the businessman pursues opportunities. Really, we're each going to have stronger tendencies in one or more of these categories, and we're all going to argue about what each of them means. I just happen to be convinced that one of these four will be "the boss". Probably the one whose perspective you identify with most. However, I think if you don't let the businessman take the helm, you might still get lucky, but the other primary motivations aren't what define success. Look at it this way. The tradesman wants to get paid. His motivation is value for his time, and meaningful work. The artist wants acclaim. Reputation. And hopefully, enough money to eat. But he will make art at the cost of all else because that is who he is. The craftsman wants to get paid commensurate with the high level of quality he produces. His work is his name, and while similar to the tradesman, he is also similar to the artist. The businessman wants to win. The balance sheet matters most. Therefore, the artist chafes because left to the businessman, the incredible opportunity for self expression is scuttled because it would have to be done at a loss. The tradesman hates him because he tells him what his time is worth in his current market. The craftsman's fastidiousness is seen, at times, to be the enemy of deadlines. But who cultivates the kind of work demanding the artist's creativity? Who seeks clientele who want the level of detail the craftsman can provide? Who wins more profitable jobs so that the tradesman is paid what he's worth?
  7. Thoughts on the RP3T3 by Uniweld? Looks similar, but a triple nozzle?
  8. At the risk of seeming facetious: craft /kraft/ noun 1. an activity involving skill in making things by hand. "the craft of bookbinding" synonyms:activity, occupation, profession, work, line of work, pursuit "the historian's craft" art1 /ärt/ noun noun: art; plural noun: arts; plural noun: the arts 1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. "the art of the Renaissance" ... So a painter practices his craft, but produces art. Because its primary purpose is appreciation by a group of people for its beauty and/or emotional power, it is art. A coat hook may be finely crafted. But the primary purpose is not merely to be admired or to evoke emotional response. The irony is, when one displays non-art as art, it becomes art. And by causing even an emotional response such as mockery ("this is a painting of a polar bear in a snowstorm"), it has done its job. This is why art is fickle, what is considered "good art" is even more elusive, and why so many regard the art world with derision.
  9. I think, sometimes, that blacksmithing has a peculiar set of shackles it likes to drag around with it. Hooks of all kinds are a great example. They may be great impulse items, and they're quick to make. But how many hooks does one household need? To make matters worse, you're now counting on the project of hanging them being piled on the honey-do list before any visitor even sees your work. And there's a price ceiling. Same with bottle openers. Regardless of how pretty, they're going to end up in a kitchen drawer someday. Most little trinket things are fairly easy to make, easy to price, and attractive for both these reasons to the hobbyist or part time smith. Therefore many smiths make them. But I wonder, outside of demonstrations, how much value they add to the craft, or even if they do harm because of pigeonholing it into a bobbles and trinkets kind of niche. I was fortunate enough to attend a smithing art show a few years back. It was poorly advertised, and thus not well attended, but I was utterly blown away by the pieces. The thing is, there were historical reproductions, abstract works, a couple pieces of furniture, and some good examples of branching out into other craft, like leather, wood, and fabric, to complement the steel. But there was a complete lack of hooks, ladles, fire sets, bottle openers, letter openers, pendants, brooches, etc I don't mean to disparage the little things, but commercially, and for the purposes of carrying the craft forward, I think art should play a big(ger?) role. I also think a lot of folks would be better served pricing higher, worrying less about shop rate and how long something took them to make, and pushing the boundaries of art in their local market to make a name for themselves. Example of what doesn't work: If I'm going to sit there with a calculator and say "If I make 10 hooks per hour, sell them for 20 bucks a piece, I can probably work out a livable hourly wage, absorb my operating costs, and be a little bit ahead". Then I'll go to a show, sell 3 hooks, be left with an inventory overage, have grossed $60 for my troubles, and start blaming the customers for wanting to buy things made in China. The next show? I'll make S-hooks AND J-hooks in the name of diversification! Big businesses have to plan based on sales forecasts. I think a lot of craft fair vendors (not just blacksmiths!) might close up shop if they started doing the same.
  10. Have you looked into metal cored wire? (MCAW process). From the photos, it looks like you're using solid wire (GMAW). I find far less spatter with "metal core".
  11. That's fantastic. I would think a combination down/side draft would work even better. Somewhere to point the shower!
  12. I'm going with "Tackless maneuver." Tacktical blunder?
  13. I feel there's at least a 40% "never touched a welder before" factor at play there as well. But I see your point.
  14. You know. I'm thinking... Next welder trainee at work should get this project. That's a lot of practice both laying down beads and grinding!
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