Paper Towel Rack on Etsy!

3 03 2010

So it’s not fully set up, but I did open an etsy shop yesterday for my blacksmithing work. I posted one item I have on my kitchen counter right now.

This lovely hand-forged paper towel rack could be yours!

Click here to view more photographs, and soon more items in my etsy store, leftoniron! I just need a banner for the shop and a little 75pixel square icon. If anyone felt like taking on the challenge you can use any of the photos from http://www.jacoblefton.com. I think the robot would be a stellar option ;)

If you like my paper towel rack, please don’t hesitate to tell me!

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Modern Artistic Blacksmithing Class

12 02 2010

I’m teaching a blacksmithing class at Hampshire College this semester. It’s a really cool opportunity for both me and the students. We’re going to be doing some really great stuff, and I hope to get a camera so I can document as much as possible.

The class is exciting for me for a number of reasons. It diversifies my income — I’m not relying solely on commissions to make rent. I’ll get some sort of Honorarium payment from Hampshire for teaching. The other thing it does is tell me a bit more about what I have learned in the past eight or nine months since I went to Europe. They say the best way to reinforce what you learn is by teaching. Since I want to be doing larger architectural works, I’m focusing this class on creating a window grille for the Lemelson office, and a section of fence, hopefully for the community garden.

We’re doing two projects, because the class is oversubscribed and I don’t want to turn everyone away. Since there isn’t enough room for a dozen people to work in the shop, I have to split the class up into two groups of six. Each group will design and carry out a different project.

This leads us to the nuanced difficulties of my task. I’m the only one in the room who really understands what it means to do one of these projects — I’ve been watching blacksmiths work on them for a while, but never really got a chance to do it myself. Now I get to be project manager and direct a bunch of other people. I have to plan out the workload so we don’t hit a bottleneck, relying on one or two people to get work done before the whole project can proceed.

I also have to teach blacksmithing techniques. The aim of this class is to build something large, because most of the blacksmithing that goes on at the Lemelson Center is small and relatively crude. People know how to make knives and hooks and bottle openers, because that’s all they’ve seen. No one has been teaching blacksmithing for a few years, so what’s been passed on is limited knowledge. I get to educate a bunch of almost-blacksmiths. Some of them have decent skills and hammer control.

Some of them haven’t ever swung a hammer in their life. About half my class has no blacksmithing experience. They don’t know the first thing about forging, and they just came to the class because it sounded really interesting. This group of people is also exciting to engage with — I have to figure out how to develop the right techniques without losing sight of the main project. They have to build muscle memory, a feel for the metal, a knowledge of which tools can accomplish what tasks, and they have to do it all while putting together a fence, or a window grille. I think they can do it though.

My hope is that the presence of a larger project will actually aid in our (nearly daunting) task. Once we get past the basics of hammer work, which will be an exercise at the start of next class, we can focus on the techniques specific to our projects. Does it have a rivet joint? We’ll learn to punch a hole and hammer over a rivet. Do we need twenty elements to be all exactly the same? We’ll learn to make and use jigs. Do we have a mortise and tenon joint? We’ll learn to put a tenon on a bar and drift open a hole. Of course, then we have to learn about proper cutting tools and making drifts of the correct size. I hope you can see how it all logically flows together.

The first hurdle, however, is getting the design together. How do you get a room of people who have never conceived of blacksmithing as anything larger than a bottle opener to design a window grille? You have to train their eyes and mind to perceive and think about the properties of ironwork. I started with books, lots of books with pictures of contemporary blacksmithing. I told them to look for compositions, joints, and textures of metal that they really liked, and share them with the class. The assignment was to go home and, from the books, choose elements or make up their own for ideal window grilles.

I’ll tell you how it goes! Next class, after a forging exercise, we’ll compile the drawings into our design. We’ll figure out how much metal we need, and by the third class hopefully we can start forging the final projects!





Art Blogging

26 01 2010

In Lindsay’s recent post, she mentioned that, from what she gathered, I was in Portland, Oregon hard at work on comics. This is true. I’m also volunteering at some pretty nifty internships, playing the stand-up bass in a band, and getting addicted to vinyl. (There are worse vices, I think).

I will soon begin posting more updates on my comics work over at my personal blog. When I post there, I’ll mirror the post here for those interested, and the post also gets automagically mirrored on my Livejournal. So there are many ways to follow, if you so desire. (I’ve yet to start automatic tweet generation when posts go up…but perhaps).

Cheers!

Back to work!





Artist Blacksmith

25 01 2010

It’s been around a year since I’ve posted here. What have I been doing in the meantime? Well, I quit my job last spring and went to Europe for six months to learn more blacksmithing. It was an epic adventure, spanning ten countries, several festivals, and hundreds of international blacksmith friends. I visited places as far apart and diverse as Ukraine, Finland, England, and Italy.

Since arriving in the States, I’ve been working to set myself up as an artist blacksmith. I’m working on a website. It’s not done yet, but I’ve got a little teaser for you here:

Robot, plugged in

This robot was accepted into the “I… You… We… Robot” show at the Space 242 gallery in Boston. If you’re local, you should show up for the opening, this Friday (29.01.10) from 6pm-8pm! I’ll be there. Don’t forget to RSVP!

If you are interested in ornamental ironwork, handmade art such as lamps, gates, fences, furniture, or sculpture, give me an e-mail. Blacksmith at jacoblefton.com, and I’ll get back to you!

I’ll definitely be posting here about more of my adventures in both the professional blacksmithing, art, and design world, and the science fiction world! Keep reading :)





Lindsay is excited by those of you reading this!

21 01 2010

I am happily surprised by how much traffic this blog still gets after such neglect!

Well, I have some fantastic news for those who might read these words… two of us Conventioneers sold artwork at Arisia this past weekend! We also participated in a Circus and Starcraft panel and threw our own Never Ever Land Party to rave reviews. Slowly (or not so slowly at all) we are becoming an integrated part of science fiction conventions and I for one hope to continue this trend. So you all best watch out for us and our growing group of talented, passionate and lovely friends.

Keep an eye out, Jacob weaves his metal to form a dance of steel that is truly an inspiration to behold.  His coffee table (which is still on the market) is simple, elegant and very beautiful. Bother him for photos of all his work if you have yet to see any.

Dan is working in Portland, Oregon on comics, or so I gather.

And I am busy juggling circus, science and art in some pretty exceptional ways if I do say so myself. I am keeping tabs on my work at a different more me-centric blog so as not to fill the space here with all of my Division III final year of college business, but stop by and take a look at some of the things I am working on.

And speaking of Circus, another circus tour is cycling toward launch! Downside Up circus is putting together a show for this summer in Washington by bicycle! We performed at First Night in Boston and will continue to perform in the arae this semester and blog from the West Coast this summer as well, so Check Us Out!

Exciting things are happening all over the place! Including my first World Con this summer in Montreal! (For those of you following from way back when, this was the reason we started this blog in the first place.) And now I’m hooked on World Cons. Reno 2011 for sure. Hit me up for more details and mayhaps we can host an amazing Worldcon Par-tay together. And I’ll make sure to write up my adventures from Anticipation (Montreal) for you all to read at your leisure.

Be well.

– Lindsay





I made something silly

13 01 2009

I opened up the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (a free open-source image editing studio similar to photoshop) just to play around with some filters. I used HSV Scatter to make a starfield and then I found myself desiring to put things in said star field, so I made a nebula cloud and then it just spiralled out of control. So, here it is, the new e-Christmas card for some friends of mine. So best future holiday wishes from Scott and Kt!

scottandktcard2





Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell

10 12 2008

I read a couple of webcomics regularly. I find that most try my patience a lot of the time and please me sometimes. Either they don’t update regularly or often, or when they do update, the plot doesn’t move.

Let me explain a little of my tastes. I read webcomics with plot, primarily. Those single shot humor ones are fine every now and then (except I needs my xkcd), but I don’t live for them. Comics like Girl Genius and Order of the Stick are great stories. Unfortunately in those particular comics, the plot comes and goes, and sometimes it devolves into stupid silliness.

However, there is one comic I read that has never done that, not ever. Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell is a comic about a girl named Antimony Carver who comes to a boarding school and has adventures. It’s far more awesome than Harry Potter. Antimony and her friends are way more interesting. I think I’ve talked about it before, but I want to reiterate how awesome it is.

Tom’s story started strong, and has remained so. It’s an episodic story. Each adventure is a chapter, each chapter is some twenty to thirty pages long. None have been boring, and even the slightly silly ones had substance and character development. It’s nothing like Girl Genius or Order of the Stick when they decide to be silly.

(The dialog over at Studio Foglio must have gone something like this:
“Gosh, our story is going pretty damn awesome. Look how gripping it is!”
“I know! And we have so many things to reveal and twists to plot.”
“But wait, our ACME Sillymeter is reading below 100%!”
“How can this be! Whatever can we do?”
“Eureka! Let’s strip them down to their underwear and have them dance in the streets with mops on their heads! Then we don’t have to make more plot until after Christmas.”
“Phil, you’re brilliant.”)

As much as I want you to read it for the story, I want you to read it for the art. The art has grown and changed a since the beginning. The mood and tone are the same, but Tom’s skill at portraying his characters has improved significantly. It started passable, and for quite a while was good enough. The current chapter of the story I would begin to describe as beautiful.

The best part is, it updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday without fail.

Start here.