A craftsman's ramblings on making art, food, love and adventure

Special Order

I received an interesting call at Roaring Dog Studio a couple of weeks back. A very nice-sounding woman was hoping that I might be able to turn a small box of old nails into a unique gift for her son. As it turns out, these nails were hand-cut nails more than a century old that were salvaged from a family home during a recent renovation. So…in she came nails in hand.

We chatted and I realized that she really had no idea of what form this creation would take…artistic…sculptural…functional…YES Please…all of the above! Looking at these old nails…functional stalwarts of a bygone era I new that they needed to be recognizable in the finished piece but also needed to be transformed somehow.

Here are a few pictures of a very pleasurable journey last week in the ‘smithy’…she is coming in on monday to pick up the finished piece…I think she will be happy.

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Creating the elements…

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The antique nails prepped for forge-welding

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A lap joint created to weld nails to leaf forms

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The Finished Piece…we are calling it an Apron Hook…most days…I really love my job!

Hot Iron at Roaring Dog

Click this link for some recent Roaring Dog Love…

Roaring Dog Smithy in the News!

 

Island Time

One of the things I am most looking forward to moving forward with this blog and the evolution of roaring dog studio is to share with those interested some insight into how our new products move from concept to reality.

We have an exciting new piece coming to fruition now in the shop. What we set out to do was to create a relatively small, stylish and functional kitchen prep island. We decided that we wanted the island to be round and that it would be made from a pairing of wood and iron. After several versions of design, critique and redesign this is the overview of what we are building:

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One of the unique concepts with this island will be a standard base in cherry and steel with a choice of tops/chopping surfaces. The first versions will offer tops in 1 1/2″ thick Curly Maple, Cherry and a butcher block motif featuring both together. Here are the leg blanks and island tops ready for final dimensioning:

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Perhaps the most exciting feature of this island in a collaborative design element conceived by the Roaring Dog team and executed by a wonderful local shop called Mack Bros. Boiler Works. This old line industrial supplier has most recently been involved in numerous artistic ventures and was more than willing to make the iron rings that will make the core of our island. We just picked them up this morning. Here is a peek at the unfinished pieces. These perfect circles in 1/4″ hot rolled steel are just what we wanted!

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The plan is to keep our readers updated with progress on these islands. There are a few more surprises coming (a few we may not even know about yet). Stay tuned!

Social Media for Aging Artists!

I turned 50 on June 10. I love the internet…go gaga for google…enjoy stalking Facebook…etc. Now I am trying to move our new art/craft venture Roaring Dog Studios into a fully functional social media organism…Yikes!  This is a sexy way of saying that this blog post is a test with some bling. Things should get more interesting from here. Here is a fun picture of Fiona the Roaring Dog and a big snapping turtle that wandered through our yard last week. Who doesn’t like a cute dog?6-12-13 015

Birth of a Gallery

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We have been busy at Roaring Dog! While it was always my intent to make our products primarily available online…my crew has talked me into setting up our own little brick and mortar gallery…seeing as we already have a butt-load of actual ‘brick and mortar’ in our 1896 restored brass foundry…home to our parent company CabFab.

Today the gang started assembling the gallery display units that they designed. They put together a little preview of our products mostly for my benefit I think. Erin came into the office bubbling over with excitement saying to me…BLOG PHOTO! What a nice surprise greeted me…and now greets you…a blog photo indeed!

Green House

A much anticipated box arrived at Wagmore last week. Like Jack dreaming of his Beanstalk we peruse this cardboard vessel no bigger than a shoebox filled with our seeds of summer promise. While many gardens have come and gone in Carolyn and my lives, it still seems remarkable that in these tiny packages weighing only ounces lives the potential of hundreds of pounds of sustenance destined for our kitchen cutting boards.

The snow still lays in blotchy patches in the yard. The geese are the first to find nutrition in the old grass between. The dogs too have found foul bits of rotty…decomposing earth to wear as spring cologne…pew!

Today we started our first indoor seeds…the calendar does not lie! The snow will go…the soil will warm and sometime in May these little pots filled with infant flowers and food will head to the gardens to perpetuate this ancient ritual of the grower. An act of faith and hope we delight in!

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Brand-aid

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Things are heating up at Roaring Dog Studio! I would imagine that there are not many dogs held in such high regard that they have been immortalized in a brand….even fewer celebrated as a brand-brand!

Check out our multi talented craftswoman Lori Holmes…or Curly Cherry as we like to call her (mostly behind her back)….as she works out on our new branding iron. Roaring Dog is getting ready to launch a whole new batch of products in the next couple of weeks and our snazzy logo will be proudly displayed on each.

I showed Fiona the real Roaring Dog these pics and…yawn…she was most unimpressed…tough audience!

Goats, Books and TV

I have a quirky collection of Blogs that I subscribe to and try to read most days. As a ‘maker of things‘ I am always interested in like minded folks. One that I have been reading for a while is ‘the art of doing stuff‘ written by this precocious Canadian named Karen. She is terminally irreverent and writing mostly for women…how and why I got involved remains a mystery…although Carolyn does on occasion suggest that I have a bit of estrogen flowing through my blood stream. As a hairy 260lb man this is potentially not a pretty picture but so far the side effects have been mostly positive.

Last year Karen posted a blog maligning a small but apparently deviant segment of society that does not own a TV. I am sure if she knew that her loyal closeted blog reader and writer here was a ‘no TV deviant’ she would have been nicer…maybe. I still like Karen and I also still have no TV….

So…what are a couple of empty nesters to do without a remote to share? We are relearning to read…out loud to each other. We don’t curl up in one another’s laps…remember the 260 lb. hairy guy from paragraph one…but we do listen and enjoy.

So where to the goats come in you ask? We are just finishing up a book recommended to me by my uber-literary mother called ‘Goat Song’ by Brad Kessler. We have been lusting for a goat or two of our own but are desperately looking for distractions like this book to sate us before we end up adding to our menagerie with our typical reckless abandon. This book helps in the self restraint world…no bucolic jaunt down the path of barnyard idealism here and…a tough read. The last book we read out loud together was ‘a dirty life’ by Kristen Kimball which we enjoyed without reservation.

Tonight Carolyn is off delivering a baby and I am wishing our dogs could read to me!

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A Remarkable Sunday

While our brothers and sisters in New England took the brunt of Nemo’s fury…we in central New York had a proper 8″-10″ snow storm…just enough to leave our landscape looking lovely and inviting. We awoke this Sunday morning to a warming sun and for a couple aging hippies who live in a home both heated and energized by these rays this is special gift.

Our friend and gifted artist Tara Hogan (the creator of the Roaring Dog brand) had asked me to take some photographs of our home Wagmore to share with a stylist friend of hers. Apparently Tara thinks our handmade house might prove interesting to folks outside of our immediate world. There is not much in this house that we did not create ourselves often with reclaimed materials saved from the landfills of America.

Here is a small sampling of today’s camera exercises. If anything strikes a cord of curiosity…feel free to ask.

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Gratitude List

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I so want the last thought for today to be a grateful one. Every couple of weeks I have to remove myself from the often creative work of our shops to make a blood sacrifice at the alter of Quickbooks. This is the dark side of small business… taxes… insurance… payroll… purchasing… inventory… cash flow. Carolyn calls this part of the job ‘soul-sucking’…a perfect description.

Last Sunday our son Ben and his girl Erin (who is also part of Team Roaring Dog) came for an early dinner. I caught this picture of them from our living room window strolling back from a visit with the geese and ducks at the pond’s edge. The dogs were very happy to see them and we had another of our many Sunday dinners together.

I am grateful for moments like this and truth be told my life is filled with an overabundance of them. I need to make a gratitude list in my mind…maybe even on paper…a persistent reminder to keep the dark side at arms length.

I so want the last thought for today to be a grateful one…