Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pass the Torch?

Metal Work during the Middle Ages used to be a Secret Society and you could be put to death for teaching the wrong person the trade.  Keep it mysterious and secret and you can get more money for it!  It was a Guild Trade with long apprentices and high expectations.  I have been searching for an appropriate student to take over what I have started for at least the past five years.  You would think this would be simple, yet there is so much more to it than "just welding".
I can teach anyone to  weld in about five minutes.  It is mostly about losing fear and not being afraid to get dirty.  Like any trade, practice makes perfect.  When I started welding about 26 years ago I brought to this trade 20 years experience in the Construction Industry and a lifetime "eye for art".
My competition were, perhaps, better welders, but they were trailer builders and had, maybe 2 or 3 set designs for fencing and gates.  Frankly none of them very good.  I brought my designs and creations to the local Home and Garden Show for 25 years without missing one and could get $50,000 worth of work from a single Show and I did this twice a year.   You would think I would have people standing in line to take over what I started!
I never wanted to Sell this business.  In reality, without me, it is just a welder in a shop.  I wanted to give it away, but give it away to someone who would take it.  That takes someone willing to put up with the "wax on, wax off" kind of experience!  It is not just welding and fabrication I have to teach but art appreciation and the satisfaction of a "job well done".  Passion, and the constant desire to do the next job better!  This should be true with every job, with Life, and whatever we do.  It should be incorporated into who we are.  Yet, it is almost impossible to find!   I have taught over a dozen people to weld.  I can't teach Passion!   You want to be a good welder?  Study Art!  Spend hours pouring over abstract paintings.  Reconnect synopses.   Dream.
    My latest and maybe last apprentice I found on Craigslist about a year and a half ago.  I had some cleanup and construction around my house and needed help and he offered to work for $10 per hour.
I told him I couldn't pay anyone less than $12 so we got off to a good start.  Most workers, even good ones do what they are told and minimize the task, doing nothing more, reaching no hire than expected.  Carlos always does much more.  When confronted with an unexpected situation he will research the issue and tell me what he discovered on YouTube the next morning.  To improve a job he will put in his own time.  I know lots of people who won't do this and Carlos does it every evening!
As the construction progressed and came to a close I offered to teach him to weld.  Without pay.
Carlos is a fast learner and that lasted less than a week.  He would weld on scraps, learn a bit on fabrication and study on the Internet in  the evenings. Always better the next day.
A year and  half later he can make $2,000 in a week!!!  I think I have found some one.
 Nice measurements, great fabrication, perfect fit and strong enough to tie a horse to!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sort of Like a Tomato!

Well, certainly the Same Gardening Principles Apply:  Good Soil and Good Amendments, all Organic and No poisons!  I don't smoke it although I probably should because of the neuropathy left from the Chemo when I had cancer (all Gone now!).
Well, it is Totally Legal in Oregon so I had to give it a try!

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Forest Fence

I just finished another job!  about 165 feet of fence, enclosing a clearing in a woodsy setting for the protection of the owner's dogs, or at least so they won't run off and chase the cougars!  So the trick was, how to create a fence that

 won't shield the beautiful view and maybe look as if it belonged there?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Marijuana Dispensaries

I love New Businesses!  It is the American entrepreneurial spirit, that "can do" attitude and taking advantage of opportunities.  For Oregon and a select few of other States, that is Marijuana!  There seem to be as many Marijuana Shops in my town s Starbucks!  and some give me work!
 They are very Security Conscious, wanting grills over the windows to prevent robbers and most have the often seen 4" on center bars, looking like a jail. This particular dispensary had some imagination and allowed me the freedom to clean out my shop with odds and ends!  Art to keep out the bad guys!
There is a Huge Walk is Safe with a huge safe door they wanted covered in my metal art,
so I made this!  
Marijuana is a money making business and the State is like the Mafia BOSS and they are reaping Millions!  They anticipated 4 million the first year and are over $20,000,000 so far! I might go into crime for that amount, certainly the /state did!
Oh, I am not complaining!  I got work from it too, and maybe even in my retirement years I have found a "Product"  These Metal Grids could be shipped all over!
Lucky me, there were five windows in this shop! and they have candy, candy, candy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Learning to use a new tool

Anyone can build a fire, right?  I am discovering how to use my newly constructed Pizza  Oven and what can be done with it.  It is like any other tool I have acquired in my life, I want to master it.  There is a lot to learn!  I have had four fires now and the first one was a disaster!  Way too cold and during construction I filled the Oven with sand to stabilize the curve of the bricks as they were being mortared into their arch.  I did not get all of the sand out in the cleaning process and we had under cooked and sandy Pizzas!  The second fire was better, I got the oven to 500 f. degrees but it wouldn't hold the temperature and they were "eight minute pizzas".  Not sandy anyway. You can make great pizzas with a two hour head start on the fire but this last, forth try I was after perfection and I wanted to see what this oven was capable of.  I began the fire at 8 AM for a 2 O'clock cook time and did I ever get it HOT!  I used a very dry mix of Oak and Madrone, filled the very back and built a pretty Big Fire in the front.  When the "front fire" was down to a bed of coals I spread them evenly around the hearth and left them there for an hour before pushing them to the back of the oven igniting the logs left there.  By 2 O'clock the fire in the back was a foot deep bed of coals and the oven registered
over NINE HUNDRED DEGREES!  Even four hours later, without adding to the fire it was over 700 degrees. Pretty amazing.  We cooked Pizza in 74 seconds!!!
The Party was a lot of fun.  We had people from 4 months to 74 years old, three guitars and four singers!  It was a fun "old people's party" of neighbors and friends.  2 o'clock to 7 PM.  Perfect!
We made 25 pizzas, two chickens and a fantastic blueberry cobbler all in the Pizza Oven.  We could have cooked all night!
I also cooked a Brisket on the open fire pit with the rotisserie.  Even Jimmy Torres (You can Google him!) said it was the best brisket he had ever had!  Cooked for 7 and 1/2 hours over a bed of coals on a well tended fire.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cook me something

Next to sex and sometimes more intimate and even better is the sharing of food.  We live in a warm it up and three minute microwave world and too often end up eating by ourselves or hurrying through a meal to get onto something else.  The whole concept of sharing a meal, sharing a process, enjoying a preparation has been lost in our ever busy world.  I am sometimes jealous of dirt poor societies with a single cooking pot, families gathered, strangers invited, talking, laughing, happy, appreciative of the ceremony of sharing a meal.
   The very Best Art can be eaten!  I was once told that you can change the flavor of an onion by the way it is sliced.  Food presentation has been reduced to slop on a plate and we have forgotten how to say "thank you".  Cleaning up and doing the dishes has become a hated chore.  It is a shame that eating has been reduced to feeding the engine and is no longer a social engagement.  We are missing out entirely on the concept of "breaking bread", sharing our Human Existence.
   I like my new Pizza Oven but after two fires and beginning experiments, I suspect it won't get used very much.  For Hundreds of years the Oven was the center of  many households and small villages may have had just one, rivaling a Church as a central gathering place.  An opportunity to share stories, enjoy the bounty and laugh together.  When did we lose the joy in giving away food?
   It takes two hours to prepare the fire in a wood burning oven and then, without adding to the fire, you have heat for 10 hours of cooking.  Maybe Pizza first while the oven is hottest, then a roast or chicken, then maybe, a soup and still hot enough to bake a week's worth of bread!  It can all be done without an I-phone or apt but you have to actually do something! and it seems we have run out of time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pizza Oven!

I made a Pizza Oven and now my Outdoor Kitchen is complete!  It is pretty Big, the outside measuring about 3 feet wide, 3 feet tall and 5 feet deep.  The walls are over 7 thick and it can sure retain the heat!  You can make pizzas one day and the next, without adding to the fire, bake a loaf of bread!  This is my design but I watched a lot of U-tube videos to get ideas.  It is really a much bigger job than the 30 minute videos would let us believe!  If you really look at the photos you will see a 5' girl in the oven!!!
I think there is a philosophy behind Pizza Ovens that goes beyond the standard Bar-B-Que.  Both, of course are about the gathering of family and friends but what do you do with an oven that is capable of baking for 24 hours without adding to the fire?  Pizza Ovens are the ultimate in sharing, of cooking a lot of food, and then the fun of eating it and giving it away!
 This  would be a drone view if I had a drone.
I stood at the top of a 12' ladder to get the complete kitchen in view: fire pit, charcoal grill,
propane burner, electric frying pan and, of course, the kitchen sink! and the Picnic Table!