Mr K

Last summer I acquired a bunch of cast off gas pipe & I have been thinking about ways to use it. One idea that has appeal is to experiment with forging to achieve an organic form. Ideas lead to tools, and in this case making a hardy pipe tool for the anvil so that I could test the forging idea. With the initial results quite promising, I started thinking about creating some frog legs. As ideas are apt to do, this one morphed into something quite different.

After making and working with various parts for a while, I recognized that it was really Kokopelli offering me the inspiration; a frog will be left for another time. The iconic image of Kokopelli is commonly found in the Southwest and is one that has often amused me. The name Mr K came from my wife and I liked it immediately, particularly because that was also the nickname of my high school metal shop teacher, Jim Koutsoures. Borrowing Jim’s nickname for this piece seems appropriate because I really appreciate the experiences I had in his shop classes.

In the process of creating metal sculpture I am attracted to the juxtaposition of organic line and form with the rigid geometric nature of machine parts. My intent here is to create something that suggests an organic form but made from entirely inorganic components. In this case, the legs made from forged pipe form the basis to support a gear scrounged from an old snowblower, the head piece is from an industrial stamping, various bits of rod were then bent to form the neck and arms. While the sculpture is static, I am also seeking to convey a sense of motion; fitting as the Grateful Dead often keep me company while I’m working.

The photos give a sense of the journey and process of creating this metal sculpture.

Hardy pipe tool

I have a project in mind that will involve forging pipe and in particular tapering the pipe. I’ve seen this done using a heavy V mounted in the anvil’s hardy, so time to make such a tool for this project. I had some scrap 1″ and 1/2″ steel plate that would be about right, so cut to size, bevel the joints for welding, and then weld it up. Cleanup on the grinder and shaper. The resulting V is 3″ long with 1″ sides. Photos show the stages.

Anvil stand

After being inspired by Ries Nemi’sUrban Stump” anvil stand, I set out to make my own. Now that it’s finished, I think I’ll call mine a “steel-belted stump” as most of the effort went into the steel parts. A few nice features: besides being very compact and solid, it is also flexible. The size can be changed to accommodate a different anvil simply by changing the wood; I find it much easier to adjust the length of a 2×4 than a real tree stump! This flexibility was immediately useful because as soon as I finished the stand to support my 150lb Peter Wright, I found a 200lb Trenton, so the stand needed to be changed from a square to a rectangle to accommodate the larger base.

Stock used was 3/16 flat, 3/16 1-1/2 angle and 1/2 rod & the photos tell the story.

A year later I happened upon a 275lb RIDGID/Peddinghaus that had never been used and was about 100 years newer than the Trenton, so time to revisit the stand. Because the new anvil was a bit larger the stand needed to be expanded a bit and a new set of “seatbelts” made. Due to the upsetting block on the back, the new belts had to cross on the ends, so the stand’s corners had to be swapped to put the tabs in the correct orientation–another benefit of the stand’s flexibility. In retrospect I could have saved some bending grief if I’d cut the tabs off and changed the angle a bit.

The Trenton anvil is an example of the American pattern of anvil while the Peddinghaus follows the German pattern. The different patterns or styles represent the evolution of anvils and the cultural differences in how they’re used.