What a year! I’m used to staying busy, but 2021 kept me on my toes! When it came to saws, it was my busiest year ever. I also did a workshop out in Utah, made a sign for an Audubon Prairie and worked on two “big birds”. In between all of that, I moved my welding shop! So yes – busy is one word to describe 2021, productive, fun, tiring, relentless would be some others. Oh – and this is also the year, I learned all about the foreign ‘scam’ industry.
The year started out like most other years: I finished up saw orders for Christmas, then took a break into the New Year. Then it’s back to working on saws to get the “post Christmas” orders out that came in over the holidays. As I worked on those projects, I also did a lot of upgrades to my Christmas “Light and Sound Show“. This involved soldering circuit boards to switch the lights over to wi-fi control and also making a large LED mega-tree (I’ve always wanted one!!). 😀
During these early months of 2021, I continued working on my peacocks. Many of you have been asking about the latest progress, but I will be back at them again soon in 2022! Winter ended and spring came, and spring means that auctions and junk hunting season has begun! So the light show was finished for another year, the peacocks continued on and some weekends were now filled with looking for rusty gold and old saws.
About this time, I started playing around with a new 3D printer. I’m not exactly sure how that will fit into future plans, but for now it’s been a fun learning experience and I’ve made pieces from Christmas cards to a screwdriver bit holder.
By March, it was warm enough to start working on my new welding shop. My ‘old’ shop was in the garage building and just too small for some of the bigger projects I was taking on. I decided to move my shop into the gymnasium. The poor gym had been unused and suffered from leaks in the roof, so the floor had some bad spots. It would never be used for basketball again, so I started cutting out the floor to expose the concrete below. I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth it was!
I was able to sell a lot of the good wood (I kept some for myself) and had the rotten wood hauled off. That first step was a lot of hard work, but I had to begin somewhere, right?
For those of you who came here to see some of my artwork, here’s a favorite saw that I completed in March. It was an old saw that a client brought to me and wanted to hang in his home.
So spring carried on like this for a while. A nice mix of working on my new shop, making saw art, some peacock time and other small projects along the way. Then May arrived and totally upset my apple cart.
May introduced me to the Chinese scam industry. I found that companies were using my photos of my artwork in online ads. Their goal was to entice people to buy saws from them for $39.99 so they could send them a cheap $5 knockoff and it must have worked – because these ads were EVERYWHERE! I’ve written a separate story about this, which you can read here. But despite their tricks, many people saw through the scam and tracked me down. This resulted in record sales and I had a new focus – SAWS! (and scambusting). My days were filled with a mix of completing a record number of saw orders and trying to take down as many ads as I could as quickly as possible. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends, it was all-consuming. I learned a lot about the scam business and joined Facebook groups to help battle on behalf of other artists. By the time it was over, I was enough of an ‘expert’ to be interviewed for TV spots and quoted in BBB reports.
I also had to carve out some time to continue working on my new shop, but from May to June not much progress was made. I did find time to buy a HUGE stash of saws that will take care of me for a while! Thankfully, because I went through my saw inventory for the year, during the scamming.
So I think we’re about half way through 2021 in this story. I’m managing to get sleep, but I’m keeping my eye on the end of the saw orders as well as my new shop. The peacocks and any other project have been put aside and summer is here!
I took a couple of days off in late July to celebrate my birthday. It was good to get out of town (to Kansas City) and not look at a saw!!
As July came to an end, I began work on a sign for a local group of nature conservators. They were looking for a sign to put in a prairie that has been set aside and would be dedicated later in the year. I had fun designing the piece and it was officially dedicated in November.
The summer went by quickly – filled with saws and (slow) progress on my new shop. I had most of the floor removed and was trying to figure out the best way to build my rooms. I wanted three; one each for painting, sandblasting and plasma cutting. The price of lumber went crazy this year, so I looked at other alternatives. One friend suggested small grain bins, which could be moved and reassembled in the gym. I was ready for this, but then found out that the local airport was selling some used hangar doors. Although it ended up being a lot of work, these doors turned into great walls for my new shop! With the help of friends and neighbors, some new walls were installed as well as big roll-up door. My shop was coming together! 😀 Electrical was run (and inspected) and then came the big day to move shop equipment and get settled into my new home.
Things went quite smoothly, for the most part and I am now working in what will eventually be the sandblasting / prep work room with a larger welding shop to be set up in the spring.
Summer ended without me noticing and by September I was struck with a bug – Bronchitis – that took me down for 3+ weeks. I hate getting sick and being non-productive, but there was nothing I could do but sleep and let the antibiotics do their job. I had too much to do!!! I was in the middle of lot of saws, building a shop AND working on a new life-sized crane sculpture that I was building out of cutlery for a 25th anniversary gift (which is silver).
My goal was to get the crane completed before the Christmas saw rush even began, but my illness messed that schedule up pretty good. I was now three weeks behind in orders (not late, just behind in production time) and unfortunately, the crane had to wait. I will back on it early in the new year and can’t wait see it finished!
Fortunately, I recovered enough from the bronchitis to drive out to Utah to participate in “Hammerfest” – an annual workshop for blacksmiths and other metal workers. I had sixteen, 30 minute, 1-on-1 workshops scheduled to teach plasma cutting and despite my schedule, I had to keep this commitment. It was a lot of fun and I had a wide range of students, from 14 to 85 years old. While there I also took a class on how to build a small propane forge (which I brought back with me). I had a great time out there with the organizers and enjoyed a visit from my Dad and his friend, who drove up from California. I enjoyed this short break, but knew I had a lot of saws waiting for me at the shop and it wouldn’t be long until the Christmas rush hit. Oh! and I wanted to have my new shop ready for winter! So I turned around and came home instead of taking my semi-annual trip to visit family and friends.
I’ll have a separate post going someday about how the shop came together with more photos and videos, but this photo above should give you some idea of how I am converting the old hangar doors into shop walls. I would have LOVED to have found someone to do this for me, but if you are familiar with small town life you’ll know how hard that is to do!
By late fall, it was all about saws again, but I did take some time to play. 😀 I drew and colored a pair of white shoes in my spare time. It was a fun, relaxing project to work on – one of my “Meditation Projects” to help clear my mind and relax.
Thanksgiving came and went like a small blip in the year and the Christmas Rush season was in full swing. I worked endlessly on saws and got everything out that I promised for Christmas delivery, in addition to another 40 or so saws that weren’t promised, leaving only a handful to greet me in the new year. The post office did a great job of delivering everything I shipped in time for Christmas (except for one headed to Australia).
So here we are – 2021 is coming to a close. It will be one to remember for a variety of reasons, but I have a lot planned for 2022! Some big news I can’t share yet and I am looking forward to visiting with my ‘big birds’ – the peacocks and the crane. And I have plans for a phoenix flying out of a firepit, made from scrap saw blades. It will be a year for the birds! HA!
Anyway, I wish you all the best in the new year! Thanks for reading and thank you for your continued support and understanding, in some cases! 😀