Put the hammer down and walk away… NOW!

by laurie jane kern on November 3, 2010

I have been working on the hearth pot since September – there have been starts, stops,  side trips and other projects along the way,  but the pot and I were making progress. The pot was moving closer to completion and I was making strides in adding curves and necking the walls inward.

I did not do much work, on the pot, these past two weeks because I have been experiencing low energy, lack of focus, and there were other commitments. There was also the problem that I could not get the bowl onto the stake I had been using (a loaner from Deb). I needed a different stake to finish the final part of the curve and to create the final vertical neck. On Saturday I drove down to Deb’s and I gave her back the stake she had lent me and she then gave me a Dixon #13 stake to use.  Since I was making this trip down to the San Diego area, I ran other errands and thus I did not do any work on Saturday.
Sunday morning, I woke up early (for me, on a weekend) around 8:00 am; started the coffee; read my email; and then brought Erich a cuppa and woke him up. I am nice and I won’t start banging on metal if he is still asleep.

Somewhere around 10-ish I trimmed about a quarter inch off the “rim” – it was uneven and thinning and was adding to the issue of getting the pot on the stake at the correct angle. Why? – this was because the rim on the opposite side of the bowl was running up against the underside of the stake as well as the tang. Once the trimming was done, I decided to use my new stake as it was similar to the stake I had returned to Deb.  The pot fit on my new stake – not just because I had trimmed the rim, but I realized that the new stake had straight t-joint between the underside and the tang. The Dixon stake(s) have a stepped tang, and that was preventing me from getting the bowl positioned the way I wanted.  Having figured this out, I decided to do the next course of raising in my new stake and that I might not need the Dixon #13 until later.  I also decided to change from my big raising hammer which has a head of 400 grams and is rather large to my newest ebay win – a 175gram head hammer. This new hammer has the same weight as another Peddihaus hammer I have but the new one has a broader face than the same weighted Peddihaus hammer – see picture below. There is no manufacturer’s name on the head but it was the perfect shape for bringing the walls in toward a neck.

I completed two rounds and then went back to planish more of the body because when I brought in and up the neck, I would not be able to get inside even with the other stake.

And that is when my problems started…
My new stake, even though modeled on the Dixion #3 and Dixion #10 stakes, was not the same size as either of those, which is what I had been using at Deb’s. I had requested that Kevin should make the two ends about 1/4″ smaller than the dixions. And because of that size difference, the area I was going to planish, having been formed on that other stake, did not match the radius/curves and so I ended up re-shaping and eventually denting the body.

Did I stop then and there and think about it? Nooooooooooooooooooo
Did I put down the hammer and walk away? Nooooooooooooooooooooo
Was I mad at myself and feeling frustrated? Yessssssssssssssss

Did I think about what I did next? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

And then I lost it. I actually lost it (my mind) –
I picked up that big honk’n 400 gram hammer and smashed it.
Yup, you can go back and read it again but the result with be the same.

I think I hit it 3 or 4 times.

I could go on for several more thousands of words explaining how I felt during this event and even how I felt for the next FIVE hours but I won’t.  Despite all of that, I know my skills have progressed so as opposed to trying to salvage the bowl, I wil keep it on my workbench as a reminder – When you are feeling fuzzy brained and have an attack of the crazies…. Just remember –
Don’t go near the hammers.
BTW, I feel better now. You can see the just before and the after picture below.


Two Hammer Heads
And then we have…..

Just Before the Crazies Hit


The Aftermath


laurie jane kern

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kerri Duncan November 9, 2010 at 6:11 am

Laurie… novel idea- whacking your work… I truly hope you felt better- consider it “destructive testing” and enjoy its viewings daily… I would fill it with pewter, and use it has a hammer-stand- great reminder to see… Besides- in the end- your art IS an expression of your feeling… riiight? HA! The vase shows how you were feeling!

Keep on swinging- keep on creating… all in time- my best wishes for your new-vase! (I actually like it!)


Linda November 8, 2010 at 8:41 am

OOPS – typo – I think – Sorry, I think I made a mistake in my recent comment /suggestions – I used the word “perpendicular” when I meant to say “parallel” – I hope you can catch the mistake – if you need further clarification – contact me. Good luck as you move forward with your Silversmithing adventures.

Laurie Jane Kern November 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

Hey, I resemble that statement! I WRITE CODE and I MOVE METAL… as we say at work – pick up your tool bar and beat the CODE into submission. [does that sound familiar?]

Coding is similar to knowing foreign language and moving metal is similar to … cooking. Well, in the long run Yes, they are two very different things.

Bentiron November 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

Oh, I have often wanted to hit the computer! It is more of an aggravation than any piece of metal I have encountered in my life, I think different than all the programmers on the planet. I move metal, they type lines of code, somehow the two just don’t mix.

Laurie Jane Kern November 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I had the hammer in my hand when I sat down at my desk and my Mac was in front of me and I honestly thought about hitting it too – that I when I put the hammer down and went into another room.

Bentiron November 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

At least you kept the hammer in your hand and that is a very good thing! I usually throw the hammer and that is a very bad thing, others may become injured by heavy flying objects. Drywall doesn’t stop large hammer very well. You may salvage that pot by filling it with wax and applying some repousee work to the affected areas, a little adjustment to the rim, it could prove to be an interesting exercise.

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