ALL the clocks

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To round out the year we had a nice surprise order for a very large set of desk clocks, to be given out to all the employees of a small company based nearby (but employing people around the country). The clients were a pleasure to deal with, and it turns out they found out about us because of the recent feature in Diablo Magazine. We hurried to get out such a large order before Christmas, all neatly packaged, ready to add to gift boxes with goodies from another small company, but still took the time to photograph them. Since they were gifts primarily for employees, we asked if they would like to have every clock different, and they were happy with the idea. This gave us the chance to create clocks of every single one of our ordinary patinas, plus iterate through virtually every reasonable version of the square-in-square patinas, and have them all available at once for photography.

The next step will be to make an online ordering system for these like the one we recently launched for round vases. But that may take a while, especially with continued construction on the studio, and preparation for a big year at ACC Baltimore in February.

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Diablo Magazine feature

David’s classic – and still best-selling – Round Vase design was chosen by the editors of Diablo Magazine to feature in their December issue’s showcase of local East Bay artists.

Handmade round vases in patinaed brass

Round vases – very large (12″) white ochre, sorta large (9″) silver brown, large (6.5″) dark green, medium (5.5″) mottle, extra-small (3.5″) distressed black ochre. Photo: James Carrière

We have just made it possible to order Round Vases direct from us via the website. Click here to order! The page still needs work, and we’d be happy to hear feedback on it, but it does function!

Farmers Market Saturday!

Tomorrow, Saturday the 12th we’ll be out at the Grand Lake Farmers Market showing our jewelry, vases, and candlesticks.

We’re scheduled for just two appearances this November and none in December (so far), but tomorrow promises to be a pleasant day out; our later appearances might always be cancelled by rain, so come see us sooner rather than later, and buy local for the holidays!

The Farmers Market runs from 9am-2pm across the street from Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre, and features ten or twelve artisans on a rotating basis, along with dozens of produce stalls and booths of great prepared food. It’s one of the best Farmers Markets around.

We hope to see you there!

Grand Lake Farmers Market

Studio progress: Windows are all in

We’re so far behind on updates on the studio building progress that I’m not going to delay any longer hoping to post updates in order. When I have access to the photos of earlier progress I’ll put up some retrospective studio build posts.

Last week we finished the siding, except for trim, and last week and this week we have been putting in windows, using ladder jacks to make a mini scaffold for raising the high windows.

Just finished putting the last of the trim on the last of the windows. We still have more spackling and priming to do, and we have to put up corner trim.

Finishing the siding:

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Cutting and assembling a tiny fiddly bit of trim for the corners between upper and lower roof. This is one of the reasons all this finish work takes so long.

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Putting in the upstairs windows, using ladder jacks to make a simple scaffold. We still have our huge mobile scaffold inside the building.

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All our windows are salvaged from older houses via Urban Ore. This pair was probably the first ones we bought, because they’re beautiful craftsman style windows, a matched set. They are down at ground level on the North wall, one near the front door, the other in what will be the hammering room.

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David has worked a long time on cleaning and repairing these and building their jambs, but there’s always a last-minute adjustment to be done with planes and chisels.

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But the results are gorgeous:

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All the lintels for the windows are salvaged redwood siding. The inspectors won’t let us use salvaged wood for anything structural, but siding is fine. And old siding is just a little thicker than new, for a perfect craftsman look. Of course, this was salvaged from some very old working building, where it had old square cut-nails, and every generation of nail and staple since, so there is a LOT of filling to do.

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What a weekend! It all starts tomorrow.

This weekend there are three events coming up for anyone who follows us and loves our work.

Our joint show at the Moraga Art Gallery titled “Creative Contrasts” (already announced to our mailing list) has just opened, and the Opening Reception will be held this Saturday 5-7pm. Moraga Art Gallery is a small cooperative gallery run by a group of sixteen member artists and craftspeople. It hosts shows featuring a member artist along with a guest artist several times a year. Members approached us about being guest artists in a show running for the next two months, along with watercolorist George Ehrenhaft. We are honored to participate and to bring a new medium to their lovely gallery. Moraga Art Gallery is located at 522 Center Street in Moraga. Normal hours are noon to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday. The reception is 5 to 7 pm Saturday the 20th of August. 925 376-5407. moragaartgallery.com

Saturday during the day we will be exhibiting for our one appearance this month at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, in the park in front of Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre. It’s the season for great tomatoes, corn, and patinaed earrings! Grand Lake Farmers market is open every Saturday from 9-2 year round. We only attend about once a month during the dryer months. agriculturalinstitute.org/directory/listing-details/grand-lake-oakland

On top of all that, ACCI Gallery’s much anticipated annual Seconds Sale starts tomorrow, Friday the 19th! Every year the gallery’s 100+ member artists bring in their prototypes, older work, and seconds for this pop-up sale, which many customers look forward to all year long. There is work in all media, at astonishingly low prices. Bring a bag and expect a crowd. Cash and checks are preferred, but cards are accepted. We will be offering some seconds of modular wallpieces, vases, and jewelry, as well as candlesticks and vases and a lot of older jewelry dating to the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of it at prices that wouldn’t have been out of place back then. ACCI Gallery is located at 1652 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, and is open 11am-6pm Monday-Saturday, noon-5pm Sunday. The Seconds Sale runs from 19-21 August, from 11am-6pm Friday and Saturday, noon-5pm Sunday. 510 843-2527. ACCIgallery.com

We hope to see you at one or more of these events – maybe, if you’re dedicated, all three!

A few of the older pieces we’re offering at the Seconds Sale:

ACCI Seconds Sale teaser 2016

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Getting ready for ACC

The American Craft Council‘s American Craft Show in San Francisco is our main west coast event each year, and it’s coming up this weekend!

We skipped last year because of building work the studio and other commitments, but we figured we couldn’t skip it twice in a row, despite the fact we can’t show our jewelry there. We have a small booth this year, and because of new fire regs we will not be building our traditional ‘house’ of a booth, so we have had to scramble to figure out a new booth. We are borrowing some ProPanels from a friend this time, and are working on figuring out how to make them work for our wallpieces. ProPanels are nice, mostly easy to use, and provide a plainer background than our normal booth, which is both good and bad. But it will be an interesting experience to have a very different booth to showcase our wallpieces, vases, clocks, and tables.

Though they’re quite easy to work with, we set up our booth in advance to figure out our issues with this new style. Here it is in our nearly built studio:

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The American Craft Show in San Francisco takes place in Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason this Friday and Saturday 10am-6pm, and Sunday 11am-5pm. Tickets are $14 at the door, $12 if purchased online. We are in booth 603, right near the front on the left side of the hall as you come in. We hope to see you there!

A low relief wall sculpture of of sweeping curves in patinaed brass

Wallpiece RCB 16.02
Reed’s newest piece

Pesky orders!

In between preparing for our biggest local show of the year, ACC San Francisco, which starts in just nine days, we’re still plugging away at finishing the siding on the studio, hoping we can finish it and get on to putting in doors and windows.

Of course we still have a business to run. David and I were both up ladders working on siding today when an order for buckles came in. David didn’t have enough hands so I copied down the order on a bit of siding before we got back to work.

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order on siding

And then it was almost time for lunch, and after that heading over to the temporary studio to send a package and work on booth fittings and another vase for another order. But at least we finished siding to the top of the garage wall.

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Wallpiece Commission

The last few times someone has come to us looking to commission a wallpiece they’ve ended up buying one we had already made. But this time our client, who has been talking to us for years, has decided to go ahead with an original design. David went back and forth with the client through several rounds of sketches, ending up with this one:

From that David made up a working plan with depths from which we can build all the parts and construct the wallpiece. If you came by our open studio a few weeks ago, you saw the pile of half-made wallpiece parts, and maybe got a brief demo of the folding process on our half-functional bending brake. Between the open studios, other orders, and building our new studio, we’ve been progressing on this wallpiece rather slowly, but now we’re getting going on it properly.

After building the set of boxes that will compose the wallpiece, we lay it out for David’s inspection, to make final tweaks and to choose the colors.

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And then construction begins. As always, it’s a good sign when parts of the piece make up interesting sculptures in their own right.

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And this evening it’s fully assembled. Yes, it’s upside down in this picture.

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Tomorrow we will disassemble it, prep some of the parts, and begin patination.

Belt Buckles. Did you know we make belt buckles?


photo of a brass belt buckle depicting a topsail schooner sailboat

Older belt buckle with a more intricate boat – a topsail schooner

photo of a brass belt buckle depicting a leafless tree

Rectangular tree belt buckle.

Apart from a mention on the About the Studio page, we haven’t shown our belt buckles on the website, but I’ve just made up a couple of pages about them. More will be added soon. But yes, David has been making brass belt buckles since 1974, when he first got the oxyacetylene torch, and though their heyday was in the late ’70s and early ’80s, they have remained popular and we’ve continued to make them for our remaining leatherworkers. In fact, in the last six or eight years, they came back into style in a big way for a while, and our leatherworkers were ordering more steadily than they had for decades. Now a new generation is getting into leatherwork and we recently had a query from an old leathercraft shop now under new ownership – Paul Taylor Sandals of Asheville, NC – and have had other queries about them through our etsy shop recently, so we figured it was time to put more information on them online.

We intend to get more pictures on the page about older buckles, in case people find us by looking for information on a buckle they bought years ago, or inherited, or found at a vintage shop, or whatever. As always, we appreciate feedback on our pages, and of course we would love to hear from you if you have one of our belt buckles from long ago.

davidmbowman.com/buckles

photo of a brass belt buckle depicting a musical eighth note

Eighth note belt buckle

photo of brass belt buckle depicting a sailboat with spinnaker sail

Boat buckle with spinnaker

photo of a brass belt buckle depicting a sunset over a line of hills

Sunset – a classic style we no longer make

Open Studio June 4-5 and 11-12

​Join ​​us and our fellow artists and makers of all stripes at American Steel Studios this weekend for open studios as part of the ProArts East Bay Open Studios event and self-guided tour!

Our weekend kicks off with Art Murmur Friday night from 6-9pm in the Poplar Gallery at American Steel Studios. Some of the other artists may have their studios open for the evening as well. We will be showing our work just in the gallery as usual that evening. Then for the rest of this weekend, and next weekend as well, we will be opening our studio for you to come see. Wallpieces and larger work will remain on display in the Poplar Gallery, while we will have our vases, jewelry, and other small work on display in our studio out in Bay 5 of the main part of American Steel.

Come on down and see us, and get a glimpse of the many, many surprising and beautiful things being made at American Steel.

American Steel Studios is located at 1960 Mandela Parkway in West Oakland. The building covers an entire city block and is hard to miss. The entrance is on 20th Street. Art Murmur is Friday 6-9pm, and studios are open Saturday and Sunday 4-5 June and 11-12 June, 10am-7pm.

If you’re of the facebook persuasion, here are the pages for the American Steel event and for the East Bay Open Studios as a whole.