I stumbled upon v when a friend on twitter posted a message telling me to have a look at their excellent work. I had a look and got in touch to find out a bit more. Sam's Welding is run by Sam and Melanie in Kingston, Washington USA. Melanie took some time out of their busy schedule to talk to me.
Workshopshed: Thanks agreeing to tell me about your Etsy shop and creations. How did Sam's Welding first come about?
Melanie: Sam's Welding has been our business since 1987. Sam has welded and fabricated for over 30 years. We are always building or creating things and people kept telling us we should open an Etsy shop! So we did last Sept.9, 2010 (it's been one year today! ) In the beginning, we only listed items that we made, either from the blacksmith shop or woodworking shop. We try to use many natural materials, either off of our land or remnants of materials from previous jobs. Every once in awhile we run into supplies like our railroad spikes for instance and also some fun vintage farm finds!
Workshopshed: I notice on your Etsy page there many found items, how do you decided what to include?
Melanie: Both Sam and I enjoyed growing up in rural areas and we were both fortunate enough to remember using a lot of the old items that we have come across and now sell in our Etsy shop. As with most of the items we "create" we like functional art, so when we find old farm or ranch items that were part of daily life those are the items we like to include in our inventory.
Workshopshed: Do they take a lot of effort to prepare?
Melanie: When coming across vintage items there is a lot of cleaning involved at times to prepare them to sell. Sometimes there are many years of use on them and a person doesn't want to ruin the antique appeal by scrubbing too much! The natural patina of age is what makes so many objects attractive and desirable!
Workshopshed: Do you both do you both contribute found and created items?
Melanie: Sam makes all of our steel and wood working items, at times it is my idea (Mel's idea) to "try" this or "that", which Sam is great about helping my visions come into reality. I enjoy working with slate, graphite rocks and creating jewelry or jewelry making supplies. There are times that I work on the finishing of the forged or wooden items and times Sam helps me drill my rocks or slate projects! It is mostly a team effort here at our shop. Our children have been a part of creating also. Our true love is making and creating things to use. We do share an equal amount of respect and desire to share vintage items from the past with people. Sam has actually built many of the tools that he uses in his blacksmith and woodworking shops. Things like blacksmith tongs and chisels and lathe tools.
Workshopshed: Yes, I've seen many of those items on your flikr and facebook pages, along with a rather large Bremerton Police Dept badge, what's the story behind that?
Melanie: As far as the Bremerton Police Badge, one of the local glass makers here in Kingston got the bid to make it for the department. Sam was chosen to do the steel work (backing and frame) for the glass worker to finish it. It is an honor to see Sam's work in Bremerton, it is a town that is being completely renovated. Here in our hometown of Kingston, WA Sam has been fortunate enough to build many items. He has made quite a few sign posts, all of the steel hanging baskets that hold flowers all over our town, mailboxes and mailbox holders, and many hand forged beautiful gates and fences. His work can be seen all over town. In his 30 years he has made woodstoves, hitches, boat dollies that are up in Alaska, too many trailers to count and lots of tractor and equipment repairs. It has just been in the last decade that he has been enjoying the art of ironwork and wood-turning.
Workshopshed: Wrought iron work looks fairly straight forward to do but I expect it takes a lifetime to learn?
Melanie: Sam has enjoyed learning more about the blacksmith trade in the last decade or so. One of his favorite things to do is take railroad spikes and make them into knives, ladles, spoons, forks, letter openers and hooks to use for hanging items.
Workshopshed: I see the railroad spikes in several of your designs, what is a railroad spike, where do the spikes come from?
Melanie: A rail spike is also known as a cut spike or crampon, it is a large nail with an offset head that is used to secure rails and base plates to railroad ties, which are the wooden pieces under a railroad track. They have been used since at least 1832 here in the USA. The RR spikes are made of different carbon steel contents, sometimes copper used to be added to them. If a spike head is stamped with a "C" it would mean that it has a copper content. Although the carbon content differs in the spikes they make some fun knives for basic use, but they are not like the high tempered knives that you normally would find. Each piece that is forged by Sam is truly unique and we have sold his spike creations all over the world. They have been enjoyed as gifts and by people who have worked in the railroad systems, each one is part of the past and can be enjoyed in a new way into the future! The spikes that we have been using are from a railroad that was taken out when a new ferry system moved onto the land many many years ago here in Washington State.
Workshopshed: I believe we use a different system over here in the UK and of course there are not quite so many miles of track. Melanie and Sam, thanks again for telling us more about your amazing shop and creations, I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
Melanie: I sure wish our shop was more full at this time...we will be adding more ironwork, when we can get to it!...
All images are copyright SamsWelding
Additional reference for railroad spikes
Eye-changing mechanism makes this automaton very expressive
57 minutes ago