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Excerpt from
Issue #183 April 2006


Built around 1860, the Lyon Schoolhouse, located in east central Missouri, has remained essentially unchanged for 146 years. Although it’s been a long time since the bell in the cupola rang to signal the beginning of class, the structure itself has remained basically unchanged until now. The building is undergoing renovation to convert it into a residence that includes the addition of a loft and two new rooms. The loft will need an iron railing and spiral staircase. We thought it would be interesting to follow the job from beginning to finish, broadening our usual blacksmithing techniques to include measurement, design, customer input, and installation of a job. Like many jobs, the blacksmith was consulted after construction began on the schoolhouse, and so there is always the possibility of having to tear-out or redesign to make the ironwork fit. In this case, the staircase was moved from the original position underneath the loft—as shown on the architects plan—to the front of the loft. This meant that a landing had to be built out from a beam that ran along the front edge of the loft. At this point many of the changes are made by the owner, but it is the blacksmith’s job to interpret them and find solutions to the problems they sometimes create. Fortunately, the solution involved adding on to the structure rather than tearing anything out.

Larry Cooper contributes to this issue with a project about some clients who asked him to make some hardware for their kitchen cabinetry. They were the kind of folks that liked to bring the outside in, so to speak. In our design talk, they told me they liked the way I made leaves and tendrils, so I decided to put the two together in the cabinet and drawer pulls. We were all satisfied with the results and I would like to share that design with you.