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Category Archives: design

Lamp work beads, some of the pieces that go into our tin ornaments.

As we are creating bunches and bunches of tin ornaments for the holidays, I thought I would show you some of the pieces that go into our unique ornaments.

Lampworking is a type of glasswork that uses gas fueled torch to melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass. Once in a molten state, artists will shape and blow using tools and hand movements.

Each bead is unique…although you might find the exact same bead color and all….they will not be exactly alike.

Many of our tin ornaments have unique “mini pieces of art” each different be it a lamp work bead, recycled charms from vintage pieces or other additional handmade “trinkets” to make each tin ornament unique and special.

Hope to see you at this seasons craft fair events!

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Urban Hobo Hits the News

We hit the BIG TIME!!!! Urban Hobo made it to an online magazine. Wooooo Hoooo!!
Okay, I shouldn’t get so excited, but I can’t help it….I am.

It’s a great piece that speaks about how we got started and our journey to where we are today. If you are not from El Paso, you can check it out here

We are so thankful for the staff at 2310ScenicDr2310ScenicDr for posting our story.

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Tools…Juan’s Perspective

One of the things that gives our art work a unique character are the tools we use. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill hardware store tools. These tools have a history. A soul. Many of them belonged to our parents and grandparents. We don’t simply enjoy using them because of their family history. It goes much deeper than that, because we each grew up using these very same tools. And, each of them has provenance. Each of these tools were used in a professional trade.

Here are a few examples of the tools we currently employ in our tin work. The two dollies were used by my Grandpa Smith in his Radiator/Body Shop in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Back when cars were made from actual steel. If you needed to shape a new body part or re-shape a damaged one, you would place the appropriate dolly behind the piece of steel and pound on the other side with a hammer, until the desired shape was achieved. These dollies are made from solid blocks of steel. After they were retired to my Grandfather’s personal workshop, I used them for many “important” projects when I was a kid. I even used them to pound out a few dents in friend’s cars.

One of the ball peen hammers belonged to my Grandpa Swinford. He used it in his carpentry business and I used it when I first learned to hammer nails (it was a lot lighter than a claw hammer and I hit the wood as often as I hit the nail, so it really didn’t matter if it was the right tool or not).

The other ball peen hammer belonged to Shawn’s Mother, Phyllis. She used it in her Art Gallery. Shawn spent a lot of time working in the gallery and used it to hang pictures.

Each of these tools were originally used professionally, for years, in artful endeavors. Over time they developed scars and wear and characters all their own. These very tools were used by our parents and grandparents to teach us skills and pass along a little bit of their knowledge. We are carrying on that tradition by using them in our own artful endeavors. Used together, they shape our tin work and give each piece a unique appearance and a little bit of history all their own.

 

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Going…Going…GONE!

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Wow! Dia de los Muertos has taken off for Urban Hobos! Juan and I are so excited. We have been able to sell many of our “Folk-Art” Skull friends. The colors are bright the subject (although skeletons) is fun and native to the area we live in.

I do not know why we have taken this road with a Dia de Los Muertos theme, I grew up celebrating this special holiday with many friends since I grew up on the border. I’ve enjoyed sharing with Juan the meaning behind the “Day of the Dead” celebrations.

For my friends and readers that are not familiar… Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. Focusing on family gatherings and friends to pray for and remember family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day. Some of the traditions connected with the holiday include building altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They   also leave possessions of the deceased.

I know I know….many of you might think this is slightly gruesome celebrating with skeletons and honoring a day for the dead, however, I love the bright colors and festivities that come from the celebration. When I think how much I miss my Father, I would much rather honor him and think of him with happy and wonderful memories. Remembering all he taught me and the great traditions that are now in me.

However, we do have some more “Dia de los Muertos” on its way along with a series of crosses I am working on and will have ready in the next week. So I will do my best to keep you posted on any new products we have.

Be sure to “LIKE US” on Facebook as well. Would love any and all feedback too!

 

The Tree Is Trimmed…All Minus 1 ½ feet

WOW! It seems like Labor Day was just here and we were THINKING about Halloween. How’d we get to Christmas so fast? I tell Juan every year, Christmas comes faster and faster.

I la la LOVE Christmas. Everything about it. As a kid I loved the holiday decorations, the holiday spirit in everyone’s hearts and the joy of family and friends getting together. It is my time of year. As a child, my father loved Christmas too. I spent many days just hanging out in the living room with my Dad as he blasted Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole Christmas music on his “Reel to Reel” stereo. (For the much younger generations it was like a HUGE cassette!)

I collect Santa ornaments. When I travel, I love picking up one in remembrance of my trip. For years, I’ve been trimming an artificial tree. I put mine up so early, I want to be able to have it up after Thanksgiving and enjoy through Christmas. This is a challenge if you buy a real tree…besides some of my ornaments are heavy and the fake branches can hold the weight.

Since we moved to our 900 square foot home, I did have to get rid of the 9 ½ foot pre-lit tree I used in my old house. It would be folded over due to the low ceilings and the circumference would take up the whole living room. So we purchased a 7 ½ foot unlit slim tree. It is perfect for a smaller space especially with the narrow diameter….you do not feel that each time you walk by you will take an ornament out!

Since I had to manually light the tree I got started. How spoiled I’ve become with a pre-lit tree. It sure made it easy to put together. I was able to concentrate on getting the branches bent correctly and fluff the tips up to look like a real tree. Now I will have to wrap the lights AND get the branches ready for decorations. Juan hates this part as I become very picky on how the lights go on and how the branches are set. He would run around the tree in circles with the lights and throw a clump of tinsel at once if he could. (wink wink smiley face) I however like to weave the lights in and up to the trunk and back out trying to give the tree a perfect glow. (Wow that is so Martha Stewart, right?) Okay….I am a little particular when it comes to festive illumination!

Well, back to lighting. I thought I would be smart by setting up the first tree section and wrapping the branches before I add the middle and top section of the tree. That way I could easily lean over the top of the section and really weave the lights perfectly. Heck I am so smart…I’ll have this tree glowing and ready for ornaments in no time.

I spent a lot of time getting that first section lit. It was perfect….a perfect glow and the branches looked great. Now on to the middle section….I carefully lined up the pole to add to the bottom section and it doesn’t want to go in???!!!! Why? I thought well I must be way off and got under the branches to see what was going on. I am sure most of you know by now what happened. I did a beautiful job of lighting the MIDDLE section of the tree first! Crapola!!!!!Needless to say, Juan was laughing hysterically a good 10 minutes before he calmed down. It was pretty funny but now I am thinking “How can I add the bottom piece without disturbing the middle section?” or “Am I going to have to undo ALL the lights and start over?”

 
 So….I decided to continue on and instead of trying to pull out the section I did…I went ahead and added the top section and began my weaving wonderment of lights. It was beautifully lit….heck I should have another 1 ½ feet of tree to light but alas I was not paying attention when starting this project. Instead of a 7 ½ foot tree….I have a 6 foot tree and you know what???? It looks great. Juan agreed, he said you don’t even miss it and it fits so nicely in the room.


 

This year I decorated with my glass and German glass Santa and Snowman themes ornaments…went with heavy red accents and a dash of green on top!

Note to self:
 
* Be sure you check the labels of the tree to be sure you are starting with the correct section
 * Maybe you should hold off lighting the tree before you put the whole thing together

 
* Don’t get upset of you make a mistake….it’s the holidays and not worth it

* If you do mess up….take a break, have some eggnog and get creative!

              HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
 

Juan’s Perspective On The “Value” Of A Garage

As Shawn noted in her recent post (So You Are Now Minus A Garage…Now What?), when we decided that Patio 71 was “The Place” for us, we knew we’d be losing a garage. This was not a deal breaker because we’d already been through the Pros/Cons exercise. However, I must admit it that it had me feeling a little bit uneasy. At first…

I grew up in Central Phoenix, just a few blocks from where we presently live. Back then all of the homes in the area had carports with an attached storage room. So, the idea of carport parking was not too hard to wrap my arms around. Besides, we park under a carport at the office, so it’s not like our car is going to get any more/less dusty at night than it does during the day. The real attention getter was that my “extra” storage space was being drastically downsized.


Shelving and room for tools



Room for more bikes! Able to store all our needs



 
 
In earlier posts, we discussed the “weeding-out” process. Once we’d tackled that, it became apparent to me that I didn’t really need as much space as I imagined. I just needed a place for my toolbox and a few other necessities (i.e., carwash supplies, spare bike parts, a couple of bikes, etc.). When we moved into Patio 71 last winter, we brought 5 of our original 10 bikes with us. Through careful planning and a trip to IKEA, we managed to store everything we need in our 4×8 storage room (including 2 mountain bikes).



Just prior to writing this post (this past weekend in fact) we pared our collection of bikes down to 2. We could store our current stable of bikes in the storage room, but with the extreme heat, we prefer to store them inside where the “soft” parts don’t dry out. Since we’re a little bike crazy (or just plain crazy) our bikes have become “art” in our office space. So, we actually have unused space in our storage room.

In retrospect, I have not missed the garage one bit. Along with the loss of the garage, we also got rid of the guilt which faced us every time we left/returned in the car and surveyed the accumulated clutter that always seems to invade its way into a garage. Now we simply park and go inside.

 

So You Are Now Minus A Garage…Now What?

When Juan and I decided to move into a smaller square foot home, we knew we were going to have to make some sacrifices and concentrate on the reason why we were doing this. One of the BIG BIG issues… A Garage. I know most men would whimper at the thought of eliminating the most precious room of the house (ask my middle brother). Even Juan was a little upset at first…heck I was too. It was great extra storage room. Yes, a place I could buy more STUFF and store it. However, there are truly great reasons for having a garage.
A place to keep your cars especially in the extreme heat of AZ
A great place for holiday storage (I know I am psycho about Christmas)
A place for those extra toys such as motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles (Bicycles are the key for me and Juan)
A place to keep your tools for all the “Honey-Do’s” and carpentry work (Yes, Juan is very talented in that arena)
Let’s go back to the bicycles. When Juan and I made the decision to downsize, we each had five bicycles. Yes, I had five bikes and so did he. Why, you ask? Besides the LOVE of bicycles and bicycling….we had different bikes for different applications. (Mountain, Road, Touring or just Cruising)
So we decided that we truly needed to figure out the kind of riding we wanted to do and pare down to one bike a piece which is what we FINALLY did. Seriously it was just this past week that we did this. Even though we have been in the 900sqft home for months!
I’ve been asked on several occasions about storage and what were my thoughts about storing certain items especially bicycles. Many couples out there, like me, have been challenged with downsizing and losing the garage. What to do with bicycles that you still enjoy to ride but do not have the storage or garage space AND…do not wish to leave outside due to weather? Why can’t you integrate your bicycles with your décor? YOU CAN!
Our current set up in our spare room



Right now as Juan and I are still “editing” our spare room that will soon be an office/workspace/bedroom, we are creating a piece of artwork on the wall that is called our bicycles. Why not work it into your space? If you have a studio apartment, you can have a pulley system and have them hanging up high. Or you can do what we did and purchase a gravity rack that does not need to be bolted into the studs and hang a couple of bicycles.
HOWEVER, you can do one step better and purchase a beautiful bike shelf! Chris Brigham has created a beautiful bike shelf that, with simple instructions, you can mount on the wall and hang your bike. It is taking utilitarian one step further by making it useful yet beautiful and simplistic in design.
Chris spent his adult life as a Graphic Designer (Check out his website “About”) all along thinking about working with his hands. You see what an incredible and talented individual he is by visiting his website and checking out many of his designs. Chris had no formal training in furniture design, turned his garage into a woodshop and began building furniture. He taught himself and has built quite a successful business for himself (theknifeandsaw.com).  
Chris saw a need when visiting friends in San Francisco and NYC where storage is a challenge and where to put one’s bike. He saw a need for some “bike management” and created the bike shelf. It is easy-to-install (mount to wall studs) only leaving screw holes when gone (great for renters). It comes in walnut or ash and looks beautiful on the wall. You can add some books or other lightweight items (holds up to 40lbs) keeping more clutter out of the way.
Are you challenged with a couple of bikes in your small space…getting in the way? Do you find yourself moving your bike from one wall to the other to get it out of the way?  I would suggest you check out Chris’ Bike Shelf and get one…or two. What a great way to display your beautiful bike, add other accessories and have room to move around.

Chris Brigham can be reached at his website www.theknifeandsaw.com

 
 
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