Forging an Octopus

Forging an Octopus

The Octopus

I first read about forging an octopus in 1991, in a newsletter from the Rocky Mountain Smiths. Jim Fleming was the editor, and he ran an issue about forging animal forms. I didn’t actually use that knowledge until a project came up in 1997. I made a few changes to what I had read to make that first octopus, and was pleased with how it came out.

This first octopus went on the base of a globe that stood 12’6″ tall, that is in the Worldwide Sportsman store in Islamorada, Florida. The globe was a giant rendition of a desktop globe, and the octopus is on the armature that holds the actual ball, 6′ in diameter, and houses the motor control that spins the globe.

Several other projects through the years have called for octopuses, and they are one of the most fun things that I make! For the 2006 ABANA Conference, I made one to go in the screen project that went together at that event.

Here is a primer that will help you forge an octopus.

The Adjustable-height Anvil Stand

The Adjustable-height Anvil Stand

Tutorial to build an Anvil Stand that can be adjusted for height

One of the first things a new blacksmith needs to do is mount an anvil on a functional stand. It may take some time to work out the proper height for your anvil, though, or you may share a shop with several people. The answer may be an adjustable anvil stand like this one! I first saw these with the teaching trailer for Blacksmiths Association of Missouri (BAM). I’ve made 11 of them, and they’re really useful when you teach students who come in a variety of sizes.

The Russian Rose Tutorial

The Russian Rose Tutorial

Detailed Write-up of the Construction of the Russian Rose

There is a theme park in southwest Missouri, near Branson, called Silver Dollar City. In the spring of each year, they hold a festival called ‘World Fest’, where they bring craftsmen, musicians, and entertainers from all over the world to perform. In 1999, they brought a pair of blacksmiths from Russia, Alexander Romanov, and Slava Petrukov. Steve Robinson was the resident blacksmith at Silver Dollar City at the time, and he brought the Russians, along with their translator Natasha Varlamov, to visit me at the BPS Fabrications metal shop.

Because the timing was right, I was able to take them with me to the annual conference of BAM, Blacksmiths’ Association of Missouri, where they did an impromptu demonstration of this one piece, rolled rose. The process was written up by BAM’s newsletter editor, and since blacksmithing newsletters share articles all over the continent, it wasn’t long before the ‘Russian Rose’ had made its way from coast to coast! As in the game ‘Telephone’, when different people interpreted the writeups, the rose changed from maker to maker. I don’t think anyone has quite captured the easy grace of the Russian original. But since Slava gifted me with a rose as a thank you for being his host, I have had one of the originals as my model, and I think I get closer than most.

Here is a detailed write-up of the construction of the Russian Rose. Here is your opportunity to give it your own twist!