Machine Tooling is Both an Art and a Craft

Machine Tooling is Both an Art and a Craft

Sumner lifts

It has been an unlikely path to an unlikely career, but you marvel at the way things have worked out.
Growing up in a machine shop that was first owned by your father, and by your grandfather before that, you had been increasingly familiar with machine shop services. You had grown up hearing both your father and your grandfather talk about topics like welding machine repair jobs and lathe repair services, as well as lengthy discussions about the best way to find a way to go around a failed part in a Genie lift or various kinds of sumner lifts.
You never imagined, however, that your knowledge of machine shop services would lead to a career as an industrial artist. And yet, here you are on the first warm Saturday morning in months, setting up your art at a park just a few feet from the boat dock where you have lived for the last five years. Just as you have thrown a twist in the use of the machine shop services that your father and grandfather provided their customers, so too have you thrown a twist in your living arrangements.
You have always loved sailing and boating, and once it became apparent that you enjoyed spending your time fixing your two boats more than even the simplest of home repair needs, you decided to make a change. You sold your house, bought a permanent slip at the local marina, installed a small apartment in the back of the metal works shop, and now split your time sleeping in the back room where you work full time or in the lower cabin of your large sail boat.
It turns out that neither your father or grandfather would have ever considered a career as an artist, but they too had used their spare parts and spare time creating strange little doodads, as your grandfather calls them, that were wildly popular as Christmas and birthday gifts. You have simply turned those little doodads into monster sized projects that are now commissioned at gardens and public spaces across the country. For the most part, your customers find out about your services and your talent through word of mouth and small art fairs like the one you are at today.
You still take in many more typical machine parts service jobs from customers who have relied on your family for years, but you would rather be welding on the tongue of an angry dragon sculpture than repairing another sumner lift. You do what ever it takes, however, to pay the bills and buy the next plane ticket to go see someone else’s clever interpretation of a garden creature created of nothing but spare parts and hours of spare time.
Technically, you are still using the majority of your machine tools for shaping and and machining metal and other rigid materials, it is just that your creations are now more for pleasure than for function. At this point in your career, however, it is difficult to remember where you have learned all of the machine shop service skills that you have. Some of the most basic are obviously from the years you spent working along side your father and grandfather on traditional jobs. Others, however, are the result of you crafting your artwork pieces.
There is no doubt in your mind that your meticulous habits of caring for the machines in the job mirror the routines of your elders. You know, for instance, that machine tool parts that regularly rub together should be well lubricated at all times to avoid damage, so you follow a strict maintenance schedule that tracks every minute of work time for every machine. Likewise, both your father and your grandfather taught you to pay attention to any unusual noises with the machines, as they may be a sign that you need to more thoroughly inspect and repair the same machines that are now serving the third generation of your family.
When your father or grandfather stop by the shop these days the discussion quickly turns to what methods you used to create the features on your latest metal creature. You all three smile to see that these machines continue to be used in both traditional and original ways for both art and function.

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