Friday, June 2, 2017

The Rabbit Hole, part deux

 I'm still stuck in the rabbit hole.  I thought I would be showing a process this week , but instead I decided to have a near death experience and then do online research while I recovered.  I asked a buddy of mine who is also an exceptionally fine blacksmith, and who made the bunny railing for La Fonda in Santa Fe about 20 years ago if he had any information on who did the metalwork for Mary Colter.   This is his response.

                Colter must have been an incredible force.  The bunnies ‘we’ (me) made were a railing for the La Fonda addition that became the high end guest rooms built where there was formerly a car park.  Actually John Prosser rough forged the bigger bunny butts ‘cause the 50 lb. Giant was not going to move that much material...... Lots of stories wrapped up in bunny butts.  The original bunny ash trays were made at the Santa Fe Rail Yard blacksmith shop.  I don’t know if that was in Abq or Santa Fe.  The owners (at the time) of the La Fonda or the architect tracked down one of the old farts that made them.  Ward met the old guy who apparently said something to the effect of “We hated making those fucking rabbits”, I think he used the collective “we” but I was not there.........

Since Colter used the rail line blacksmiths for the bunnies she might have utilized them for other objects. 

There you are.  I have a clue.  Yeah, I know, you wish I had a clue. 

These are the bunnies made by Harmony Forge for La Fonda about 20 years ago

This is the installed railing by Harmony Forge at La Fonda

Anyway, off I went to the Library of Congress and some other online resources to find out a little about the Santa Fe Rail Yard blacksmith shop.  I think when most people think of blacksmiths and blacksmith shops they either think of quaint little shops where a guy works on making all the things that the little town he lives in needs.  He shoes the horses and makes hinges and fixes wagon wheels.  The other perception is probably of the contemporary smith who makes really pricey decorative stuff.  Every time I go to a demonstration by some guy who describes blacksmithing, he describes one of those two things.  It's all about gates and hinges, but that description leaves out the industrial smiths.  They were making ship parts and train parts and machine parts.  They really didn't have any interest in bunnies.  So it's not surprising that the "old fart" hated making the rabbits. 

Hammering out a draw bar on the steam drop hammer in the blacksmith shop, Santa Fe R.R. shops, Albuquerque, New Mexico -- This is the title of this photo from the Library of Congress -- Photo by Jack Delano, 1943,  There is a black and white version of this too.  I don't know...

Albuquerque, New Mexico. An apparatus for shortening drawbars. The drawbar has just been taken out of the forge and is being lowered into place in the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad blacksmith shop  -- Again title from Library of Congress -- Photo by Jack Delano 1943

Albuquerque, New Mexico. An apparatus for shortening drawbars in the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad blacksmith shop. Repeated blows from the hammer at the heated end will shorten the bar to the desired length  --Library of Congress title -- by Jack Delano 1943

The interesting thing is, that according to the New MexicoDepartment of Cultural Affairs, the jackrabbit ashtrays were made by Walter Gilbert Wrought Iron Studio, ca. 1929.  So that's a little confusing.   It's plausible because according to Los Poblanos website Walter Gilbert worked with John Gaw Meem.     
                                  So what?,  you say.    
Well, John Gaw Meem  worked with Mary Colter on La Fonda.  So there you are.  Once again I am clueless.... ish.  

This is one of the original ashtrays attributed to Walter Gilbert (no relation) iron Studio

This is a jackrabbit ashtray made by Jim Pepperl
 about 20 years ago

I have more information and a bunch of pictures that I hope you enjoy but I don't have the full or even a clear answer to who made the metalwork for Mary Colter at the Grand Canyon.  

VIEW OF STORAGE YARD AND ASSEMBLING PLATFORM. BLACKSMITH SHOP UNDER CANVAS FLY IN RIGHT FOREGROUND - Kaibab Trail Suspension Bridge, Spanning Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Coconino County, AZ -- Library of Congress -- I just put this in because this all started with metalwork at the Grand Canyon.  This photo doesn't have a year or a photographer attribution.  It's just another trail to follow.

Also, you probably noticed that I have gone back to putting virtually pointless links in my post rather than footnotes.  Eh.  

Check back next week.  If I recover fully and haven't thrown myself into a vat of vinegar, or baking soda, or boiling oil, or whatever works,  I will have a process post.  Otherwise you get more of this crap.  Which I'm enjoying.  If you aren't enjoying it you don't need to read it....oh wait, you aren't reading it.  Ha, jokes on me.

Back to bed

No comments:

Post a Comment