Tuesday, April 10, 2018

About Us

This post is similar to the About page on the Metal Dreams web site, but with more detail.

We are Phil and Alexis, a father and daughter team. I'm a retired engineer. Alexis is a former sales manager for Sprint, Radio Shack, and others. We travel and we make things. You may find us at art shows, Western themed fairs, steampunk conventions, and the like.

How It Started

I've enjoyed designing and building things since I was a child. In the 1950s, under my uncle's tutelage, I was taking clocks apart and putting them together, and building model cars. I made a career out of it. Well-made things that are clever, practical, interesting, or just beautiful have been my passion.

After a long career in engineering, I continued to make things. I enjoy woodworking, but I returned to my true love -- metal fabrication, machining, welding, and so forth. Friends would see an item I had made and ask me to make one for them. One day, I donated an item as a door prize for a local function. When two women nearly got into a fight over it, I realized there might be a market for my creations.

Around this time, my daughter, Alexis, was looking for a change. Like me, she enjoys traveling and seeing new places and things. Despite living at opposite ends of the country, we discussed this and came up with a plan to collaborate and combine our interests. Alexis grew up around horses and things with a Western theme. Both of us are fans of steampunk and retro-industrial style, so that's our main focus.

Inspirations

Inspiration for my work comes from two places. It wasn't long ago that everything in our lives was handmade and each item was unique. Today, petroleum is pumped from the ground, refined into polymers, and molded into products, all by machine, all identical, never touched by human hands at any point. Nowadays, no attention is paid to the material things in our lives because there's nothing interesting about them, nothing unique, nothing special. Our lives are impoverished because we're surrounded by boring things, all alike.

However, ordinary and practical household items become interesting and unique if they are made by hand. For this reason I make a wide variety of practical, attractive, unique things for the home including lamps, sconces, bowls, racks, trivets, and much more.

The second thing I'm inspired to do is make things that are pleasing, interesting, or fun to look at. I enjoy making things that move, things that do something unusual. When I was a child, I built model trains, a steam engine, and so forth. When I was a teen, a friend of the family, named Bill Baack, was a mechanical engineer at Hughes Aircraft. Every year, he decorated his house for Christmas and turned his whole front yard into Santa's Workshop with working machines, mechanized elves, a conveyor belt of toys, and so on. Everything moved. His house was on Pearl Street in Santa Monica, California. The street was packed with sightseers every night. Helping him set up and seeing how all the mechanisms worked left an impression on me. I enjoy creating interesting and fun mechanisms, which dovetails with the world of steampunk.

How We Work

Instead of choosing between work or travel, we decided to work and travel. We travel in a motorhome towing a large trailer that houses the machine shop, welding shop, and paint booth. We work wherever we are.

Thank you for your interest. We hope you enjoy the things we make.

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