You can own a one-of-a-kind piece of handcrafted furniture by one of Cleveland’s premier contemporary-furniture designers AND help hurricane victims at the same time.
You can reach the auction from a button on our home page at hgrinc.com or go directly to the landing page here to read about the arts organization that will benefit from the auctions. To learn more about 44 Steel’s desk, click here. For info about Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words’ lamp table, click here. For info about 3 Barn Doors, click here.
Help hurricane victims recover, and gain a conversation piece for your home or office.
You may have read the blog written by former Walsh Jesuit High School Student and current University of Cincinnati Industrial Design Student Brenna Truax’s visit to HGR for scrap materials. Then, we did a blog about some of the desk organizers that she was in the process of creating at Akron Makerspace for our newly renovated sales and administrative office. They are finished! She delivered them on August 15 before going back to school. We love them and are calling dibs on them already. Check them out next time you are in the office. In addition to desk organizers, she created a coat rack and a planter with items from HGR. Thank you, Brenna and good luck in your sophomore year! I know that we will see more of you.
If not, you’re in for a surprise; so come by for a visit if you’re in the area. If you have stopped in recently, you may have been one of the people walking through the office who exclaimed, “Wow, this place has changed. How spacious. Cool tables.”
Turner Construction is putting the finishing touches on the front-office renovation. The entire area was gutted and rebuilt. We now have a large, welcoming reception desk, more room to move and amazing sales desks made by Jason Wein of Cleveland Art. There are new and larger restrooms, additional offices for staff, a nice conference room, and a new customer lounge and showroom entrance.
We’re still working on the art and furnishings, but you’ll notice that we went with an industrial design to stay in alignment with our business model and the history of the facility.
We want to thank you for your patience during the renovation, especially with trekking to Aisle 6 for the bathrooms. Don’t feel bad, the sales staff was in the same boat.
Some of the best times to visit include sale days on the second Saturday and fourth Thursday of every month or during our Wednesday free lunch (cookout in the summer and pizza the rest of the year).
I’m mostly retired. After my divorce, I left the business that I built in the ex-wife’s hands but I’m still a co-owner. Age-wise (later 60s), I have some health-related limitations due to welding work for many years in the oil field. I do CAD work, wood and metal sculpture and some welded aluminum boat work but not 9-5 five days per week.
How did you get into art and making?
I’ve always been interested in drawing from before I went to government school in the 50s. My father introduced me to tool use, and by my teens I’d learned to build models of balsa wood of my own design. In the 70s, I apprenticed with a local welder and then bought my first power supply and began experimenting, learning other modes of welding after starting with stick. As I worked in the trades I realized I could use my trade skills to build art or furniture; so, I began to experiment in those areas- eventually I began to build welded aluminum fishing boats for the local salmon fishery.
What do you design and make?
I’ve designed houses for friends, furniture, sculptural pieces, vehicles for specific tasks, welded aluminum boats from 3-feet long to 36-feet long, and built all these items in wood or metal over the years.
How did you learn to do this?
Most often, I’ve read on a tool use subject, then purchased a modest-cost version of that set of tools from wages, then worked with the tools to increase my skills and finally invested in more sophisticated and higher-precision tools, and that progression was parallel to the quality improvement in my projects. I have worked in the welding trade in both oil and gas as well as boat building, and I did some finished carpentry/joinery in both the commercial and housing market, as well as designing and installing the interior of a few live-aboard-sized boats.
What artists, designers or makers do you most admire?
I don’t know the names of the people whose work I most admire. I may see their work once in a while online (Pinterest) or receive an email with someone’s project pictures. However, I can’t say I really know their names but often can recall their ‘hand’ when I see another piece of that artist’s work.
What inspires you?
Like most people who imagine ideas of objects to build, I have a semi-constant stream of ideas that appear as color 3D images in my mind’s eye. I believe that my ideas come to me from outside my own perception but not sure the source except that is seems to be external. Shape is the primary influence that inspires me. I like flowing streamlined shapes. They appeal to my aesthetic sense of design.
So I’m inspired by the grace of the forms of animals in motion, as well as the grace of the lines of some vehicles or furniture to design and build my take on those flowing forms.
What do you do when you aren’t working or making art?
Not much work these days. Arthritis slows me down. I spend lots of time drawing on the PC using various CAD applications. I’m learning to cook and find that enjoyable to prepare dinners for the family. I read a lot and sketch constantly, as I refine ideas and explore concepts that may be worth building.
What advice do you have for others?
Most industrial-skills-related art that I see online lacks strong design fundamentals. I think the skill of most people doing this work is much higher in the related trade or tool use than in the conception and drawing skills. I’d suggest more time and priority be given to the development of the ideas, forms and content.
What is your personal philosophy?
My philosophy about art is that the creation of physical pieces that originate in our imaginations should be for the enjoyment of the viewer, user, collector. As the builder/maker, I have my own enjoyment of the process from conception to creation; so, once a piece is complete I’d like to have made something that will be a “thing of beauty; forever.”
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Vaughn Terpack, Three Rivers Forge)
Blacksmithing is my sole source of income at the moment. I got tired of working for someone else and having to deal with all the soap opera drama; so, I decided to take a gamble and start smithing full time.
Financially, quitting a “real” job to try my hand at being an artist probably wasn’t the best of ideas. It’s been a thorough bear of a struggle, but then I look at all my customers around the world and marvel at how these people have chosen my work over that of every blacksmith on the Internet. From Singapore to Switzerland, Australia to Israel, there’s a little bit of my soul in every corner of the world.
I honestly don’t know how you put a dollar figure on that, or how you can even quantify what that means. In a hundred years, I’ll be dead and buried, but my legacy will live on in iron.
When I first started, my goal was simply to help bring the blacksmith’s craft back to the forefront of peoples’ minds. I wanted to help get people thinking about quality over quantity. I wanted folks to see what I call the “Art in the Everyday” — opting for beautiful handmade goods in lieu of cheap mass-produced products, even if that means having less “stuff” overall.
It’s hard to convince people to spend $40 on a hand-forged bottle opener when most bottles have twist-off tops and the opener they bought for a dollar at the corner store works just as well as anything I can make. But, I honestly believe that by sacrificing on the quality, surrounding ourselves with chintzy, we impact our psyches in a negative way.
My hope is to make products that the average person can own and look at every single day. When you hang your coat on a hand-forged wall hook or pop the top on a cold one with a hand-forged bottle opener, you’re in touch with something that’s rare these days. You get to experience that “art in the everyday.”
(Vaughn’s work can be found in his store, Three Rivers Forge on etsy.com.)
Last month, you may have read the blog about Brenna Truax’s visit to HGR to get some materials that she needed for an industrial art project. She’s currently a sophomore at University of Cincinnati and graduated from Walsh Jesuit High School. This is what she’s done so far — desk organizers and a coat rack.
Now that HGR’s sales office renovation is nearly done, you just may see these on some desks the next time that you visit! Thanks, Brenna, for sharing your talent. They are beautiful.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Brenna Truax, a sophomore University of Cincinnati industrial design student)
I am a 2016 graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School, where I excelled in math and sciences, while developing my interest in the visual arts. I became interested in photography and co-founded the school’s Photograph Club. I completed several sets of senior pictures for my peers. The art teachers at Walsh Jesuit, Mrs. Doreen Webber (emeritus), Ms. Karen Forfia, and Ms. Cheryl Walker provided guidance and unique perspectives.
The University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art and Planning Department is nationally recognized in industrial design and architecture. I originally planned to pursue a career in architecture and learned of the industrial design program while on a tour of the university. I immediately recognized my deep interest in product design.
In early May, I was contacted by Mr. Eric Dimitrov, my former physics teacher at Walsh Jesuit, regarding the opportunity to design industrial-themed office equipment and art for HGR Industrial Surplus’ newly renovated offices in Euclid, Ohio. After meeting with Gina Tabasso, HGR’s marketing communications specialist, we toured the facility and collected various items to use for my projects and for Walsh Jesuit’s Fabrication and Engineering clubs. So far, I have used the materials to design a series of desktop organizers, a coat rack, and a planter. Thanks to Mr. Dimitrov and Akron Makerspace, I am working to complete these projects by the end of July.
Stay tuned for future photos of how they turned out!
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger and HGR Customer Merritt Geddes, Creative Designs & Customs)
My love of art started at a very young age. Before I was able to read, I also enjoyed looking at movie posters and comic books that my brother had. I loved the use of many bright colors and the way the characters were drawn. I would often draw my favorite Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Boba Fett. My mother was a great help in this in that she taught me how to draw by using simple shapes to make a complex picture.
I love doing what I do because I find it fun to make something from nothing and the challenge that it brings. I’ve worked with markers, watercolors, oil paint clay, wood, and steel. I like working with steel the most because of the unlimited possibility with it and the fact that I’ve been a welder and fabricator for more than 15 years. I started out just making stuff for myself and found that a lot of people really like my stuff and were willing to pay the prices asked for them.
So, after a while, I started my own side business of making my metal sculptures and selling them in my friend’s art studio. This took off, and I began selling in other studios in other cities and states about 10 years ago. I still work as a fabricator because it’s a steady pay check.
My current project that I’m working on is an 8-foot shark and a 12-foot robot. The shark should only take a couple of months but the robot might take a year or more because I am still in the process of getting parts. I get about a third of my parts from HGR because it’s less of a hassle than digging through the scrap yard. I get mostly gears and machined parts that I use to make my pieces of art look more interesting. I get my inspiration from watching Sci-Fi movies and Anime.
When I’m not working on one of my sculptures, I am usually riding my bike through the bike trails in Oberlin or in the parks. I guess what I could say to other makers is that you should do what you enjoy doing and learn from others as much as possible. It will make you better at what you are already doing.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Eric Dimitrov, Walsh Jesuit High School teacher)
I am a high school teacher (I see you help Euclid and other high schools) who has a student, Brenna Truax, currently enrolled in The University of Cincinnati’s industrial design program. In the program she will be in a studio space where she will working with various media, including wood, plastic and metal. Our school is great but does not offer industrial arts; so, I have been helping her prepare. I am a self-taught welder (actually bought my stick welder from HGR), and I have been working with her to craft some industrial-art-based projects. In the photo, we’re working to make a light from a cam shaft.
I told her about some of the art and cool furniture HGR has. And so, we will be making a trip to look at it. I cannot promise that the final project(s) would look nice enough for your new office space, but it is for a student to learn on and work with. I am thinking big nuts, gears, shafts — materials we can work to weld into a sculpture or shelving or table legs.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Joe Powell, HGR’s graphic designer)
On the corner of Detroit Ave. and Marlowe Ave., in historic Lakewood, Ohio, sits a unique furniture shop called Empty Nest. The owner is a long-time customer of HGR Industrial Surplus and an emerging artist. Bob McNulty studied sculpture with Gene Kangas and photography with Misumi Hayashi at Cleveland State University before traveling the world as a sailmaker and boat captain. After being in the boat industry for 25 years, he left the field in 2008 to pursue other ventures, including opening a furniture store. It was in that line of work when he was introduced to industrial furniture. Being intrigued by it, he started to network within the community. Then in 2010, he decided to pursue art full time and brand his own style of industrial chic.
McNulty was fascinated by the distressed look of the industrial movement and wanted to push it further. By applying 5 to 12 coats of paint and using various techniques to remove the layers, the colors beneath began to show Bob a picture. He started to mix geometric shapes and free-flowing designs to create paintings that are as fascinating to touch as they are to look at. You can feel the textures of the layers and see the dimensions. Pictures do not justify their beauty. Bob McNulty, the artist, was born.
I looked around at the different pieces in his art opening on April 29, 2017. Some reminded me of topographical maps of rural towns, while others had a molecular feel to them. The majority of the pieces were made from items bought at HGR, where Bob says, “It was like a candy store” the first time he walked in. He now makes art full time, which keeps him busy. Each painting takes two to three weeks from start to finish, which allows time for application of all the layers. You can see his work at Empty Nest, 14423 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, Ohio.
As you may know or have read about in past blogs, HGR has invested in building out a new back office for executives, HR, payroll and other internal departments. It is designed with manufacturing and industry in mind. We also will be starting a complete renovation of our front Sales office where customers come in to make purchases and drivers come to pick up loads for delivery. That project is expected to be complete late this summer.
We need some two- and three-dimensional art for the walls, a clock, a coat rack, an A/V stand and other items that keep to the industrial theme, including machinery, our building’s history, Nickel Plate Road railway, etc. We have lots of machinery badges, blueprints and equipment schematics that we would like to display. Like any office, we need art, decorations, plant stands, and functional items.
I know that we have many artist and maker customers who shop here for material and inspiration. If you want to showcase your work and get some notice by the people who walk in our doors every day with photos, proposals or ideas. We have a modest budget; so, we are looking for lesser-known artists and makers who just want to be part of HGR’s future. We can trade store credit or marketing services, too!
We talked with HGR Frequent Shopper Jason Wein of Cleveland Art about his life as an artist, his philosophy and his connection with manufacturing. If you visit HGR’s new offices located at the rear of our existing building, you will see tables, chairs, signage and decorative items that he made. Since his work is owned by famous Hollywood stars, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Gwyneth Paltrow and Steven Spielberg and is featured globally, including the Timberland store in London, we are honored to have his work in our building. If you’ve ever visited us on a Wednesday for lunch and sat at the tables with built-in stools or at the computer terminals in our customer lounge, you are sitting on and at Jason’s creations. You can see a glass bowl in our new offices that is just like the hundreds he blew for Spielberg to use as ice buckets and to give out as gifts at his parties.
When asked about how he got his start as an artist, he says, “I have dyslexia really bad. As a kid of about eight years old, I embarrassed my parents when I garbage picked bicycles and went to abandoned industrial buildings. I always had busted knuckles from working on cars, garbage picking and making furniture. My teachers told me that I wouldn’t make it in anything and were abusive, but then a high-school art teacher told me that I was talented and encouraged me to follow a career in art rather than a mechanical career. I went to Kent State University for a year but the teachers didn’t like how I was doing things; so, I went to Alaska to get inspiration from ice and water for my blown glass.”
He was born in New Jersey, lived in Cleveland since he was 10 then lived in Alaska for many years and didn’t think that he would leave, but, since his art is inspired by The Rust Belt and he wanted to raise a family, he came back to Cleveland, and here he remains. He is married with two sons: one 18 years old at Ohio University where he majors in film writing with a minor in marketing, the other 14 years old who wants to make money and may work with his uncle’s bank.
Jason shops for materials and makes everything in Cleveland then ships it to his 10,000-square-foot Los Angeles gallery to sell. He also makes pieces on commission and for architects and designers to furnish to their clients. In Cleveland, he blew an 80-foot glass chandelier and made furniture for The Metropolitan at the 9, Cleveland’s only five-star hotel.
About his inspiration, he says, “Most people don’t look at a bridge as a piece of art, but it is a perfectly balanced piece of art. It is the epitome of art. The reason I chose to do the project for HGR is because I walk in HGR the way people walk in parks to get inspired by trees. I get inspired by machines. I’ll see a machine that three people spent their lives behind. Their initials are carved into it. You can see their fingerprints and wear marks on the seat. These machines tell stories. The people who made and worked at the machines are artists and never got recognition for building our country. Those machines cost more than a house, and factories had 50 machines in one room. Now, one person can operate several CNCs and take over a whole factory of people. In a time where we have time, we don’t have time anymore with cell phones and computers. People spent their lifetimes punching holes and slicing metal; they did one thing, and that’s all they did. Machines look like beautiful prehistoric creatures. And, there’s no place in the world like HGR where you can see 10 acres that are a sign of the past when things were made quality. The drill presses there will outlive you, but a new one is disposable.”
He started out bartending from age 19 to 22 to subsidize the art. He says his background is in garbage picking and buying junk, art and antiques. He mainly makes functional objects, such as lights, tables and shelves but, lately, has been getting into some sculptural stuff like the interior and exterior lighting, outdoor sundial and globe sculpture at One University Circle, a five-star, high-rise apartment tower in Cleveland. He uses wood, metal and glass, more natural materials, not those that are synthetic or manmade, like plastic.
He learned about HGR because he used to drive around neighborhoods in Cleveland looking for old buildings to get claw-foot bathtubs. He took 40 of them with him to Alaska. That’s how he met the HGR guys — when they worked at McKean Machinery and he was a customer. HGR CEO Brian Krueger was his salesman. When they left McKean to form HGR, Jason followed him.
I asked Jason if he is considers himself a maker or upcycler. He says, “We were doing it before it was cool. When I started in the 90s, it wasn’t cool. People didn’t want “used” stuff. In 1994, I got the marble bathroom stalls and bronze gargoyles and dragonflies from Terminal Tower and some barn stalls. I used them with stone and marble to make shoe-shine stands and clock faces. People were convinced they were antique clocks. I bought camouflage, combat boots, trench coats and Levis from the U.S. Army and from thrift stores to sell to high-end stores in New York City. The full name of my company was Cleveland Art and Antiques. I started out in hiding as an antique dealer so people didn’t think I was an upcycler.”
I asked him what he does when he’s not making art. He doesn’t. He says, “I live, breathe, think and dream it. I like to work.” He also shared his insights about manufacturing trends that affect his work. He says, “For my business, the technology we use is old and outdated. It’s handmade and handcrafted. I pay 20 percent of my employees’ wages to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. As a small business I struggle to stay afloat then large, chain hardware and home furnishing companies steal my designs and farm them out to India for $3-4/week in wages to make what I make for pennies on the dollar. It’s hard to be competitive; so, I’m always changing my designs and have to sell to the top 2 percent of the population because the stuff I make is expensive. I never wanted to be restricted to who I sell to but it’s hard to sell to a regular market with cheap imports.”
His advice to aspiring artists and makers? “For anyone who goes into the arts, people told me you’re so inspiring and that they wanted to go to school for glass or furniture making. I would tell them to go to school for business and minor in art. They need the education in the business end of selling their art. They need to be a good buyer, seller and smart manufacturer. There are so many hats you have to wear. A lot of people blow glass and are color blind and try to use color but don’t understand color. So, I do clear glass and can have every color of the rainbow in it. I understand what sells. It’s a very difficult way to make a living.”