In January of this year, Colleen Shaffroth, Director of the Maryhill Museum, asked Tom if he would be interested in creating a fence for the Windy Flats Walkway and Overlook under construction at Maryhill Museum. Colleen indicated that the museum wanted to incorporate pieces of fence from the Sam Hill mansion in Seattle, WA into a new fence for this overlook. The overlook would be facing south, high above the Columbia River with the wheat fields of Eastern Oregon in the distance. She told Tom that Fred Henchell, a museum volunteer, had offered to drive up to Seattle, load up some of the fence pieces into his truck and bring them down to Tom's studio.
Tom wasn't here the day Fred delivered the various wrought iron pieces from Sam Hill's mansion in Seattle but I was. I'm not sure how Fred was able to drag those pieces up from the backyard of the mansion and load it all into his truck. Those pieces looked pretty darn heavy to me.
After Fred left, I took inventory of the various pieces of wrought iron. There seemed to be at least three different designs. When Tom got home, he looked everything over and told me that the solid steel pieces had been drilled and screwed together approximately 100 years ago and that they, indeed, were very heavy.
Tom called Colleen to set up a meeting so that the two of them could discuss their ideas for the fence
and so that he could look at the site. When they met at Maryhill, the cable fencing and uprights were already installed and the stone mason and his crew were working on the pillars that would support the steel fence.
While checking the site, Tom took notes, measured the pillars and their steel brackets and inspected the stone mason's work.
Over the next two weeks, Tom took measurements of the wrought iron pieces Fred had delivered, drew up sketches for Colleen and the museum staff and, once again, met with Colleen to review the design.
A fellow artist, Linda Steider from White Salmon, Washington, had created several custom pieces for Tom's projects in the past and he thought that she would be the right artist to create some really gorgeous fused glass panels to accent his design.
Linda was very excited to participate in this project. Tom met with Linda to review his sketch
Tom fired up his acetylene torch and began to disassemble the various pieces of wrought iron.
As he cut each piece, he arranged them on the floor of his shop to make certain that the design was pleasing to the eye. I walked among the pieces and gave him my grunt of approval. You see, I really can't meow so I grunt when I am happy. It works. Tom knows what I mean. He's a pretty smart guy.
After Tom disassembled the pieces, he began to weld them into new configurations.
I always stay out of Tom's way when he is working in the shop because I know that my fur will catch fire if I get too close to the acetylene torch or burned by sparks and hot metal as he grinds and welds. I wait for him, though, and when he comes out of his shop I always run to greet him and rub on his leg.
Well, I do this if it is lunch time or dinner time or if I am sitting outside in the sun.
Mostly, I just sleep on the sofa and wait until he is finished with his work.
The week before the fence was to be installed, Tom and his friend Dave went out to Maryhill
to install the steel posts that would hold up the fence.
On installation day, Tom, Bert Lanquist from Schlosser Machine, friends Dave White, Jeanne Marks and Maryhill Museum volunteer Fred Henchell helped Tom unload the fence pieces and hold them in place while Margaret took photographs of the installation process.
Bert and Tom made sure that the post brackets matched the brackets on the fence pieces so that the process of welding them together would go smoothly. Each section was held in place, leveled with the posts and then tacked by Tom. The fence was rechecked for level before Tom began the process of welding.
Tom completing the final welds.
Tom's work crew in front of the finished fence.
Margaret and Tom
Fused glass by Linda Steider in side and center panels of fence.
Windy Flats Walkway and Viewpoint
Fence by Tom Herrera
Saturday, March 20th for the
70th Anniversary Opening of the
Maryhill Museum of Art http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/
and the dedication of the
Windy Flats Walkway and Overlook
With degrees in graphic and industrial design and certified as a Journeyman Boilermaker/Welder following a three-year apprenticeship at Chevron El Segundo Refinery, Tom has experience in metal fabrication, pipe welding and project management. He has also worked for a paperboard packaging design firm and an exhibit design firm in Seattle. Children's playground equipment design, surfboard/sailboard design, product illustration and building construction experience have also influenced his current work.
Tom creates custom metal work and art pieces for homes and gardens. His art is often functional, utilizing various types of recyled metals. Many of his pieces are also whimsical and, recently, he has incorporated musical elements into some of his artwork. Tom enjoys collaborating with other artists to incorporate ceramic and fused glass into his art.
When asked about his work, Tom responds with a quote from Norman Maclean's novella A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT..."All good things come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy".
I am very lucky to be able to observe his creative process every day.
BOB (and now JUNIOR)