Category Archives for Blacksmithing

Bicycle-Powered Pipe Organ

Little girl on bicycle powered pipe organ

What happens when a church is about to close down and you hear that they’re planning to send their organ pipes to the scrap yard?

If you are a creative metal artist, blacksmith and fabricator with a boyhood crush on the Wurlitzer at the Orpheum Theatre, guess what?

You make an interactive exhibit for the 2018 Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl of course!

Those organ pipes unleashed memories, associations and sparked my imagination.

I remember my mother telling stories about a great-uncle who worked in a theatre in England as a lighting technician that had an organ.

Oh, how it sparked ideas!

And how curious and eager I was to learn.

My father, a mining engineer, took me on many trips and taught me so many things.

Those seeds were planted long ago. Fueled a desire to preserve history and its artifacts.

No surprise that my motto became “Getting Rid of Our Throwaway Society.”

The evolution of the organ took centuries.

Imagine how they had to perfect the materials and construction techniques.

Something like that can’t be replicated in weeks or even months.

Every project is about experimentation, time and slowing down.

What matters most is the effort and attempt to make the project come to life.

Donald Dawson with the Bicycle-Powered Pipe Organ

Donald Dawson with Bicycle-Powered Pipe Organ

What has special meaning for you?

I’d like you to explore the brilliance and ingenuity of imagination and creativity in YOU!

What ideas, images, memories keep showing up for you?

What can you create from them?

My intention in creating the bicycle-powered pipe organ was to evoke curiosity, conversation, whimsy, fun, engagement and entertainment for people of all ages.

Everything sparks the imagination if you let it.

What stirs you up?

Pay attention to that and see what you might create from there.

Donald Dawson

Creative Solutions To Metal Work and Mechanical Issues

Today’s blog is the very first in a series illustrating the kind of problems my clients bring and the solutions I create for them. Problem-solving mechanical and metal work issues is my super power.

Some solutions just require passing on skills for clients who want to learn blacksmithing, welding and fabrication. For that, I offer one-on-one workshops.

Other solutions help our planet’s environment by reusing and repurposing old machinery and equipment.

And some are more whimsical solutions that play a role in entertaining others through metal art work.

I create solutions to your wildest, simplest or seemingly impossible problems.

Fabricated Table Legs

This client needed four 3/8’’ x 4” steel flat bars bent into a large square with welded angled supports. He asked me not to finish the legs in any manner, including leaving fabrication tool markings. The client provided the milled heavy timber for the table top.


One day, while I was walking by a store front on the way to Granville Island with my wife, I was startled to suddenly come upon the fruits of my labour – fabricated table legs at The Luminous Elephant Arts Studio. They cater to young people’s art classes and sometimes use the space for adult team building.