I flew to Arizona on January 14 to spend a week immersed in Thompson Tech V at Sky Shipley’s Skyline Type Foundry. Sky kept the four Tech Week participants busy, guiding us through a casting of Convertible Border No. 476, then a run of 24 point Rustic, and finally 14 point Hobo. In the process, we learned a lot about problem-solving on the Thompson caster, and we all came away with a real appreciation for Sky’s ten-point checklist for operating the machines: Nothing got broken, and nobody got hurt. That isn’t to say everything went smoothly, but every event was a learning experience. To keep us going all week, Johanna Shipley made scrumptious hot lunches every day. She also made our keepsake shop aprons (shown below, L to R, Mark Knudsen, Joe Green, Sky Shipley, Bradley Hutchinson, and Dr. David MacMillan):
Men in Aprons
The Skyline Type Foundry has a spectacular view of the desert landscape, but I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the scenery. We were too busy in the foundry itself to allow for that, but I can see why Sky and Johanna moved their operation to Prescott.
I flew back to Portland on January 21 with enough confidence to think I might actually be able to get the C.C. Stern Foundry’s Thompson caster functioning again, and enough questions to be certain that it won’t happen too quickly. Since then I’ve spent more time reading the manual and staring at the machine, trying to make sure I remember how its parts are supposed to function together, than I’ve spent actually working on it. Soon enough, soon enough . . . I don’t want to rush it and earn another of Sky’s Dum-Dum Pops—his award for doing something truly stupid.