THE RIGHT PICK
Juan Stockmeyer reminds us all of the ingenuity of craft. Traipsing into his house, you are immediately exposed to the best of refined design. A familiar pick axe situated on the porch greets me. Inside of Juan’s home, we begin by discussing the implications of trades, craft, and work ethic.
Traversing across the two countries, Juan exemplifies an acknowledged way of life, as a fronterizo, facilitating.
“I created Savage Metal about 3 years ago. I love coming up with new ideas and implementing the unique items such as gears, nuts, bolts and wood. I create custom furniture also on the side here in El Paso, TX.
I was very fortunate to grow up in El Paso, TX in the 1960’s, back when kids spent all day outside. Everything I know today about carpentry or welding was passed down from my father or self-taught through hands on experience.
In early high school, my father had a rule for Sunday’s, no friends, it was family day. My brother and I had chores but mostly we did projects that my dad has dreamed up during the week. Some included laying brick, building pergolas, BBQ grills and painting fences. It was a great time spent with my dad.”
On Savage Metal’s Etsy store, Juan describes his influences:
“I attended Texas Tech University (’77 – ’80), when I returned home I did odd jobs until eventually working for my dad in the printing industry which I’m still in today.
Around 1984 my parents bought a beautiful small ranch with a stream going through the property in Bent, New Mexico. It was there that my carpentry skills were perfected and we also learned how to work on the windmills and weld. We also made some furniture, horse stalls, corral pumps and decks. Over the years working at the ranch I ran around with some old timers and I used several of their vintage tools. I noticed how simple the designs were, more mechanical than electrical. I really enjoyed using them. I try to implement what I’ve learned and believe people appreciate the old-style stuff today, it’s not as available and practical anymore. Some of the new things I’ve made implementing what I’ve learned are boot jacks, 5-gallon water dispenser that tilts, pulleys and come alongs for stretching fences. I’ve made countless Knick Knacks, furniture, decks and patios for friends and family.
In 2014 my wife wanted to open a store, we were doing so much for friends she saw an opportunity. We decided to give it a try, I began thinking of new ideas to sell in the store, we had a nice product line available for gardens and patios. I made outdoor tables, furniture, bar carts, sculptures for the yard etc., I tried to come up with new ideas all the time. One day I visited a friend of mine who owns Western Playland here in El Paso, he asked me to make him some benches and while we were touring the park, I noticed the old train track sitting in the back. It was from one of the early rides in the 1960’s (millions of people rode this train) he told me I could take the track, maybe I could come up with something cool to make. I took it home and started making animal heads you see in the wilderness, deer, rams, moose, bulls, donkeys, etc. They were like trophies to hang on the wall but had a hook for hanging a jacket, now I make them free standing with rock.
Some of my most popular handmade sculptures are Miner Picks, I made the first ones out of old pick axes and gears that I found in the junk yard, I thought they would be really cool for an engineer’s desk. I have since changed my design for the pick and can make it in several different sizes, 10”, 20”, 3’, 5’, and 8’. The smaller ones are great for desks and larger ones make great sculptures for yards and businesses.”
It is evident, in the resilience and creative Juan displays—from metal chairs in his backyard, an eagle at the gate, to the incredible ingenuity in all his products, Stockmeyer is one of kind: built for the ages.