Chris Muhl Art The Pump Stool Banner


The recipe for invention is simple; two teaspoons of curiosity, a tablespoon of will, one cup of patience, and a dash of self-deprecating humor.

Artistic Exploration

Harnessing a wild imagination

Among our most sensational gifts are our boundless imaginations, and the ability to give life to the intangible concepts of the mind. For me, time stands still when I journey through the artistic realm of my own imagination.

There is an art to everything. Whether doing dishes, writing a business document, painting a picture, or living a perfect day, the mind naturally strives to achieve harmony and beauty in all the tasks and feats of our lives.

The following is a glimpse into some of my creative adventures.






The Pump Stool

While working on the Drawings for Africa project, my lazy legs began to crave a comfortable chair.

I initially purchased an adjustable drafting chair from However, I was disappointed with the quality, thus I returned it. I then went to Restoration Hardware (RH) to check out a similar style drafting chair, but was disappointed to discover that the RH chair was of poorer quality than the one I initially purchased, and twice the cost.

I eventually decided to make my own art/drafting style chair, inspired by the vintage drafting stools of the early 1900s.

Step 1: Acquiring the Foundation

As the foundation for the chair, I purchased a refurbished vintage Singer sewing stool from Where Saints Go, located in the UK. I could not have found a better starting point for this project. The quality of the stool is exceptional.

Step 2: Carving the Back Rest

To create the back rest, I used a log of an Austrian Black Pine that had perished in a severe ice storm in years past. After several hours of cutting, sanding, and shaping, the back rest was complete.

Step 3: Parts Fabrication

An antique pump handle, purchased off of eBay, serves as the structural support for the back rest. To attach the pump handle to the stool, I created templates for links and brackets using plywood. These were replicated in steel by Luke Miedema, owner of Unity Welding & Fabrication in Hood River, Oregon. Luke did an exceptional job fabricating and welding the new parts to the original stool. The brace for the backrest was originally a beam brace forged by Old West Iron in Felt, Idaho. I cut the brace in half, and hammered it into its new shape. Luke welded the brace back together.

Step 4: Assembly

With the new parts welded into place, all the pieces were bolted together, and the finished product takes life.

Final Comments

The idea for the Pump Stool arose from my own frustration with the quality of furniture on the market today. I was inspired to create a chair that was made from mostly reclaimed antique parts, could serve the basic needs of an artist, and could withstand the test of time. Time will tell if I have succeeded.

Exploring Jewelry Design

What I love about jewelry design is the scale and function of the work. In scale, the artist is required to harness grand ideas and contain them within reasonable bounds. In function, it’s a marriage of the beauty of the animate and the inanimate. In a successful work, life and lifeless accentuate one another.

The Branding Iron & Stamp

My mind runs wild with ideas for improving upon my artwork. Every element opens up endless possibilities. A signature, for example, can be scribed in a multitude of ways.

In developing my own brand, I thought it would be interesting to actually create a branding iron, to burn or ink my mark into my artwork.

Step 1: The Initial Design

With pencil and paper, I sketched out a simple personal logo. I then used Adobe Illustrator, to recreate the design as a 2D vector object. This file was saved as a .DWG file for importing into AutoCAD.

Step 2: The 3D Model

Using a 30-day free trial of AutoDesk’s AutoCAD, I was able to extrude my 2D logo design into a 3D model. I added a base for the logo to rest upon, and a post for attachment to a steel rod. With the 3D model of the brand complete, I saved the work as an .STL file, and sent it to Shapeways, an online 3D printing company. The model was printed out in stainless steel.

Step 3: Assembly

After receiving the brand in the mail, I purchased a steel rod from the local hardware store. I threaded one end of the rod, and fastened a wooden handle to it. I cut the handle out of a wooden dowel. To the other end of the rod, the brand was welded in place by Luke Miedema, owner of Unity Welding in Hood River, Oregon.

Final Comments

My artistic interest lies in combining drawing and painting with wood and iron and other elements. The branding iron seems an appropriate tool for stamping my mark into my artwork. This project explored the use of modern design software and 3D printing technology, to create a tool originating from the earliest Egyptian civilization.

Rubber Stamps Abound

I’m constantly tinkering in the shop, and searching for news ways to improve the presentation of my artwork. Lately, I explored the process of making rubber stamps for putting a personal touch on company documents, letters, promotional materials, and so forth.

My primary goal was to develop a personalized envelope to hold the certificate of authenticity for original artwork and limited edition prints.

Step 1: The Initial Design

Using Adobe Illustrator, I created a series of designs, saving the final version as a PNG file.

Step 2:

I created an account with and then selected a stamp size appropriate for my design. I then uploaded my PNG file, adjusted the dimensions of my design, and completed my order.

Step 3: Envelopes and Paper

When developing company materials, I strive to meet three objectives, 1) creating designs and using materials that enhance the overall presentation of my artwork, 2) using acid-free or archival quality materials, and 3) using recycled, upcycled, repurposed, reclaimed… materials. Achieving these three objectives together is not always easy. Admittedly, the envelopes that I found are not recycled or archival quality (still looking for an eco-friendly solution). But I did find acid-free paper made from recycled/post-consumer materials (e.g., Strathmore 400 Series Recycled Paper Pads) and/or with 100% renewable energy (e.g., Strathmore Windpower Drawing Pads), and archival quality ink pad (Ranger Archival Ink Pads).

Step 3: Stamping Mania

After receiving my stamps in the mail, I commenced stamping my design on everything. Eventually, my stamping excitement wore off, and I was able to complete the creation of my personalized letters.

Final Comments makes it incredibly easy to make personalized stamps, and with Ranger Archival Ink, artist’s can safely put their logo on their artworks.

The Easel Gets Wings

As I approached the final weeks of work on DFA #1, I was presented with the challenge of finalizing areas of the work without smudging other completed sections. The traditional method would be to use a maulstick. Given the detail in the drawing, and the length of time devoted to small areas, the idea of using a maulstick seemed less than ideal. I decided to build an adjustable armrest into the easel.

Step 1: Building the Structure

The design contains two side rails (supports) with notches, and one adjustable rung (arm rest). This structure enables me to move the rung along the entire height of the drawing.

The rails are made of 1/2″ plywood, and the shape was created with a jigsaw. The rung was created using a 1 1/4″ dowel.

Step 2: Attaching the Structure

The rails are attached to the easel using hinges and bolts. The hinges enable me to swing the rails away from the front of the easel when not in use.

Stops are screwed to the easel to stop the rails when they reach the correct position as they swing in, and the rung itself contains latch-like structures (made of small dowels) on either end to prevent the rails from swinging out. The small dowels are secured via a firm fit and copper wire. I will glue them when I find the time to do so.

Final Comments

This apparatus has worked out really well. It was simple to construct, affordable, and provides for an excellent arm rest. I only wish I had integrated it into the easel earlier on in the project.

I will be making one addition, which is a small, padded wood platform, attached via pipe straps to the rung to provide a support that is more comfortable and extends closer to the artwork surface.

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