Wow, great question! I have been asked this a number of times and it is a mix of honor, determination and emotion (is not all art? :).
I started this journey last year in order to find some inner peace due to losing the privilege, honor and duty of being a father to my precious son until I could come up with thousands to fight back against Parental Alienation.
God has a way of showing you your path (Whomever they may be to you) and placing great people into your life when you are ready for it. I have been able to grow tremendously in the past year as if the old adage of the lotus were in play. If I could not be a father, I wanted to turn myself into someone that a son could respect, look up to and hopefully continue to learn from in order to help break down the wall of confusion and hurt that he will undoubtedly have in the future. This experience was my own and there is a deep injury that occurs. I needed to put that negative, destructive energy into use, converting it with my numerous skills in order to capture the mix between emotion, art and function using bits and pieces of Richmond; my home.
I also wanted to honor my Grandfather, David J. Genz, of whom taught me so much and of whom stepped in as my father figure. He raised me in his shop, teaching me wood work, metal work, nature and even things about vehicles. As a master carpenter, hydroelectric engineer, Mason, hardworking soul and many other things, he was truly one of the last Renaissance men to have enriched this Earth.
These three things have fueled what seems to be the beginning of an amazing adventure that has been rewarded with newly forged friendships, appreciation, validation and recognition. Between being tapped by wonderful people in historical restoration, a local sports organization and being selected out of many amazing artisans for inclusion into RVA MakerFest 2015, I think the right track of opportunity is in front of me, for both myself and for my son.
As to how I do it, how I make the interesting, energy filled or fun niche things? I just "see" how things fit, work, mesh together. Sometimes it is a bit like being a kid again, banging the wrong blocks into the holes, most of the time, however, the spatial geometry and workings just flow. I also look for new ideas and techniques every week as well as try to brush up on current skills.
Take the Fossil Clocks for instance, pieces of Indonesian slate leftover or saved from a project in my house (a water wall). The fossilized plants were so beautiful, especially after the colors were pulled out with the stone enhancer. I bought a clock kit, carefully put a hole where it would go best with my drill press and went from there. Just for prop, I used some vintage Richmond rail anchors that I had thrown in the forge for a great patina. Bam, those became the stands for these and the SprockIT Clocks.