My father graduated from San Jose High School in 1928 and then entered an apprentis program in pattern making. He worked as a journeyman patternmaker for Hendes Foundry until 1938. In 1939 he purchased an old buggy repair building with an attached top shop at 618 Minnesota Avenue iin San Jose, California. He converted the top shop to a home for his family and began Bradley's Pattern and Cabinet Shop in the larger buggy repair building. This business was active in 1940 and 1941 with patterns made for companies in the Santa Clara Valley.

In 1941, he began a career with Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in their model shop that lasted until 1967. He retired as the assistant shop superintendant, with many friends and a significant contribution to the nation's space program. During this time he maintained his business on Minnesota Avenue to the City's displeasure (the rest of the neighborhood was zoned residential), doing various projects including patterns, manufacturing folding trailers, and a project to make shipping crating for munitions.

After his retirment in 1968, he called his business "Bradley's Cabinet Shop" and began contracting with Ames Laboratory, now a NASA laboratory. He made many small, special and difficult boxes, and other constructions used in models and for presentation pieces.

During the late 1960's he began the evolution of the "Artist's Carryall" by first making a unit for my mother to take to her adult education classes in oil and water color painting. Her teachers were impressed and asked for their own "Art Box". With the teacher's help over the years, my mother got better and better boxes and the teachers and friends helped with refining the design into a rather sophisticated device with various options.

During the 1970's the business widened to include other artist tools including table easels, pallets, pastel boxes, special easels, and a lot of picture frames. The basic Artist Carryall was sold all over the United States, basically by word of mouth, out of his small shop on Minnesota Avenue. When he died in 1983, he had several orders for boxes which could not be filled. The tooling, parts and samples of his products are stored in Santa Fe, with hopes of someday reintroducing this marvelous product. However, with the inexpensive-imported easels now available by catalog, this does not look like a promising venture.

I kept the spirit of the Bradley's Cabinet shop, tools, parts and samples in the Oakland, California area until we move to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992. I built a shop attached to our home with the hope of eventually resuming the business. In 1997, the city changed zoning restrictions allowing a wide range of in-home businesses to be legal if certain conditions were met. In 2002, I was in the situation where I could resume the business under my name, and legally charge and pay taxes. Since then, I have been endeavoring to develop a client base and make products that I can be proud of.

Steven Bradley


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