It all started in 1972 with the purchase of a blacksmith shop. An old-time blacksmith had passed away over the winter and his daughter wanted to clean out the garage. The downstairs of the two-car garage was the blacksmith shop and the upstairs was the wood shop. My little brother now has the wood lathe that my father bought. I bought the downstairs and moved the entire shop to our garage. A quick hole in the garage roof, installed a smoke stack, went to the local creamery (we lived in an area that was mostly dairy farms) and got coal. Scrap metal was scrounged wherever it could be located and there seemed to be an abundance of old silo hoops. Turns out they were real wrought iron.
This is a good time to discuss wrought iron and steel. Most "wrought iron" fences, gates, railing, fireplace set, etc. that are made today are made from steel. Usually a mild or low carbon steel. Steel is cheaper to make and plentiful. Real wrought iron is iron, has almost no carbon, and has been wrought or worked. It has a grain, like wood, made of silica that runs through the metal. It is 7 times more rust resistant than steel. And it's very expensive in addition to being difficult to find. To that end, most of my work is done with mild steel. I did bring a cache of wrought iron back from the Iron Bridge Gorge Museum in Birmingham, England.
Tools and methods have been gathered over the years. I spent numerous days at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, NY (better know for the baseball museum) learning techniques from Jim Porteus and Harvey Brotman. Since the early 70s, blacksmithing has seen quite a revival in this country. There are some really talented artists doing some really beautiful work.
Moved to Texas in 1982 for a job in the oil business. Thrilled to discover barbecue and chicken fried steak, I took an immediate liking to Texas. I'm one of those "got here as quick as I could" folks. The shop is set up in Farmersville, and I live in McKinney. I have all the basics of an old time blacksmith shop (coal forge, anvil...), and have added some modern amenities. Still no air conditioning. July and August are tough months to blacksmith in Texas.
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