4.28.2014

The Forge | A Story Told


As I entered “The Forge” I felt I was stumbling upon someone’s secret place. A place full of their favorite things, a place where they had hidden found treasures.  The walls were adorned with animal skins, aging metal, and ratty cloth; it was a salvage heaven.
This place was a man’s fortress, where he knew he could go and be vulnerable, where he would be comfortable to make mistakes and learn, where he would be courageous in experimenting, and where he could celebrate the creation of something he was proud of.
“The Forge” is where we found Mike in his niche. “The Forge” is where Mike has developed his craft.
Mike is an old friend, a loved father, and a successful businessman, but in the light of the fire burning inside the gas forger, he is an artist. Mike is a metal craftsman; He forms his art from steel rods and old rusting silver.


As he hammers and shapes metal, he let’s the pieces of material guide the vision for what he’s creating.
Mike says that he doesn’t always have a distinct idea for a piece,
He says,  “I pour a glass of scotch and I go down to ‘The Forge’ and look around.”
He likes to let his materials tell him what to do.
His shop is patina paradise, full of metal odds and ends that us by standards would have no idea what kind of use to put it to.
Mike is in love with aging steel, his eyes sparkle when he explains the texture and color of his ideal piece of ancient material– pitted and rough. He recycles metals into sculptures, furniture, and hardware; objects of depth and use, objects with a story and a history.


The majority of Mike’s tools are hand crafted; as I watched him work there was something so romantic about using a creation to create.
“The Forge” had aged nicely, the walls and dirt floor looked worn, but loved. As I stood analyzing Mike’s process, I got caught up in the mood of it all. The sounds of raging fire in the gas forger was organic and attractive in combination with the clings of steel on steel, being repeatedly hammered and formed into something new and original.



As Nathan adjusted his hasselblad camera according to light and composition, it was like jumping back and forth from past to present… Nathan’s craft complementing Mike’s craft. I felt oddly nostalgic, aching for the age when film cameras and innovative black smith work wasn’t as minoritized.
Mike pulled a red-hot steel rod out of the gas forger and quickly went to work on it. Racing against the time it took for the rod to cool…Heating, and shaping, reheating, and reshaping; creating. As he formed and twisted the rod, he held it up in front of him and said, “ I don’t know what it’s going to be yet.” He squinted into the tank of fire waiting for his utensil to be ready to rework. After texturizing the piece of steel with a meat tenderizer, he realized he created an object that was beautiful, he said, “This will become a piece of a something, of which I’m not sure yet.”
The excitement he received from creating a new object empowered and fomented him, inspiring him to continue.


There’s a unique sense of appreciation and fulfillment for such a bodily method of handiwork. Creation through a physical process provides an irreplaceable feeling.
Mike had a poster up on the wall that he had tailored to his liking; there he had written a handful of words on the surface of the paper that defined his motivation and sincerity. I read, “IDEAS + ENERGY = REAL WEALTH”
Mike works as a designer in an advertisement agency; Mike is a huntsman, a carpenter, a fisherman, and a blacksmith; through all of these things, Mike is an artist.


Photos by: Nathan Stracke, taken with a Hasselblad 500 c/m. 

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I love this! So good :)

    Sarah Joy
    www.sarahdeforest.com

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  3. I love this. Nathan's photography compliments your storytelling perfectly. And I'm glad to find another Hasselblad photog! I've got the 500 C/M as well :)

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  4. I am always in awe of metal craftsman's work. What an amazing profession!

    -Claire @ www.foxtailandmoss.com

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  5. Love these pictures. Seriously in awe of them... Wow!

    http://haleybrianna.blogspot.com

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