Readers will find some short, and
slightly longer, answers to some common questions posed
to me at the Wareham Forge.
You might save some time (for us both) by making a quick
check here - before e-mailing me...
Potential Customers Please
After 40 years at the forge, I am limiting the
new commissions I undertake :
• Please look HERE
for details before contacting me.
Q = "I thought I might drop by
your shop to tour it, when are you open?"
Short : I'm *not* (generally) open
Long : The Wareham Forge is a production workshop at my
home. There is no gift shop.
I work primarily on major commissions, there are few
complete objects on hand here. What pieces I do have are
generally packed away.
What I might be doing on any given day is determined
largely on what projects are underway. It might, (or might
not) not include interesting forge work on any given day.
See also "Why does it take so long?" (below).
Q = "I want this thing made of
Short : Wrought Iron? is that *really* what you mean...
Long : Wrought Iron is actually an antique metal, no
longer produced. Or you might mean 'hand forged metal'. Or
you might mean 'black metal with some shape'.
Best to read my article "Wrought
Iron Work - What it really
is, and what it really means".
Q = "I want a copy of this thing
by another artisan (insert image from internet here).
Can you make it?"
Short - Yes - but I *will* not.
Long : Go to the original artist who made the thing in the
I do not copy the original work of other artisans. I most
certainly will *not* work cheaper.
I will discuss creating a new original design *inspired*
(but significantly modified) by the works of other
artisans. One of the strengths of my own work is my design ability and style.
Q = "Can you make this thing faster / cheaper
than the commercial version."
Short - No
Long: The reason commercial products are cheaper and
faster is that machines are set up to allow for high
volume production. I make every object individually, one
at a time. There is no 'economy of scale' involved.
Remember the 'Iron Triangle' : you can have
something cheap, you can have something fast, or you can
have something *good* - but only *one* of those.
The aspect that is sure to suffer if you want it cheap and
or fast is having any kind of good quality. You will get
*exactly* what you pay for.
Q = "I want this thing made in a
movie / comic / illustration / game. Can you make it?"
Short - Yes, but you will not like it.
Long : Anything seen in a fantasy, is just that - a
fantasy. Objects in the real world are constrained by
materials, and physics. You can NOT effectively swing a 15
lb sword. A chain mace the size of a basket ball will
weigh 100 lbs.
I *can* create replicas of these fantasy objects, but
because I use *real* materials and methods, the end result
will be display objects (at best). Check my commentary "No,
I don't make Props."
Q = "Why does it take so long to
make (insert complex object here)?"
Short - Good work takes time, and I do more than just
Long : Developing skill takes years, and years cost you
strength, I'm certainly 'better' than I was at 35, but
those 30 plus years have taken a physical toll.
Don't forget the time for setting up and prototyping.
Since almost everything I make is a one of a kind original
object, each piece is a potential voyage of discovery.
Running a business (at any level) requires so much more
than just making things. On an average day I spend roughly
10 hours on 'work', but a real productive day for me has
only 2 - 3 hours actually at the forge. (6 1/2 days a
I make each object one at a time, and projects are
scheduled as individual commissions are finalized.
Depending on time of year, there is teaching,
demonstrating, documentation, research, maintenance, web
creation, accounting... all to be undertaken as well.
See : the Iron Triangle.
Q = "I have never done any
blacksmithing and I want to make knives. Is there a
one day course to teach me?"
Short - No
Long : Forging blades successfully requires considerable
hammer control. And knowing how to make a number of basic
shapes. And how to carefully judge temperatures. *Then*
add how to forge actual blades.
An extremely talented student *might* be able to forge a
('good') simple blade on the second day of a special two
day program. I don't advise this however. Take a basic level course,
then PRACTICE forging, *then* take the regular two day 'Introduction to
Q = I am willing to trade working
at reduced wages for training, will you take an
Short : No. Certainly not on those terms.
Long : A more complex discussion of this topic is
available in my article "Will
you take an Apprentice?"
Good training *costs* - and is worth that cost. Consider a
weekend program, or at
least purchasing one of my videos.
Q = Is becoming an Artisan
Blacksmith a good career choice (for my young son /
Short : No. Certainly not within that frame of reference
Long : It is a life style choice! A more complete
discussion is available in my article "A
Career as an Artist Blacksmith"
Q = I represent a film company, we
are looking for someone to make this / appear in our
program. Are you interested in the promotion?
Short : No. I already have 40 years experience and an a
solid CV. I am
already famous enough.
Long : I get a great number of requests from film
production companies, typically massively short on
background research, with completely unacceptable
deadlines, almost insulting lack of budgets. Those who are
willing to trade work for the instant fame of 'being on
TV' - are almost always lacking in experience, skill and
knowledge - and I am not interested.
Ask yourself how much someone in your position expects to
be paid, after 35 years working in *your* field. Apply
that to my expected base rate.
Your project is poorly framed? Isn't what you, as a
'researcher' are paid for? Sorry, I have a basic
consultant's rate, and do work internationally for major
museums and universities in that role - just hire me.
Check the information provided under "Museum Services".
Yes, you can negotiate filming at the Wareham Forge. No, I
will not 'come for the day' to your location - without set
up costs, door to door expenses, and yes, suitable wages.
'A Reputation takes a
lifetime to forge
It can be destroyed in a single heat.'