Questions and Answers
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
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
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 wrought iron..."
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 first place.
I do not copy the original work of other artisans. I most certainly will *not*
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
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
I don't make Props."
Q = "Why does it take so long to make (insert complex
Short - Good work takes time, and I do more than just hammer.
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
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 week!)
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, maintanence, 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 Bladesmithing' course.
Q = I am willing to trade working at reduced wages for
training, will you take an apprentice?
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 / daughter)?
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 35 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.
how much someone in your position expets 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.