I graduated college in 2017 with a degree in traditionally forged ironwork under the tutelage of Richard Guthrie, a Colonial Williamsburg veteran Journeyman who moved on to teach others the craft through the American College of the Building Arts. Rick instilled in me a value of creating accurate 18th century reproductions exclusively by hand, matching the construction methods, characteristics, underlying geometry and functionality of their historic counterparts. He has since passed but I carry this lesson with me through every day: to make a profit when I can, to take a loss if I must, to sleep some nights, and others not, but always to do good work.
For several years I managed a modern architectural iron shop in Northern Virginia, designing massive custom stair railings and similar projects, from conception to construction and installation. I was surprised by the lack of care that my colleagues had in terms of craftsmanship and excellence in design, not just from coworkers but also from architects and design firms that were supposedly classically trained. The jobs were big, they were interesting, but they didn’t satisfy the quality and standards of the work that I valued. Over that period I worked part time in the evenings producing my own work, until last year, when I left the company and opened my own shop full time.
People often say “as long as it works, who cares what it looks like.” I cringe a little every time I hear this. In my experience, if it looks right, it is right, and while people may not realize it, things are distracting if care is not placed into their design and creation. While B+ work may have no fault with it, the little extra decoration, feature, or degree of quality goes a long way in transforming work from acceptable to exceptional. This is my goal today; to provide people with tools, hardware, furniture and furnishings that are a joy to look at, use, and will work as well as someone can ask, not just now, but through heavy use into the far future. Historically people relied heavily on their tools and could not afford to have them break or to replace them frequently. Because of this they are perhaps the best teachers a craftsman could look to. It is not solely with misplaced nostalgia that I look to my forefathers of the crafts, but also because I believe that we might learn lessons in how to shape our future.