Beautiful hand forged ironwork designed and made for you by Joe Babb

Fire Grates

Nothing like a toasty fire on a cool evening to liven a party or just to relax.  There are lots of fire grates on the market, but many of them are not sturdy enough to last more than one season.  And it seems as though every fireplace is sized differently.

I’ll be happy to build you a fire grate, or andirons if you prefer.  I typically use one inch square solid steel bars spaced four inches apart.  All I need to know is the dimensions of your fireplace and whether you have a gas burner that the grate needs to clear.  You may also want either a screen or a fender to keep sparks contained.  I usually have to visit your fireplace to make measurements if you want a permanent screen.  Here are some of the grates and screens I have made.   I don’t keep these things in stock because of different size requirements and possible design considerations.

an outdoor fire grate

outdoor fire grate

a fire grate with fender

fire grate with fender

a fire grate not yet delivered

my favorite design not yet installed.

fire screen for indoor fireplace

fire screen for indoor fireplace

Reproductions

I have done many reproductions of old ironwork.  Whatever your needs, whether it’s repair or reproduction of old wrought ironwork, contact me.  Here are a few of the things I’ve been asked to reproduce.  In some cases, only a portion of the original was available.

strap hinges finished

Strap hinges with rust finish.

strap hinges

Strap hinges in process. The original is 3rd from left.

 

 

18th century fork

18th century fork

 

rat tail hinges on cabinet

rat tail hinges installed on customer’s cabinet

rat tail hinges

Rat Tail hinges

cranked chest hinges

“cranked” chest hinges.

 

Be sure to contact me for any reproduction needs.  I can work from pictures or sketches.  Cost is determined by shop time to make the item.  The buckles shown below were not strictly a reproduction of old buckles but a commission to make belt buckles for a theater production.

belt buckles

Buckles for a theater production of a Shakespeare play

Emerald Table

Here is another table in my series combining ironwork with hexagonal shelves.  The shelves are painted pine using Nova Color Emerald Pearlescent paint with a protective coating of satin varnish.  The ironwork is finished in clear enamel so that the highlights of the textured iron glisten in the light.  Total height is a bit over 30″ with the bottom shelf 6″ high and the middle shelf 18″ high.  Price of this table as shown is $295.00.

hexagonal table with emerald colored shelves

wine glasses on table top

 

 

The iron stems and leaves at the top are both functional and decorative and add organic movement to the linear geometric forms.   Cheers!

If you don’t live close to Knoxville, TN., contact me for shipping costs.

Fire Tools

If you build a fire, it’s nice to have tools to manage it.  Whether you want a complete set of tools or just one, I’ll be happy to make them for you.  I don’t keep many in stock because folks are usually pretty specific about what they want for type of ending, or handle, or size, or decorative treatment.  Cost depends on overall design, number of tools, type of mounting if desired.  So contact me with your needs and I’ll be glad to give you a quote.

I’m showing several pictures here of different handles, and poker endings that I have made in the past and from which you can choose.  Also, I’m always open to new ideas so send me a sketch of what you have in mind if you don’t see it here.  Click on any of the images to see it a bit larger.

Handles:

scroll handle

Poker Endings:

Shovels:

I have two basic size of shovels.  The one shown is the larger of the two.

Brooms:

I tie my own brooms using broom corn.  Nothing fancy.  They look like the ones shown in the two sets below.

Tongs:

I make a style of tong that is a bit different.  But I can make whatever style you would like.  Shown below is a pair of tongs with a companion poker.  I’ve begun doing the hinge joint for the tongs in a way that is strong but makes it easy to separate if there is ever a need to do so for repairs or modifications.  I find that most people have very personal likes and dislikes when it comes to tongs.  My mentor disliked them and preferred that people order what he called log forks.

poker and tongs

Hexagonal Table

This is an attractive , lighthearted table inspired by my fascination with geometrical forms, especially the hexagon.

Occasional table with hexagonal shelves

The spacing of the shelves is designed with functionality in mind.  The middle shelf at 18″ high keeps your coffee cup within easy reach while reading the Sunday funnies in your favorite chair.   Space between shelves is about 12″.  Height is 30″.  The bottom shelf is 15″ across the flats, the middle shelf is 12″, and the top shelf is 9″.  Weight is 12 pounds.  The shelves are painted wood.  The iron legs are finished with clear enamel.

Add some uniqueness to your home with this one of a kind, hand-forged, wrought iron and wood occasional table.  Price of the table as shown is $225.00.  Contact me for shipping costs.

Many variations on this theme are possible.  If you would like a table similar to this one but different color, size, or decorative treatment please feel free to contact me.

 

Why a Blacksmith?

Well, why not a blacksmith? How else can you form something like the support hook in the photo?

pan hook

pan hook

Yes, you could cast something like this. You could even use a 3D printer these days, maybe. But then they would all be the same, without individual personalities. Yes, okay, you could tweak the software to vary the look or you could change each wax mold pattern prior to casting. Making it with hammer and anvil seems a lot simpler and even faster, and way more fun. I’d rather be a blacksmith.

 

Steel has some wondrous properties.  It is very strong.  It can take on beautiful shapes.

in_processWhen it is hot it is very dangerous but it is also soft (relatively) and yields to my stubbornness… or else. It can be split, twisted, squished, and prodded into fantastic figures.

After you’ve been at this for a while, you start seeing things.  It’s true.  In the middle of making some specific thing, I see other possibilities for other things.  It’s a little like a conversation where I’m saying I want you to do this, and it says okay but have you thought about these other ideas? I know the steel isn’t speaking to me. I’m speaking to myself. I have some very stimulating conversations sometimes. It’s a good thing I work alone. What happens is that as a shape develops, I see potential for other shapes. This is why I keep a notebook next to the anvil. Ideas are too often like little elves who appear in the corner of your eye and disappear if you don’t capture them on paper.

This is not a job, it’s an adventure. I never know what’s around the next bend. Most of my work is custom, like the hooks in the picture. A client had a large tray to mount on the wall. Some unique decorative hooks became an elegant solution.

large pan held on wall by custom forged hooks

large pan held on wall by custom forged hooks

Adventures must be paid for. That’s why I charge for my work. How much will it cost? That has to be calculated based on shop time which depends on the item to be made. My prices are not the highest in the land. I am a one man shop. My wonderful wife, Sharon, keeps the books, and tries to keep me in line. My shop is next to my house. So my overhead is low. I work hard to make things efficiently, creating special tooling when I need it. But my prices are not the lowest in the land either. They are like the story about the little boy who asked his dad where the fish were in the lake. Dad replied, “son, they are either in deep water, or in the shallows, or somewhere in between”. My prices are “somewhere in between”.

There are many kinds of blacksmiths because metal working is such a broad field. I call myself an artist blacksmith, not meaning that I am a fine artist. I’ve done a few sculptures that I’m proud of, but I’d rather do functional pieces. The term “artist blacksmith” is an old label meaning that I do architectural ironwork. This includes interior things like furniture. I am not a knife maker, but I also enjoy making wood carving chisels of various types.

I am a blacksmith.

It’s okay, really.  Sometimes I feel a little defensive because of the funny looks I get when some folks learn that I have chosen this path.  It’s just not done anymore.  It’s a dying art.

It’s okay to be a woodworker, even to be a woodworker who chooses hand tools over power tools.  It’s okay to be a potter, or a print maker, or a textile artist.  It’s even okay to be a welder who does sculptures.  But a blacksmith?  A grimy, sweaty, burned, tired old blacksmith?  Oh Yeah!

trio

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