An Interview with Artist Blacksmith Heather McLarty

 

Enter the Field of Play. approx. 15' 6" W x 15' H x 1'6" D. Steel, copper, glass (by Cathi Milligan), bronze, stone, bowling ball, pool ball. commissioned by Occidental College. Eagle Rock, CA.

Noble Forge had the amazing opportunity to work with a fellow Artist Blacksmith, Heather McLarty. Heather describes her work as transforming “industrial materials into soulful sculpture using fire, anvil and hammer; mind, body and heart.” She has an impressive portfolio of artwork, and we were thrilled when she engaged us to help construct a piece of public art – a gate for the athletic field at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, CA.

Heather creates her art in a teepee, which sits in her own backyard. For this project she forged each small piece at this location. She would then assemble the pieces on 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and bring them to Noble Forge where Phillip would forge all the pieces together, ensuring that the pieces were squared and straight. She shared, “It was so great to have someone help me on this big project, Phillip was able to do the hand forging and fabrication allowing me to gate2continue to be creative and focused.”

Another project, and one that is near and dear to her heart, is Adam’s Forge, for which she serves as the president. Adam’s Forge is a not for profit that is dedicated to “creating a thriving blacksmithing community through regular schedule of classes and events that inspires and supports aspiring artists, tradespeople and the community.” This volunteer-run organization was started in 2001 by the parents of Adam Leventhal, a blacksmith who lost his life to suicide. The museum and school are both housed in Adam’s blacksmith studio.

gate3Adam’s Forge fosters the blacksmith community by offering classes for those wishing to discover more about blacksmithing, as well as CBA (California Blacksmith Association) certification programs. They also offer project-oriented classes where students will create a candleholder, letter opener and more.

“The thing about the blacksmith community,” says Heather, “is that we all know it was a dying craft, therefore this community understands the importance of being generous in sharing techniques and helping each other to learn and grow.” The community champions collaboration more so than competition, as seen in the collaboration between Noble Forge’s Phillip Bowling and Heather McLarty whose partnership created the amazing gate at Occidental College.