Artist’s Statement

phillip

The appeal of working with iron lies in the traditional role of blacksmiths in the community and the permanence of their work. Historically, blacksmiths contributed to the well-being of their neighbors by creating the tools that sustained the community. Their implements and art served – and gave pleasure to – many generations. In the same sense, my work allows me to share with a broader community of empathetic viewers, for which I am thankful. I hope that my art contributes to their well-being.

My growth as an artist requires looking along the timeline of my art. Through my travels, I have drawn from the sites of ancient metalworking, and the many European cities where the art form reached its zenith. My interaction with blacksmiths in this country and abroad shows me not only where the craft is today, but also where it will be tomorrow.

Nature is the greatest catalyst for my work, and as I live in a rural setting, the natural world is intertwined with my existence. I am drawn to explore my setting through hiking, gathering, and photographing in the hills and hollows near my home, and am constantly searching for new shapes and forms to integrate into my work.

I hope to convey the essence of how I live and create, and to allow the viewer to experience the bonding of nature and art. In all of my creations, functional and sculptural, my goal is to fashion work that brings with it a moment of reflection and tranquility. Perhaps living close to the source as I do helps, but I, the artist, am merely an interpreter. Ultimately, it is the art-form, the age-old craft of blacksmithing, that works the magic.

~ Phillip Bowling

Leaves that Last

At Noble Forge we receive a lot of our inspiration on custom metal pieces from nature, particularly we like leaves.  Spending time outdoors, the beauty of trees, leaves and flowers can surround you, especially during the time of spring.  It is a creative challenge to reproduce the exquisiteness of the outdoors in metal.  That is why when you look at a lot of our work you will find natures elements abound.  It takes an artist of metal to capture the intricacies of leaves in a piece of iron.Structure of a Leaf

Simulating the complexities of the blade of a leaf including the midrib, sinus’, lobes, veins, margins and the petiole and reproducing them in metal takes an artist and time.  Especially when that piece is hand-made and not mass produced.  Each one of our leaves is unique just like in nature.  It takes time, effort and an artist that is highly skilled in the craft of blacksmithing to achieve the look and texture of a leaf in metal.  Noble Forge has produced dozens of different types of leaves during out almost 20 years of business.  Examples of some of the leaves we have recreated in metal include:  Maple, Gingko, Laurel, Oak, Hickory, Beech and Birch, as well as many others.

Custom Ironworks Metal Tree

Some examples of different leaves are shown below.  Do you have a favorite tree or leaf?  Have you ever considered having something designed in metal that captures the essence of a plant you enjoy and having it displayed in a functional piece of art or architectural detail in your home or work space?  We at Noble Forge know and appreciate nature and enjoy the challenge and inspiration creating unique pieces that embody nature it all its splendor.  Let us create a custom piece for you.

Custom Ironworks, design details, blacksmith, ironworks, metal works, metal art, iron art scrollonwood2 Leaf with Bronze Patina

Working with Metal

Hammered Metal, Phillip Bowling, Artist Blacksmith, Hammered MetalA blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron, or steel by forging the metal by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut the metal. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculptures, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, and weapons.

While there are many people who work with metal such as farriers, wheelwrights, and armorers, the blacksmith has a general knowledge of how to make and repair many things, from the most complex of weapons and armor to simple things like nails or lengths of chain.

Phillip Bowling Artist Blacksmith

An artist blacksmith like Phillip Bowling owner of Noble Forge is known for architectural blacksmithing using combinations of wrought iron, steel, bronze, copper, nickel alloys and aluminum. While most metalworking is now mass-produced using molds in factories, Noble Forge continues the tradition of working freehand, using the same tools that blacksmiths have relied on for hundreds of years. If you were to ask Phillip how what he does is different than metals mass produced he would say “I’m working directly on the metal, I’m not melting it into a liquid and pouring it into a mold.”  In this way,  Phillip and the artist of Noble Forge create custom metal work for architects, designers and personal clients. He has made everything from custom railings, fireplace doors, privacy screens, gates and doors,  to hand-hammered curtain hardware.

dragon door knockerNoble Forge provides custom designed ornamental iron works through the fabrication of architectural and ornamental metals.  We work with the metal to achieve high quality craftsmanship, with an acute attention to detail and excellent customer service. Our customers understand the difference between having something made by an artist blacksmith versus buying something off the shelf.  It’s exactly the same as getting an item at your local convenience store instead of buying it hand made by a local artisan.  Organic vs. Inorganic.  Yes, it can cost more but tastes much better or lasts longer than you would ever have anticipated.  If it is quality you are looking for in your metal work, contact Noble Forge.

Coming soon…all about leaves.

Custom Lighting by Noble Forge

lighting, chandelier, custom ironworks, custom metalworksLooking for a custom chandelier or custom lighting?

Here are some tips when considering a custom chandelier:

Determine the Spatial Dimension of the Space:  Measure the Height, Length and Width of the room in which the chandelier will be placed.  If the chandelier will be placed above a table, counter, island or area that people do not walk around, measure the Height and Length of this area as well.

  • Calculate the Chandeliers Height:  If the space is over a dining room table, continue with your measurements.  If in an open area is less than or equal to 84 inches high…stop!  Consider alternate sources of lighting such as sconces, a wall lamp, desk lamp, table lamp or other type of lighting.
  • If the lighting is to hang in a foyer or entryway and there is a window present, the lighting design should take into account the visibility of the chandelier from the window.  A good design will enhance the space providing balance and symmetry to the area with maximum visibility.
  • Chandelier, lighting, Custom ironworks, custom metals works, metal accessories, metal furniture, metal furniture and accessories made in Los AngelesThe overall height of the chandelier includes the chandelier from the top to the bottom including all hardware used to hang the chandelier.
  • Design of the chandelier includes the focal point of the chandelier without the necessary hardware to hang the chandelier.  However, custom hardware can be included in the main design and compliment the overall aesthetics of the lighting.
  • Sizing a chandelier to be placed over a table or stationary area in a room with a height of 84 inches, it is best that the bottom point of the chandelier hang 30 inches above the stationary area.  For every 12 inches of additional height of the room above 84 inches, add 3 inches to the measurement between the tabletop and the bottom point of the chandelier.

If you want to do the math and are comfortable with basic algebra the formula looks like this:

Metal Furniture and Accessories, Lighting, Chandelier

Hr – Ht – (30” + x)  = OAHc

Hr = Height of the Room

Ht = Height of Table

X = 3” for every 12” of Hr above 84”, OAHc = Overall Height of the Chandelier

Now it’s time to Calculate Chandelier’s Width

  • If the space measured is not a dining room, add the Length and Width measurement in feet.  The Sum will be the measurement of the Width of the chandelier in inches.  If a room is 12 feet long by 20 feet wide, the chandelier ‘s width will be 32 inches wide.

Lr + Wr = Wc

Custom Iron Chandelier

Lr = Length of Room in feet

Wr = Width of Room in feet

Wc = Width of Chandelier, Interpreted as inches

When sizing a chandelier to hang over a table, island, countertop or stationery area, ½ the length of the area is perfect width of the chandelier.

Chandeliers are not always the best option.  In these situations, wall sconces or a floor lamp might better serve the purpose.  Regardless, custom lighting can be yours, created to meet your design needs and room requirements.  Noble Forge works with all types of metal:  Bronze, Brass, Iron and Steel.  Our artisan craftsmen work with design professionals and art collectors to create stunning custom lighting as well as other pieces.

We hope if you are shopping for custom lighting or just needed more information about chandeliers, you found this article helpful.

The Iron Art of the Great Heron

Great Heron in Metal

Birds have been used since the dawn of man in art.   You can find pictures of birds on cave walls in petroglyphs as well as in Egyptian Hieroglyphics.   It is not surprising then that over the years, Noble Forge has created custom pieces that have included birds in the design.  One particular fireplace screen was the setting for the Great Heron.  Found among the cattails and tall marsh grass, the great heron hunts for food.  Herons are known in ancient folklore and on totems to be a symbol of patience, balance and grace.  If you happen to come upon a heron, they are captivating birds to watch.  Tall and gangly, yet graceful, the heron is a hunter that displays an intelligence and deep concentration when considering its prey.

Reeds of Great Heron Fireplace Screen DetailWhen bearing in mind these facts, being able to embody this bird on a custom fireplace screen makes sense.   The ability to capture the scene of a heron standing in the marshes awaiting the opportunity to catch a meal in metal was a challenge but one worthy of our trade and artistic nature.   Imagine each time this customer walks in view of their fireplace, they are rewarded with the art of the heron found in his reeds, awaiting his next meal.  The art does not end with the heron but in the detail of the cattails breaking across the frame of the screen, the tall grass bent at an angle, the swirls located along the bottom of the custom panel representing the water.  Branches hang low, camouflaging the hunt while forming the outline of the custom piece.

Great Heron in Metal Detail

Iron art at its finest found in the marshy wetlands scene of a great heron on in the hunt.  There are a multitude of natural scenes that can be found in functional art.  Noble Forge can bring that scene to you in metal for your custom screen, door, gate, stair rail, balcony railing or wall art.  The possibilities are endless when you have an idea and the right craftsman that can create it for you.  Phillip Bowling is a blacksmith that creates art with a forge and a hammer.  Contact Noble Forge for the opportunity to bring a vision to life in metal.  Noble Forge is synonymous with iron art.  Patience, balance and grace, like the heron, can be discovered in metal.  

The Garden Trellis

Garden TrellisOften times when creating a stunning garden, different heights and textures are introduced to enhance the natural beauty while adding function.  There are many different structures that can accomplish the task.  Garden structures include:  pergolas, gates, fences, arbors, and trellises.  Most of the time these structures are made from wood but there is an alternative to wood, iron.  When treated properly, iron garden structures can last for generations and add an intrinsic beauty to any garden.  Iron adds a contrasting texture, natural beauty and durability that wood does not.  Of course, we are biased because we at Noble Forge love metal.  Perhaps you love metal too and would love to love your garden.  You might consider adding custom iron pieces to anchor the design idea of your dreams.

Custom Garden Trellis with Roses

“Can you make a custom iron trellis?”  A customer came to us looking to add some height and structure to their backyard in the form of a rose garden trellis.  The iron trellis would need to be beautiful and functional, allowing roses to grow up the trellis distracting from a large white brick fireplace found in the back of the house.  The customer also wanted the piece to have contrasting colors enhance the detail of the piece.  We designed a custom garden trellis that could be planted in the ground and allows the roses planted in the front to grow up the trellis.

Garden Trellis with baseNot long after, a friend of the first customer saw the garden trellis Noble Forge had built wanted a similar design for their house.  However, they wanted it with a base to be placed on the patio with potted plants nearby, more a custom metal sculpture than a trellis.  One of the many benefits to having a custom built garden structure is that you can make modifications to the design to meet your particular needs.  Base, no base, color, height, etc. can all be changed for you.  That’s what custom built and handmade is all about.   Custom iron structures in your garden might be the exact thing you have been looking for to complete that vision.  If you have been searching for an alternative to wood and all the maintenance associated with wood, consider iron.  Those living in a hot, dry climate, or wet, moist environment know that wood tends to fall apart quickly, or is in constant need of repair.  Iron, when treated properly, does not require a lot of maintenance to stay looking beautiful for an extended period of timel.   It gives a whole new meaning to garden art and garden structures when you consider custom iron works.

Below are additional photos of the two garden trellises with the detail of the metal work as well as the different colors of the metal.  Noble Forge is ready to design and build your custom garden structure in iron.

Custom Iron Garden Trellis Detail  Garden Trellis Twist Detail

Custom Garden Trellis Detail  Custom Iron Garden Art

The Village Blacksmith

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

At Noble Forge we pride ourselves on crafting metal using the ancient art of blacksmithing that Longfellow refers to in his poem about the village blacksmith.

You can read stories of how Longfellow as a boy would watch the blacksmith working under a chestnut tree, hammering metal on the anvil.  He describes the life of the local blacksmith in his poem:

Blacksmith in the past

Ancient Blacksmith Shop

 

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a might man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawney arms

Are strong as iron bands.

 

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,

His face is like the tan;

His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns what’er he can,

And looks the whole word in the face,

For he owes not any man.

Artist Blacksmith Phillip Bowling

Phillip Bowling Shaping Metal

 

Week in, week out, from morn till night,

You can hear the bellows blow;

You can hear him swing his might sledge,

With measure beat and slow,

Like a sexton ringing the village bell,

When the evening sun is low.

 

And children coming home from school

Look in the open door;

They love to see the flaming forge,

And hear the bellows roar.

And catch the flaming sparks that fly

Like chaff from a threshing floor.

 

He goes on Sunday to the church,

And sits among his boys;

He hears the parson pray and preach,

He hears his daughter’s voice,

Singing in the choir,

And it makes his heart rejoice.

 

It sounds to him like his mother’s voice,

Singing in Paradise!

He needs must think of her once more,

How in the grave she lies;

And with his hard, rough hands he wipes

A tear out of his eyes.

 

Toiing, — rejoicing, — sorrowing,

Onward in life he goes;

Each morning sees some task begin,

Each evening sees it close;

Something attempted, something done,

Has earned his night’s repose.

 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou has taught!

Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought;

Thus on its sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought

–           Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Noble Forge

Noble Forge Stamp

At Noble Forge we may not be working under a spreading chestnut tree but it still takes muscles and brawn to forge iron.  It takes sweat and hard work to make a living as a blacksmith today, just as it did over one hundred years ago.  The sledge is heavy, the forge has flames and an anvil is used to shape the metal.  Shaping metal over an anvil using a forge continues to be a craft to be admired and many can appreciate the historic preservation of such an art.

Today’s Artist Blacksmith continues to prove to be the source of many unique forms of metal artwork that will stand the test of time and will become a legacy for tomorrow.  Noble Forge  using the art of blacksmithing is able to incorporate a design vision into pieces that provide the esthetics , function, and texture required by todays projects.  Grand gates, beautiful furniture, and graceful architectural elements in homes and buildings have redefined the blacksmith as an artist for all ages.  Perhaps, just as Longfellow, you too appreciate the work of a blacksmith.  If you are interested in a custom piece of iron, contact Noble Forge.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth “The Village Blacksmith” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [online resource], PoemHunter.com, Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-village-blacksmith/

Mahogany Table and Bench

Custom Mahogany Table Top

Have you ever found a beautiful piece of wood or collection of tiles and thought, “What a great piece of furniture this would make!”.   It could be a chair, table, bench, or piece of wall art, I just need a way to capture it.  That’s where Noble Forge comes in to help.  We make custom furniture and hardware for your residence or commercial property with your design elements in mind.  It all starts with an inspiration.  In this case, it was a beautiful piece of mahogany.  

Custom Mahogany Table Drawing for Custom Table

Our clients had a stunning piece of wood that they wanted turned into a custom table and bench for their outdoor living space.  They had a vision.  The clients contacted us with drawings for the base and legs for both pieces.  Drawings for a design don’t have to be ornate, or complicated they just need to contain the right information to portray the dimensions and detail involved to create the piece.  Once we have that information, we may need some clarification and to discuss the color or texture but other than that, we know how to bring your vision to life.

Mahogany Bench Drawing

One of the benefits of working with an artisan blacksmith.  The drawings for the table and bench base and legs were captured in these drawings.

Noble Forge has been making custom made pieces of furniture for years.  We have a level of expertise, a desire for the highest quality and craftsmanship that our customers have come to know and appreciate.  Made in America of the highest quality is the foundation of our work.

Custom Mahogany Table by Noble Forge

We can build your vision.  Based on the drawings provided we forged the base structure and legs to allow these amazing pieces to come together to make an incredible outdoor patio table and bench.

Custom Mahogany Bench by Noble Forge

It is furniture that is unique, functional and built to last.  Do you have an inspiration?  Do you need custom hardware to make a valued piece captured in such a way that it provides function and design?  Perhaps you want to display an artistic piece with beautiful hardware?  Whether functional art or design only, your custom piece will add beauty to your home or work space.  Noble Forge can build that custom piece or hardware that will last the test of time, while honoring your taste and creativity.  We can forge the specific hardware you need to hang, display, give life to your vision in metal.  Contact Noble Forge whenever you are in need of some custom metal or iron work.  We can help you!!

Custom Mahogany Table and Bench

Gate Solutions and Repair

gate repair solutions Recently Noble Forge had an opportunity to do some gate repair at a home in Echo Park.  The client was having a problem with people reaching through their current gate, opening the gate and as a result some damage was done.  They asked Noble Forge to help.  Yes, we do custom iron works and hand forge metal but we do more than that, we know metal and we can help you with all your metal work projects.  This includes gate and door repairs, restoration as well as custom designing a piece for you.

Gate Repair, Gate SecurityIn this case, we performed some repair work to the current gate of the client then attached some expanded metal screen to the gate, welding it in place.  The result was an updated, functional gate that allowed for the visibility the client wanted while increasing the security of the gate and fence work.  We at Noble Forge can help you with your problem areas.  We can provide solutions to your metal work issues that are functional, attractive, and performed in a timely manner at a reasonable cost.

What does it mean to Forge Weld?

Phillip Bowling, Noble Forge, Artist Blacksmith

Forge welding is a solid-state welding process, joining two pieces of metal by heating them to a high temperature and then hammering them together. That’s right, HAMMERING!  It’s simple but it’s not easy.  Forge welding has been used for thousands of years. Forge welding is versatile, being able to join (heat, melt, intermingling the two metals and then cool) a host of similar and dissimilar metals. Unfortunately with the invention of electrical and gas welding methods during the Industrial Revolution, forge welding has been largely replaced.  Why?  Because it’s quicker, easier and less expensive.  But is it better?  No!  It’s like margarine.  Sure, margarine is good for some things, like baking but it is not butter.  If you are having an exquisite meal at an exclusive restaurant, do you think they are serving you margarine or butter?  Butter!!  Why?  Because margarine is an imitation of butter.  Butter is authentic.  It comes from the milk of a cow and is churned, margarine is mixture of oils and flavors.   The texture, quality and feel of metals when forge welded are like butter.  Forge welding is the original and all other processes of welding are a replacement for the original method.  When you think of forge welding think of butter and all the other types of welding are margarine.

When we forge weld similar materials, a solid-state diffusion occurs (think “one solid piece”). As a result, the weld consists of only the welded materials without any fillers or bridging materials. Two pieces have been joined to create one piece.  “Fillers” – we hear about fillers all the time in our food, they are additives.  The main purpose of fillers is to reduce the cost of the products and it is true for metal works as well.

Hammered Metal, Phillip Bowling, Artist Blacksmith, Hammered Metal

Forge welding between dissimilar or different materials causes a lower melting temperature between the materials. There is a fancy science term for this type of reaction called the Eutectic system.  What is important to know is that this type of weld is often stronger than the individual metals independent of each other.

The temperature required to forge weld is typically 50 to 90 percent of the melting temperature. Different materials have different melting points, for example, steel welds at a lower temperature than iron. The metal may take on a glossy or wet appearance at the welding or melting temperature. Care must be taken to avoid overheating the metal to the point that it gives off sparks from rapid oxidation, otherwise you are just burning metal!!  We don’t want to burn metal, we want to heat it, then shape it and make something amazing.  That’s why we like to forge weld and use the ancient art of blacksmithing at Noble Forge.

Bed Knob Post, Custom Iron, Custom Metal, Forge Welded, Artist Crafted

Depending on the application, all types of welding can be very good.  You have to decide which is better for your situation…butter or margarine?  We recommend forge welding when crafting, shaping and forming metal but Noble Forge can do all types of welding.  Noble Forge works with metal, that’s what we do.  We appreciate forge welding because it allows us to use the craft of blacksmithing.  Using the forge gives metal a quality, texture and authenticity that other types of welding do not.  However, when it comes to metal and working with metal think of Noble Forge.  Noble Forge knows metal and Phillip Bowling is an artist blacksmith.