Our Affiliations

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We understand the importance of belonging to professional organizations. Membership brings credence to a professional’s place in the industry and offers great value in broadening knowledge, building resumes, and enhancing networks. At Noble Forge, we are members of the following three associations, all of which speak to our focus – to feature, share and commission the work of our Artist-Blacksmith, Phillip Bowling.

CBA, California Blacksmith Association is a “nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating smiths and preserving the art and craft of blacksmithing.” This organization holds several events and classes throughout the year. Blacksmithing is an old art, but there are always new things to learn, new inspirations to find and new methods and trends to take in.

ABANA, Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America, is another amazing organization. They are “dedicated to perpetuating the noble art of blacksmithing.” The basic definition of a blacksmith is “one who shapes and forges with hammer and anvil.” This organization understands that the artist-blacksmith intertwines the function of blacksmithing with aesthetic in order to create art. ABANA offers educational programs, resources and opportunities to connect with fellow artists, architects, and interior designers.

NOMMA, the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association is a trade association. Their members “produce a full spectrum of ornamental and miscellaneous metalwork, ranging from railings to driveway gates, and from sculpture to light structural steel.” They too offer continuing education and are proud of their role in the founding of the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

At Noble Forge, we offer design expertise in architectural iron, custom art pieces, lighting, fireplace accessories, metal furniture, patio furniture, custom gates, doors and chandeliers. If it can be made from metal, we can make it. Furthermore, if you wish for it to become a showcase item for your home, yard or office, let us share with you the eye of our artist, Phillip Bowling. We will work with you to create a vision that that will last for generations to come.

Artist’s Statement

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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.

How to become a Blacksmith?

When people think of blacksmiths, they think of “Horse Shoes”.  But the job of a blacksmith is much more complicated than horseshoes.  Of course there is nothing wrong with making horseshoes, but to become a blacksmith is much more involved than many might imagine.  Deciding how the craft of blacksmithing is applied in modern day uses has come a long way.  Phillip Bowling Artist Blacksmith

Blacksmithing involves heating metal with fire to forge, making repairs or restoration and creating welds. A lot of blacksmiths work takes place in a manufacturing environment.  Blacksmiths are typically members of the Boilermakers Union as well as other Blacksmithing organizations, both locally and nationally.  If you are more artistically-inclined, you can use your skills to creating decorative pieces of metal including: railings, gates, furniture and sculptures from metal. Noble Forge falls into the second category.  We are a creative group that applies artistic interpretation to custom metal pieces.  Being a blacksmith requires not only physical strength but a lot of training and practice to developing the necessary skills to achieve the desired result.

Before considering blacksmithing as an occupation you might want to read books about the profession and art of blacksmithing.  If you are still interested, consider attending a local community college or vocational school that specializes in blacksmithing to learn basic blacksmithing skills.

Get some basic skills on how to work with metal, like a beginning oxy-acetylene (gas) welding course.  You will learn things like how to light a torch, how to safely handle hot metal, working with tanks and what safety equipment is used when welding.  Additionally, you will need to learn how to control the heat in the forge, and experience working with a gas fired forge.

As you advance with your skills, you will become familiar with blacksmith tools, such as an anvil, hammer, tongs and punch. Train using the different tools of the trade.  In order to obtain skills such as drawing out, brazing, cutting, riveting and upsetting (putting metal back into itself) takes a lot of practice.

There are courses you can attend to learn more about modern metal-working and the skills that are needed to become a well-rounded blacksmith and the best techniques for welding based on the materials being used.  Example of Metal Shaping on an Anvil

Become an apprentice whether with a blacksmith or through a blacksmithing program where you can refine the skills necessary to become a blacksmith.  There are blacksmithing organizations that can help you find apprenticeships as well as becoming a member of your local Boilermakers Union.

You must demonstrate a level of competency in blacksmith skills before becoming a blacksmith.  Once you can demonstrate your proficiency, you can join organizations for blacksmithing in your area and around the world.

Always look for ways to advance your skills.  Learn a variety of styles by working with architects and other blacksmiths to design details for new and old construction.

Determine the type of blacksmith you would like to be.  Based on your skills you can find a job as a commercial blacksmith working in manufacturing or you can establish your own blacksmith shop.

There are a lot of costs associated with setting up your own blacksmith shop.  You will need to purchase blacksmithing tools, such as various weighted hammers, an anvil, forge and tongs. These tools and supplies are available at specialized blacksmithing suppliers and online but you can also make your own tools.  We at Noble Forge like to make our own tools whenever possible.  Pick an area of specialty and start forging.

No, it’s not easy to be a blacksmith.  It takes time, training and dedication as well as an artistic eye to use a drawing or make a drawing and turn it into a three dimensional piece of iron that exceeds customer expectations.  Noble Forge can do all of that and more.  That’s why we have been in business serving the Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Barbara areas and beyond for almost 20 years.  Blacksmithing is our trade, bringing beauty to metal is our craft.