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

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.

A Visit to Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley

On a recent vacation, I had the opportunity to spend time in Death Valley.  While there, we took the opportunity to visit Scotty’s Castle in the Northern Area of Death Valley not far from Ubehebe Crater.  If you have never been to Death Valley National Park, take the time to go but not during the summer!!  There is a reason it is called Death Valley, it can be amazingly hot with temperatures in the 120’s during the summer months.

Custom Detailed DoorCustom Metal CandelabraMetal Dragon StandCustom Iron Works

While visiting this scenic National Park, take some time out from exploring the badlands, narrows, canyons and abandoned mines to tour the grounds of Scotty’s Castle.  Scotty’s Castle was built by Albert Johnson back in 1920’s and 30’s.  Be sure and make reservations for your tour and save some extra time to explore the grounds.  When viewing the castle, consider seeing it with the eyes of someone who loves and appreciates the beauty and craftsmanship of iron art.  I was delightedly surprised to find “iron candy” at every turn.

 Iron ChandelierWood and Iron GateIron Decorative Lamp PlateMetal Outdoor Lamp

The tour guide informed us that all metal works were crafted by an artisan blacksmith that was located on the property at the time of the build.  The metal would have been shipped in and then hand forged for each custom piece.  You can tell by the detail and beauty of each piece that the master craftsman for this job was quite talented!!  There are literally hundreds of amazing pieces to look at and I had to wonder who this person was and how much time they would have spent on each piece.  It did take over 9 years to build Scotty’s Castle, so I am sure the blacksmith was quite busy during that time.

Decorative IronDragon AndironsCustom Iron Curtain Rod and Finials

Custom made Radiator Cover

Decorative iron plates, custom detailed chandeliers, dragon andirons, satyr andirons, outdoor lighting,  metal intertwined with wood for an ornate gate, a twisted metal curtain rod with finials and holders, candelabras, ornate radiator covers, a dragonvase base and more.  Everywhere you look you see the embellished work of an artisan blacksmith!!

Custom Andirons

 It was amazing.  If there was ever an opportunity to do some restoration work on any of these custom iron pieces, Noble Forge would jump at the chance to work on such spectacular pieces or even better yet, we would relish the opportunity to produce pieces of quality similar to those seen at Scotty’s Castle.  We have done similar pieces before and are always looking for an exciting challenge to put the art of blacksmithing to the test.  Whether or not you are in the market for pieces like the ones you will see at Scotty’s Castle we hope you can appreciate the fine work and detail that went into making such beautiful iron pieces.  Blacksmithing at it’s finest.  Something Noble Forge and our customers truly appreciate.

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

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.