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

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.

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.

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.