Without further ado, here’s part II of my Rory May interview…
Tell me about Dragon Forge. How many other people work there? What is your main type of work?
Dragon Forge LTD, http://dragonforgeltd.com, is my father’s company. He has built it for the past 30+ years. Most of the time it is just me and him. We hire other people at times and its always interesting who works out and who doesn’t. Dragon Forge LTD does high end, architectural iron work in the form of hardware, railings, lighting, fireplace doors, etc. Mostly in the ski areas of Colorado but this past year have been forging items and mailing them nationally. This company is my focus and where most of my energy goes into. I would not be able to do any of my side projects if it was not for Dragon Forge. That being said I do everything I can to help take care of it and make sure the presentation of the work is the best I can do.
What do you — personally — most enjoy about your job?
I love working with metal. There is a limit when we hit that 80 hour work week and I need to leave, but I typically only last 3 days until I start wanting to get back to it, back to that fire, the tools and forging. It is my soul food and I really don’t have hobbies because I enjoy the craft so much. Well fishing…I really like fishing…that’s the closest thing to a unrelated activity.
Your dog Axle is obviously a professional model, but what else can you tell me about him? Doesn’t he get scared of all that banging and grinding?
Axle is 5 years old. I bought him from a shelter across the highway from the shop. He figured out the rules quickly and has a couple places he is allowed to hang out in. For the most part he stays out of the way. We have a large 250lb Little Giant Power Hammer that he is not to fond of and he leaves when I turn it on. He is not a fan of canned air either…can’t say I blame him.
Dutch artist blacksmithing tradition is almost dead. Do you feel the American one is doing well (enough)?
I have the perception that the awareness of blacksmithing is pretty small and the national groups only advertise to other blacksmiths. The media has no clue we are here and unfortunately are OK with that. I do everything I can to demonstrate publicly, share on social media as much as possible and constantly inform and share information to the public. There are US smiths whom give themselves the title but are welders, which is frustrating and complicates the perception of the craft to the general public. So when it comes to work, and where I am, it seems that the term “blacksmithing” gets very blurry. I think it is doin alright in the states. I would love to see it do better as in other parts of the world. Participating in local art shows, there is a small underground scene near me that I attend when I can and of course the social media. Constantly I am sharing with my local media outlets any articles, video or anything related to me, Craig or Dragon Forge in hopes that an idea sparks over there. All of which contribute to sharing the craft of blacksmithing.
I’ve got two years of education/experience so far and I feel like I barely made my first steps. When did you first think of yourself “yeah, I’m a professional blacksmith now”?
It took a long time to change how I thought about being a professional blacksmith since I grew up in the forge. It was our lifestyle, it was what we did. There was a moment when I was speaking with a couple of smiths at a conference. The topic varied from blacksmithing techniques, running a business and marketing yourself. At that time I didn’t realize how much I had to say about those topics and was surprised that these grown men, ones I had idolized growing up since I was a kid, were so far off track of what I thought they were really doing. When I challenged their way of thinking and approach to modern day smithing is when it clicked that I had arrived to a level that went beyond where they were at.
Do you have a dream client/job that you would love to do?
Oh man….do I! The most common one would be hired to do a series of large sculptures for an establishment, like a golf course, and they have a budget that can support me for a very long time…ha!
You got married last year — congratulations! Does your wife also work with metal?
Thanks! She has come to the shop a few times and I have shown her what I do. So far she really enjoyed the day we did some copper fold forming. I get all excited when I see her forging and want her to continue. She just laughs and says I am cute.
Rory on Instagram: http://instagram.com/dirtysmith