THE ART OF IMMUNITY'S FORGE
William’s distinctive style involves extensive stretching of a single piece of metal by hand (usually with an 8 pound hammer), as opposed to taking several pieces and welding them together, or using a machine hammer to make large movements in the steel. A couple of virtual tours of the forge can be found at the links at the bottom of this page. After William has finished the forge work, some of the pieces are painted using enamel paint, while others are sharpened and prepared for use in the kitchen. (See below for care of the artwork and of the kitchen utensils.)
“Green Blacksmithing”. William’s art features environmentally friendly products. The two green elements of William’s work are a relatively carbon-neutral fuel and repurposed (reused) starting material:
Carbon neutral fuel: William’s forge utilizes hardwood charcoal made from scrap wood, primarily from tree trimmings. Most forges use a fossil fuel (coal), but charcoal works just fine. With just a small fan to blow air on it, a charcoal fire gets more than hot enough to melt steel. Charcoal makes much less pollution than coal, and it’s much closer to carbon neutral than coal.
Repurposed metal: William builds his artwork from scrap steel, so he is often on the lookout for scraps of steel. His friends donate a lot of scrap, and his wife even makes some now and then when she accidentally destroys a lawnmower blade. He also finds some of the scrap on old farms. He is very thankful to those who allow him to hunt for scrap steel on their estate, and in particular to Mountain Bear Construction Company, who provides him with a very wide selection of scraps.
“Literally Sharp Art” ©. A large part of William’s art is inspired by his love for cooking. The “Literally Sharp Art” William produces for the kitchen is created by hand, but without using a belt sander that is usually used in production of modern hand-made knives. For this reason, his knife blades often have an “old school” look to them and lack a smooth, machined finish.
Care and use of Literally Sharp Art: William is very grateful to his good friend, “Sharp Knife” (that is literally the name he is known by in blacksmithing circles), for donating his time and tremendous skill with a sharpening stone in making the art for the kitchen extremely sharp and functional. William will include a ceramic V-sharpener with his knives (no additional cost) unless the buyer requests otherwise. The sharpeners are easy to use and, with only a few seconds per week, will keep the knife ready for effective use.
The kitchen knives are generally made of used lawnmower blades, and the meat cleavers are made of leaf springs, although other sources of relatively hard steel are occasionally used. The blades are NOT STAINLESS. Rather, like blades made by hand in centuries past, these blades will develop a beautiful patina over time, generally grey or brown-grey. The knives require cleaning (by hand, not in a dishwasher) after use and a light coat of cooking oil before storage to prevent rust.
The knives have hardwood handles that are, unless otherwise noted, unstained and feature the natural color of the wood. The handles are polyurethane coated, which affords good protection against scratches. However, the handles will not withstand dishwashers and should be washed by hand. Regardless of the handle, it’s generally very bad for knife blades to put them into a mechanical dishwasher, so this is to be avoided.
Care of painted artwork: Enamel coated artwork is not fragile…it is made of steel, and the steel is very strong. HOWEVER, the paint on the steel is much like the paint on a car. It can be easily scratched if it comes into contact with other metal objects. Thus, shipping and storage of the pieces is important to preserve the paint.
The Artist's Signature
William’s signature is three hats stacked on top of each other. It is present on almost all of the pieces which can hold at least a 3/8ths inch diameter mark. (All pieces are signed unless indicated otherwise.)
The stamps William uses to create the signature in the steel artwork were designed and produced by Steve McGrew at Incandescent Ironworks, Ltd. The stamps are made out of some incredibly strong material…years of whacking (not an official term) on them has not altered their appearance in any way. (Nicely done, Steve.) The signature, called a “touchmark”, is placed on the artwork by whacking the stamp into the artwork with a six pound hammer while the artwork is still glowing orange hot. Sometimes, on rare occasions, if the steel is particularly hard, William uses an 8 pound hammer.
For information about the origins and meaning of this signature, please visit the “About the Artist” Page.
Take a Virtual Studio Tour of William's Artwork