My current studio, the fifth studio forge I’ve set up in New York, is located in Orangetown, New York, twenty minutes north of the George Washington Bridge on Palisades Parkway. I’ve been here since 2009. The forge sits outside on a steel plate platform with the equipment I use to form and fabricate stored both inside and outside.
I have shaped the studio to my particular way of working: a 900-square-foot steel-plate floor; 75-ton hydraulic press with a good set of dies that I invented to “bump” and shape bars and plates of metal; a long table (10 x 5 x 1/2 ft) with an amazing saw. I have also turned the eight-foot windows into display alcoves for series of objects from my inventory.
Its only drawback is the tension that comes with being a tenant in a light manufacturing, commercial real estate market that has rapidly escalating rate.
When a project requires forged bronze, like the Wall Street Station Lariat Tapers, I work at night—6:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m.—because the color of the heat is hard to read in sunlight. For steel, titanium, and stainless steel pieces, I work during the day, 8:00 a.m. until evening.
On Saturday, I set aside my usual schedule to instruct at the Art Students League’s Vytlacil campus, which brings fresh impressions that snap me out of my routine. When I begin to brood on retirement or complain too much, I get myself active.
When I am forging, I like to sing and yodel voice-modulating English horn tributes to the outstanding accomplishments that are proceeding by my expertise and idiosyncratic mental acuity.
During a forging session, I have lots of Perrier. There may be time to stop and go for sandwich at Mimi’s. As the forge or fabricating is going on, it consumes my attention. There is no music, and it is easy to miss calls because of the noise and action. There is no heat in the forge. The air needs to be changed every five minutes for the fabrication activity.
I used to get annoyed by visitors. I’d have to take off all the safety stuff I wear and that interrupted my concentration. I would shoot sparks toward the visitors who dropped in. Now people don’t come to visit me. I don’t shoot sparks at people any more.
I am nicer.
Forging one of the tapers
The Harlem Forge, 2009
My press at the shop
James Garvey and Simon Robinson at the press, August 2011
Using a torch
View of a Lariet Taper in the shop