Questions and Answers

Readers will find some short, and slightly longer, answers to some common questions posed to me at the Wareham Forge.
You might save some time (for us both) by making a quick check here - before e-mailing me...

Potential Customers Please Note!
After over 45 years at the forge,
I am limiting the new commissions I undertake :

Please look HERE for details before contacting me.

Q = "I thought I might drop by your shop to tour it, when are you open?"

Short : I'm *not* (generally) open - I am semi-retired now.

Long : The Wareham Forge is a production workshop at my home. There is no gift shop.
I work primarily on major commissions, there are few complete objects on hand here. What pieces I do have are generally packed away.
What I might be doing on any given day is determined largely on what projects are underway. It might, (or might not) not include interesting forge work on any given day.
See also "Why does it take so long?" (below).

Q = "I want this thing made of wrought iron..."

Short : Wrought Iron? Is that *really* what you mean...

Long : Wrought Iron is actually an antique metal, no longer produced. Or you might mean 'hand forged metal'. Or you might mean 'black metal with some shape'.
Best to read my article "Wrought Iron Work - What it really is, and what it really means".

Q = "I want a copy of this thing by another artisan (insert image from internet here). Can you make it?"

Short - Yes - but I *will* not.

Long : Go to the original artist who made the thing in the first place.
I do not copy the original work of other artisans. I most certainly will *not* work cheaper.
I will discuss creating a new original design *inspired* (but significantly modified) by the works of other artisans. One of the strengths of my own work is my design ability and style.

Q = "Can you make this thing faster / cheaper than the commercial version."

Short - No

Long: The reason commercial products are cheaper and faster is that machines are set up to allow for high volume production. I make every object individually, one at a time. There is no 'economy of scale' involved.
Remember the 'Iron Triangle' : you can have something cheap, you can have something fast, or you can have something good - but only *one* of those.
The aspect that is sure to suffer if you want it cheap and or fast is having any kind of good quality. You will get *exactly* what you pay for.

Q = "I want this thing seen in a movie / comic / illustration / game. Can you make it?"

Short - Yes, but you will not like it.

Long : Anything seen in a fantasy, is just that - a fantasy. Objects in the real world are constrained by materials, and physics. You can NOT effectively swing a 15 lb sword. A chain mace the size of a basket ball will weigh 100 lbs.
I *can* create replicas of these fantasy objects, but because I use *real* materials and methods, the end result will be display objects (at best). Check my commentary "No, I don't make Props."

Q = "Why does it take so long to make (insert complex object here)?"

Short - Good work takes time, and I do more than just hammer.

Long : Developing skill takes years, and years cost you strength, I'm certainly 'better' than I was at 35, but those 30 plus years have taken a physical toll, certainly in terms of speed.
Don't forget the time for setting up and prototyping. Since almost everything I make is a one of a kind original object, each piece is a potential voyage of discovery.
Running a business (at any level) requires so much more than just making things. On a full, average day I had spent roughly 10 hours on 'work', but a real productive day for me has only 2 - 3 hours actually at the forge. (that was 6 1/2 days a week!)
I make each object one at a time, and projects are scheduled as individual commissions are finalized.
Depending on time of year, there is maintenance, sales, transport, materials purchase, teaching, demonstrating, research, documentation, publishing, accounting... all to be undertaken as well.
See : the Iron Triangle.

Q = "I have never done any blacksmithing and I want to make knives. Is there a one day course to teach me?"

Short - No

Long : Forging blades successfully requires considerable hammer control. And knowing how to make a number of basic shapes. And how to carefully judge temperatures. *Then* add how to forge actual blades.
An extremely talented student *might* be able to forge a ('good') simple blade on the second day of a special two day program. I don't advise this however. Take a basic level course, then PRACTICE forging, *then* take the regular two day 'Introduction to Bladesmithing' course. Forget what you saw on Forged in Fire!

Q = I am willing to trade working at reduced wages for training, will you take an apprentice?

Short : No. Certainly not on those terms.

Long : A more complex discussion of this topic is available in my article "Will you take an Apprentice?"
Good training *costs* - and is worth that cost. Consider a weekend program, or at least purchasing one of my videos.

Q = Is becoming an Artisan Blacksmith a good career choice (for my young son / daughter)?

Short : No. Certainly not within that frame of reference!

Long : It is a life style choice! A more complete discussion is available in my article "A Career as an Artist Blacksmith"

Q = I represent a film company, we are looking for someone to make this / appear in our program. Are you interested in the promotion?

Short : No. I already have over 45 years experience and an a solid CV. I am already famous enough.

Long : I get a great number of requests from film production companies, typically massively short on background research, with completely unacceptable deadlines, almost insulting lack of budgets. Those who are willing to trade work for the instant fame of 'being on TV' - are almost always lacking in experience, skill and knowledge - and I am just not interested.
Ask yourself how much someone in your position expects to be paid, after 35 years working professionally in *your* field. Apply that to my expected base rate.
Your project is poorly framed? Isn't what you, as a 'researcher' are paid for? Sorry, I have a basic consultant's rate, and do work internationally for major museums and universities in that role - just hire me. Check the information provided under "Museum Services".
Yes, you can negotiate filming at the Wareham Forge. No, I will not 'come for the day' to your location - without set up costs, door to door expenses, and yes, suitable wages.

'A Reputation takes a lifetime to forge
It can be destroyed in a single heat.'

last revision December 2023
All text Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge