The Umpqua River is one of the most beautiful in the country and lies entirely within the borders of Douglas County, Oregon, where Cy Swan and I both live. This river, the Cascade mountains where it originates, the oak and fir covered savannah and Coast Range mountains it traverses and the Pacific Ocean it runs to have all provided the backdrop to most of our lives. And, no surprise, have profoundly influenced almost every aspect of our lives. Family, careers, recreation ,health, diet, friends, politics... all of it including our ironwork. This spot on the planet has left a mark on us, and we have returned the favor.
Cy and I have both come to the forge while spending long decades in other careers. Careers that were a unique preparation for where we find ourselves. Cy was and is a cowboy-cattleman-heavy equipment operator with more hobbies skills and interests than you could believe if I told you. I have spent my adult life working as a carpenter/contractor in every aspect of the construction industry. I have also spent significant time logging, sawmilling and playing Traditional Jazz trombone. (for our bios click here) We both feel a sense of "convergence" in the circumstances that have brought us to this point. I met Cy shortly after I acquired my tools, (click here for that account) and our friendship,and partnership was immediately inevitable. It is one of those rare combinations where foundational values compliment, communication is natural, strength in one area compensates for weakness in another, authority doesn’t matter, credit is shared, wives are friends, and money is not the motivation.
We each have our own forges. His is in the north part of the county, very remote, very awesome. Mine is more central, just a couple of miles east of Roseburg and is the headquarters for Essential Craftsman. Now I need to clarify the way that I use the word “forge”. Sometimes “forge” is a noun, referring to a vessel that contains the fire that is used to heat the iron to a workable temperature. Often “forge” as a verb, means the act of hammering hot metal into a desired shape. But here I am using the word “forge” to name the place where we create our ironwork… It doesn’t seem quite like a ”shop” ...and I just can’t quite bring myself to refer to it as a “studio”... But “ Forge”...yes, that’s it, that’s just about right.