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I Forge Iron

Leslie Tharp

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  • Location
    Gainesville, Fl
  • Interests
    walking up mountains, canoeing down rivers, fishing, dancing, laughing, organizing art communities, drawing, painting, other creative endeavors, drinking coffee, forging, welding, plasma cutting, drinking more coffee.


  • Location
    Gainesville, Fl

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  1. This has all been very helpful. Here are some really cool articles and songs I was shown on a Facebook forum yesterday-Women Do Iron, when I posed this question. These are in regards to women chain makers in the early 1900s in the U.K. Interesting component of this history is the huge wage difference, and debate over it. How silly of me to have not anticipated this aspect of the history I am searching for! Anyways- cool stuff to read with lots of first hand accounts of the work being done at the time by women- http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/explorefurther/images/cradleyheath/ So now that it appears some of this history has in fact been recorded, would anyone happen to have details on late 1800s and early 1900s history here in the U.S.? Also I'm wondering what the historical differences may be for these labor politics involving women in the south vs the north for that time period. Florida will be the area I am demonstrating most and would love specifics on the region. Any history lesson on the subject is greatly appreciated of course and this thread is becoming quite a good read Thanks all!
  2. Can anyone suggest documentation or literature that references the participation of women in historical blacksmithing shops? I am beginning to demonstrate in reenactment settings here in Florida, and am hearing more and more questions about this subject. I have always assumed anyone in the vicinity of a blacksmithing shop that was able to do the work, or at least assist by working the bellows or swinging a sledge would be involved in some aspect of it, whether they were male or female. I'm sure it was less common for women to work in the shops, but believe it was more common than history tells us. Has anyone come across readings or other references they could pass my way?
  3. Still crankin' it out down here in Florida! A friend took this nice photo of us at the shop one morning and I thought I'd share. We've been working long days here and making so many great things. A couple weekends ago we had Shaun Williams and Sylvia Andrassy join us from South Florida for an all day demo at a local farm festival. What a blast it is to work with other blacksmiths! Here's a little footage of us hammering out coil spring so Pete could forge a flint striker for a customer who commissioned it at the festival. https://www.facebook.com/shaun.williams.92754/videos/10153239323489419/?fref=nf
  4. Hey all! I thought I'd toss a couple photos up of the cool stuff we've been doing at the shop this week. I'm so happy Pete is back and we are making tons of tools and working on a good handful of commissioned work right now. We've been fixing up my Little Giant, which is already running much better, but still needs a little fiddling and then some tooling Pete's already cranked out something like 10 tools for the shop. We also forge welded a wrought iron donut to the foot of my post vice, for more stability when we mount it. Pete's working on a damascus knife right now and cut off the end of a twist pattern to etch and show the client. This wont be the finished pattern, but was still really great to see! More to come!
  5. I had a hard time figuring out how to add photos to this thread, but let's see if I've got this figured out. I wanted to do a massive photo summary of all the things we made when Ivan was at my shop but it may just be too much! We cranked out several tongs and hardie tools, along with loads of slit and drift sets. I got my first taste of sledge working (and loved it) and we refaced and handled a ton of hammers. When we weren't crankin out the tools we were teaching workshops, hosting open shop days, watching videos on fixing up my Little Giant, and of course making cool stuff! I think the exhaustion started to show when we developed the Smithery School of Hard Knox on the chalk board. Tired and goofy we hammered on (paying push-up debts in between heats). I still have something like 450+ to go for all the metal I dropped during an evening of slit and drift forging. Ivan was, to say the very least, an enormous help at my shop and a breathe of fresh air. This guy is smart, easy to get along with, and very resourceful. Thanks for everything and safe travels! -Leslie
  6. Alright, I've become convinced I need to spend more time on this website after seeing how useful this traveling thread as been to Ivan. He managed to track me down after spotting one of my flyers here in town. I've been toying around with steel since 07 and have been building up a shop since 2010. My background is in art and I make a lot of sculptural pieces, public art projects, do some production forging, and also teach beginner/ project based workshops out of my shop. With all that said, my traditional tooling and joinery knowledge is pretty limited and Crazy Ivan has spent the last week with me at the shop helping me tool up. He's a walking encyclapedia on this stuff and a total blast to have around. We've been cranking out tongs, hardie tools, rehandling and cleaning up hammers, practicing forge welding techniques and experimenting with scrap yard steel and even a bit of wrought I had laying around. So much fun! I'll be sad to see him go, but I hope more of you out there will have the chance to invite him into your shops. He's definitely a cool guy and a very talented smith.
  7. This forum is great, in particular the business threads. I am a public sculptor in Gainesville, FL and I have only been making iron sculptures to sell for a couple years now so I am still a newbee with most things (like pricing!). The issue I am tackling today is finishing techniques. In the past I have been commissioned to make outdoor sculptures and have used a powdercoating finish on them. Today I am placing a bid on an interior bench sculpture and was thinking I'd explore some more natural finishes like oil to bring out the detail work and iron color (my favorite color). I am just not sure how long this finish will last until it need touch up and what I should tell my clients. Anyone who has sold a medium sized piece (8' x 2' x 2') to a client or museum and used an oil finish have any advise?
  8. Alright, apparently I cannot figure out how to post images. Can someone please tell me how to look for clues that my LG had wooden blocks, fiber, or just metal to metal contact. I have oiled it well and it will not engage at all when i push the pedal down. It seems like to be moving properly when I push the pedal down, but just not catching on anything. Would the be a sign that it should have wooden blocks or fiber? Again, I do see a thin (3/4") strip if fiber on the clutch closest to the front of the LG. I need to identify if it should have some fiber or blocks replaced. Then I need to figure out how to do it. I am in Gainesville, Fl.
  9. HWooldridge: Is it a rear flywheel or center type? How do I tell if the flywheel is rear or center. I have included some photos of my LG in my gallery, hopefully they will help answer this question. Thomas Dean: Linkage may or may not be the prob. If it has the wooden blocks on the clutch they may have worn to where they don't engage properly. You can shim under them some or purchase new blocks from Sid. How would I know if there were originally wooden blocks or not?? Again, hoping the photos in my gallery help. Peacock: your dies what each other? hit hard, miss? How far apart are your dies at bottom dead center? How tall is the top and bottom die? Does your hammer have wood blocks, fiber lining, or is it metal to metal clutch? Need lots more info? Hoping the photos in my gallery help with this too, looks like the dies are well apart at rest, about 8 inches? Each die protrudes about 2 inches from the machine? As far as the clutch goes, I can see remnants of some sort of fiber lining, but only on the edge farthest from the metal piece that spins and engages when the pedal is pressed (closest to the front of the machine).
  10. I just purchased a 25 Ib Little Giant along with Dave Manzer's 2 videos on tuning the Little Giant and Tooling for the LG. The problem I am having, after turning it on for the first time, is that I have to press my pedal all the way to the ground to get the clutch to engage. By the time it engages my pedal is pressed so far that my dies each other, rather than slowly descending. SO, I am not a very good mechanic and I don't have anyone local to ask about this, but I am guessing my clutch is not engaging because all the grabby stuff that should be on it has worn away. Can anyone help me identify this as the problem and tell me how to fix it?
  11. Hey I'm new to the community of Smiths. I'm just easing back into the exciting world of iron after graduating a year ago w a degree in Sculpture. Recently reminded of what I love in life I'm in search of anyone in Gainesville Fl or nearby that could use some extra help/ apprenticeship a few hours a week w projects in their shop. I'm not looking for paid work, just a way to learn more and be in metal environment. I can't go another year without blowing black snot out of my nose.
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