Episode #56 Jake James “Use a Top Tool Like a Pallet Knife”

Jake James is a British-born blacksmith and operates his business out of his forge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has training from the Hereford College of  Arts in England and also apprenticed with Richard Bent for 3 years.  He is one of the demonstrators at this year’s ABANA conference in Salt Lake City Utah.

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What We Talked About

  • Jake “stumbled” into blacksmithing early on in his life and was encouraged to attend Hereford College of Arts. At Hereford he took extensive classes in the blacksmithing program for one year.  During the Easter Holiday students were encouraged to enter a “work placement” program, Jake was placed in Richard Bent’s workshop.  From there he was then was immediately hired as an apprentice by Richard Bent.
  • Richard taught Jake how to free up his design work and invested a great deal of time and effort into Jakes training. Richard had a saying “There are no mistakes only opportunities” and it’s one of statements that has stuck with Jake through his designing.
  • After spending 3 years at Richard’s shop Jake felt he needed to go find his own design path. He ended up traveling to Sri Lanka and working with low-tech blacksmiths making plow shears and farming equipment.  He eventually ended up in Canada and met his wife in a pub one night in Vancouver, and there he stayed!
  • His blacksmith business has been open since 2005 and he has been able to provide for his family of three kids and his wife. He would like to start a product line and specialize in gates and entry ways, though he takes anything that comes through the door.
  • While Jake has a gallery upstairs in his shop for the public to see, he doesn’t advertise that it’s there and open because it’s hard to work on commissions while customers are perusing.
  • Jake’s shop is outside of Victoria, near Vancouver. He has a fabrication area in his shop with a welder, drill press, band saw and a concrete floor.  He also has a dirt floor space that it his forging area, complete with two anvils, one power hammer, a fly press, 3 gas forges and a coal forge.  He has just bought a Massey 300 Clear Space power hammer which is the “Rolls Royce of power hammers”!
  • Jake also teaches classes out of his workshop, his future plans are to offer corporate event weekends for a team building experience. Offering an opportunity for a team of 5 or 6 tome spend 3 to 7 days with Jake making a sculpture they can take back to the office.
  • The Center of Metal arts hired Jake to come and teach a week long class on designing and forging a collaborative sculpture last year in 2015. Eighteen smiths showed up for the class and they made a “Bacchus” with a theme of wine.
  • Something that Jake uses as a design premise is; “Texture should come as a result of generating form”. His design shapes are deeply textured during the forging process, this makes his artistic signature easily recognizable.
  • This year’s ABANA conference is in Salt Lake City and Jake will be there demonstrating with a team of 12 hand-picked smiths making a collaborative sculpture.
  • There are some very talented young smiths that are proving their mettle. Jake thinks there is room for the craft to grow more in the future, the younger generation smiths don’t have to reinvent or revive the craft as ABANA or BABA did in the 70’s, the younger smiths will take it and expand on it.

Watch a video of our interview:

Guest Links

Jake’s Website – http://www.jakejames.ca/the-blacksmith/

Jake’s Etsy page – https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JakeJamesBlacksmith

Jake’s Houzz.com page – http://www.houzz.com/pro/jake-james/jake-james-artist-blacksmith

A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – www.ABANA.org ABANA logo

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