by Phoebe Dunbar | November 26, 2018
In the summer of 2017, I first met Marty and his son Justin out at Foggy Mountain Forge. Naturally, I was very taken by their most imaginative blacksmith shop and forge. The scale of projects they were working on with enthusiasm and creative minds was most impressive – gates, fences, dragons, spider webs, many household objects, pokers, knives, raven feathers. Useful items – hooks, hangers and just about anything one might need for the home garden or house.
That summer, they made me a special stand for the Last Tree Standing that has been installed in John Horgan’s premier office. Early last winter I often dropped by the forge to say hello and ask for things useful for my wood work – small items like hand bashed copper candle stick holders, or big fish hooks for hangers, to be nailed with copper boat nails into yew wood fish or yellow cedar salmon on walls. This past summer, they started to buy round medium-sized bowls (yellow cedar, apple wood, fir) from me to forge roosting nests and branches, or seaweed beds nests, to nestle the bowls into them. Some of them are mythical, like nests one might find on a halcyon sea. One creation I only saw once before it was shipped away in a box to Edmonton – a nest, placed in this handsome bunch of cattails… also known as bull rushes.
During hiking trips out west when I stopped by they started to ask for hand-made live edge carving boards – yew and maple. They forged beautiful handles for these boards! I can’t believe I never took any photos of them. When autumn arrived and we passed by the forge on our way to pick bog cranberries not far away, we always stopped by the forge unannounced. We wanted to see what they had made lately that started with PhoebeWood. But we rarely saw the new creations! Every time I went out to see these bowl nests or boards they had been sold, or boxed up and shipped away!
In October, I dropped off a very pleasing shaped old piece of red cedar that I hardly sculpted out at all. I sanded it, it was beautiful. Far too nice to be made into a bowl. The backside was like a fat Buddha, the front was a hollowed out shape full of checks and character. I envisioned this piece as a vertical sculpture with perhaps a wind-swept bonsai-like tree in it. When Marty and Justin had time to work on this, the piece they designed first was a most decorative stand. the sculpted wood placed on the stand was now horizontal with a very attractive tree, a windswept poetic tree, sheltered in the heart of this fine piece of old-growth red cedar. The sculpture needs to be placed where one can walk around it and see both sides – front and back.
I was going to carve a seal out of this most unusual small maple curved tree trunk. When I put it up on my carving bench, I realized that there were three beautiful bowls to be carved, not a seal. Justin, when he saw those bowls at a craft show yesterday, bought them all. He couldn’t wait to forge more metal and have the bowl become something else. Nests, fusioned pieces of wood and metal.
I am thrilled to be able to work with Foggy Mountain Forge and present to them attractive pieces of wood art and together we go beyond bowls, we create and collaborate two very different mediums to become one!