fueled by

the forge

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Cleveland Blacksmithing is fueled by hands-on fabrication, ancient artistry, extreme heat — and love.

Cleveland Blacksmithing is fueled by hands-on fabrication, ancient artistry, extreme heat — and love.

Forging metal with heat, oil and brute strength is as grueling as it is creatively satisfying. Just ask modern-day blacksmiths. The ones who are melting down raw iron in a fuel-powered oven. The men and women who are hammering into shape some image born in their imagination then formed by their hands. They’re submerging these steely wares in drums of oil, quenching them to perfection. They grind and sharpen metal art pieces into something both beautiful and useful. The craft takes time, strength and finesse. Forging metal also takes a tremendous amount of passion and originality.

Blacksmithing is experiencing a cultural resurgence — complete with its own reality competition cable TV series. But it’s important to remember that the tradesmen working in forges — whether they’re making larger-than-life bronze statues, simple pocket knives or even hand railings — are all preserving ancient and awesome methods. What’s more, they employ the same essential tools used in the Iron Age. Musts include an anvil, long metal tongs, hammers, chisels and roughhewn wrenches. But the most crucial instrument is heat. Hot, hot heat. And that heat comes from fuel — petroleum or natural gas.

For a couple in Cleveland, Ohio, it also takes a whole lot of love.

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Husband and wife team Gavin and Brooke Lehman live a life fueled by the forge. Gavin is a trained blacksmith with 15 years of experience. Not only does he create all kinds of original and commissioned ironwork, but at his Cleveland Blacksmithing forge, he’s also training the next class of casual and career-driven blacksmiths. Brooke runs all of the company’s marketing, retail and general business affairs.

Together, they’re forging a rather entrepreneurial path. Cleveland Blacksmithing offers a variety of special interest classes, private lessons, welding instruction and even larger group sessions, such as bachelor parties.

I explore the visual dualities between the organic and the mechanical

Gavin’s work is almost exclusively crafted from hand-forged wrought iron. A product of the Rust Belt, he says his work is largely based upon exploring and harmonizing relationships, both philosophical and visual. “I explore the visual dualities between the organic and the mechanical,” he says. “All of these relationships work toward giving each of my pieces direction and relevance within the spheres of both contemporary art and fine craftsmanship.”

He forges limited runs of designer home décor and furniture, including knives, railing systems, drawer pulls, shelves and original sculpture work.

Fueled By recently made the trip to Cleveland and learned how a relentless respect for the craft, appreciation for artistry and urge to educate others has forged an awesomely impressive entrepreneurial and romantic bond between two people — and their community.