My interest in historic ironwork is based on an era and culture in which “hand made” was the primary method of industrial production. In this context no extra attention is given to accentuate hand made qualities, no value added because of “uniqueness” (everything was unique), no reward for irregularity except increased speed. When hand made things are inherently nothing special, they have to prove themselves on merit.
Successful work is strong and durable, pleasing to look at and use. Everyday forged objects from the 18th century embody these virtues. They are a good combination of quick forging coupled with clean and crisp finish work. The variations that come with efficient hand work were accepted as part of the system. While no two pieces are exact enough to fool the eye, skilled workmen can produce very consistent results this way and the output generally has a uniform character.
In order to capture the same character in my work, I choose to use similar processes. I find no faults with more modern tools and methods, and use them freely when they can contribute. They are great at what they do. However, for my purposes hand methods produce the results I want in a direct natural manner. Forging is done with hand hammer at the anvil, finishing with hand files at the bench. I find this is the best way to bring natural variations and freehand character to my work. Rather than simulate the results with artificial methods, I make them happen naturally.