I have lived most of my life in the Berkeley/Oakland area. My interest in metalworking goes back to high school when I enjoyed metal shop class to the consternation of my advisers who wanted me to focus on the college prep curriculum. A family friend, Francis Whitaker, was a well known blacksmith so I knew that smithing could be viable vocation even if it didn't promise to be all that remunerative.
I attended college first at San Francisco State then at U.C. Berkeley eventually earning a B.F.A. in Sculpture. Among the people I had the good fortune to study with were Stephan DeStabler at San Francisco and Peter Volkus at Berkeley. While college versed me in the study of the arts and aesthetics my technical training was still lacking. After college I worked as a bicycle mechanic and continued my study of metalwork in community college taking any class that was related to metal: welding, ironworking, machine shop and metallurgy, etc. I had my first formal blacksmith class from Alexander Weygers, a fine artist and blacksmith in Carmel Valley, California. Eventually I was able to apprentice for six months to Whitaker in Colorado which gave me foundation in smithing and metalwork as a business.
When I returned to California I worked for a while with Beau Hickory in San Francisco and in the late 70's opened my first work shop in east Oakland. It was at this time that I began my involvement with the California Blacksmith Association, calsmith.org
, and the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, abana.org
. Through these two blacksmithing associations I connected with local, national and international blacksmithing communities. Attending meetings, conferences and even going on trips abroad contributed immeasurably to my knowledge and has provided a continuing source of inspiration.
In the early eighties I went to France working first with a blacksmith and then with an artist couple, Sido and Francois Thevenin, near Cannes. I worked on art commissions, on product line and as a shop technician making tooling and the like.
Returning to Berkeley in mid 1982 I looked for a place to set up shop, found it and went into business that fall. The shop is near Codornices Creek (quail in spanish) thus Codornices Forge.
Through the years I have worked collaboratively on furniture with Robert Erickson and now with his son Tor. See: www.ericksonwoodworking.com