We love bringing artisans to the Flea and getting a look into their processes, spaces and talents. Jared of Artifacts Metalworks has gorgeous works that we have fallen in love with at the Flea. His pieces are detailed, useful and unique. Artifact mainly features various knives - large or small, intricate or simple.
Learn a little about metal working, Jared's workshop and the mastermind himself below and be sure to find Jared at May 10th's Flea.
How did you get into metal working?
I got into metal work when I started working with Tim Kaulen and the Industrial Arts Coop on the "Workers" sculptures that are now in the South Side near the dog park. Through that project, I learned a lot of the common tools used; grinders, oxy-acetylene torch, a little bit of welding, etc. A few months after the project was over, I had a lot of free time and had lost my knife. I started reading about how to make one and developed a plan. I built my first forge by drilling holes in an old skillet to hold the charcoal or coal. Then, I set it up on some bricks and put two fans on either side of it. It actually worked, but was impermanent and dangerous. The IAC wasn't really using the space in Hazlewood where we built the workers so they let me build a coal forge out there. I made an anvil out of a piece of railroad track and started teaching myself how to forge iron, forge blades, and had a lot of misadventures in basic metallurgy.
What's your favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh?
I guess my favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh would have to be Polish Hill. I've lived here on and off for maybe 7 or 8 years and it really feels like home, especially now that we have Lili coffee shop and Alfred's Deli in the neighborhood. I had to move away for awhile because I couldn't find an apartment in the neighborhood and I couldn't wait to get back.
Do you ever look at vintage designs for inspiration? Where would you say you get your style for your pieces?
It's hard to say if I look at vintage designs for inspiration. When I first started forging blades, I would look at a lot of basic designs from the iron age, especially Northern European stuff, and drew a lot of inspiration from that. Is that still considered vintage? Maybe super vintage? I also started reading a lot more about Japanese blades and bladesmithing over the past few months, which I think especially shows in my kitchen cutlery as of late. Fortunately, I work part time at Churchview farms where I get to interact with a lot of local chef's and get their input on kitchen cutlery, which informs a lot of my style and design, as well.
If you could start a food truck, what food would you sell?
This is a really interesting question! I don't know that I have a good answer. Maybe a build your own burrito food truck. Or a Ninja Turtles themed pizza truck.
We have to admit, we don't know much about metal working could you describe your workspace for us?
I share a shop with two other really talented metal workers. I'm really fortunate to have gotten in that space with those guys and I've learned a lot from them. We have a decent sized warehousy building in Lawrenceville. There's a lot of tools for working on all kinds of stuff in there. The tools I use the most for the blades are a propane forge, anvil, a few different hammers, lots of different files, a couple different vices and a belt grinder with many different grit belts. I also use a vertical bandsaw and a drill press for working and shaping the handles. I have a finishing station set up in the attic of my house. It's basically a desk with a few different clamps and lots of different grits of sandpaper, steel wool, epoxies, tung oil, etc.