Shortly after finishing my tour in the Marines, I moved to Atlanta, GA where I began an apprenticeship with Ironworker Local 387. The union was a great place for me because after working the day, classes were available in the evening, helping to fast track my knowledge of working steel. In a short time, I was moved to a higher class of work, doing installation of brass and stainless steel, which allowed me to learn a finishing scale that would help raise my skills significantly higher. From a resume response, the day came when I moved from steel to an ornamental iron. The shop, located in Charleston, SC, had a heavy emphasis in blacksmithing and forging. Drawing from my earlier apprenticeship working with steel, my iron working abilities soon blossomed there as well. For me, Charleston was a treasure trove of inspiration. I developed a fine appreciation and a high skill level for old colonial style iron work as well as contemporary style work.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to see when attending a conference held by the American Blacksmith Association of North America in Asheville, NC in 1998. To see what some of the world’s leading blacksmiths were doing with steel and a hammer was phenomenal. It was at this point that I decided that this living would forever be tied to forge, anvil and hammer. After over 16 years, I have completed thousands of projects at my forge, working in steel, stainless and brass along side owners and professionals of various disciplines and styles. Having done functional architecture, sculpture, tool and knife making, I continually invests myself in my art by attending conferences, classes and trying different techniques to better master this craft. I believe that this craft is so diverse, that one could study all his life and never learn everything.
A time came that I wasn’t sure would ever really arrive when we started this adventure. In December 2010 we launched du Bois Metal Works. As some of you know, when we launched du bois Metal Works, one of the biggest reasons was that work had slowed down and things were just not looking very good for the first time in 17 years. So what’s the right business plan? Leave the nice job you have and start another company doing the same type of work in the same area. I don’t think that is the sort of thing they teach at business college. But we did.
Just to make things interesting, I went ahead and got engaged shortly after, and was married to Rachel Willy just 4 months later. And since we’ve done two of the three major life changes, why not become a grandfather. Our first job was a spiral stair. It went well. After a couple small jobs we ended up getting not one, but three jobs for my all time favorite NASCAR driver. Something I had dreamed of doing when I first started blacksmithing.