Metal worker forges his own path
St. Albert's Kyle Walton the designer of this year's Mayor's Art Awards
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 06:00 am
At first it might seem weird that a forger is designing the trophies for this year’s Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Awards. Don’t forgers make fake money?
Kyle Walton is not that kind of forger. The St. Albert blacksmith works in steel to create some of the most beautiful pieces of decorative and functional art that you can make with a hammer and anvil, a furnace and brute – but delicate – force.
You could call him a forger but he prefers a less formal term.
“I’ve always been an iron monger, if you will. I’ve always liked it.”
The 35-year-old artist and owner of Hammer and Forge (his west Edmonton-based ironworks) has no formal artistic training but rather graduated from NAIT’s architectural program before building up his design credentials with an architectural firm. Forging always had a place in the background.
He first started “dabbling” in this rather unique metal work in his high school shop class. “It’s been a love affair ever since,” he said.
Hammering steel sounds like hard work … and it is. There are other arduous aspects to his profession that might not be so obvious, however. There’s no blacksmith school anywhere, for one thing.
“It’s been tough. There’s no governing certified body in Canada that regulates this. You’re left digging and researching on your own, and try to piece it together.”
Luckily, there’s a master blacksmith in Cochrane who has been instrumental in mentoring him through the craft and other aspects of the work.
Business is good, he said, enough to keep him and his team busy and even be optimistic about the future. In between filling his job orders, he delves into some of his own artistic projects. There have been some privately commissioned artworks that have fuelled his creative engine but he hasn’t done anything like this before.
“Nothing in the public realm and nothing quite like the job that we’ve done with the City of St. Albert. From our standpoint, it’s a unique opportunity. We’re considering it a gateway job into the fine art world.”
The main award is a “two piece idea,” he explained.
“The base is a fabricated steel plate rock. It’s sort of angular but it’s sort of soft. It lends itself to stabilizing the main part of the piece … the personification of wheat, this wheat sheaf that looks like a person celebrating something.”
He estimated that the final award weighs 3.2 to 3.6 kilograms and is made of mild steel.
“They look heavier than they are. The rock is hollow. It’s the perfect height to thrust over your head!” he laughed.