Warm sun filters through the glass-block wall of Mark Gilsdorf's Essex studio as he lights the forge for the day's work.
With a background in 2D art (and following a frustrating go at woodworking), Gilsdorf began learning the craft of blacksmithing in 2007. The aspect of repurposing discarded scraps into something useful, yet artistic, sealed the deal. He took the leap and became a full-time artist-blacksmith in 2013.
"It's a much better match for my personality," he explains, heating a piece in the forge for a set of soon-to-be fireplace tongs. Gilsdorf mainly works with steel, a more stable alloy of iron. His scrap pile, "a blacksmith's biggest resource," is filled with roadside treasures, railroad spikes, and old pipes.
Also a bird enthusiast and history buff, Gilsdorf seeks to balance aesthetics and functionality in his pieces, which he refers to as "house jewelry." Aside from commissions, he sells his creations -- pieces like fireplace gates and hand-forged, skull-topped bottle openers -- at Bromwell's and local events like Summerfair and the Hyde Park Art Show.
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Scroll back to the top for a look inside Gilsdorf's studio. Warning: It's about to get fairly "hot in herre."