Richard Furrer

Door County Forgeworks

 
 

Artist Bio: Ric Furrer, Proprietor (pronounced "Fer" as in "further")


  1. I was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1970 the youngest of six. My mother was a nurse and my father owned a local tavern, both are now retired and have more grandchildren that they can comfortably handle.


  2. At the age of 17 I joined the US Army and served in the reserves as a medic eventually getting out as a sergeant (E-5). I was activated for Desert Storm and worked an E.R. in Germany where the wounded were sent and saw a few more interesting events in some other places of the world before getting on with other pursuits in the civilian world. 


  3. After returning to the States I entered the History and History of Technology Department at the University of Wisconsin -Madison (UW-Madison) where I developed a keen interest in ancient and medieval metalworking practices. Shortly after beginning classes there I met a woman, Beth Lokken, who would later become my wife. Her father had purchased a portion of blacksmith shop years earlier and said I could use the equipment if I learned how. He soon introduced me to a local master blacksmith by the name of Paul Marx. 


  4. That began a wonderful journey of exploration and experimentation and I studied with Paul for three years while attending school. It was my plan to finish my bachelors' degree and teach High School history, but it was not to be. I left after my fifth year without having been accepted into the Dept of Education and transferred to the local Madison Area Technical College where a year later I received my license in Practical Nursing. 


  5. In 1996 my wife had graduated from UW-Madison with a Master's Degree in Information Technology and she found work in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and we moved south during the worst snowstorm of that year. There was a six month delay in transferring my Nursing license so I sought out the only other work I was comfortable with - Blacksmithing. I found a job forging at New Castle Iron in downtown Fort Lauderdale and remained there for three years making large specialized forgework for the homes on the Inter-Coastal waterway. It was a grand learning experience, as the work was big, bold and well crafted. 


  6. In 1999 Beth again found work, this time settling in Sturgeon Bay in beautiful Door County and we moved back to Wisconsin, again, during a snowstorm. Since that time I have combined my blacksmith experience and my passion for historical metalwork into a new body of work. My company is called Door County Forgeworks and though the shop is small, the work is as well crafted as anything I have done in the past. We are blessed with two Boys who consume most of my day.


  7. In addition to the regular shop products I now demonstrate and teach iron smelting and forging at several blacksmithing and knife making conferences around the country and in my own shop.

  8. One of the special moments was in the summer of 2002 I was asked to demonstrate sword making at the 36th Annual Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington D.C. 


  9. I have reconstructed several lost technologies related to blade making including the famous Wootz steel of India, 12 bar composite Bamburgh sword and +ULFBERH+T sword blades of Viking Europe (as seen in the 2012 NOVA production ”Secrets of the Viking Sword”). I have several other sword resurrections planned in the near future of more ancient blades which need to once again see the light of day.


  10. I also continue to work with several Universities and ended up teaching some classes after all; augmenting the studies of the school of engineering at Northwestern University and UW-Platteville and the Anthropology Dept at UW-Madison.





Artist Statement

  1. Man has shaped metal for over ten thousand years yet the struggle with the material is as fresh and current as anything born of Silicon Valley. The world of information superhighways and cyber space has left me rather cold and disenchanted and though I embrace some of the technology I willingly shun the rest. Through the interaction of fire, metal and flesh I feel a connection to a past that many have abandoned. I feel more at peace tapping on the anvil and not the keyboard.


  2. Working alone is it's own mixed blessing. It allows a certain freedom and flexibility, but limits productivity; I simply cannot make everything I'd like. In the late nineteen nineties I worked for an architectural iron shop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I was one of a team of seven and we did a lot of work, nice big architectural work. But the pace of the shop, which I loved at the time, seems almost frantic now; I remember times of making literally hundreds of parts in a week. Now I rather like the one of a kind nature of my work. It seems more personal, more intimate.


  3. I do all my work by hand and use tools that multiply of my force without limiting my creativity or interaction with the material. The trap of course is when you give over your creativity to the machine tool. It is a simple matter to allow the tool to dictate the style of the work rather that the other way around. I tend to think of them as extensions of my body, applying force where flesh cannot. In industry all the thought is given to the dies and fixtures of the machine tool and the operator is demoted to a human robot and in some cases the human element is missing entirely. What may take me 100 blows by hand can be accomplished in one by a large swaging machine. This is the antithesis of my goal and to that end all my work shows evidence of the two hands that made it.


  4. I struggle on a daily bases with an ancient material and am intrigued at the path my life has taken. Through my research and practical experience I have rediscovered several ancient metalworking processes and utilize them in my work. I hope you find what I do interesting, I certainly do.



  5. — Ric Furrer



 

About Me



I demonstrate my craft at several venues each year.

Check in periodically for updates.


Current Show

Badger Knife Show

Janesville,WI

www.badgerknifeclub.org/knifeshow.html

 

About Me