When planning the Workshop, which was built in 2007, we considered including a blacksmith forge as part of the building. However, because of the added expense required for such a facility, the forge was put on hold. Then, late in 2010, Jean Barrett gave new hope for a forge at The Clearing when she donated her late husband, David Nevalainen’s, blacksmith equipment, tools and materials to The Clearing. David had a forge north of Baileys Harbor and had taught blacksmithing classes there for The Clearing.
Metal Craft Classes Year-Round
The Forge, a 1,280 square feet building, will be used for classes in forging (blacksmithing) and other metal craft, including metal sculpting, metal casting and welding. The facility will operate year-round and will serve all three Clearing programs—the Summer Program of weeklong classes from May through October, the Winter Program of day classes in January and February and the Workshop Program of day classes from June through November. Classes will be small—no more than eight students per class. In addition to classes, the facility will provide opportunities for open studio, for individual instruction and for collaboration with furniture building and wood carving classes. It may also provide space for artists-in-residence and be used by volunteer metal artists to produce items to sell in The Clearing’s bookstore and gift shop.
Forging is a traditional and foundational folk school craft. As plans for the proposed facility have developed and been promoted, many Clearing students have expressed interest in taking forging and other metal craft classes. Several have also suggested potential instructors. In addition, others not associated with The Clearing have expressed interest in taking or teaching classes. The ability to offer forging and other metal craft classes at The Clearing will add an important program component and will appeal to both existing and new students.
Building Design & Layout
To the extent possible, the forge building will be built with reclaimed lumber—hand-hewn beams and posts, siding, framing members—from old barns. These materials have been donated to The Clearing by Roger Kuhns. Stovewood construction and “classic” Door County stonework will likely be incorporated into the building.
The forge building will be located east of the Workshop, just off the north side of the cul-de-sac. In addition to easy access to parking and to the Workshop, this location allows the entire footprint of the building to fall within the boundaries of the building zone specified by The Clearing’s conservation easement with the Door County Land Trust, which was put into place in 2006.
Preliminary plans for the interior include a main shop area containing four workstations, each with its own forge and its own set of tools, a work/layout table, floor tools (power hammer, drill press, torch, etc.) an area for storing the metal stock, a shop sink and a bathroom. Sliding barn doors will open onto a covered front porch.
We have good news! Architectural plans for the Forge at The Clearing are complete. The plans were let out for bid in spring, and a general contractor, Ellison Bay Construction, has been selected. As we continue to raise the funds needed to build the Forge, a smaller building that will be used to store metal stock and other material for the Forge and wood stock for the Workshop will be started this summer in a weeklong Clearing class on post and beam framing.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
You can help build the Forge by donating to this year’s Pass the Hat for The Clearing fund raiser. There are other opportunities to support this important and exciting project as well, including two raffles—The Clearing’s annual raffle and the The Clearing Speaks art and fine craft raffle, both of which will run until the end of the year. Plus, there will be an online auction in fall, featuring many wonderful art and craft items made and donated by members of The Clearing community. We are also seeking grant funding through several foundations.
But individual donations will be the key to building the Forge at The Clearing. Your donation will help The Clearing build and maintain a first-class facility for classes in forging and other metal craft. Class fees, along with income from memberships, general donations and investment returns generated by The Clearing Endowment Trust will pay for the ongoing maintenance of the building, as is the case with The Clearing’s other facilities.
To make a tax deductible contribution to the Forge Fund, please contact Mike Schneider or make a donation online.