The Forge at The Clearing


Fundraising Goal: $375,000
Click to Make a Donation to the Forge!

Forging is a traditional and foundational folk school craft, and is evident here at the Clearing. as the Clearing emerged, founder, Jens Jensen, commissioned local craftsmen and artists to create many unique furnishings for his school. These furnishings include lamps, firewood tools and a variety of other metalwork forged by local blacksmiths. Some of these items are still in use today.

As plans for the proposed facility have developed and been promoted, many Clearing students and instructors 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.

Approximately $365,000 has been raised to-date for the Forge project, and that amount continues to grow, thanks to various fund raising efforts. But we need additional support in order to reach our goal of $375,000, the amount needed to build and equip the building. The Clearing has never borrowed money in its 80-year history. We have always waited until the amount needed was in hand before proceeding with building projects.

Building plans have been approved by the state, and we have selected Jim grasse, owner of Ellison Bay Construction, as our general contractor. Jim comes highly recommended and has already helped us find ways to save on the building without compromising quality or aesthetics. The project got a head start last summer when a weeklong class framed a small storage building adjacent to where the forge will be built. The class used donated barn beams and posts from old barns for the framing. The storage building will be used to store metal for classes in the forge and to store wood for classes in the workshop.

In addition to classes in forging (blacksmithing), the Forge will be used for other classes in metal craft, including metal sculpting, welding and metal casting. It will operate year-round and serve all Clearing programs—the Summer Program of weeklong classes (May through october), the winter Program of day classes (January and February) and the workshop Program of day classes (June through november). Classes will be small—no more than eight students. And in addition to classes, there will also be opportunities for open studio and individual instruction, and we are considering initiating an artist-in residence program.

Our hope is for construction to begin as early as summer of 2015 and for classes to commence in the spring of 2016, possibly earlier. All donations will help pay for the construction of the building, the construction of four forging work stations and a large project layout table, the purchase of anvils and forging tools for each forging work station and the purchase of chairs, work tables, shelving and storage units for tools, materials and supplies. The building will also house equipment, tools, materials and supplies, appraised in 2010 at $18,175, that were donated by Baileys harbor resident, Jean Barrett. Jean’s husband, David nevalainen, owned and operated a small forge near Baileys harbor and taught forging classes there for the Clearing prior to his death in 2008. If you have already donated toward the Forge, thank you. If you are able to make an additional donation to this important project, it will be most helpful and much appreciated.

If you have any questions, or would like more detail about the proposed building or the kinds of classes we foresee taking place in the building, please call Mike.

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.

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.

Building Location
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 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.

Click to Make a Donation to the Forge!