My fascination with hot metal began in early childhood in the Missouri Ozarks where my family and neighbors never hesitated to make whatever they needed from whatever they had. This journey continued from the basic metalwork classes in high school, through the St. Louis Army Ammunition Plant where I would handle over thirty tons of hot forged steel by hand each day, on to Memphis, TN where I was employed in the metal fabrication and industrial maintenance industry. While in Memphis I met Jim Wallace at the newly formed and barely staffed National Ornamental Metals Museum where I helped fabricate the structural steel for their new Smithy. Staff member Sam Moss invited me to join him at his forge, and under his and Wally's tutelage I began the transition from steelworker to blacksmith. I was also able to work along side what are undoubtedly the best blacksmiths in the world today, and most of the work that I do is a directly influenced by those men and women.
In the mid 1980's I had decided to begin blacksmithing full time and began making furniture, railings and various accessories for interior decorators and assisting in the larger projects of the Museum.
It was on the grounds of the Metals Museum that I met Marian, and on the same grounds we joined in marriage and business. After our marriage, I served as president of the Riverbluff Forge Council for two years and Marian finished her Masters of Fine Arts Degree. We then decided to move our business to a more peaceful clime, and in 2000 we moved to Bucyrus, MO and now reside on property that my Great Grandfather homesteaded in the mid 1800's.
The return to this area has also led to a different body of work for us. Our studios are nestled in the forest area of the Ozarks with very abundant wildflowers and native trees. Using the traditional blacksmithing techniques we have begun replicating nature in steel. Almost all of our work now includes some influence of our environment and brings the beauty of nature into the presence of the owner.
Monday, February 22, 2010
This is the day we lost Charlie. Charlie McKinney, gifted Blacksmith, talented Designer, beloved Father, Husband, and Friend to almost everyone, crossed over the river today. Its hard to think about much else. Here's some information about the man we will all miss sorely.