Design Elements

If you have an idea for a project for your home or business, the following are steps to take it from dream to reality:

1) Imagine a hand-forged or fabricated piece for your needs. Use your imagination, pictures in magazines or books, or some of the portfolio pictures on this site as a starting point.

2) Draw a simple sketch of what you’re looking for great art skills are not required. The idea is to communicate your vision clearly enough to give an idea of how it could be accomplished in steel.

3) Use a tape measure to get dimensions- width, height and depth in most cases.

4) Contact Tim by phone at 231.766.3582, or by email at tim@blackbearforgeMI.com to get the process started.

5) Tim will give you an estimate for your project and the approximate time from start to completion. Estimates are free, based on your drawings and measurements. Further design work is charged on an hourly basis.

NOTE: Have in mind the finishes you want your project to have- paint, patina, natural or clear-coated. For more information on finishes, see the Finish section of this site. If you want to match or complement architectural details or other pieces you already have, pictures may be helpful. If the project involves new construction or a remodel job by a contractor, contact information for the contractor is also a good idea.



The finish your piece has may be chosen to taste, but will also likely be influenced by the area the piece is in, the function of it, the exposure to light and elements and the level of maintenance you are willing to do or have done over time. The following are some of the possibilities:

1) Paint: Any piece can be painted to your specifications. The type of paint used may differ, depending on whether the project is indoors or outdoors, functional or decorative, and personal taste.

2) Clear-coat: For those who prefer the natural color of forged steel, a clear-coat finish can be applied.

3) Bee’s Wax: All cooking utensils or items that may contact food are coated with bee’s wax.

4) Patinas: A variety of patinas for color or special effects can be applied.

NOTE: No finish will last forever, so be prepared to maintain the finish on your project as required.



Pricing

Due to the wide variation in complexity, raw material prices, finishes, degree of detail, and installation issues, pricing varies widely. During the design phase of a project, alternatives may be offered that may provided a range of costs. Once a design has been chosen and work has begun, changes (or change orders) almost always mean increased cost. Changes in finish and/or color is always extra. Likewise, changes that occur after measurements have been taken in the area the project is being designed for will definitely cost more. These may include changes in area dimension, trim changes, or general contractor errors in angle, uniformity of stairs, or square, for example.


Hand-forged, fabricated, or both?

With strong background in welding and fabrication, as well as years of experience hand-forging steel, Tim is able to meet your budget requirements better. Fully hand-forging a piece, using all traditional methods of joinery and forge-welded corners will always be more expensive than the modern methods of cold-stamping and bending and machine spot welding you may typically find on metal items at your local home improvement store. With a fully hand-forged/hot-forged project, there are additional hours applied to the labor-intensive process of forge-welding corners (not using a welder), riveting or piercing all elements joined in the piece, and hammering all areas to exact dimensions. As an alternative, the look and feel of a hand-forged project can be largely maintained, yet economically achieved using welding and fabrication to assemble hand-forged elements. This allows the project to have the warmth, beauty and individuality similar to hand-forged work, while saving the costs of hand-forged joinery. Fully-fabricated pieces, using machine-forged elements, laser cut forms, or cast iron details can also be beautiful, yet economical. Often called cookie-cutter work, the elements are assembled with a welder and very little hand-forging is involved. The choice largely depends on the tastes of the customer, the feel they want the piece to have, and the budget they have to work with.